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The Internet

Is Computer Sex Adultery? 360

Online Seductions could be the perfect Valentine's Day gift, a sane guide to the relatively new world of online romance. A few years ago, Net romances made the evening news, usually accompanied by considerable hysteria about porn and predators. Thanks to the Net, strangers are falling in love all the time; cyber-romances so common some shrinks -- like the author of this book -- devote much of their practices to dealing with the fallout from them. How can you tell if it's the real thing? What are some danger signs? This paperback is cheaper than flowers, maybe more fun.
Online Seductions: Falling in love with Strangers on the Net
author Dr. Esther Gwinnell
pages 217
publisher Kodansha International
rating 6/10
reviewer Jon Katz
ISBN 1-56836-214-5
summary how to deal with online romance

Falling in love with strangers on the Net poses a whole set of special problems, says Dr. Esther Gwinnell, author of Online Seductions. Her book takes a shockingly businesslike and useful look at cyber-romance, the unheralded killer app of the World Wide Web.

When technology and romance mix, the result is explosive, many of the participants in need of a good shrink. Usually, the subject is treated phobically -- predators, stalkers, porno-peddlers, even cyber sexual assaults. But as more Americans go online, it follows that more are finding their ways into chat rooms, IM's and video-confs and trying to seduce each other, digitally and literally.

Gwinnel, an Oregon therapist, and other shrinks, report growing numbers of marriages in trouble because one or even both spouses are having online affairs. In her practice many patients are encountering some kind of problems with Net relationships.

For instance, they tend to falling in love with someone they meet online while other relationships flounder.

Or they fall in love with people who don't return their affection. Or think they're in love, but they're not sure.

Sometimes, of course, things get really ugly. An online romance turns into a frightening or pathological relationship. Or somebody has a pseud or doesn't tell you it's a same-sex relationship. Or that they're much younger or much older than you are. Or life outside the Net gradually shrivels and shrinks for the lovestruck.

People drawn to long distance romance used to fall in love via the post office or on the telephone. The Net obviously permits strangers to find one another more easily, get to know one another better and faster, and in a variety of ways, from chat rooms to IRC to video encounters.

A number of people in Gwinnel's practice have met online, fallen in love and been happy together for ages. It isn't rare any longer. Others get disappointed by flamers, fakers, and stalkers, or by role-players who aren't looking for real relationships. Seduction online lends itself both to experimentation and misunderstandings, and to the complications anonymity can breed.

Gwinnell gives advice on how to protect yourself online: how to spot trouble, to figure out when you've gone too far or when someone is going too far with you.

Where she scores highly with me is that Gwinnell brings a sensible, even historical approach to the topic of seduction. The Net may be new, she writes, but the issues she writes about are not. People have been meeting and falling in love in odd and unconventional ways ever since people have been falling in love.

Online relationships are still considered odd, despite their exploding numbers. Sex, as educators, parents and pols talk about it, is such a scary taboo that little useful information has emerged about how people meet online and conduct their seductions and affairs.

Gwinnell warns to be careful about taking too much advice from online therapists, and even though some of her patients suffer from Net addiction and obsession, she believes that for the majority of people the benefits of seeking romance on the Net outweigh the dangers. "And for those who are seeking a romantic companion, the Internet offers many opportunities to make emotional connections outside of those that hitherto have been available," she writes.

She also asks some interesting questions: is computer sex "adultery?" (Yup. Being unfaithful hurts relationships, no matter where it's done).

This perspective is quite different from the stream of alarms about perverts, predators and porn online.

Falling in love with strangers isn't talked about in proper society much. But it may soon be one of the primary means by which people seeking romance meet for the first time.

You can purchase this book at Fatbrain.

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Is Computer Sex Adultery?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Pick me, teacher! Me me me!

    I run a small roleplaying webchat. One of my cardinal rules of RP is Thou shalt not get overinvolved with thy character.

    The reason for this is quite simple: too much emotional involvement totally blurs the lines separating out of character "reality" with in character "fantasy," which in turn kills the roleplay (how you gonna enjoy your play if your character is just an extension of your ego/self?)

    By that reasoning, romance and sex are verboten in roleplay, seeing as these two touchy subjects are virtually guaranteed to cause messy emotional entanglements. Not to mention csex in roleplay turns it into a lame game of masturbatory, self-congratulatory adolescent fantasy ('course most of it is anyway, but I digress ;) instead of the immensely fun cooperative story telling it CAN be.

    Anyway, to wit. Just because it's "in character" doesn't mean it can't and won't get emotionally intense or cause hurt to others. So, if your going to enage in "romantic" or "sexual" roleplay, fine, but be DAMNED clear both to yourself and the people your playing with what it is. Establish very clear boundaries as to just how far things can go before it gets too serious to be fun and then be very careful about NOT crossing said boundaries. And you might want to clear it with your S.O. first as well so he/she doesn't stumble across you one day and get hurt.

    Just my $.02
  • If you are married and think that your spouse is emotionally attached to you and loves you, it's up to you to understand what might hurt your spouse.

    It doesn't even need to be computer sex to huge problems. Can't the spouse be jealous of a lot of other things ? I think it starts much earlier than that.

    Any thought exchange online other than your strictly professional ones, any exhaustive investment of thoughts in an interesting conversation online, which you can't share with your partner at the same time, already drifts you away from real life into your online forum life.

    Unless she/he is not involved in the converstation you have online with other people simultaneously, you have already made a decision not to exchange the thoughts with the person you live together with in real life.

    There it starts. You converse with your computer and not with your real-life live-in partner. Why would you live with someone together when at the same token that partner is not available to you, because he is living in his computer forum instead of living in your house with you, instead of talking to you about what is in his/her mind, talking to his forum friends.

    I bet that for many, many couples that already is a problem. You watch your partner mentally sucked into another world and are left outside (unless they discuss both in the same online community or forum and know the online identity of each other).

    The whole real problem is not the problem where it enters the realm of online sex. Anyone who needs to have online sex in his computer room, while his/her spouse is in the room next door waiting and matter of factly has to compete with your online fantasy sex, has already a huge problem at hand. If I were the spouse who feels cheated upon, I can only say, of course, it is adultery.

    It's even worse than that, because you devalue your real life spouse by replacing your spouse not even with another real life person, but with some idiotic bits and bytes fantasies. How more humiliating (and emotionally insane) can it get ?

    The argument that if the partner knows about it and agrees to it, is to me not a sign of not cheating, it's a sign of not having a relationship with that SO/spouse to begin with. OK, if both partners find their paradise in experimenting both together online with whatever "sex", doing it together, who would ever want to know and who would want to judge. It's their business. I just have doubts that this is often and honestly the case. My feelings are that one partner (who loves the other partner more) agrees into it (without really wanting to agree), because he/she is afraid of loosing the relationship.

    To me it's simply not imaginable that I could involve myself in a sexual exchange online. If I had a partner who wouldn't feel (naturally) the same way, and I had to face a situation where I compete with another human being which exists to my partner only in the form of bits and bytes, I would simple call it quits. My mental health and my dignity couldn't take it. I want to live in the real world and not compete with the online world.

    The medium is so addictive. And I am not willing to deny or overlook that. Anyone, seriously thinking about his/her own usage of online conversations, trying not deny what damage this medium in fact has on your real-life interactions with real people on a daily basis, has to admit its addictiveness.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @07:51AM (#432775)
    I divorced my Ex-wife based on this. The court recognized it, as well as the church. Sorry, cyber sex is cheating on your significant other. Those that believe that it is not is just trying to quiet their own concience.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @08:07AM (#432776)
    Some of those /. moderators better look out then!!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @07:05AM (#432777)
    Back in late 1995, when I first began my online adventures, there wasn't the proliferation of online dating sites like there is now. At that time, people pretty much relied on newsgroups and a few web sites devoted exclusively to providing seekers of love a means to find it.

    Our advice applies to meeting someone through any of our numerous opportunities (personals, discussion lists, chat, etc.) as well as anywhere else on the Web. If you are worried about safety issues while looking for romance online, consider these tips to ease your mind:

    Tip #1: Keep Your Personal Information Private

    Unless you know who you're dealing with, do not provide your personal information such as full name, address and phone number. This will ensure your physical safety. Most people are harmless and genuine about seeking a partner in love, but the Web is full of individuals with ill intentions. This is not to say that these individuals migrate to our site, but common sense in any arrangement must be applied. This same advice would hold true for meeting someone through the newspaper personals and other options.

