Should Adultery Be Outlawed?

The governor of Colorado signed into law a bill to repeal a state law that criminalized  — but included no penalty for — adultery.  The bill passed the full House by a vote of 37-26, and passed the full Senate by a vote of 23-10. The bill takes effect on August 7.

Democratic Rep. Daniel Kagan, speaking in support of the bill, said  “Adultery is a matter between a spouse and his conscience and his God, but not his local sheriff.”  Image

Colorado Family Action says that repealing the adultery law will lead to “the disruptions of families, promotion of prostitution and unwed pregnancies.” Dr. Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, opposes the repeal.  He says the law serves as “a reminder of the public nature of marriage and the societal threat of adultery.”

For Christians and others who take seriously the Judeo-Christian ethic  “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” is this terrible news? Consider the following:  

Are laws about making statements, or punishing crimes?  A law without a penalty, it would seem, is not really a law. 

Even if the law did have a penalty, does it make sense to criminalize an activity that voluntarily takes place behind closed doors?  Perhaps Mohler wouldn’t object to having cameras installed in his home, just to make the law enforceable. 

Is adultery a violation of another person’s rights, freedom or property?  Isn’t adultery, as the Apostle Paul said, a sin “against their own body (1 Cor.6:18)?”  If so, should the state enforce a sin against a person’s own body?

Should Christians look to the state to enforce their own morality? At the risk of sounding unpatriotic, hasn’t the state been, at times, guilty of the greatest examples of immoral acts, such as killing and stealing?  If so, why would Christians look to the state to enforce their moral code? 

While he strongly condemned sexual immorality, the apostle Paul discouraged the Corinthian church from going to the state to enforce their moral code.  He considered the state, “whose way of life is scorned in the church, (1Cor.6:4)” incompetent to judge such matters.   He goes on to ask the church, “Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? (6:5)”

Christians who are quick to criticize Islamic countries for prescribing and proscribing all manner of behavior are very inconsistent when they support the same thing here.

About Corey Sharpe

Where do we get our beliefs? Three theological perspectives have significantly shaped my Christian identity: Evangelicalism, the early Methodist tradition and liberation theology. From my coming to faith in a Baptist church and throughout my education in a Baptist school and college, I was nurtured by convictions that emphasized a spiritual rebirth, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the centrality of the Bible. Even when I disagree with certain aspects of evangelicalism, it has deeply influenced my sense of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. My seminary studies spawned my interest in early Methodism, particularly its approach to spiritual formation. Its leaders were convinced that only a foundation of doctrine and discipline would lead to a meaningful transformation of the heart and mind. In other words, having the mind of Christ enables me to be more like Christ. Life in a suburban culture obscures the increasing gap between the poor and rich, as well as the Bible’s close identification with the poor. My doctoral work in socio-cultural context exposed me to liberation theology, which helps me see redemptive history as a history of oppressed groups, written from the perspective of the powerless, about a God who is actively involved with the poor in their struggles. I am now the pastor at Huntingtown United Methodist Church in Calvert County, Maryland. Together my wife and I are raising 4 young theologians.
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3 Responses to Should Adultery Be Outlawed?

  1. Zee Breidenbaugh says:

    Personally, I don’t think it matters much if there are laws against adultery – in terms of controlling people’s behavior. There are laws against killing and people still kill one another. Adultery is a moral issue. The Ten Commandments admonish us not to have any other gods before the one and only God, Jehovah, and people still worship Satan, money, etc. – there are no laws against either of these practices. The Ten Commandments admonish us not to take the name of the Lord in vain, yet there are no laws against swearing – need I continue? As our nation found with Prohibition (of alcohol), you can’t legislate morality. Just one person’s opinion.

    • Janice says:

      I agree with Zee. I don’t care what kind of laws there are, people will always make wrong choices. As far as adultery, those committing it will just need to answer to the Lord on judgment day.

  2. Ann Denbow Simmons says:

    good morning.
    I agree with Zee and Janice. Adultery is a moral issue one which is between that person and God. However, adultery does destroy families and it does hurt children who have had a parent who committed adultery.

    A law without a punishment is like the UN who passes all of these conventions and treaties but then has no way to enforce them nor the countries who place their names on the documents. The US and Great Britain are the only two countries who make their signatures on an international document legal under their legal system. Hence you have such countries as Haiti, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, Algiers, etc. who all signed the every Humanitarian treaties against Genocide, slavery, etc. and yet look at these countries history past and present. Saddam Husein signed every Humanitarian document out there and yet look at all of the monstrosities that her performed against his own citizens. The use of Chemical warfare against the Kurd’s and killing over 5,000 Kurds which were mostly women and children. – He said he did it to test the chemicals which he also used against the Iranians in the Iran/Iraq war. He also managed to kill a large number of his own military in the killing of the Kurd’s as they were not cleaver enough to know that the chemicals would follow the flow of the wind.

    As far as the statement behind closed doors, rape, murder, domestic violence etc. are all generally performed behind closed doors.

    Islam does have a strong legal system based on morals.
    Have a blessed day and may God lead you in your daily life!

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