By David Tulis
Adultery smears the image of God in mankind. It writes a false report about the relationship between Christ and His people. It proposes to sap God’s blessings and energy from society and replace it with a brief thrill and a long leak.
The Ashley Madison scandal that ensnares Josh Duggar and many others brings to mind the essence of local economy and the free market here in our town. Hackers who published 9.7 gigabytes of private files at the infidelity website reveal that 37 million users (more or less) vote for disregarding God’s law vs. keeping it and receiving His blessing.
Marriage is a picture of local economy and capital. It is the exclusive bond ordained from our first parents to love and behold, and to bear in a private sexual union the seat of the family and the root of coming generations.
Fidelity is capital, as J.D. Unwin argued in the 1920s. Unwin found that the ties that hold society together are sexual, and that lifelong heterosexual monogamous relationships are the basis for civilization. Their absence is the basis of civilizational collapse because culture is deprived of the social energy marriage creates.
Poorer or richer in local economy
Marriage is a lifelong commitment, of you, a man, to your wife. Adultery is a temporary liaison kept aloft with a web of hopes and deception. One honors truth and verity, the other deceit. One creates a home in Chattanooga, the other an urgent liaison in a hotel in Rossville, Ga., or Monteagle.
In one you have a true single life, in the other the “double life” Mr. Duggar admits in a public statement of sorrow and repentance. In marriage you have children, in adultery children are an evil fruit and not desired. In one, child rearing and care for little things of little people; in the other, irregularity of life and schedule, abortion and STDs.
In marriage, capital; in infidelity, consumption. In one accrual, in the other, costly outlays and unexpected costs.
In marriage you gratify for the long term, you are thinking of her, and you are about her pleasure and delight (you can wait). Before the scandal breaks, you think about yourself, as the porn addict admits (“I have secretly over the last several years,” Mr. Duggar says, “been viewing pornography on the Internet and this became a secret addiction.”)
In marriage, vows. In its enemy, violation of vows and promises of chastity. In marriage, liberty and honor. In the secret life, guilt and slavery.
Ascendency or decline?
As Unwin argues, in marriage and fidelity are capital and energy, whereas in the secret life there is fear, dread, self-absorption and decapitalization.
The Word of God declares adultery, among others, a capital offense because it highly values that relationship, that wonderful gift to mankind. Adultery is named in the seventh commandment, but the term is used to refer to anything that is unchaste and even is understood to include passions of the flesh such as gluttony. Adultery also violates the 10th commandment against coveting.
A major summary of Unwin’s book, Sex and Culture, 1934, is online through a reprint at Journal of Christian Reconstruction, 1977 (“Monogamy as a condition of social energy,” initially published 1927). Unwin, a British ethnologist and social anthropologist, says that a prosperous nation rises on the basis of fidelity in marriage, and declines in prosperity by become liberal with sexual morality. In a process that has not been reversed in any instance, he says, a people lose their cohesion, impetus and purpose.
Adultery, fornication and homosexual relationships dissipate.
Unwin tells of the effect of regulated, monogamous marriage in a paragraph that sweeps across centuries.
All these things — conquest, empire, art, science — are diverse manifestations of the force of life, which, controlled by an inherited tradition, demands outlet from its pent-up state; and it is this control which is the cause of those overwhelming outbursts of activity; which compels the Arab to burst over Egypt; causes the Amorites to found their tremendous commerce and raise Babylon from an insignificant city to the capital of a large empire; urges forward the Persians, and drives the Teutons over the Roman Empire; makes the Spaniard sail the seas, the Athenian philosophize, the English colonize. It is this control which gave Rome her gravitas, which made the eighteenth century the heyday.
But Josh Duggar and many others, unable to control their appetites and disregarding the clear commands of God, indulge themselves and so contribute to the loss of moral certitude and capital in their local economies.
The loosening of the marriage bond — that is, the gradual return to a temporary union made and broken by consent — releases the compulsion. The outlook reverts to what it was at first. The social vision, imposed upon society by the rigor of its own customs, returns to regard for the present only. Pride in the past, responsibility for the future, both disappear. And when a generation arrives which has known no sterner discipline, but which spends its early years in an atmosphere of submission to impulse, it does not add one whit to what has gone before, but, sinking into unrelieved lethargy, ekes out its meager existence in the grip of forces which it is no longer able to control. Its energy sapped by its own indulgence, its vision reduced to a single dimension, it finds that it can no longer cope with the ultimate causes of things, and there comes a loss of affirmation, a failure of nerve, a denial of the gods, and a despondent fear of the future.
Unwin does not take into account judgment by God, who warns in Proverbs 6 that the one who goes into his neighbor’s wife shall not go unpunished. But adultery decapitalizes in that it directs the social vision to regard the present only, Unwin says. Prosperity and local economy gain when a people take a long-term view.
Sources: J.D. Unwin, “Monogamy as a condition of social energy” 1927, Journal of Christian Reconstruction, pp. 38-54