    Tip #2: Carefully Choose Your Online Name

    If you are female and you intend to spend your time online in various chat rooms or signing up for various free e-mail accounts and you don't want to invite sexual inuendo or the virtual equivalent of a whistle and an uninvited sexual reference, then choose a gender neutral name. Of course, if your intention is to invite advances from men, then choose a feminine name, but be prepared for an onslaught of advances. This tip doesn't apply to women only, though, as the Web is full of very assertive women who will target nicks of the male variety. By choosing a gender-neutral identity online, you afford yourself the option of revealing your gender identity (or more) when you're comfortable in doing so.

    Tip #3: Have Your Wits About You When Meeting in Real Life

    If and when you decide to meet your online friend, don't go alone. Bring a group of friends along with you and schedule your meeting during the day and in a public place. The person you are meeting, if they are worthwhile, will agree to your request to meet in the safest possible surroundings.

    Tip #4: Trust Your Instincts

    Too many of us don't trust our instincts and betray them, often to our own detriment. Our instincts are always trying to tell us something. Learn to trust your instincts. If something about your online encounters feels uncomfortable, you can almost bet that an in-person encounter will feel the same. With this in mind, don't lead someone on in e-mail. If you get an immediate sense that they are not your type, let them know politely by giving them the digital equivalent of "let's just be friends." If you lead someone on and their emotions get the best of them, there will be trouble. If they persist even after you have proclaimed disinterest, ignore them. This includes their repeated e-mails. If this doesn't work, retain their messages and forward them to their online service provider. It is rare that situations ever get to this point, but if they do, retaining such information will assist you should you ever have to take further action.

    Tip #5: Be Weary of Totally Free Personals Services

    Sure, there are an abundance of free personals services across the Web. Many of the larger Web directories offer such services. When a service is entirely free, be cautious of the quality of the individuals with whom you correspond. Free services are easy targets for devious or insincere types because of that fact: they're free. More often than not, individuals who opt for a pay service are usually seeking quality, not only in the service itself, but in the other people who also participate.

    As with any online activity, the best advice for online dating is pretty simple: exercise common sense. Think of the Web in terms of a large city. If you were a tourist in California, you wouldn't give your name, address, phone number and credit card number to just anyone on the street. Right?

  • by Tony Shepps ( 333 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @09:19AM (#432778) Homepage
    Continuing on (revised std version):

    29: If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.
    30: And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
    31: It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.'
    32: But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

    And lest we forget, Leviticus 20:10:

    If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.

    Hey, I quote this not as scripture, but just as one possible viewpoint and answer to the question. If you commit adultery in your heart, your eye has offended you; pluck it out. I guess if you commit adultery in a chat room, you should cut of your internet connection and maybe a few fingers.

    And if you've lusted after that neighbor, one possible viewpoint is that you should be put to death.

    Good luck. I would avoid the neighbors completely just to make sure.

  • Sure, the romance thing is good for some people, but you can always skip the pretense/foreplay and head straight for the hardcore sex.

    M4M4Sex [] is just one site that helps gay men find and fuck each other far more cost-effectively than something like a singles bar ever could.

    Just another way that the internet enhances our lives.

  • Hey, I think that's the soap opera my wife watches :)
  • Your mind, your intent and your emotional consequences are relevent. Acting on your intent is only a problem if you have the intent in the first place.

    Or, to put it another way, if you're sane, rational, honest and aware of the consequence, you would never have the need TO break any commitments. Cos you'd never have made any that you couldn't keep and those you'd made would be important enough TO keep.

    Or, to put it a third way, the more screwed up a person is, the more they'll get screwed. In both senses of the word.

  • The comment from an anonymous user called "My two cents, or the story of how I met my wife" is actually from me, Jason Haas, of Linux [] PPC [] and Slashdot [] fame [].

    My comment, because of a browser fuckup, wasn't recorded as being from me. (I guess Konquerer doesn't like Slashdot's cookies!)

    If you're wondering, the AC who posted that is me. The article I tried to link to in the comment was the Slashdot coverage [] of what happened to me back in March 2000. (I'm much better now!)

    And all I wanted to do was tell the story of how I met my wife, which was due to the net! :)

    So, please, look for my story. It's a good one. :-)

    Haaz: Co-founder, LinuxPPC Inc., making Linux for PowerPC since 1996.
  • Cool! That means I stopped being a virgin when I was, like, 8 years old. I'm not as much of a dork as I thought I was!
  • Cool!

    That means I stopped being a virgin when I was, like, 8 years old. I'm not as much of a dork as I thought I was!

  • Culture is, in turn and by varying degrees, influenced by religion, tradition, pop-culture, philosophy, the weather, science, superstition, etc.

    There were some pretty amazing and complex cultues around before 'The Bible' came along to put a few the ideas into words which, being ascribed to an Amazing Supernatural Creature has a more powerful and convincing effect on a painfully self-aware human race which tends to look to the Sky for help when it's back (collective or otherwise) is against the proverbial Wall.

    There are PLENTY of standards. You're soaking in them to such a degree that it's hard to see them.

    The fact that we can intellectualize and question them leads many (especially the younger ones) to believe that the standards don't exist. Wrong!

  • IMO, and others', only you and your partner can define what is adulterous. If your partner has no problem with you calling 1-900 sex numbers, then so be it, it ain't. The line is drawn where the agreement is made. For myself and my own fiancee, the line is drawn at the point of action - where it becomes interactive and more than just "wow, look at ". We didn't sit down and agree on this, it's just understood.

    However: if you need me, or anybody else, to tell you this, my suspicion is that your relationship is on shaky ground anyway. Morals come from within, not without, and most peoples' reaction to having others' morals imposed on them is to go out and do whatever it is they're not meant to be doing.

    (Strictly speaking, if you had a Christian Church wedding (be it RC, some form of Protestant, whatever), then as previous posters have noted, thinking is as good as doing.)

    If you think your partner is being ridiculous in saying that online sex is cheating (or, reversed, if you think they're being ridiculous in saying it isn't), perhaps you should consider the lack of respect that's apparently there. (Not meaning you the person whose post I'm replying to; meaning you the reader who's in this hypothetical relationship.)
  • If you say the earth is flat, I'll laught at you. If you say the earth is flat and that's your religion, I loose my right to laught about it ?

    And laughing is your prerogative. We're not talking about something that can be empirically proven though - we're talking about ethics, we're talking about morals - although some philosophers believe these CAN be scientifically proven. By openly laughing, however, you lose your right not to be laughed at in return.

    Most christian people do this or that because "the Bible says so, and if it is in the Bible, then it is true". What an amazing display of self-thinking and independance !

    Has it occurred to you that perhaps they've considered the alternatives and rejected them? Would that not fall under the definition of "self thinking" and "independance" [sic] ?

    not ALL my beliefs come from ONE book. It's not getting ideas from book which is wrong, it is getting ALL your ideas and ALL your beliefs from ONE book, and then stubornly refusing anything not compatible with those ideas because they are against what that one book says.

    I know VERY few people that get ALL their beliefs from ONE book, be they Christian, Jew, or Satanist. Ditto for the stubborn refusal idea. The original poster wasn't saying that "the Bible says that this is adultery, so it must be true". The original poster was saying "this is the Bible's take on it, take it for what it's worth to you". And my reply to the followup to that post was "don't reject it just because it's in the Bible".

    It isn't JUST in the Bible, either. Many philosophical beliefs include this concept. (I happen to agree with those beliefs; many do not. That doesn't make them wrong, it makes them different.)

    re "most christian people". By christian, do you mean people who follow the Bible, or do you mean people who believe in the Christian God? If the former, then obviously they believe that if it's in the Bible, it's true. (That doesn't mean their ethics are wrong, either.) If you mean the latter, I know *many* people who follow the concepts in the Bible according to *their* interpretation. Their self-thinking and independence led them to the conclusion that there is, indeed, a greater being, and that some of the concepts in the Bible are good. I'm don't believe in a greater being myself, but that doesn't mean I can't choose to live by some of the concepts in the Christian Bible.

