Is it appropriate for a private sin, such as adultery, to be made public in today's society?Is it appropriate for a private sin, such as adultery, to be made public in today's society?

Expert Answers
charcunning eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Adultery is not "appropriate" to discuss in public, but it is somewhat necessary. One who would cheat on a spouse (and an entire family) has serious character flaws. The public then, rightfully so, begins to speculate on what other character flaws this person has. If they already cheat and lie and cover up bad behavior, what else are they capable of?  Yes, sometimes exposing this behavior is merely to see magazines and make people watch trashy Hollywood TV-based shows, but many times it is appropriate to question the leadership skills of someone.

For example, think of the Bill Clinton scandal. Salacious story, right? Yes. One that showed inappropriate conduct. One that the public should definitely be aware of!

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It may not be appropriate, but it happens.  And we're in a world which is increasingly bold about announcing those private sins.  What I would most object to is making private sins public for the purpose of public punishment.  Some transgressions do need to come to light, such as politicians who have embezzled money from the public; however, I would consider that a public sin rather than a private one.  In general terms, what happens in private which affects no one but the individuals involved should stay private.  If the private offense is committed against the public (violation of trust), it should be exposed to those who have been damaged by the breach.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Perhaps the main reason for the media's exposure of adultery having been committed in the lives of political figures is that this act is an indication of dishonesty and disloyalty in the public official, a character flaw which easily could have spilled over into his/her political actions, as well.

Also, because ours is a tabloid society, such revelations that were once deemed inappropriate are now made public for the simple reason that they sell.  So, in this respect, it is inappropriate to expose the private lives of celebrities and others who are not involved in political positions.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think it depends on who we are talking about. When a celebrity commits adultery it is all over the news because we like to be entertained. It is unfortunate that society is entertained because of the hardships of others.

If a couple is in a relationship they really should be left alone so they can work it out together and alone. This doesn't mean they should necessarily stay together but they should at least get the opportunity to discuss their affairs privately.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, this is an interesting question. I think that private sins should have consequences, and the danger is that so often people carry on adulterous relationships without receiving any form of censure. However, at the same time, I don't think that everyone needs to know about it, as in what happened between Clinton and Lewinsky. How you get the balance? That is a tricky one.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Most of the time it is not appropriate fodder for the public gossip mills. In the recent case of Tiger Woods, however, he has marketed himself and allowed himself to be marketed as a family man. As this was patently untrue, the consumer public had a right to know. It is sad, however, that his family had to suffer.

superleftist | Student

Absolutely not!  Every time a celebrity/sports figure/politician's affair is made public, I cringe.  Private marital matters are between husband and wife, not society as a whole.  Unless ones "sin" has the potential to affect society, it is nobody's business but the couple's at hand.  Character flaws exist within each of us.  Do we want them broadcasted to the world?  No.  And how humiliating for the innocent spouse (i.e. Elin Woods) to have her husband's "transgressions" gossiped about relentlessly by sometimes millions around the world.  The public is sadly entertained by this sort of thing (others' misfortunes), but where family and marriage is concerned, it is a private matter, period.

krishna-agrawala | Student

To be able to discuss this question meaningfully we will need to differentiate the concept of sin from other forms of inappropriate behavior such as antisocial behavior or criminal behavior.

To my mind, sin refers to actions that hurt the soul of the person. In a practical way we may say that sins disturbs a persons internal peace of mind or happiness. In religious terms we ma speak of things like hell and heaven.

Anti-social or criminal acts disturb the discipline of the society and hurt others.

Action by the society for personal sins that do not hurt society, and therefore are not anti-social or criminal acts, can be justified only on the basis of good of the person committing the sin. Acts like those of inquisitions of the past cannot be accepted today.

When we speak of good of the individual, usually confidentiality is more effective. This is the reason for the reason why confessions in in the church are kept confidential.

In crimes that affect the society, it is usually better to have transparency - that is people should know what action is being taken against a suspect and why. In some exceptional case it might be justified to keep the matters confidential to protect the victim. For example, in India a great stigma may be attached to the victim of a rape, and in therefore it is better to maintain confidentiality about the victim.

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The Scarlet Letter

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