Extramarital sex occurs when a married person engages in sexual activity with someone other than their marriage partner. It is similar to adultery and may constitute infidelity where an unmarried but monogamous covenant is breached. This does not include fornication, which is sexual intercourse between non-married people, or a married man and a non-married woman.
Historically, adultery has been considered to be a serious offense by many cultures.
Alfred Kinsey has found in his studies that 50% of males and 26% of females had extramarital sex . Depending on studies, it was estimated that 26-50% of men and 21-38% women, or 22.7% of men and 11.6% of women had extramarital sex. Other authors say that between 20% and 25% Americans had sex with someone other than their spouse. Durex's Global Sex Survey has found that 44% of adults worldwide have had one-night extramarital sex and 22% have had an affair. But there were also studies that have shown rates of extramarital sex as low as 2.5%. As many authors say, this kind of estimates are probably understated because extramarital sex is commonly disapproved.
Extramarital sex was previously illegal in Christian countries, but the laws are not usually enforced. It is still seen as a cultural taboo in many countries. In the Middle east and other traditionally Islamic countries, it is forbidden in accordance with Islamic law.
For a broad overview, see Religion and sexuality.
The Torah prescribes the death penalty through stoning for adultery, which is defined as having sex with a woman, who is married to another man. Three witnesses of good character had to testify in court for the case to be even considered by the judges. Marital status of the man is irrelevant. If the woman, however, is not married, sexual relationship, though highly immoral and sinful, is not considered to be adultery, and therefore not punishable by death. Any physical punishments for any sins were in effect at the times of Judges and the Holy Temple. Now, any physical punishment is prohibited by Judaism - as no proper judicial process could be provided until the Holy Temple was rebuilt by the Messiah.
Extramarital sex is considered to be immoral by most Christian groups, who base this primarily on passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.It is listed as a sin here and in other passages (along with idolatry, theft, greed, lying, and sexual perversion). While the next verse from the above passage is quick to point out that although some Christians used to practice those sins-that they have since been "justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ" and are thus forgiven their sins-extramarital sex has historically been considered to be one of the more serious and damaging sin, possibly because of passages like 1 Corinthians 6:18 that speak of it as sinning against one's own body.
Traditional interpretations of Islamic law (or Sharia) prescribe severe punishments for zina, or extramarital sex, by both men and women. Premarital sex could be punished by up to 100 lashes, while adultery is punishable by stoning. The act of sexual penetration must, however, be attested by at least four male Muslim witnesses of good character, the accused has a right to testify in court, the suspect's word or testimony is required to hold the most weight in the eyes of the judge(s), punishments are reserved to the legal authorities and the law states that false accusations are to be punished severely. The former regulations also make some Muslims believe, that the process' goal was to eventually abolish the physical penalties relating to acts of fornication and adultery, that were already present within many societies around the world when Islamic teachings first arose. According to this view, the principles are so rigorous in their search for evidence, that they create the near impossibility of being able to reach a verdict that goes against the suspect in any manner.
This article is based on "Extramarital sex" from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org). It is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licencse. In the Wikipedia you can find a list of the authors by visiting the following address: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Extramarital+sex&action=history