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“One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” is an original column appearing sporadically at Everything-Voluntary.com, by the founder and editor Skyler J. Collins. Archived columns can be found here. OVP-only RSS feed available here.
In my experience, when voluntaryists talk about adultery, it’s usually classified as a type of contract violation. One party broke the marriage contract, or covenant, and whatever the contract says about what should happen to either party in the case of adultery is all that needs to happen (divorce, restitution, etc.). But is adultery merely the violation of the marriage contract? Or is it something far more insidious? Let’s see.
But first, the obligatory defining of my terms. For my analysis, adultery is a bit more than simply having an extra-marital affair. Rather, adultery is the prolonged attempt at having both an extra-marital affair and maintaining one’s marriage through lies and deceit. In other words, adultery is continuing the affair or affairs while at the same time hiding that fact from your spouse.
Fraud is typically lumped in with force as a violation of the libertarian “non-aggression principle,” and for good reason. Fraud occurs when one party fails to meet the conditions of trade but is able to fool the other party, at least for a time. For example, I propose to sell you my apple for $1. Your expectation is that its a good apple, as is customary. You may ask, and I may tell you that it is. I give you the apple, and you give me your dollar. We leave each other’s company and as you bite into the apple you quickly learn that it is a bad apple. You have been defrauded out of your dollar. Why is fraud an act of aggression? Because your consenting to my receiving your dollar was conditional to my giving you a good apple. If I fail to meet that condition, I have taken your dollar without your consent. I have robbed you of your property. And there it is, fraud is robbery, and robbery is aggression (uninvited property border crossing, ie. property trespass).
Rape and Robbery
And now we return to the contention at hand. When one commits adultery as defined above, they are taking from and “sharing the bed” of their spouse without meeting the necessary conditions to assure spousal consent. As the adulterous partner continues to take their spouses property, they are doing so without consent, and so committing robbery. Likewise, and arguably worse, as the adulterous partner continues to share the bed of their spouse, they are doing so without consent, and so committing rape. Yes, rape. Having sex with someone without their consent is the textbook definition of rape. It doesn’t need to be violent. Slipping someone a rufie and then having sex with them isn’t violent, but is still rightly considered rape. Adultery is no different. Both the roofied partner and the spouse seem like willing sexual partners, but had either been cognizant of what was really happening, they wouldn’t be. Hence, rape.
All those celebrities and politicians and everyone else who is discovered as an adulterer is in reality far more. They have not only lied to their spouses about their activities, but have also robbed and raped them, over and over, for as long as the adultery continued. Such behavior cannot be tolerated in any society which values property and sexual consent.
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