By Scott Williams
What would bring together a conservative pastor, a man behind a website that encourages married people to have affairs, a recovering sex addict, and a woman in a polyamorous relationship?
ABC's Nightline will air tonight (Thursday, Sept. 24) a 30-minute special on adultery in the culture as part of its "Face-Off" series of broadcasts. They arranged the panel of four — which appeared before a live, mostly church-going audience of more than 3,000 — to discuss whether cheating is just part of our human makeup. Given some of the details from the advance article on ABC.com about the broadcast, the Nightline discussion is likely to go anywhere.
Here are the basic positions represented:
Pastor Ed Young - Sex is God's creation to be enjoyed in the context of marriage between one man and one woman.
Jenny Block - Adultery is wrong when lying and deception are involved, so her intimate relationship with another woman while she's married to her husband is fine because she's not hiding anything.
Jonathan Daugherty - Adultery is an integrity issue, which is why he's telling the story of his past failures and started a ministry offering help to those with sexual addictions
Noel Biderman - His online matchmaking site for marrieds works in part because couples caught in a sexless marriage would do better to get intimacy on the side than to dissolve their marriage.
The debate airs some bold statements that reveal a great divide on the adultery issue. And it all comes down to worldview — is marriage an invention of mankind or a creation of God? Despite the differing views of the panelists, the article does point out that there is some real common ground. namely that marriage is about commitment, and anyone who violates that commitment is wrong in doing so.
What to me is encouraging about the whole issue is that the church is beginning to take the challenge head on of defending marriage by reflecting God's original design — the union of one (biological) man and one (biological) woman growing together in oneness with God and each other. Far from being an invention of man, marriage is also much more than a human institution designed by God for our pleasure and the perpetuation of our species.
God gave marriage as a picture of the relationship He intends to have with those He created in His own image. And it is a picture of Christ's relationship to the church. Now more than ever, a good marriage, centered on oneness, is a testimony to a world that is groping to understand what the marriage relationship is, much less how to make it work.
As an aside (but also at the very core of this issue), the ABC.com article also contains a sidebar called "Saint or Sinner: Take the Quiz to Find Out What Commandment You're Breaking Today." Out of curiosity, I took it (thinking it might be paid ad space masquerading as an evangelistic tool). The result I got was appalingly revealing of the worldview of those who created the quiz. My final judgment:
"Holy Roller. Not quite a saint but far from a sinner, you're leading the way in a confusing world. There's no need for divine intervention here."
If you watch the show or read the article, I'd love for you to weigh in on the debate.