The technology is new, but the sin is so, so old.

The latest "victim" betrayed by the very technology he thought to have harnessed for his own nefarious ends—in case you've been fast asleep under a rock somewhere—is Rep. Anthony Wiener (D-NY), busted this week for emailing and tweeting half-a-dozen women, none of whom happened to be his wife, sexually explicit messages and photos. The story ballooned into a media frenzy largely because Weiner's initial denials dragged a story that should have been over in 24 hours into days of increasingly bizarre interviews and defenses. Finally, it all culminated in the sort of tearful, emotional confession that has been played out on the public stage far too often before, and, arguably, to greater effect.

The overwhelming sense of the whole lurid affair is sadness: what a waste of a man, a marriage, a political career, power, time, and human relationships. Along with the sadness, of course, is much room for outrage, particularly from Weiner's constituents and his wife, who reports now say is pregnant with the couple's first child, and her family and friends.

Yet some encouraging news has emerged from the mire.

Media coverage of the story and the public's reaction seems to indicate that we've come a long way in our professed sexual ethics since the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, circa 1998. At that time, then-President Bill Clinton insisted that oral sex did not constitute actual sex, and that he had therefore not committed adultery. Although 87 percent of Americans disagreed with Mr. Clinton then, much public discussion at that time centered on the exact definition of adultery, and which particular sex acts crossed the line (fellatio?) and which ones didn't (cigars?).

However, with Weinergate (as the case, naturally, has been dubbed), the discussion is a bit more morally sophisticated. For the moral debate swirling around this scandal, besides whether or not Weiner should resign, centers not on the merely technical definition of adultery but on the more holistic, and even more biblical, idea of fidelity. If the Clinton sex scandal focused on the letter of the law, the Weiner situation seems to be more centered on the spirit of the law.

Neither the public nor the proliferating experts and bloggers seem to be buying into a bright line between actual physical contact (which Weiner denies) and online liaisons, despite Weiner's attempt to cop that plea in his confession. In fact, a quick poll done by the Associated Press in the wake of his Monday confession found that many Americans say that it doesn't have to be physical to be cheating. In another poll, "60 percent considered sending lewd photos over the Internet 'to people other than your partner' to be cheating."

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Like the public, experts, rather than being concerned with one specific sexual act, have been discussing the larger context of marital fidelity, one describing Weiner's online behavior as "foreplay for an affair," stating simply that "cheating is lying [to] and betraying your spouse." Over and over, the experts are wisely identifying the litmus test for infidelity as the question, "Would you do this in front of your partner?" Many say the congressman's conduct does constitute adultery or, at the very least, an "emotional affair."

Both national sex scandals—first Clinton's and now Anthony Weiner's, with oodles more in between—reveal at work the old mind-body dualism that Christian tradition has worked hard to overcome. This dualism sees the human being not as an integrated whole self, but as a composite of warring elements, material vs. immaterial, physical vs. spiritual, and, in this brave new world of technology, "real" vs. "virtual." The Clinton scandal emphasized the physical aspect, such as which kinds of bodily contact are considered adultery. Weiner, on the other hand, parses his transgressions according to this body-mind split: he acknowledges virtual liaisons, but suggests that his alleged lack of physical contact constitutes a difference in kind not degree.

In the space of a decade and a half, these two cases reflect a subtle transition of our cultural mindset away from a modernist way of thinking, one based in black and white classifications and definitions rooted in a scientific worldview, to a more nuanced (some would say postmodern) way of thinking that focuses more on the relationships and contexts that transcend the old categories.

As usual, the Bible's view is not either-or but rather both-and. In the Christian view, definitions ("adultery") and categories ("married") matter deeply. So do relationships (even online ones) and context. In other words, the letter of the law—"Thou shalt not commit adultery"—matters. At the same time, as Jesus indicated when he called lust of the heart a form of adultery, the spirit of the law matters deeply, too.

Clearly, adultery was prevalent enough in ancient cultures that it needed to be addressed in the Old Testament and the New. What's new in the 21st century is not the sin but the increased opportunities offered by the structure of modern life and its technology. Technology contributes to the illusion of a dualistic view of human nature by offering a false sense of privacy and control as well as the chimera of disembodied human experience.

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If nothing else then, this latest scandal provides some powerful reminders: namely, that our secrets are not hidden from God and can't be hidden from others forever; that our sense of control is but child's play to a God who is sovereign over the universe; and that fidelity—whether to God or one another—requires our whole being, body and soul.