Adultery Is Soul Rape.

 “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, ‘The two shall become one flesh.’ But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him”

-I Corinthians 6:15-17, NASB.


A traumatizing intimate, spiritual invasion.

An unwanted violation of the faithful spouse’s soul.

A defiling of the oneness found in the marriage covenant by the unilateral choice of the cheater.


As this passage from I Corinthians makes very clear, infidelity is not just an act between the unfaithful spouse and the adultery partner. It not a simple matter of sex.

The sexual act is as graphic as forcing an unwanted partner upon your marriage partner. In this case, it was God being violated by the Corinthians with temple prostitutes.

Anyone who has discovered the infidelity (or infidelities) of his or her spouse can attest to how incredibly traumatic this experience is. They can probably tell you in vivid detail where they were when they made the grisly discovery–i.e. when their world was turned upside down and their sense of safety vanished.

At the time of its rawness, I remember thinking and describing it as if someone had reached into my heart and hollowed it out with a dull spoon to maximize the pain of the marital union rending. The pain was truly beyond words to capture.

Soul rape merely begins to tell the tale of how horrible it felt.

It is absolutely awful.

I use these graphic words for a point.

First, I use them because I believe that they are the Biblical understanding of what takes place in adultery and form a basis for God’s hate of it.

Adultery is serious business. God prohibits it in the Ten Commandments for very good reason. Anyone who minimizes adultery does not have the heart of God on the matter and is in dangerous water as such.

Second, I use the graphic terms of soul rape to provide a hopefully helpful metaphor for those who truly care for the wronged spouse.

Just as it is inappropriate and hurtful to ask a rape survivor what she was wearing when she was raped, it is inappropriate and hurtful to ask the wronged spouse what they had done in the marriage to cause this.

A rape survivor does not cause her rape. An adultery survivor does not cause his spouse to commit adultery.

Wardrobe choices and marital skills may be good subjects to discuss in another setting. Not here.

To discuss them with the rape or adultery present and not addressed is to blameshift onto the survivor. It is to suggest the survivor did something that makes him or her responsible for another’s sin against him or her. This is not biblical.

God did not tolerate it in Eden nor will God tolerate this on the Judgment Day. We are accountable for our own choices and actions and not another’s (see 2 Corinthians 5:10).

Another way the soul rape metaphor is helpful is exposing how unhelpful exploring the rationale behind the infidelity is without a crystal clear acceptance of full responsibility for the sin.

Does a messed up childhood excuse a pedophile for raping a child? Does a sex addiction make it okay to rape vulnerable women at night?

Obviously, these histories do not.

To use them as a defense is to seek to excuse and avoid responsibility for the poor, criminal, and sinful choices made by this individual. No longer is it about the survivor and what was done to him or her, it is now about the perpetrator’s family of origin (FOO) issues, addictions, environment, etc.

Analogously, by focusing on the cheater’s FOO issues, environment, marital communication problems, etc, the choice to commit adultery is minimized. It is made to look inevitable or possibly even caused by the adultery survivor–i.e. more blameshifting. Thereby the survivor is brutalized again…this time possibly by well-meaning people.

Now, the exploration of environment, addictions, and/or FOO issues may be appropriate at some point. But the sin or crime needs to be dealt with first.

The harm needs to cease.

A message needs to sounded by pastors stating that they will not tolerate minimizing or blameshifting as it comes to such grievous sin.

Adultery is not acceptable.

Someone has been raped–united with a prostitute against her wishes.

Let’s focus on protecting the survivor and then on helping the perpetrator own his or her sin so that they can find freedom from it.

101 thoughts on “Adultery Is Soul Rape.”

  1. This is very helpful! Just today I was sharing with friends the guilt I feel around my ex-husband’s infidelity. He and his cohorts/family taught me well that I am to blame. I hope you will write a blog explaining how the survivor can let go of that guilt.

    1. If anyone is reading this, I can relate to Lisa’s feeling of guilt.

      There is a passage in the 5th chapter of Numbers that may be helpful:

      If a man suspected his wife of cheating, he was instructed to take her to the priest and have her drink this bitter holy water. If she was innocent, nothing happened to her. If she was guilty, she would be subjected to suffering with a curse. It says the following towards the end of the chapter in verse 31:

      “The husband will be innocent of any guilt in this matter, but his wife will be held accountable for her sin.”