    By the way, by defending your right to ridicule somebody for their beliefs (whether or not their beliefs seem logical to you), you defend my own right to ridicule you for yours, immaterial of their logic. (Do unto others... but that's a Christian concept, so does that make it false?)
  • by kraig ( 8821 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @08:19AM (#432806) Homepage
    Is something invalid just because it's in the Bible? (And, for that matter, who are you to ridicule somebody for their religious beliefs, as your post implies?)

    Further, this belief is in more publications, if you will, than simply the Christian Bible. The concept of "thinking it is as bad as doing it" has been around for longer than the Bible. Just how much longer is left as an exercise for the reader; Greek philosophers may have had something to say on the subject of ethics and morals.

    Living by "rules" in the Bible doesn't require that you accept that there's a God as defined in said book; it just requires that you do unto others as you would have them do unto you, take personal responsibility for your actions, and other similar ideas. (But these are obviously silly and outdated in a day where the person opening an attachment maliciously sent to them is at fault for getting a virus... sorry, that's a different rant.)

    If old books seem stupid, you could try reading, f'rinstance, Robert Heinlein, he held a few of the same beliefs. Or you could work out your own set of beliefs to stand by; provided they don't break any laws, there's no harm in that.

    You could even post on slashdot, for all the world to see, your personal beliefs so that somebody else can take potshots at them because they happen to be based on a book. (I find it quite likely that, no matter what your beliefs, they've been previously published somewhere, so it should be fairly easy.)
  • Biblical scholars and historians are in general agreement that the four gospel texts were written long after the death of Jesus. While they may be edited transcripts of oral traditions, they are not eyewitness accounts recorded at or shortly after the events they describe.

    There is also general agreement (or at least a strong argument, I am not a "new testament" adherent or bible scholar) that the gospel books in particular have to be considered in the context of when they were written. You have the changing makeup of the early church from Jewish "followers" of Jesus to gentiles, and the changing relationship with Rome.

    Fundamentalist Christians who consider their Bible the direct recorded word of G-d are free to disagree with me.

  • You're probably thinking of Josephus. A Jewish general who changed sides when he saw his cause was lost (you think the ficitonal Borg are bad - Romans with appropriate technology would waste them).

    AFAIK, Josephus makes NO mention of Jesus in his two books that have survived ("The Jewish Wars" is one, I forget the title of the other).

  • by Phexro ( 9814 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @08:59AM (#432809)
    you're married to another computer.
  • by HyPeR_aCtIvE ( 10878 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @07:10AM (#432810) Homepage
    But just curious, where do you draw the line? If you consider pure 'computer sex' to be adultery (not talking about a computer relationship, just talking to someone while masterbating) ...

    What about a computer program that 'talks to you'?

    Or calling a late night 1-977-xxx-xxxx number?

    Or looking at pornographic material?

    I think most typical people's responses would be that neither of the last 3 are 'adultery', so then why does option 1 count?
  • while fondling around with Anna Kournikova virus

    So what does that have to do with your computer?

    ...Oh you mean that Outlook thing.;-)
  • I recall from old catholic lessons on sin that
    mere action is not necessarily a sin.
    Necessary mental components include:
    (1) UNDERSTANDING there is a "wrongness"- deceit,
    hurt, selfishness, etc. Just because there may not
    be "an entry in the book" doesn't mean it isn't wrong.
    An adult would understand wrongness better
    than a child.
    (2) INTENT to perform the wrong action.
    Accidents aren't necessarily sin.
    (3) TAKING STEPS to perform the wrong action.
    Lust in one's heart isn't necessarily bad.
    Trying to cheat on the computer, but failing is.

    So under several circumstances computer sex can be wrong.
    Out legal code takes some mental state into account,
    but catholics allow more guilt and leeway.

  • F-U F-Me []

    Thanks, Slashdot, for making V-Day a little more inane than it already is.


  • Sex Bot [] by chance? ;D

  • Just another thought:

    Many people don't know how to read scripture -- and I'm not just talking about the Bible. Rather than taking it as a possible source of wisdom from which one could learn something, they see it as a rulebook and source material for a feared hegemony (although if you're going to try to live a spiritual discipline, rules do come in at some point -- "that which abideth a law is protected and sanctified by the same").

    This observation of mine is supported by the fact there about 10 replies of people who have to ask: Does that mean that it's only adultery if you lust after a woman? What about men? Goats? A bit of thinking goes a long way here. But in order to do that thinking -- and associated wisdom -- have to think about the text, almost enter into a dialogue with it, rather than treat it as a dead set if rules to be interpreted mechanistically and blindly followed. That's a start, at least...

  • by Kimble ( 17437 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @07:16AM (#432821) Homepage
    Why do people refuse to give credit these days? The parent post was written by Deborah Brown, and can be found here: (All of the tips do make sense, of course.)
  • Just because you don't literaly slip Mr. Happy into another person doesn't mean you aren't being unfaithful to your signifigant other.

  • how the separation of Church and State in schools has led to a vacuum where once children were taught the proper ways to behave.
    Children have always been taught proper behavior at home. I'm sorry if you choose to abdicate that ethical responsibility to the Imperial Federal Government. Sorry for your kids, that is.

    Morals are just words in a book somebody has elevated to the status of an idol. Ethics are real-world ways to solve real-world problems with a minimum of pain.

    That said, anytime someone uses the square-headed girlfriend as an escape from a relationship, it means there are problems in the relationship, whether the escape is XXX chat rooms, Doom, or hacking the demon code. (See how this ends up covering MORE than mere malicious intent?)

    The poster and I do agree on a few things, though. One, get a life outside the box. (I actually use the box to help create life outside it.... I have a standing date every week with a bunch of folk I keep up with on line the rest of the time. Some of them are even closer than that.) And I also agree that if you're in a bad relationship, and the other person isn't talking, get the hell out!! It's never too late to start over, as long as you're still breathing.

    I have to wonder, though, why the guy used a Decepticon's name for a handle....

    "It takes a lot of courage to stand up and get what you need...
    Oh, more of us are happy in a different kind of Family."
    -- Gaia Consort []

  • Well according to the Bible, even THINKING about a woman to lust after her is adultery! so YES.
    "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." Matt 5:27,28.
  • If you or your SO think it's adultery then it is. It's that simple. Some couples don't think it's a betrayal of marriage vows to occaisionally sleep with another person, some think it's ok as long as the other person approves it, some think it's not ok to even look at another with lust in one's eyes. There is a whole spectrum of beliefs. So in any individual case, it is up to those individuals.

    If you want to appoint some outside agency (the Catholic Church as an example) to make that decision for you, then you must find out what their stance is on the issue. If you were Catholic then I'm pretty sure they would consider it a sin. As George Carlin said: "Wanna is a sin all by itself!" Just thinking about having sex with someone else is a sin.

    In the end, however, it is you and your partner who must decide whether it's wrong or not.
  • Court cite? I'm assuming that you are claiming that you divorced your wife on grounds of adultery and the court accepted the adultery as true, not that you divorced your wife and the court accepted online emotional entanglements as alienation of affection or something.

    Adultery is a pretty specific legal concept under US law; if you are claiming the above, I'm suspecting you aren't posting from the US; which country is it?
  • "Or they fall in love with people who don't return their affection. Or think they're in love, but they're not sure."

    I'm sure glad that never happens in off-line relationships. That would be horrible.

    I'll quote Chris Rock on this one, "There are always two women. One that you love. One that loves you. One got the best pussy in the world. The other has the best pancakes in the world"

  • Has it occurred to you that perhaps they've considered the alternatives and rejected them? Would that not fall under the definition of "self thinking" and "independance" [sic] ?

    No, it hasn't. Or rather, it had and I laughed at the thought.

    I only know one christian who has anything like a rational view of religion, he was a minister and studied the bible in the original languages, decided what survived the translation, and tries to base his views on what he thinks a god who had said those things would now want him to do.

    Every other christian I know blindly follows either what they read or what their minister reads and tells them. They're incredibly uncomfortable with the idea that the bible isn't the inspired word of god. Those bible contradiction sites that have two passages from different 'translations' that directly conflict, or that point out how the original King James talked about unicorns freak these people out. They think one of the translations must be a false one by satan, or that maybe there really were unicorns. (All because some tired monk wrote down the wrong word...)

