In the wake of the Anthony Weiner debacle the media has been asking countless questions about how we should respond to this situation, including the all important question: is sexting adultery? Sure we’ve seen the reports of the dangers of sexting among teenagers, but consenting adults brings a whole new dimension to the argument.
The Early Show on CBS, one of the many who have discussed this, facilitated a conversation on Saturday morning asking this very question. The woman interviewed said that men and women see this differently. Women tend to feel betrayed and see this behavior as adulterous, while men are less inclined to say it went that far. The man interviewed said that men don’t want monogamy, basically that men need an outlet. This can be that outlet, and in their eyes it’s not always adultery.
It’s hard to expect secular therapists to really think biblically about the whole thing. Their answers reveal their spiritual blindness. Left to themselves men don’t want monogamy. Women don’t really want it either. But left to ourselves we are no different. By God’s grace we are not left to ourselves. The natural response to the overwhelming urge to sin is to give in to the temptation. In the eyes of the world, the feeling is natural, therefore it should be acted on. Christians are not natural people. We have a new nature. We don’t have to live by our “natural” urges any longer. But I think there is something far more involved going on here than simply a question of adultery. The question actually reveals a flaw in our thinking as a culture.
Christians have an opportunity here to not only condemn the actions of Representative Weiner, and others, but also present a bold, biblical vision for marriage. When we think through the implications of a sexting scandal and whether it is adultery we must look to Jesus and his response in Matthew 5:28, where he says that “anyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Jesus sees lust (sexting and any other lust-inducing activity) as adulterous. He was turning the commandment on its head. He cares about the heart, which leads to the action.
But even more so we must go back to the start of marriage, the Garden of Eden. God created marriage: one man for one woman (Gen. 2:18, 24-25). Sin corrupted this beautiful union, but the sin is not the end of the story on marriage. He redeemed marriage, and everything else, through the blood of his son, Jesus Christ. God never intended for anyone else to be brought into the marriage covenant, whether by physical contact, emotional contact, or cyber-contact (Heb. 13:4). Why? Because marriage was not created simply for the two marriage partners, rather marriage points to something greater. When God created marriage he had something far more glorious in his mind, namely Christ and his Bride, the Church (Eph. 5:25-32). When a husband and wife join together in marriage they are telling a story about the greatest marriage of all. And Christ never lets other lovers into his marriage.
So the question of whether sexting is adultery isn’t enough. And we can’t expect CBS News, or any media pundit, to answer that question for us. As Christian we have a much greater answer than simply “yes or no”. We have a picture of the perfect marriage that sets the foundation for all other marriages. And it is this marriage that Christians must proclaim when we talk about our own marriages, and mourn the demise of marriages around us.