      See how it says that the husband was innocent in this matter, but she is guilty and will be held accountable for HER sin. That’s how God sees it. There’s no unless her husband wasn’t good enough in this or that way… then he’s guilty too. Nope. God holds him completely innocent. She sinned. She’s accountable. Period.

      Sure, we all fall short of God’s standard sometimes and miss the mark, but there is no where in scripture where God says that a person is guilty for their spouse’s infidelity. God will not condemn you or judge you for this. It’s okay to ignore the crap other people say, as it says in Eugene Peterson’s paraphrased version of Isaiah 51: “Those insults and mockeries are moth-eaten, from brains that are termite-ridden, But [God’s] setting-things-right lasts, [His] salvation goes on and on and on.”

  2. Lisa,

    So sorry that you experienced (are experiencing?) such false accusation! I have just written a post that I hope will be helpful to you.

  3. Thank you for posting this. I was told I was to blame for my ex-husband’s affair with my ex-best friend by both of them. They both said if I hadn’t been so “awful” by focusing on my FOO’s abuse of me and hadn’t talked so often about how I hated my job that it wouldn’t have happened. I was told by both of them that I was the bad, judgmental one which “drove” them to do what they did and how dare I be so unforgiving. When I persisted in my attempts to get some kind of resolution and motivation to forgive my ex-best friend, she told me that she wouldn’t talk to me unless I traveled to her new state of residence (WA to TN!) and met with her and a counselor because I was being abusive. Me. I was the abusive one. The final result being I was left to be the “bigger person” and told to forgive because that’s what good Christians do. Please tell me why the spouse/best friend who has been wronged and betrayed has to be the doormat, shut up about the abuse and forgive? This, to me, is evil and heaps more pain and terror on the heart of the innocent.

    1. Losses of “friendships” often come with adultery and divorce as was my experience as well. It is not fair, but I have found the friends who have stuck by me are the real ones worth the relational investment. The trauma siphoned off those who really were not true friends, sadly.

  4. You are told by “them” to forgive because the adulterer wants to move past it, as do all the folks who witness it. Most of us are not Scripturally sound enough to have the presence of mind to fight the emotional attacks of the evil one. Then … After all the wreckage, you need to forgive so you, the victim can heal. Forgiveness puts the burden of judgement squarely on Our Lord s shoulders. Forgiveness says, Lord I trust You to guide me on this journey. Forgiveness focuses on you, the victim and taking care of you. Forgiveness does not absolve or reduce the debt incurred by their error. Forgiveness absolves you of the burden of collecting.

    1. Thank you for saying things this way. I have long felt that the damaging platitudes people offer when one is going through a traumatic life experience have nothing to do with trying to make you see sound doctrine / “get you right with God,” and everything to do with the speaker’s own spiritual immaturity and unwillingness to let themselves feel the weight and pain of a situation, to “weep with those who weep / mourn with those who mourn,” Rom. 12:15. Eccl. 3 (which is an amazingly cathartic passage to read when you’re distraught) says there is a time for every activity, but we are all-too-willing to try, or try to force others, to move beyond a season before it’s even taken hold. God in his wisdom created autumn (harvest, death) and winter (despair, recovery) as well, not only spring (rebirth) and summer (fullness, work). I tried to comfort myself with the knowledge that at least God, if no one else, understood that just because my husband and I shared a “field” – life together – didn’t mean I planted every thing that grows there, though the harvest of it affected me greatly.

  5. I have to respectfully disagree with you M. I believe that the victim of the betrayal of adultery, etc. that I was needs to be heard and validated before they can even remotely think of healing and possibly moving on to forgiveness. At that point it is cheap forgiveness and puts a bandaid on a gaping wound. My pain at what had been done to me and my children without our consent that changed our lives forever was swept under the carpet and denied. Nobody wanted to hear me and acknowledge the devastation and shock over the betrayal. It added salt to the gaping wound. It further victimizes the innocent spouse to say that they must/need forgive without being heard or supported. It is not for my sake that the directive to forgive is made and promoted. It is for others’ sake that pushing forgiveness is for so they don’t have to deal with the reality of the existence of such egregious sin occurring within the church.