    I pick on christians here just because they're the most common, and most vocal, by far. I know some jews but they've never mentioned their beliefs (they're not orthodox, so they don't eat kosher or anything.) And I'm sure some of my other friends have beliefs that are less western than that, but they too have kept silent.

    And very few people question their beliefs. When I realize I'm at odds with what many people think, I try to check my opinions. But religious people just say that faith is required and ignore any contradictions. It's like a flat-earther who realizes they don't hold the majority view, but who refuses a ride in an airplane where they could see this theoretical curvature of the earth and prove once and for all which is true...

    Ignorance is perfectly acceptable, everyone is ignorant and always will be, there's just too much to learn. What isn't acceptable is someone who ignores the chance to trade some ignorance in for knowledge.

  • When you spend a majority of your free time on MU*s like I do, you tend to meet all sorts of people. Almost a year ago, I met someone who lived well over 1,500 miles from me, but we seemed to get along so well.

    Online chats turned to (expensive) phone conversations, and I eventually flew over to visit her for a weekend. We had a great time, but unfortunately there was just no way either of us could move. It was a good thing, but not phenomenal, and not worth an incredible amount of trouble.

    On the other hand, I've met people who have moved or are planning to do so for people they've met online. Some of them are insanely happy. Some of them didn't work out. And I've even known someone who found herself someone with severe mental instability that could've been dangerous.

    In the end, it's not all that different from real life meetings. You just get a wider selection, and don't see them face to face. That can cause problems with two women I know who've been starting a relationship, since one of them had masqueraded online as a man for her own protection. But it seems to be working out.

    At least when you meet someone online, you know that in the long run they'll understand your need for DSL or cable modem. ;)
  • by dmorin ( 25609 ) < minus bsd> on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @07:17AM (#432835) Homepage Journal
    This is hardly new. The first love of my life I met online, back in the days of Compuserve's CB simulator, around about 1986 or so. I also spent a long, long time hanging out on the alt.romance group where the discussion is naturally quite popular.

    People seem to think that the rules are different, that somehow the people they meet over the net are magically different from those they'd meet in real life. A woman meets a guy who admits to being married, but adds "Oh, I'm going to divorce her" and naturally the woman believes. These days, forget it -- ask for a picture and get a picture of a different person.

    Once upon a time having long distance romances was ok -- you spent all your time talking and learning about the other person. These days people think they can use the net like a springboard into a new pool of eligible singles from around the world. The first conversation usually involves "Where are you from and how much do you weigh?" I mean, let's be frank -- people are still as much about the shallow and material things as they've ever been. At least the kids have it right -- they just blatantly running around asking "age sex location check?" (In my day it used to be just 'morf', for male-or-female, but I guess age and location are important now).

    Once upon a time, when cyberspace was young and underpopulated, you had a very good chance that the person you were talking to was a kindred spirit. They'd probably come to the net (or other online world) for similar reasons that you had, work, school, whatever. And in those days you connected brain to brain, soul to soul, and you learned really fast who you were attracted to. We talked about religion, or philosophy, or math or movies or books. Maybe, eventually, out of curiosity, you'd ask where the other person was from. Maybe, eventually, out of curiosity, you'd think about meeting. That's all gone now. I know a young lady who trolled the net looking for a date for my wedding, and was prepared to bring someone from the opposite coast until he made it clear that if he shelled out for a plane ticket he was looking to get some. She was offended, but what did she expect? Is she blind? She'd talked to him for a week.

    The net has turned into the singles bar that we all hated. What's the big complaint about the bar scene? That it's a meat market, all about looks and shallow people? So the first thing we do when we get on the net is ask for a picture and go to We've done it to ourselves. I know so many people now that are looking for love on the net. For years I've been telling them the same thing -- "Stop looking. Find a topic you are interested in. Find a forum or mailing list where they talk about that. Start talking. Before you know it you'll find someone you're attracted to, and guess what, they've got something in common with you." It works. I met many, many nice young ladies while hanging out in alt.romance (several of whom are still very dear friends, but my favorite was the one who emailed me "WHERE ARE YOU AND ARE YOU SINGLE???" :)). But nobody wants my advice. They want to get laid. And right now.

  • Actually, pretty much everything sexual in the Bible refers to straight guys.

    I was being curious and picky a while ago, so checked. Lesbianism is entirely safe according to Leviticus. No problems whatsoever.

  • Y'know, I honestly don't have the details to hand. are quite useful for this sort of thing...

    Anyway - the point is it prohibits _men_ lying together. No mention of _women_. Nothing.
  • by GregWebb ( 26123 ) on Monday February 19, 2001 @01:33PM (#432840)
    Actually, I'm quite happy to agree with that sort of thing. I'm a Christian myself and don't think overly literal readings of the Bible help anyone. People, remember it's translated from languages we're not always that sure about - you will not find anyone who's a native speaker of Aramaic, 2000 year old Greek and current English, after all.

    The reason I was researching this was after a wonderful post from a friend to a mailinglist. I'll copy it below:

    Subject: Why can't I own Canadians?

    Background: Laura Schlessinger is a US radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that as an observant Orthodox Jew homosexuality is an abominaton according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned in any circumstance. The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a US resident, which was posted on
    the Internet :)

    Dear Dr. Laura: Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to follow them.

    a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odour for the Lord (Lev. 1:9). The problem is my neighbours. They claim the odour is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

    b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

    c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev. 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offence.

    d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

    e) I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill
    him myself?

    f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev. 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

    g) Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my
    vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

    h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.19:27. How should they die?

    i) I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

    j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev.24:10-16) Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

    I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and
    unchanging. Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.

    At this point it's normally worth reminding people that Leviticus is part of Old Testament Law and that Christians aren't subject to it, it's mostly there for historical reference...

  • Matthew 27:5
    ...and he went and hanged himself.

    Luke 10:37
    Go and do thou likewise.


  • by Obiwan Kenobi ( 32807 ) <evan&misterorange,com> on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @07:50AM (#432847) Homepage
    Yup, I got bit by the love-bug way back in 1997. I met this great girl on IRC, we chatted for hours, and agreed to meet the next day in the same channel.

    This went on for a good 6-8 months. We became the pseudo-boy/girlfriend even though we were fifteen hundred miles from one another.

    Over time, you realize how close and dependant you get to certain people, especially in online relationships. And since you don't have to go through the butterflies or nervousness that comes with meeting people in real life, the anonymous exotic world of IRC (among other utilities) gets you past the horrid beginnings and right into the good stuff--getting to know the person for who they really are.

    Sometimes, it backfires. Mine didn't...much.

    We met that September (of 97). She flew to see me. We had a great time the week she was here, but...when it was time for her to go home, it simply tore my heart out--I'm sure those who've been through this sort of thing know what I mean. So, after she went home, a month went by and the phone bill skyrocketed from our constant calls and the plain ole missing of one another.

    After many calls and discussions, me and her finally agreed to end it.

    Of course, she didn't tell me at the time she was gay.

    Nope, didn't mention it at all.


  • Hmm.. well most people will tell that at least four detailed first-person accounts of Jesus existing are around.. one authored directly by Luke, and three more dictated by Matthew, Mark, and John.

    Unfortunately, none of these people would be biblical scholars. There are some people who try very, very hard to correlate the bible with historical fact. Very few of these people believe that those books were, in fact, written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Those books were considered "good sources" at the time that the bible was assembled -- several hundred years after the death of Jesus -- and their authorship was attributed to those Apostles to give them greater legitimacy.


  • by cje ( 33931 )
    In terms of Internet activity, you are not looking at anybody, lustfully or otherwise, so the above verse does not apply. To suggest otherwise would be to suggest that by reading this Slashdot post of mine, you are "looking" at me. There is zero Scriptural justification for this.
  • How interesting that you crow on about "taking personal responsibility" and then in the next breath attempt to absolve e-mail users of all responsibility with regards to their actions. Virus writers clearly shoulder the majority of the blame when it comes to the affects that viruses cause, but dim-witted users are a big part of the problem, as well. Anybody who opens an "attachment" with the extension "jpg.vbs" that ends up unleashing Hell onto a corporate intranet is culpable. They should know better, but because they didn't know better, their stupidity has cost their company potentially millions of dollars from downtime and lost wealth creation opportunity.

