Digest of terms
traditionally referring to extra-marital sexual relationships, commonly described as immoral in religious traditions, and sometimes made illegal in public law. Moral arguments against adultery have included perceived threats it creates to trust between partners, important means of controlling gene replication, and intended protection of the interests of children.
The ready availability of contraception has had a significant effect in reducing the likely consequence of unwanted pregnancies. At the same time it has increased the popularity of consenting sexual activity independent of marital commitment. In some contexts partner consent to extra-marital sexual activity is no longer unusual; much depends on the notions of trust and loyalty that are shared, as also on the interpretation of a particular religious or secular worldview as applied to sex. Typically, though, in conservative or fundamentalist religious circles greater social flexibility outside them has led to retrenched rigidity within them. In Muslim ethics controversy persists over the traditional view that adulterers incur the death penalty, liberal Muslims pointing out that in practice this could only rarely happen even in principle since the law ruled that eye-witness evidence from four reliable adult male witnesses was mandatory.