by Christopher O. Tollefsen
As recent polls and recent events show, Americans remain morally opposed to sexual infidelity in marriage. At the same time, Americans show broad acceptance of premarital sex. But an examination of the reasons why infidelity within marriage is detrimental to human flourishing reveals sexual infidelity prior to marriage to be just as harmful.
Proponents of traditional sexual morality can take some comfort in the fact that, a few cynics and radical secularists aside, there is widespread agreement about the moral wrong of sexual infidelity in marriage. Although the norm requiring sexual exclusivity within marriage can sometimes seem as if it is honored more in the breach than the observance, the response to recent cases of adultery among public figures is not limited to accusations of hypocrisy. Most commentators, and most ordinary citizens, agree that married persons must remain sexually faithful to their spouses and that failure in this regard constitutes a particularly egregious betrayal of the marriage vows.