Is cheat­ing wrong?

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION&COMMENTARY -

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 Kingston 10 carl­ton­

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