    If you're going to shout the virtues of personal responsibility from the highest tower in the land, at least be consistent. Users who ignore all virus warnings and common sense security precautions share the blame when viruses bring companies to their knees. They are legally and financially responsible for a portion of the damages. If they lose their Lexus and end up driving a Chevy, so be it; you can bet they'll be more careful next time.
  • by cje ( 33931 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @07:20AM (#432851) Homepage
    Consider this: A married man has "cybersex" on an IRC channel. Unbeknownst to him, his "partner" is actually a sophisticated bot written in Perl. Is that adultery, since there is no "other woman?"
  • by Firinne ( 43280 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @07:16AM (#432859)
    ...if your spouse or S.O. is unaware of it, or does not approve. If they are both aware and approving, then there is no cheating involved, just as in real life relationships.

  • by drivers ( 45076 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @07:48AM (#432860)
    I think the important thing, if you are thinking about falling in love and having a relationship, is to meet them in person, and get the relationship off-line as soon as possible. As long as it's on-line it's too easy to idealize the relationship. I mean really, if you think typing to another person online is a meaningful relationship, that alone is not really true.

    Online, the other person appears to us how they think we want them to (and vice versa). The Desert of the Real can be quite desolate in comparison.

    (of course the usual cautions about meeting strangers applies, even if you think you know all about them.)
  • It is a threat to bandwidth and system stability(much like Napster and Gnutella are). If I were in charge of a large LAN (over 1000 clients connected), then I would develop a blacklist of smut websites for the router to block out.

    Sex has no place in the workplace. Period.

    Erm... near as I can tell, the issue of sex in the workplace was never brought up. Most porn/sex-type stuff, I believe I can state with some certainty, is done at home. Workplace issues are irrelevant; you're attacking an issue outside the scope of the article.

  • Shouldn't this be a slashdot poll?

    I just asked this very question of my wife, my mistress, and my current girlfriend. Its two votes no, one yes. But now they want to check my history file and drop a sniffer on my local segment. Thank god for IPSec tunnels :-)

    the AC
    Add my no vote to your tally
  • by Betcour ( 50623 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @07:09AM (#432870)
    I like 28 : "we know what you think, who you are, and you are all guilty and shall worship me if you want any hope of saving your miserable life" (booming voice)

    No one would ever accept that from anyone, but of course if it is written in a very old book it has to be accepted as the ultime truth...
  • My personal experience has shown me that online romances _can_ be adultry, although the line is a difficult one to draw.

    I was married to a lovely lady somewhere in the midwest. Not too technically adept, she was fascinated with the internet and took to it like a fish to water when she moved in and got 24/7 access to my computer. After a period of time, our relationship grew less intense (like most relationships do), and she turned to chat rooms to suppliment the excitement in her life. No big deal - it wasn't like she didn't have friends in the physical world, and the continuous influx of new names kept her entertained.

    I'm certain that you can all see it coming. She met a guy in Canada in one of the chat rooms. Again, no biggie, it's not like she could fool around with the guy, and, hey, I shouldn't be restricting her from harmless friendships, right?

    After about two months she was spending more time online with him than talking to me. Eventually they started calling each other on the phone. My first clue that this was going on was when I recieved a notice that the credit card that my phone bill was being charged to had been cancelled for being way over its limit. I eventually discovered that she had averaged about an hour a day on the phone with him for about a month, racking up a total of $850 in phone bills over 28 days. Calling cards on payphones for international calls can be REALLY expensive. I still keep the bills as a souvenier. I understand that this was just the bills for her calling him, and that he had called her just as much, but on a better calling plan.

    The funny part of this is that, when the guy heard how pissed off I was at this, he stopped talking to her. I don't believe they ever met. She didn't talk to me for about two weeks because of that. It occasionally takes a large brick to convince people that the love has gone out of a relationship. Her silence was a bigger brick than the phone calls.

    A relationship is all about two people enjoying each other's company. When one of those people abandon the other for a third person's company, they are in effect "going out" on the relationship. I can't say it's cheating, because everyone's rules are different. I can say that such abandonment is harmful to a relationship. In my case, it was fatal.

    Mythological Beast
  • Meat market indeed. I do have to brag that I finally met someone IRL who I'd been doing web work for for the past 2 years, and it was awesome. He's moving here. :-)

    Yes, Virginia, there are still honest people online.

    "I'm not a bitch, I just play one on /."
  • As for the question in the heading of this article, I just don't see how using a computer to fall in love with somebody makes it any different than falling in love with someone over any other medium, be it IRL, a pen-pal situation, over the phone, or whatever.

    It's like this -- if you use a computer to steal a million dollars, it's ethically the same as if you stole a million physical dollars. The semantics might be different, but you're in the same boat. A million dollars is a million dollars. Cheating on your significant other is cheating on your significant other. I mean -- I would be just as pissed off at my girlfriend if she called up the LiveLinks Phone Dating Service and found someone as if she went looking for someone in a chat room. We're in a relationship -- we need to work out our problems with each other, not turn to some kind of "outside comfort". Just because the computer makes it easier just doesn't make it ethically different.
  • This reminds me -- I once uncovered an ex-girlfriend that was being unfaithful because she was using a command-line icq client on a box I administrated to talk to her new boyfriend... hah... I was a little suspicious so I just did a:

    # tail -f micq.log

    one day while she was talking, and after a few messages scrolled by, that was the end of that. My suspicions were confirmed.

  • I do have to say, it's pretty scary that anyone even asked this question, without the answer being glaringly obvious... :-(
  • A woman must be willing but a man does not?

    That little bit is thrown in there because being raped does not constitute committing adultry. I don't think that there's a double standard there, it just that it's more difficult and much less common for a woman to rape a man than vice versa.

  • by gadders ( 73754 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @07:41AM (#432888)
    Good advice, but I'd like to add my 2p...

    Tip #1 : Keep Your Personal information Private)

    When you finally hump and dump the chick you meet online, the last thing you want is her emailing and phoning you all day long. Or your girlfriend/wife finding out. But you should still stay in touch, just in case you fancy a repeat performance some time. Just say your PC crashed and you lost all your passwords etc etc if she asks why you haven't been in touch.

    Tip #2: Carefully Choose Your Online Name

    Don't call yourself "Big Ten Incher" unless you are. Otherwise, prepare yourself for the looks of disappointment when you get your kit off.

    Tip #3: Have Your Wits About You When Meeting in Real Life

    Fuck yes. Get there late, so that you can spot her before she spots you. That way, if she has a face like a smacked arse, it's not too late to abort the mission. This may be hard for some of you to accept, but I have reason to believe that some of the women you meet online may lie about how attractive they really are. Otherwise why would they be trying to score via the net?

    Tip #4: Trust Your Instincts

    If something about your online encounters feels uncomfortable, you can almost bet that an in-person encounter will feel the same. The best thing to do is to let them down gently with a polite "Fuck off, I'd rather stick my cock in a blender." Before doing this, make sure that you have followed Tips 1 & 2 to the letter. This system of abusing people that can't find out who you are has been working on Usenet for years.

    Tip #5: Be Weary of Totally Free Personals Services

    And be wary of them as well. If you follow my tips, you have so much action your dick will be worn down to a stump. Also, when a service is entirely free, be cautious of the quality of the individuals with whom you correspond - you want a women that can afford to pay for dinner when you go out, not some tight bitch that can't even pay for an ad. In addition, free services are easy targets for devious or insincere types because of that fact: they're free. So go for somewhere a bit more selective, otherwise you could end up with some gullible tart and end up stirring the porridge of a couple of hundred other blokes.
  • I submit that the Bible is an outdated manuscript of social order and either needs to be revamped to accomodate for todays.... peculiarities, or we do away with it completely and become Aztecs.

    I agreeitlan.
  • I certainly didn't intend it for this purpose, but my program Last Resort [] for the Mac OS from Working Software [] was instrumental in one of the editors of MacUser [] magazine discovering that his girlfriend was having an online affair.

    This was before widespread use of the Internet by the public (although I was using it at the time). I don't know what network his girlfriend was using, but it was some proprietary system like Compuserve or AOL.