    1. Your story is my story except that my husband and my sister had an affair for 2.5yrs (may still be going on). My mother and brother and sis in law all turned a deaf ear and chose to remain “neutral”, even though my husband left me and moved into the 5th wheel with my sister and mother. I feel as though I’ve been emotionally gang raped.I haven’t seen my 92yo mother in two years because my sister has brainwashed her into believing I am the liar to conceal her deception. My sister and husband still deny it even though I have a 10-inch thick file of hard copy evidence nobody wants to see. I even made a copy of said file and took it to my sister’s pastor. He acknowledge the affair and then by ignoring my calls, has refused me my privilege to invoke my right to confront my sister about her sin (Matt 18). I’m furious as I struggle with the temptation of putting it all on you-tube. BTW, go to It’s the Whittenberg Door for cheaters.

      I left two churches, one because the leadership didn’t “get it” and thought my anger was inappropriate, and the other because a male leader of my small group told me my discussions about the issue belong in women’s groups and that maybe these ongoing calamities were a result of my having an unforgiving heart. My attitude is they can all kiss my ass. Their immature and callous responses are not scriptural and have created in me a distrust and bitterness towards a sexist Church who looks the other way when it’s uncomfortable with conflict over overt sin. In the Old Testament a husband was allowed to take revenge upon his rival. But what about women????

      I keep praying God will lift the veil of deception and give me justice. My husband abandoned me leaving me to live in abject poverty as a result.I am in the process of divorce. However, I can’t seem to get past these injustices. He’s not suffering. He is a Narcissist posing as a Christian, serving in his church, and utterly duping his pastor and everyone else with his tarnished halo and getting away with it all. I’ve just lost my home, health, finances, and everything I worked for for 40 years. I’ve been pruned to the roots; not even my dog survived the pruning.

      1. Vivian,

        That is truly awful. Of course, it is hard to move forward with the sin ongoing through denials and attacks against you. Makes sense to me that you would be angry. So sad your pastor and that male leader failed to actually deal with the adultery blaming you! So unjust. So wrong!

        For your own safety and well-being, I recommend NOT putting on YouTube. Tell the people who ask or need to know. But putting up a virtual billboard ad could backfire on you. I wouldn’t want you further hurt (e.g. legally).

        And my heart goes out to you in your losses. Those are A LOT of losses. I would be angry over those losses alone; let alone the active attacks and smear campaigns you highlighted. Sounds like you are experiencing a lot of grief.

        I hope you do get justice. Be kind to yourself in the meantime. God is good at tacking ashes and transforming them into something beautiful. And He is angry at the unrighteous daily (Psalm 7:11). Don’t ever forget that!


  6. I didn t say not to correct the misperceptions, but less is more. My family has been torn asunder not only by the adultery but the incredibly nasty divorce proceedings the narcissistic cheater has inflicted as well to satisfy his vendetta, his avarice, his gluttony. But the battle is spiritual, and I found that those who supported initially, have grown weary, can t say I blame them it s going on three years. My favorite parts were the times these people tell me now when they saw n never said anything to him to stop or me to warn. Love those folks, not. Don t allow your hurt to demand that your support come from anyone other than The Lord. He gets it, He saw it and He will never abandon you. Your friends, your family even will. They are human. They want to avoid ugly. That simple. Is it right. Absolutely not. Their cruel indifference to your raw pain is on them. You need to nourish yourself so you can be there for your children… And you. God bless you.

  7. Your words soothe my soul. My ex husband is constantly telling my 20 year old daughter that she can’t understand why he did what he until she is in her 40′s because she can’t understand the problems in our marriage. He was miserable….so he started this when she was 2. Seventeen years of cheating and lies. He is a lawyer so keeping secrets is his job. I caught him and we are divorced after 25 years of marriage. Raped my soul is the perfect description. Thank you.

    1. So sorry that you had such an awful experience! I am glad that you found the website. May you feel God’s blessings and comfort as you rebuild after such trauma.

    2. Debdenchis- I hope your daughter can see through his BS. It has nothing to do with age and everything to do with him being an entitled liar and con man. My heart goes out to you and your daughter.

      1. Thank you both so much…it helps so much to know that I am not alone and there are people out there in the world that get it. Your understanding is a blessing.

  8. Thank you for this article. My sexually addicted/compulsive husband has been involved with women on line for our entire marriage. He tries to shift the blame on to me all the time, saying I am not supportive and I am not empathetic to his FOO issues. I am so grateful for your courage to write this article, I am sure you will have to defend yourself to many in the counseling community.

