Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs survey asked 1,535 American adults about the moral acceptability of 20 behaviors, and having an affair was found to be the very worst, with 91 percent of respondents deeming it morally wrong. Surprisingly, a smaller percentage deemed polygamy (83 percent), human cloning (83 percent), and suicide (77 percent) morally wrong.
Divorce, on the other hand, was determined by most to be morally acceptable, with 68 percent of respondents deeming it so. Unmarried women having babies, sex between unmarried men and women, and gay and lesbian relationships also saw high percentages of moral acceptability, at 67, 63 and 59 percent, respectively -- all up from a decade ago.
Hugo Schwyzer discusses these findings at length in The Atlantic, noting that the prevailing attitude is, "'I'd rather be left than lied to," and that "it's not a stretch to suggest that the reverse would have been true just a few decades ago."
The same Gallup poll that found near-unanimous disapproval of cheating also found rising acceptance of many other non-traditional, consensual sexual relationships. The new ethical consensus that you can do whatever you like as long as you're not hurting anyone -- and as long as you're being rigorously candid -- reflects a thoroughly modern mix of tolerance and puritanical censoriousness. We've become more willing to embrace diverse models of sexual self-expression even as we've become ever more intolerant of hypocrisy and the human frailty that makes hypocrisy almost inevitable.
We want to know: is an affair really the worst moral offense? Click over to The Atlantic for more on this discussion, then let us know your thoughts in the comments.
HuffPost Divorce recently partnered with YouGov to poll 1,000 U.S. adults about what they consider to be adulterous behaviors. Check out the results below:
What Constitutes Infidelity?
The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted March 8-10 among 1,000 U.S. adults. The poll used a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.