    Last Resort patched the GetNextEvent trap in the MacOS to save all your keystrokes into a file. The buffer is flushed and the volume flushed too every few keystrokes, so if you're writing the next Great American Novel and lose power, while the text may be a little garbled, you'll at least get your words back.

    Unfortunately for this fellow's girlfriend, this editor was an enthusiastic Last Resort user and he discovered her steamy letters to her online lover in his keystroke files.

    I was utterly horrified to find this out but the fellow came up to me at the MacWorld trade show and thanked me profusely.

    Last Resort was my first shipping commercial software product (now one of many []). It was a simple program that took 8 kb of ram during operation, but we were well aware of the privacy implications. It doesn't try to hide itself - it shows up in your control panels under the apple menu and it displays it's "resort logo" with a palm tree by a beach (an early attempt at art by Yours Truly) at startup.

    There are numerous more invasize products meant to snoop on your lovers - or capture passwords. For example, I received some spam from someone who was selling software that would hide itself well and save its keystroke files encrypted on a disk, then make an encrypted network connection to a server to upload the keystroke files from the hapless user's machine.

    This wasn't your government snooping on you, this guy was looking for a distributor to publish the program.

    This MacUser editor later published a novel about the software industry in which many fictitiously named but software applications that were thinly disguised versions of real products (I guess for trademark reasons) played central roles in the plot. I'm proud to say that his thinly disguised clone for Last Resort was responsible for saving the world!

    Now if I could remember his name I'd give you a URL to the book...

    Mike []

  • by goingware ( 85213 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @12:00PM (#432897) Homepage
    I married a woman I met after she sent me an email to say she liked my web page.

    She wasn't all that impressed, it was just a brief note to compliment my page, and I get such notes all the time.

    What mattered was that we began corresponding, and after a month or so I asked for her phone number, and we began talking on the phone occassionally. I really impressed her by calling her in Nova Scotia while I was visiting a friend in Rome.

    She lived in Truro, Nova Scotia, I in Santa Cruz, California. I soon discovered the need for cheap long distance - before I got my rate lowered I received a $2500 bill for just one month, and even after getting AT&T one rate international my bills were running $1100 per month.

    She didn't own her own computer so voice over IP wasn't an option, and I tried to make it one by sending her my old 486 and Speak Freely []. While she was able to negotiate Speak Freely's complex UI the 486 wasn't up to the task of the signal processing.

    I also made three visits to her (the first on January 18, 1998, in wintry Canada from sunny California, bringing a rose with me all the way on the plane), and she made two to me.

    It was when I offerred to buy her a brand new Pentium-II machine to run Speak Freely on that she decided to finally come out to Santa Cruz [] and live with me.

    She soon found work doing biotech and was able to stay for a year on a TN-1 visa, an option also available to americans and mexicans in each other's countries who hold bachelor's degrees and work in various professional fields (tip - computer programming qualifies).

    We were married July 22, 2000 in Pippy Park, St. John's Newfoundland just outside the Fluvarium [] where we held our reception. It was a beautiful day - outdoor weddings are not common in Newfoundland because of the northern climate, and in fact we rented a big tent.

    We moved back to the U.S. a few weeks ago and now live in Owl's Head Maine [] in a house we could have never hoped to have afforded in Santa Cruz.

    Mike []

  • Point of order, please...

    Living by "rules" in the Bible doesn't require that you accept that there's a God as defined in said book; it just requires that you do unto others as you would have them do unto you...

    Actually that is completely incorrect in and of itself. The "do unto others..." Golden Rule is only the second half of a quote of Jesus in the New Testament. You omitted the first half of the rule which tells you to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and then it says to love your neighbor (do unto others) as yourself. He then goes on to explain that on this whole basic rule hinges every other rule/law, including ultimately the lust-in-the-heart topic.

    You are not "Living by the "rules" in the Bible" if you take the second half of this most basic rule without the first half. Without the whole rule the rest of the Bible (including the on-topic part about lust in the heart) is just sophistry and legalism. Hence the original poster's snide comment: they don't buy the "God part" and so consider the rest to be nonsense.

  • As many others here have pointed out, adultery is most reasonably defined to be about intent, not action. If I'm married and, unbeknownst to my wife, go looking for a hooker for sex (but fail to find one) I'm just as adulterous as if I'd actually found one and done my Hugh Grant impression.

    So, yes, it would be adultery to have cybersex with a bot. Look at it this way. Take two scenarios: man has cybersex with unknown partner online. In one case, the partner is a human female; in the other case, the partner is a bot. If the man never finds out whether the partner was a real human or not, does it make any difference to his wife when she finds the chat log that he stupidly forgot to delete? Of course not.
  • Well let's look at it this way. Take the man by himself, forget about his wife. What did he do? He sought out a sexual companion for cybersex. Again, intent is the key here, not action -- if you go out looking for a hooker but fail to find one, you've betrayed your partner as much as if you actually did find one and did the deed. Regardless of who the sexual companion REALLY WAS, the man was seeking a sexual companion who was not his wife.

    Similarly, the wife was seeking a sexual companion who was not her husband. Assuming that their relationship contains the idea that adultery is bad, mmmkay, then they are both equally guilty. In that sense it sort of cancels out, and hopefully they will try to communicate better so that they can work out their relationship problems (if they're looking for alternate sex partners, then something's clearly wrong... unless they have the kind of relationship where doing that is acceptable!).
  • I would be willing to bet that there are at least a small number of humans, who are not insane, and believe that it is perfectly morally acceptable to kill someone for any reason. Or maybe even less extreme versions of that, such as, it's okay to kill someone if they're doing something you don't like, but it's not okay to kill your family.

    The reason, I think, that murder is so commonly considered immoral is because, in general, murder runs contrary to one's own interests, and most social systems recognize this.

    Let's take an example. There is a person A who does not like person B. Person B steals person A's stuff, cuts person A off on the freeway, and generally makes life difficult for person A (however B has no violent intent toward person A; they will not assault them or kill them).

    If A kills B, A's life has improved because B is no longer hassling A. Therefore, murder is okay for A!

    Except... B has lots of friends who are upset that B is dead, so they *all* start making trouble for A, and possibly kill him in revenge (or at the very least beat him severely, and often).

    So even though killing B was in A's interests in the short term, in the long term, it was against A's interests.

    People generally know that if you kill someone, other people will come and make your life worse. Wanton killings also lead to more unstable societies; people like stability, and since murder helps prevent stability, people don't like murder, so it gets codified as social dogma.

    Let's look at A and B again. If A's view is that his own death is a good thing, then it would be perfectly good, IN THE LONG RUN, to kill B, because then other people will kill A, which meets A's goals. The upshot is, any action can be considered good in the proper moral context; realistically, there are very few people who condone wanton killing (unfortunately, they have an annoying tendency to be politicians), which is why we end up with nearly everyone thinkings that murder is bad, mmmkay.

    Polygamy, however, is much more commonly accepted than murder (which is not to say it's common on an absolute scale). It simply requires a different set of social constructs in order to contribute to the stability of a society. If I murder you, you can no longer take action to better society. If I sleep with two women regularly (and am "married" to both, though since marriage is often considered a "lifetime commitment to one person", one wonders what it means to be married to >1 person), both women may still act and affect society.

    Not that I want to get into a discussion of polygamy right now. :) But these are just my thoughts on the topic; you did after all ask for, well, not my thoughts, but thoughts nonetheless. :)
  • 28: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

    What happens if your object of lust is a goat ? Is that *still* adultery ?

  • [] is one of my favorite humor sites on the web. It has AIM logs of clueless people looking for cybersex being fooled. Sorry I didn't posted it earlier as the site was down.
  • This is one of the most sensable things I have seen in a while. Exactly. Adultary is whatever the people involved agree that it is.

    Every relationship is different. Every person has different expectations and beliefs. Me personally, I put a different value on sex than others. If my partner (at a time when I had one, recently I am without one) were to have gone off and had sex with someone else...well so what? _I_ am not bothered by that.

    In fact, I just think sex is nice and feels good. If my partner wants to share that with someone else, then thats great. (now the issues of disease and other things would come into play, but thats a practicall consideration, not a "philosophical" one and as such doesn't come into play in this veiwpoint).

    I often think that such ideas as "adultury" stem from peoples insecurity and fear of losing their lover more than anything else.

