Is cheating wrong?
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Is cheating in marriage really morally or ethically wrong, if we do not accept the existence of moral absolutes? Ian Boyne in his In Focus article in The Sunday Gleaner of October 29, challenged his associate columnists, Dr Michael Abrahams and Mark Wignal and letter writer Ethon Lowe, to deal with that question, from their atheist/agnostic perspective.
These eminent gentlemen can speak for themselves, of course, but I would be surprised if they can honestly do anything other than agree with Boyne and wonder if the practice, by anyone who has and/or professes no absolute moral/ethical standard, should even be referred to as cheating.
Nevertheless, there is an honest answer to the question that is true and applicable, whether one is religious or not. All that is required to see/accept the answer is basic intelligence, a modicum of honesty, and the ability to put oneself in another person's place.
The truth is that, whether one believes in the existence/power/ authority of a supreme creator or not, it is not difficult to appreciate that virtually no thing/action is wrong/right/sinful in itself.
Hence, not every killing is murder. Not every false statement is a lie. Guns, knives, and machettes are not necessarily good/evil.
Whether a person is cheating , dishonest, or unfaithful, in marriage or elsewhere is always going to depend on the mutually agreed and accepted terms and conditions of the relationship.
Factors that need to be considered in relation to marriage include accepted social/cultural norms, beliefs and practices religious and non-religious. Also to be considered are regular or special 'escape clauses' or terminal arrangements to facilitate persons who may no longer be pleased to dwell with each other.
There is also the (biblical) principle of 'Whatsoever is NOT of faith, is sin'. In other words, whether you are religious or not, whether the action contemplated is wrong or right, if you think/believe it is wrong and you do it, you will be convicted of sin by your conscience.
One simple way to determine whether cheating is OK for you is to answer the question, 'Do I believe that what I am doing or about to do is wrong or right? And if I were in my partner's place, could I understand and live with this choice?'
Carlton A. Gordon