    1. You are welcome! And I am glad you found your way here. My harshest critics to this date actually come from other pastor(s). I am sure as I become more visible that more critics (including counselors) will show up. However, I am not afraid. Truth has a way of winning in the end. Light is stronger than darkness. Besides, I am writing as a pastor/chaplain not as a therapist/counselor. And I have the authority (and credentials) to do just that.

  9. Thank you for posting this Rev. David. Your voice is reaffirming to all women who have been ‘soul raped’.

    One of the Sisters on my website for Partners Of Sex Addicts posted a link to this post and recommended that everyone read it. I was pleasantly surprised when I read it. Most spiritual leaders are not aware of the devastation that women experience because of infidelity in their marriage.

    Again, thank you for this viewpoint. ~ JoAnn

    Please visit my website if you need support.

    1. Thanks, JoAnn, for your kind words and for visiting. Glad to hear there is a community for women who are dealing with such awful trauma. I wrote this piece both to expose the spiritual truth around it and to give those of us who have been traumatized by adultery/infidelity language to explain to outsiders (and ourselves) why it is/was so horrible.

  10. I so respect your truthful evaluation of trauma created by sexual betrayal. My professing Christian husband and church volunteer was lying and deceiving me for over 20 years. He was seeking and finding other women and having extra-marital sexual experiences (I won’t mention the exact nature of his wanderings). He claims he never had physical adultery. He says often, “Sin, sin, we all sin.” He does not exhibit genuine remorse / appropriate shame. His “Christian” cousin, a registered sexual offender, displayed the same non-blushing attitude.

    The fallout from his betrayal is unbelievable. My young adult children both told me separately, “Mom, even if Dad had physical adultery, we KNOW God wants you to be with him.” Talk about entitlement. When I tried to separate, to stop the emotional abuse and help save our marriage, one minister said I was separating to spite him? Huh? I felt God led me to the separation? And it was not easy to obey. I asked one Director of Addiction Counselor (Christian) if my husband could maybe look up scriptures on loving the wife of his youth, lying, deceit, sexual immortality… the Director said I was controlling.

    I won’t bore you with more stories, but they are endless.

    OK, one more. My son’s youth pastor knew about a lot of the betrayal. Prior to my son’s wedding he suggested my husband come up and pray over them during the wedding ceremony. Of course, my husband did. Lovely.

    Few care about betrayed spouses. Few care.

    Thank you for caring.

    1. Lynda,

      It sounds like these pastors do not want to follow Scripture when it makes uncomfortable demands in the form of confronting your husband. I am sorry that has been your experience. And your husband saying what he did about sin sounds rather flippant, which doesn’t bode well in indicating he’s on the road to repentance. Sad. And I am so sorry you have had to bear so much of the cost! Glad you found your way here.

    2. lynda- HUG. The director said you were controlling? And your kids, though they mean well, aren’t helping either. The ball has been dropped several times. I’m so sorry, we (the body of Christ) have failed you. You are mighty, you’re still standing, even if it feels like you might fall over, you’re still standing. Our hearts are with you.

      1. The scriptures from Matthew ring in my ears. When I was naked, hungry, etc. Thank you for giving me some comfort and support, it is counted as unto the Lord.

        ‘We have failed you’. Ah, such soothing words I have not heard before. And your suggestion that I am strong feels untrue but thank you. It does feel like I am ready to fall over. I think betraying spouses force you into quicksand, but never tell you that you are in it. Then D-Day comes, when you find out what has been going on for 20 plus years or so, and you realize you have been in quicksand and the scales fall off – deception no longer hidden. But then what? Many in the church seem like they are running for us with ropes in hand, only to say a few mean comments, like “You should lean on Jesus to get out of your trouble,” only to leave you sinking. Unremorseful spouses put some branches over you and say, “Don’t tell anyone – I don’t want to look bad,” as you gasp for more air in the bubbling quicksand. It is tough in here, in the quicksand that is. I hope I make it out alive. He is sure doing well – taken up a new hobby, people adore him, etc. Classic, simply classic.

        (I should add that I have some godly friends/pastors that care about me. I mustn’t forget that.)

        1. Lynda, I love your metaphors! I used to try and tell people that it felt like I had been in a car accident and I was lying there with my arm severed and the EMTs were saying to me, “Well, we can’t help you at all until you forgive…..”