    But hey... if you enter into a relationship, and then break the trust of that relationship, thats wrong. If the relationship is of the type where the action is not an issue, then its not wrong. It is ONLY wrong when a trust is being broken.

  • Cyber romances are a far cry from having an actual live person to talk to and get to know. The Net perpetuates what I call the 'guy code'. Us guys typically say whatever we think will get us nookie or at least whats going to keep the relationship going. Really I think women do the same thing. Anyway, on the Net its very easy to make sure you never say anything stupid, its much simpler to think about what you are saying to the other person. You have to type before you send in most cases and so stupid statements get filtered out. I've met lots of people online and of the few I've met, I've found their real life personality is nothing like that one I saw in chat rooms. People could spend years in chat rooms and never really get to know one another because they don't see each others mannerisms, they don't hear voice inflection and other non-verbal communication and they don't get to see how that person reacts in certain situations.

    I think that some people get lucky and it works out for them, but I think that for the most part having a cyber relationship is a good way to set yourself up to be burned.

    As far as the idea of being married already and doing these sorts of things, I think that its wrong because I think it would hurt one's spouse.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • Thinking about adultry is one of the few pleasures those of us with, homely wives have :)
  • Interesting...but if you cheat and don't get caught, your partner never gets to the stage of feeling betrayed....and you still cheated.

    I think the best rule is, if you wouldn't do it in front of your partner, then it's cheating.
  • Nope. But...

    Exod 22:19 Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death.
  • Christ on a crutch, you'd think Slashdot has turned into the local TV news.

    "The Internet may be luring your mate. What are the warning signs, and how can you tell if your partner is faithful? Watch 'Cybercheating', tonight at 10:00"

    ObContent: The only way that cheating can be defined is by the people involved. Certainly not by a book, or JonKatz.


  • by Anonymous._.Coward ( 119202 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @07:07AM (#432947) Homepage
    Sex has no place in the workplace. Period.

    Except maybe over the photocopier...

  • May or may not be fiction, but it's certainly about 7 translations away from the original script, and like a game of Telephone, that means that whatever's written in the King James Bible prob'ly has nothing in common with what may or may not have been originally written. :-) Want an example? Take a paragraph out of a book, run it through Babelfish a few times; english to french, french to german, german to italian, italian back to english, and see if it still makes sense. Or go look up the bit about the monks with knives at their throats, told to translate fifty pages a day or else....
  • by KahunaBurger ( 123991 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @09:25AM (#432949)
    the definition of adultery is to be discussed and determined by those that are in the relationship. Thats the way real people work.

    Your first sentance is a lovely idea, but the second is just plain wrong, unless you meant to say "perfect people" or "really intelligent, totally emotionaly mature people." Real people write letters to Ann Landers saying things like "I had assumed this would stop after the wedding, but then it didn't" or "how could she not know I would be upset by...". Real people have unspoken agreements that they find out later were agreeing to two different things. Real people make assumptions that their definitions are accepted by the other person.

    Very few people sit down at the start of a relationship and go over the multitude of grey areas to see where thier partner stands. Those that do may find they change their mind over time but don't realize it until a situation presents itself. In the real world, complications happen.

    Thus, these kinds of discussions are useful, not only to build up a societal "baseline assumption" for the majority who do not have these conversations, but to provide a starting point for the discussions of those that would be willing to negotiate their own dynamic.

    Kahuna Burger

  • while fondling around with Anna Kournikova virus
  • Separation of Church and State isn't in the Constitution -- get a copy.

    Perhaps we cannot legislate morality, but we legislate ethics. In fact, that's the main thing we legislate.

  • by aozilla ( 133143 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @07:08AM (#432955) Homepage
    No, but neither is a foot massage.
  • the definition of adultery is to be discussed and determined by those that are in the relationship. Thats the way real people work.
  • 28: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart

    So how about if it's a guy?
    Woman --looketh on--> Guy
    or Guy --looketh on--> Guy

    Why specifically a woman?

  • People were saying: The Bible says Do not murder . (So, it's OK to go around hating people-- that's not murder). Wrong: the rule was made to promote peace.

    Actualy that's your interpretation. It's the result of you reading it, through your point of view, which derives from your cultural enviroment, then doing a mental exercise in which you will consciously or unconsciously fill in the gaps in your understanding with things taken from your experience (or from other people's experiences), and finaly coming to a conclusion.

    Different people in different times and with different cultural settings will come to different conclusions (otherwise why the Crusades or other things i shall not mention?)

    This is not to say that you are wrong, is just to say that being right is a question of point of view.

  • Separation of Church and State isn't in the Constitution -- get a copy.

    Article I of the Amendments to the Constitution:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    That has been interpreted again and again by the Supreme Court to mean that state sponsored religious activities is unconstitutional. Even if you interpret the first clause to restrict only Congress, forcing religious activities on children is a violation of free speech.
  • by nomadic ( 141991 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .dlrowcidamon.> on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @08:21AM (#432970) Homepage
    he separation of Church and State in schools has led to a vacuum where once children were taught the proper ways to behave.

    Blame the Constitution. Personally I like the fact that religion wasn't forced on me as a child. Teach your kids morality at home, don't blame the schools for your shortcomings.
  • I never really was looking for a girlfriend online. I've never really had problems finding dates. Sure I flirted but I never really thought of it as that. Just playing around. Then one day I realised this girl who I had been talking to online for several months (and on the phone everynight for several months) had me. I was stuck. She lives 550 miles away from me and for the past 6 months one of us has either flown or driven to the other persons place. This summer I'm moving within a half hour of where she lives... =) I'm happy...never thought I'd meet someone like her.

  • by mbishop ( 144065 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @07:10AM (#432972)
    That's true, but in my book it is possible to be unfaithful to someone without having sex with someone else. Being unfaithful has nothing to do with sex. It has everything to do with the other partner feeling betrayed. If what you do feels like a betrayal to your partner, pay attention to their feelings. Talk about it.
  • If you don't think you can tell your spouse without breaking his/her heart, that there is cheating.

    In any relationship, there are always things that you're going to have to keep to yourself if you want to stay in it.
  • There's an interesting division between what happens on MU*s IC (in character) and what happens OOC (out of character). Think about it this way: if you were roleplaying with a group of people face to face (pencil and paper), and two characters flirt, would you consider this cheating? Even if the people playing don't hold any attraction for each other? I doubt it. But if you go to get a drink after the game and continue to flirt, then it's a cause for concern.

    The rule of thumb is: what's done IC is no more cheating than acting in a play or writing in a book. If it crosses into OOC, it's you talking, not your character.

  • by brad3378 ( 155304 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @07:31AM (#432987)
    The rule being, If it gives you wood, and you keep doing it, then it's cheating.

    If you're a woman and it gives you wood, Then I'd suggest double checking your gender.
  • by zombieking ( 177383 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @07:14AM (#432998)
    Yeah, but a foot massage is touching a woman in a farmiliar manner. Marsalis knew it, Mia knew it and Tony should have F'ing known better...
  • People treat the Bible like it was written in a timeless, cultureless vacuum. If you are a Fundamentalist who believes that the Bible is the literal Word of God, dictated by God to Man, than yes, this would tend to imply that this rule only applies as you mention.

    If you are like most Christians, who believe that God and the Holy Spirit inspired the key points of the Bible, then you would make the correct cultural/social adaptation of this passage automatically - specifically that even looking at another person with lust is adulterous.

    Just a thought.
  • Hmm.. well most people will tell that at least four detailed first-person accounts of Jesus existing are around.. one authored directly by Luke, and three more dictated by Matthew, Mark, and John.

    As for Roman records, the Romans typically did not keep record of every execution in every province for all time. And if you think that is unreasonable, tell me who the 62nd person to be executed for desertion was during the Revolutionary war. It'd be damn near impossible. Why? Because records weren't kept. And whats more, thats less than 300 yrs ago. Try 3000 years ago.
  • by firewort ( 180062 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @08:35AM (#433003)
    This really depends on your beliefs, and those of your partner/spouse.

    Is emotionally investing yourself in someone other than your partner cheating, even if no sex occurs? Is it different if you've never met face to face?

    Then ask your partner/spouse for their answers to these questions.

