“Why don’t you cheat on your wife now that you don’t believe in God and divine retribution?”
The basis for this question is inherently flawed. It assumes that without belief in God, people would cheat lie steal and murder. It treats humans as inherently infantile and immoral.
Would you rape, kill and murder if God didn’t exist? Would you stab your neighbour in the back if he was walking in an alley alone, and take his wallet? This is really ridiculous to think this.
Does religious belief prevent people from adultery?
Do people believe in God yet still cheat on their spouses? Yes, of course! Belief in God and/or divine punishment may act as a deterrent but does not solve the issue. And neither does it solve the issue effectively. It imagines a sky daddy in the sky who will beat you with a stick if you act badly. It doesn’t teach teach internalization of good values but punishment avoidance.
Is it wrong to cheat on your spouse, in the first place?
The enlightenment thinker Immanuel Kant stated,
“Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.” (Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, 1785)
Treat others as you wish to be treated. So be honest, loyal, and trustworthy. That can be the basis for our morality. For more details on this topic see my writeup on atheism and morality abdullahsameer.com/blog/atheism-and-morality/
Does Islam allow men to legally commit adultery?
In many ways, Islam gives men the right to legally cheat on their spouse.
1. They can sleep with their female captives of war if they have any
2. It allows men to legally get a second wife and have sex with her without the first wife knowing or agreeing. Even if he is married, in Islam he is also still an eligible bachelor.
3. It gives men the ability to unconditionally divorce their wife simply by uttering a word “talaq” (over 3 periods) enabling them to easily divorce their spouse whereas a woman would have to ask the imam to invalidate her marriage (naksh) and may have to return her maher (bridal gift).
Punishment for adultery
Should people be stoned to death or killed for adultery? No! Absolutely not! This is not the proper way to deal with the situation.
I discussed this in detail in my post on the topic
So what should you do?
Simple. It’s your choice. Marriage is a contract, an agreement. If one party violates the contract, either you forgive them, or you don’t, and you break up. That’s how life works. There’s no need to murder people for this. Many times couples get back together or resolve their issues to a level where their marriage is far better than the status quo that they were putting up with before.
In more contemporary and pragmatic language, atheists operationalize sexual ethics this way:
In the essay “Misinformation and facts about secularism and religion” David Niose gives evidence of lower crime rates among the non religious. We have also seen examples of iceland and Japan which are non-theistic societies with low crime and drug rates.