Action Alert!

The ethics of adultery

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Nov 12, 2012

Perhaps you’ve seen the speculation that an anonymous writer who asked for advice from the resident ethicist at the New York Times some weeks ago was the man cuckolded by General Petraeus. The situation described by this unhappy man does fit the facts of the case.

The anonymous correspondent wondered whether he should blow the whistle on his adulterous wife and her famous lover. The Times ethicist replied in part:

Don’t expose the affair in any high-profile way. It would be different if this man’s project was promoting some (contextually hypocritical) family-values platform, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. The only motive for exposing the relationship would be to humiliate him and your wife, and that’s never a good reason for doing anything.

Never a good reason? Well, hardly ever. The Times expert seems to think that it would be fine to humiliate a government official who was promoting “family values.” As Wesley Smith points out on National Review: “To liberals, destroying social conservatism is always the highest ethical principle.”

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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