    Cheating is really decided by the person who feels cheated upon. If your partner/spouse feels you're cheating when you cyber, then you are, even if you don't think anything significant happened.

    Once that hurt is established and the cause is believed to be cheating, it is. You can't fight feelings with logic. They just don't respond.

    A host is a host from coast to coast, but no one uses a host that's close
  • by jonnystiph ( 192687 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @07:04AM (#433014) Homepage
    I thought I was in love, and it turned out to be just a bad case of heart burn.
  • by kafka93 ( 243640 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @08:52AM (#433068)
    In my experience, most Christians act according to their own beliefs, which are moderated by the Bible. Indeed, since the New Testament in particular is full of ambiguity, it can be very interesting to witness the particular ways in which people find means of justifying by the Bible their own particular take on life. If this were not the case, how could you account for the number of different factions within the Christian faith? I don't believe I know a single Christian who practices unthinking adherence to any dogma contained within the bible. Christ himself was quick to challenge such dogma which, he claimed, was more often born of man than of God. Indeed, if you're a Christian (I'm not, incidentally,) Christ came bearing not peace but a sword -- Christianity has been marked by division, by persecution; it is therefore naive and overly simplistic to think that Christianity is a crutch, or to rehash the old "opiate of the people" mantra. On the contrary -- in today's society I think it often demands considerable courage to become an avowed Christian. Also, it's all very well to criticize the "it's in the Bible, it must be true" idea -- but one should also be willing to consider that the Bible contains many valuable lessons and teachings that might be useful to us all. Beware tarring everybody with the same brush and suggesting that all Christians needs must be mindless, subservient buffoons -- remember that many incredibly intelligent people have become Christians. I agree, of course, that it's always useful to challenge assumptions and question what you've read. I think most Christians would also agree, though. And, again, remember that Christ did criticize much of what mankind had derived from the scriptures -- I think many of the Christians who exhibit the kinds of behaviour you hint at do so more because they seek fulfilment in symbols and tradition than because of anything the Bible might have taught them.
  • by Jedi Alec ( 258881 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @08:29AM (#433083)
    The concept of "thinking it is as bad as doing it"

    Now which man is stronger? The man who isn't tempted and faithfully stays with his woman, or the man who is tempted but makes a consciental decision not to do it. That ability to make that choice is what makes you human, and the making of that choice itself is what makes you a good partner. Nuf said.
  • by Leon Trotski ( 259231 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @07:16AM (#433085) Homepage
    I've read the opinions of a few people who insist that cyber-sex is pure fantasy. They don't see the interaction as being real since there is no physical contact. Each new "adventure" is usually with a different person, rarely the same person twice. The two do not develop a friendship prior to engaging in the act. It's much akin to a real time "one night stand." Neither party is interested in maintaining contact beyond the time they spent in a private room online. This sounds like harmless entertainment. I suppose this would depend on whether or not the people involved are in committed relationships, and if so, whether or not the significant others know, and/or approve, of the activity. Frequency might also be an issue. If cyber-sex is happening once a month it may be acceptable to a partner, but if happening three or four times a week, may not.

    If I view cyber-sex, taking a religious stance (which is endlessly amusing), and understand the Bible correctly, its states that adultery begins in the heart, without ever having to physically perform the deed. If a married person is exchanging words describing sexual actions they're performing on someone else, even if it's all in the imagination, my guess is they're guilty of adultery. Likewise, if I were unattached and engaging in this behavior with a person who is married, it would be a wrongful act. If both parties are unmarried, I suppose it would fall under the category of fornication. I agree, if looking at cyber-sex from this perspective, it's wrong. These acts hurt, and go against, not only the scripture, but also the covenant of marriage.

    Some say that engaging in cyber-sex has helped their relationship. Of this group, I've found that usually both partners are knowingly engaging in cyber-sex, usually in private, but sometimes together, often later sharing bits and pieces of their verbal exchange. They've allowed each other to explore their sexuality online. Sometimes one or the other will learn a new or different sexual technique and bring it to the bedroom, eager to experiment. If two people agree this behavior is acceptable, then who am I to disagree?

    notabene: I'm unmarried but have a strong relationship since over 4 years (and yes, it's woman, you goatse pigs)...

  • by $uperjay ( 263648 ) <> on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @08:39AM (#433090) Homepage
    I notice the much lauded Katz mentions roleplaying. If you're playing a MU* (or god forbid, Evercrack or some other MORPG) and you actually ARE roleplaying a character, is there a difference? Granted, most people who play these games don't really 'roleplay'. The people who do, however, would contend that the character is not the player - and on their terms, roleplaying a character who is in love with another character is not the same as online romance. Any comments, dotters?
  • by gentlewizard ( 300741 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @08:11AM (#433092)
    As a recovering chataholic (uninstalled ICQ 19 months ago) I had to adopt the rule: would I do this if my wife was in the room? Online friends, sure. Cyber, no way.
  • by sharkticon ( 312992 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @07:19AM (#433111)

    This is another example of how morals have slipped in the current generation of techno-weenies, and how the separation of Church and State in schools has led to a vacuum where once children were taught the proper ways to behave. In case you don't get it, let me spell it out.

    Adultery is intent as well as action!!

    There, got it? Just because you're only typing at a keyboard, the intent is still there. It's just as immoral to try and fuck someone over the net (if sadder admiteddly) as it is in real life. In both cases, you're guilty of wanting to do something that you should only want to do with your partner!

    And it's far more humiliating than just staring at other people is for your partner. I mean, how can people find a few words on a screen more appealing than their partner? It all seems pretty damn tragic to me, but then again, I have a life outside of computing.

    And you can't use as a defence the fact that you aren't getting along with your partner. For a start that doesn't excuse immoral behaviour, and besides that if they really are that bad, find another partner! Nobody should be with someone they don't want to be with 100%.

    I mean come on, this is a stupid question.

  • by Gelfin ( 313809 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @11:22AM (#433113)

    Adultery always begins with the adulterer(s) claiming to themselves and to others that the relationship is "harmless" because it hasn't crossed a certain line. The line where it becomes wrong is the line where you start having to rationalize like that.

    Online romances are more risky than the real life equivalent for a number of reasons, even if you ignore the risk that your virtual snugglebunny is really an ax-wielding maniac.

    Most significantly, no matter what it feels like, you just don't know somebody until you've met them face to face. Even if you've seen pictures, talked on the phone, and even if all that is accurate, your impression of that person in live interaction might contradict all of what you thought you knew about him or her. It's impossible to determine whether an online romance would "work" in real life before you actually meet.

    The biggest problem with online romance is how easy it is to fall for a stranger based on some exchanges of text. The reason this happens is that you fill in the gaps in a very narrow communication channel with your own expectations and assumptions. When you fall in love online, you're in love with yourself as much or more than you're in love with the other person. You automatically read the stranger in terms of your ideal romantic partner.

    Adultery's most frequent cause is the fact that life with a spouse can't be kept in some dreamlike ideal state. People have foibles and they will have conflicts with each other. In an adulterous situation, the spouse is seen in terms of his or her faults (realistic, if pessimistic), while the lover is seen in terms of his or her virtues (ideal, and naively optimistic). It's hard for the spouse to compete when someone starts thinking this way.

    The tendency of people to map online correspondents onto their own romantic ideals exacerbates this problem greatly. It's easier to view someone as your ideal, therefore easier to get into an adulterous situation, and easy to rationalize it because real life sex is not taking place. The worst part is, the online adulterer doesn't really know if the online relationship could carry over into real life. So his/her existing marriage suffers for the sake of a relationship with someone who is far more a stranger than s/he imagines.

    I'm pretty sure that in 20 or 30 years, parents will be explaining the oddities of online infatuation to their kids along with the birds and the bees. It will just become basic advice, which of course most kids will ignore initially until it bites them once, but at least after that they'll have a grounding to understand what's going on, whereas our generation is having to figure this stuff out as we go.

  • by jamesarcher ( 315424 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2001 @07:04AM (#433116) Homepage
    I quote this not as scripture (I know that many or most people here don't accept it as such), but just as one possible viewpoint and answer to the question:

    Matthew, Chapter 5:
    27: Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
    28: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

    Just a thought.

It's fabulous! We haven't seen anything like it in the last half an hour! -- Macy's