And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just. – Romans 3:8, ESV
If you are at all like me, this seems like a strange argument for the Apostle Paul to be addressing in his letter to the Romans. However, my eyes were open recently to how this ridiculous argument still speaks today. After all, somethings happen in dealing with infidelity that are stranger than fiction. Just ask anyone who has survived a partner’s cheating ways, and they likely have stories of the wildest justifications or excuses from the cheaters for such bankrupt behavior. It is actually rather mind-boggling at times.
This verse from Romans 3 is about such a wild excuses or justifications for evil. The Apostle Paul rebukes those who try to excuse their wicked behavior by suggesting it is necessary for good to come out of it. It is akin to saying rape is a good thing when a child is born from the ravaging of the innocent. The Apostle Paul rejects such thinking outright: “Their condemnation is just.”
Just because God can work something redemptive out an evil situation does not make the act any less evil or necessary. Suggesting it is necessary is to suggest evil is as powerful and necessary as good meaning it is as powerful as God. And that is heresy! (Another topic for another blog or for church history nerds to discuss).
Applying this error in reasoning to adultery and adulterous spouse apologists, I see the same line of reasoning behind some not uncommon adultery justifications and excuses. And I am not making these up! People actually say these things.
1) The affair or adultery was simply a “cry for help.” This iteration suggests adultery along with all its lies was a necessary course of action or necessary “bad” thing in order for the “good” of working on a troubled marriage to commence.
Such is pure lunacy. It is rightly condemned.
Let me explain via a metaphor and analogy: A doctor does not pull out a Colt .45 and shoot a patient in the heart who has a broken arm then say that he is glad the patient was shot in the heart because it brought to light the patient’s need for medical attention. The patient will likely die. Similarly, adultery is like shooting a marriage in the heart. It will garner attention once discovered, but such attention might be futile as the lies and adultery may have mangled the heart of the marriage beyond repair.
2) Biderman who founded Ashley Madison (a website that facilitates adulterous affairs by helping married people date) suggests his business saves marriages (see article here). To summarize his reasoning, he views adultery as a way for a married person to “stay” in the marriage where sex is unsatisfying (or specifically nonexistent) instead of ending the marriage to pursue more satisfying sex. This is certainly a pagan line of reasoning; however, it still falls along the lines of doing evil (i.e. having an affair) so that a good may result (i.e. staying married to the faithful spouse and not breaking up the family through divorce).
If you are like me, such reasoning is gut-turning. I wonder if that was how the Apostle Paul felt about the matter as well; hence, he did not even bother refuting the argument but just condemned it outright for the wickedness it is.
Evil is not needed for good to exist. This is true about God. And this is true in the matters of marriage. Anyone who thinks otherwise are justly condemned as the Apostle Paul states plainly.