No More Scarlet A

October 9, 1998
A number of years ago Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote an article entitled "Defining Deviancy Down." He argued that in the midst of social decay, our lack of outrage was redefining what was deviant behavior. I would now like to suggest that we are in the midst of defining adultery down.

The recent revelations about adultery not just the president's have left the airwaves full of excuses. "It's old news," "I was young," "It was youthful indiscretion," have taken their place alongside such comments as: "It really wasn't sex," or "It was in private."

Consider what has happened in little over a year. This time last year many were wondering whether a female B-52 pilot should be forced out of the military over adultery. Now we are hearing one adulterous tale a week from prominent political leaders. And the overall reaction from the American people is apathy.

Meanwhile films like The English Patient, The Prince of Tides or The Bridges of Madison County feature and even promote adultery. In the new movie One True Thing, Meryl Streep tries to describe the trade-offs of marriage to her daughter who discovers that her charismatic English professor father has done more than mentor his teaching assistants. She says that things you never thought you would put up with, you end up putting up with because in the morning the children are scrubbed, the coffee is perking, and everything you love is there in a kitchen. You won't risk losing all over an affair.

And so this is the message politics and the media are sending America. Adultery isn't so bad. It certainly isn't the scarlet letter. And we end up defining adultery down.

There's just one problem with all of that: the Bible says "Thou shalt not commit adultery." And there's no statute of limitations on that commandment.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.

© 1998 Probe Ministries International