Last night we sat down to watch the new series on BBC2 The Convent, all about four women going to live by the rules of the Convent of the Poor Clares for 40 days – same length of time as Lent, coincidence, I think not. One of them is in an open marriage and struggled with the commandment on adultery making a very interesting statement. “Depends what you call adultery.” For her it was clear, her husband knew about the other man in her life it couldn’t be classed as adultery. That got me to thinking. Is adultery simply something that your partner is unaware of, and if so when is it adultery? Can adultery only happen with married couples? A thought, a look, a planned unexpected meeting, a purposeful graze against someone, a hug, a kiss? Is it something that can happen before, and even if, there is no physical contact between two people? In fact do two people even need to meet, for adultery to be committed? Is it fancying someone else or doing something about that emotion? Does full sexual intercourse need to take place before the act is committed? Or is seeing someone naked in a sexual context or petting adultery? And is it really true that if the partner knows about it, it isn’t adultery? Lots of questions, for me I have answers but I believe my answers are very different from the answers she would give. Does that mean one of us is right and one wrong? Does that mean adultery can be different in different circumstances? Or is adultery more to do with how the person on the sidelines feels/reacts? Those answers I struggle with far more. And of course there is the debate about the fact that those commandments were issued to a people of a whole different culture. A culture of mistresses and multiple wives. This in turn almost begs the question as to whether adultery is something only a woman can commit!


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