Russell and Duenes

Why Sinful Behavior Between “Consenting Adults” Never Stays Between Consenting Adults

with 9 comments

If two consenting adults commit adultery, the deadly effects of their adultery will not simply “stay between them.” It will also have terrible consequences for their spouses. If they have children, it will have terrible effects on them. It will negatively affect aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, cousins, co-workers, neighbors, whatever institutions they are affiliated with, and on and on it goes.

A person who commits adultery with another “consenting adult” may open himself or herself up to bribery, which will harm others. If the adulterous relationship sours, one may find oneself in a kind of “fatal attraction” situation, or something similar, which will act like a cancer on others. Depression, suicide, anxiety, lying, murder, deception, manipulation, anger, distrust, disillusionment, weakening of a public sense of right and wrong, bitterness, resentment, vengeance, shame…are all things that often accompany sinful behavior between consenting adults, particularly over the long term. And these things spin out into a web of human relationships far beyond the two consenting adults who engage in the sin.

Thus, adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, and all sinful actions between “consenting adults” never stay between just those two consenting adults. As the Lord says: “Also among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: The committing of adultery and walking in falsehood; And they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one has turned back from his wickedness. All of them have become to Me like Sodom, And her inhabitants like Gomorrah” (Jer. 23:14). The sinful behaviors of consenting adults “strengthen the hands of evildoers,” meaning that it is false to say that what happens between “consenting adults” is “none of our business.”



Written by Michael Duenes

August 5, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Posted in Duenes, Ethics, Marriage

9 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Then outlaw the harmful accompaniments, such as bribery. Liberty requires a
    least restrictive means test, see Mill’s On Liberty. What if someone could figure
    out a way to commit adultery without all those things resulting? One must always consider that possibility.

    Joshua House

    August 5, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    • Given the nature of reality as God has created it, it is not possible to commit adultery without all those things, even if not all of them attend every instance of adultery.


      russell and duenes

      August 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    • We do outlaw bribery.


      russell and duenes

      August 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm

      • Liberty is based on the premise that no one knows the “nature of reality”. Is it a reality that not wearing seatbelts creates a likelihood of harm to said person? I think so. Should government require people to wear seatbelts? No, because maybe, just maybe, they have a very good reason for not doing so, a reason that none of us understand.

        Liberalism is premised on humility. We punish only the effects on others, nothing more, because it is only the effects that we can actually see ourselves. The effects are objective, because another person feels them, in the form of harm.

        It’s Torts 101: You can be a terrible person and still not be punished for your acts: if you didn’t actually and proximately cause anyone harm.

        Joshua House

        August 6, 2012 at 6:17 pm

      • Your first assertion is self-refuting.


        russell and duenes

        August 6, 2012 at 8:01 pm

  2. I apologize for not being clear in my use of terms.

    I’m not asserting I know the nature of reality sufficient to say that you must believe my statement. I’m not saying that I’m so sure that the claim that ‘liberty…nature of reality’ is the nature of reality that if you do not accept the assertion then I get to violently act upon you.

    Put another way, I could have added the word “sufficiently” or “justificatorily” to “no one knows”. In other words, my assertion is that “no one knows” enough to tell other people what to do.

    As an example, I can admit that someone may “know”, but they need to drum up some kind of objective justification or “public reason” in order to force me to accept their assertions. That is, they may “know” x, but liberalism would require them to “know” x via “sufficient justification” in order to use force on me.

    For recent groundbreaking work on epistemology and liberalism, you should check out the recent work of Gerald Gaus –
    His papers are available on his site.

    Joshua House

    August 6, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    • Thanks for the link, Josh. I’ll give Gaus’ stuff a look. I’m a bit puzzled, however, by your assertion that “no one knows enough to tell other people what to do.” How do you square such an assertion with the biblical doctrine of the knowledge of God, and the rightness of calling people to certain kinds of behavior? Was John the Baptist wrong to tell the centurion to “be content with his pay?” Was Paul wrong to tell his converts what to do, as he often did?

      Perhaps I have not been clear, either. My assertion that it’s my business what other “consenting adults” do was not aimed primarily at law-making. Yes, it’s my business when unmarried people have sex, but I don’t think we ought to pass an law criminalizing fornication or homosexual behavior. That said, I DO think we should pass laws, insofar as we can, that disadvantage and disapprove of such behaviors. In other words, we may not be able to outlaw certain sins, and perhaps we ought not, but we certainly can enshrine in our laws disapproval of certain behaviors. Indeed, we do. Think smoking.


      russell and duenes

      August 8, 2012 at 4:12 pm

      • I would argue that even passing laws that discourage such behaviors is misguided. To use your smoking example, what if, in however many years, we discover that smoking actually increases the lifespan of humans. Then our previous policy of discouraging would seem outrageous and absurd. This discovery, however, can only be made if people are allowed to experiment in the first place.

        As for the theological implications of liberalism and humility, I believe their are two. Both are complicated and stuff I’ve been kicking around in my brain for years.

        First, here is a distinction between two kinds of judgment in the Bible. The first being discernment. Discernment is when we are told we will “know them by their fruit.” Discernment is what is used when we are calling people to right behavior. We see the facts, and make a judgment. True, we could have some facts wrong, but God’s word provides us with basic principles with which to discern between good and bad behavior.

        The other type of judgment is punishment. This is strictly forbidden: you shall not judge. (Note, this type of punishment is separate from church discipline, because that involves protecting a community.) Punishment occurs when we actually visit some kind of corporal or even emotional harm against one because we believe they are condemned. This is forbidden because it puts men in God’s place: Only God knows the facts, only God can fully judge.

        Second, liberalism is focused on the justification of political action. Political action is essentially legitimized coercive force. Hence, justificatory liberalism does not concern a church group wherein the members remain by consent. On the other hand, a higher level of justification is required before force may be used against others who have no choice in the matter of membership, such as political citizenship.

        Most of these points are my own musing on a difficult problem. It’s possible I have mistaken their folly for originality.

        Joshua House

        August 8, 2012 at 6:17 pm

      • Thanks for putting them out there. We all have to muddle through.


        russell and duenes

        August 8, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: