The Sydney Morning Herald [Australia] reports that “virtual adultery” is a new threat to marriages. Until recently, adultery has been a sin of the flesh. Temptation arrives, chemistry sizzles and before long the unfaithful spouse is spending stolen nights in cheap hotels. Now there is a new threat: the virtual affair. While some argue online affairs aren’t real, research shows some spouses take them as seriously as the offline variety – and they’re becoming a gateway to divorce.
Further: The anonymity, ease and affordability of the internet make it a cheater’s dream. The pool of temptations, limited in the real world, widens to hundreds of thousands in the cyber world.
In chat rooms, affairs can blossom between people who would not usually stray. “I accidentally fell into a cyber affair with someone who personally emailed me from a mailing list I belong to,” says one woman, who posted her experience on a website. “The intensity of this e-affair rapidly escalated over several months and got to the point where we discussed getting together. It becomes a real person you’re dealing with.”
Cyber lovers quickly move from chat to photo-swapping, intimate confessions and cybersex. It can become as consuming as a real relationship. Tell-tale signs of a virtual affair, says the Centre for Online and Internet Addiction, are sitting at the computer into the early hours, moving it into an office and locking the door, becoming obsessive about passwords, ignoring chores and spending less time engaged with the household.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made His indictment of adultery perfectly clear — and it surely covers “virtual adultery:” You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. [Matthew 5: 27-30, English Standard Version]