Adultery did not fare well during a September 25 “Nightline” broadcast about the issue, but that didn't keep ABC's Cynthia McFadden from asking an evangelical pastor if he felt “a little intolerant” for his conservative views on the subject.
McFadden moderated a debate that tried to answer the question, “Are we born to cheat?” but appeared to mock Pastor Ed Young's responses whenever she could.
The proponents of adultery who appeared on the panel included Jenny Block, an author and participant in an open marriage, and Noel Biderman, the president and CEO of Ashley Madison, a Web site designed to help people begin extra-marital affairs. Block and Biderman faced tough questioning about their views, but did not receive the same derision McFadden levied at Young.
McFadden's question about intolerance came after an exchange in which Young asserted that an open marriage is adultery “in the eyes of God” and that marriage was ordained in Scripture by God. Block attempted to refute Young's statement and argued he was talking about religious marriages when not all marriages are religious.
McFadden then asked Young, “But do you think that what you think applies to everybody?” and appeared surprised by his affirmative answer. After Block labeled Young's claims "preposterous," McFadden asked Young, “Are you feeling a little intolerant?” Her follow up question to that was, “Is Jenny going to hell?”
Prior to that exchange, McFadden had already mocked Young's belief in the literal meaning of Scripture verse Matthew 5:28 which states in part, “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
CYNTHIA MCFADDEN, anchor: Okay, but I just want to be clear. So. You look at somebody. You say, wow, he is something. Have I committed a sin yet?
ED YOUNG, wants God back in the bedroom: No.
MCFADDEN Wow, I'd like to sleep with that person, I'm not going to do it, but wow, that's -- am I sinning now?
YOUNG: Yeah. Uh-huh. Yes.
MCFADDEN: Just want to be sure about that.
YOUNG: Because the way that [laughs]--
MCFADDEN: I'm so sorry I came to
YOUNG: Yeah, we all, but we've all failed in that realm.
MCFADDEN: Okay. Hold it, is this an honest audience? You're honest, right? I want to see a show of hands -- who's ever had the thought? I'm not saying you've acted on it. Who's ever had the thought? All right. Sinners!
Young's belief, as conservative as it is, is no more extreme than what Block had to say about keeping the spark alive in a marriage. “You read any books about recharging the marriage, often they recommend that you think about other people. They recommend that you use other fantasies, that you look at pornography,” she argued. “I mean, it's out there. These are doctors and psychologists, these are people who study science and who say this is how we can re … – so I'm not sure it should be something we should be overcoming.”
Yet McFadden made no attempt to point out the extremity of Block's stance or the extreme leap of logic it took for Biderman to argue:
What I hear all the time is, why don't you leave your relationship? That's the selfish ability. Walking away from your family to pursue your own sexual needs, that's the selfish act. What I hear from my members all the time is they're in sexless relationships. They're not getting the physically intimacy they want, they've tried talking about it. And so rather than leave they would rather to do this. If you can't understand people in those positions, I don't really know what kind of pastor you are because they're suffering, they're feeling true pain. Loneliness is a painful thing. It causes people to act. There's a biological need to change your life when you're feeling lonely. You know what's really interesting, from my perspective, infidelity can save your marriage.
In fact, McFadden backed up Biderman's claim by providing the statistic that “56 percent of men who cheat say they're in happy marriages.”
As for Young's citation of a
McFadden did say to Biderman, about the values he is teaching his two children, “You have to say you're putting bread on the table by encouraging other people to have affairs.” She also asked him, “Why advertise?” when he claimed it's not his 30 second commercials that cause people to cheat on their spouses.
Young did speak of the fall-out of adultery. “No doubt adultery has its kicks, but it has some wicked Chuck Norris-esque kick backs and I deal, I deal with the carnage, I deal – I deal with the broken homes. I deal with the children whose lives are up for grabs because someone is selfish enough to step outside the marriage and do what they want to do.”
But the true pain of adultery was revealed in the testimonies of two young audience members. “I don't think that how you all say that it does help children, that their parents stay together, and they're cheating on each other. It doesn't help. Because I went through it,” stated Greg about his father's affair. “The child does not feel good about it and the child would rather the parents not be together than for one just to sit there and be hurt.”
“I'm a teenager. I came from a place where I was raised by my brother at the age of 16 because one of my parents decided to cheat on the other one. I've had so much anger, so much rage, I've forgiven my parents,” said another young audience member. “I love them but seriously you probably don't know what it feels like to be a child whose parents are torn apart because of adultery. And I don't understand why you continue to encourage that.”
Block expressed her sympathies to the young woman, but failed to connect what her own relationships were doing to her 10-year-old daughter, even after McFadden questioned her about it.