PASTOR R L WILLIAMS, Baptist Church: It is a natural thing for people to want to commit adultery because we are sinners, but to approve of it is contrary to the word of God. In Exodus XX He said, "Thou shalt not commit adultery".
FIONA PITT KETHLEY, poet and writer: Promiscuity can be quite good if all the people are free and single, but I am not for adultery. I think people can get hurt. Most open relationships are only open one way as far as I can see.
LADY OLGA MAITLAND: The Bishop should be speaking firmly and clearly up for the institution of marriage, not sanctioning mankind's weaknesses. It strikes me that he has lost the whole meaning of spiritual leadership. The role of the church is to give some leadership and it's singularly failing to do so.
COLIN THORPE, pet shop manager: If you look at primates and other animals they are not particularly monogamous. Monogamy is a social thing that was instituted in the days before birth control to protect children in the family environment. I don't think it is as important as it was because now there is no reason to have unwanted children, so you can be polygamous without affecting children.
ANGELA BURIAN, marriage counsellor: There is a tremendous amount of truth in what the Bishop of Edinburgh says. In the Nineties there is a feeling in the air that marriages are not happy places and that you are therefore quite at liberty to go and have an extra marital affair.
DAVID ICKE: The Bishop of Edinburgh's comments are a step forward, but only a tiny step. Over the centuries the church has created a tidal wave of fear and guilt through psychological Fascism and turned a beautiful spiritual experience into something dirty and tatty. My feeling is that we need to follow our hearts and do what we believe to be right and stop being dictated to.
UNA MARY PARKER, novelist: Probably every married couple mentally goes through "I wonder what it would be like if ..." It may be a basic instinct in everybody, but that's something that, surely, religion is supposed to teach you to control. Adultery is a total betrayal and very damaging to the fabric of a relationship because it destroys trust.
JOHN EASTLIGHT, public servant: People commit adultery because, to coin two phrases, "the grass is always greener" and "familiarity breeds contempt". The whole point of humanity is that we look beyond our physical yearnings and use our minds to control our bodies. I think when you actually do it, it's never what you expect it to be. My wife committed adultery and now lives in Australia, regretting it.
PAULA MILNE, writer of The Politician's Wife: The idea that adultery is based on man's natural desire to procreate is crazy. Surely procreation is the last thing on the mind of an adulterous man!
PAUL KLINE, greengrocer: There's an old rhyme, I don't know where it comes from - "Higamous hogamus, woman's monogamous, Hogamus higamus, man is polygamous". But I think the urge to stray surfaces in both after they've been together a few years. Being tempted is one thing, though, and giving in and doing something that is wrong it is quite another.
SUSAN McCALL, teacher: If you have anything to do with children, you'll know that all kinds of things are natural but not necessarily desirable. Educating out our natural instincts is a part of civilisation.
RICHARD DAWKINS, biologist, author of The Selfish Gene: To say that something is natural is not a justification for doing it.Reuse content