Why Should the Atheist be Faithful in Marriage?
by Melissa Cain Travis
One week before I graduated high school, the film Bridges of Madison County hit theaters. For an 18-year old girl with a bit of a crush on the gravelly-voiced Clint Eastwood, a plot line that included a whirlwind romance and life-long unrequited love was a recipe for a teary-eyed sigh-fest. For months after seeing the movie, I would name it as my favorite chick flick, and each time I watched it over again I urged Francesca to open the truck door.
The film, in case you haven’t seen it, is about adultery. An emotionally unfulfilled farm wife has a torrid three-day affair with a handsome travelling photographer while her husband and children are off showing livestock at the state fair. Her husband, a gentle, kind man, never learns of the indiscretion, and thereafter, Francesca remains loyal to him for the remainder of his days, even
nursing him on his deathbed. Yet, the film viewer is left wistfully disappointed that Francesca didn’t run away with the exciting and romantic Robert Kincaid when she had the opportunity.
Had anyone questioned the 18-year-old me about my views on the permissibility of adultery, I would have vehemently opposed it, as I still do. So, there was a sharp dissonance between my intellectual/moral convictions and my immature sentiments about Bridges of Madison County–a fine testament to how we sometimes inadvertently turn a blind eye to our inner moral compass under emotional circumstances. But, unless you are a moral relativist, wrong is always wrong, no matter what feelings or desires are involved, and (this is KEY) whether or not anyone finds out about the deed.
In the Christian worldview, there are moral absolutes– things that are wrong, for all people, in all times and places. Infidelity to one’s spouse is always certainly wrong, even if one manages to successfully hide it. Why do we believe this? Because God has created and sanctified marriage; the wife’s body belongs only to her husband, and the husband’s belongs to his wife. As my own wedding vows to my husband said, “I am consecrated unto you alone.” There are indelible Laws, and these laws can exist only because there is a Law Giver….
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