  11. Dear Pastor Dave & Infidelity Survivors,
    There is nothing in the no fault Family Court System and nothing in the culture to send the message that infidelity is wrong. Thank you for sending that message. The choices women have, even here in women’s rights USA are to put up with the infidelity in the marriage or face poverty in divorce court.

  12. Thank you for your post. You are spot on. My soul was raped and I’ve been left trying to pick up the pieces after 30 years of marriage and 4 children. He has had enough therapy to take full responsibility and he apologizes regularly, but so much damage has been done and I do not know where we go from here. We are separated and there will be a disclosure with polygraph soon. I love him and I recognize the damaged man from FOO issues, but I do not know if I have the capacity to forgive and ever trust again. I’m not that good! He went to Mass as the head of our family, receiving communion like the fraud that he is. He has since said to me when I asked if he even believes in God, that he doesn’t know if he does, because he doesn’t feel him in his life. I don’t know what to do with that. That to me is far sadder then the infidelity and porn addiction.

    1. It is always sad to see someone walk away from the faith. Sin separates us from God. And a mature relationship sometimes means walking with God when we do not feel God. I know I did not always feel Him when I was in the depths of the adultery discovery and divorce trauma. He was there, though. Our hearts go out to you! I would not wish soul rape on anyone.

    2. T, your ex saying he doesn’t feel God in his life isn’t surprising based on his actions. It is not on you to lead him to a place where he can feel Him again. You are not his spiritual director. You need your own space to heal and probably will have your own words to take up with God (Lord knows I’ve had plenty with Him in my own life). God is always there. We’re the ones who are usually shutting Him out. From the many stories I’ve read from infidelity survivors, you will be able to forgive, eventually. You have no obligation to do it right now. You have ZERO obligation to ever trust him again. Forgiveness and trust are very different. I read a blog from Rachel Held Evans tonight that may be of use to you Where you go from here is up to you. You have a biblical out without shame. FOO or not, it’s still him. Character transplants don’t happen overnight. One thought that I’ve had towards the whole reconciliation thing, is why does divorce have to be initially avoided? You do have the choice to divorce, get yourself out with space to properly heal. If he works his crap out and you are able to forgive and trust him again, you do have the option to remarry him down the road. That road may mean a few years apart living separate lives or it may be sooner than that. If the path to remarriage with him is closed, then you still have the path to someone better open. One of the big questions is can you heal while staying married and if so, will you stay? I don’t have the answer for that sadly. None of your options will be easy and all of them will take time, probably years. You’ve shown strength in taking actions, you separated for now. Our prayers will be with you.

  13. I remember my former pastor asking me what I did to force my ex-wife to have an affair.

    Now I have two exes. An ex-wife and an former pastor.

    The knucklehead responses are not limited to untrained family and friends and stupid stuff coming from the mouth of a cheating wife. Those who SHOULD know better are fully capable of going full stupid in short order.

    1. “Those who SHOULD know better are fully capable of going full stupid in short order.”

      Truer words were never spoken. I also have two exes–an ex-husband and my ex-pastor…they are one and the same. Oh, wait! Make that three exes–the ex-friend with whom my ex-husband/pastor cheated and to whom he is now married.

      Mine once refused to officiate a wedding for a couple he learned was living together before the wedding. He also once caught a cheating couple who met up for trysts in our church parking lot and verbally dressed them down for dragging our church into their wickedness…and then used said couple as a sermon illustration. This would be the same pastor whose most popular sermon series were on the topic of marriage. This would be the same pastor I helped earn his doctorate in ministry.

      He DID know better but went full throttle stupid just the same. But, as I think about this, I don’t know about the short order part. His was a series of tiny stupid choices over time that all of a sudden landed him in a boiling cauldron of full stupid.

      And yes, I got the ‘this is somehow all your fault’ psychology from the two of them, from many in our church, from his fellow pastor friends, and so many others. I’ve learned that adultery has so long been the plot line for sitcoms and movies-of-the-week, that it no longer is seen as abject wickedness or ‘soul rape’ as the writer of this blog so eloquently described it.

      I think what sucked the life out of me the most was the feeling that I (underline and highlight the I) was the one who was expected to defend her position in light of their soul-sucking selfishness. Few things encourage me as much as hearing the Biblical truth that HE ALONE is responsible for his choices and I know that I’m only likely to hear this truth from someone else who has worn these awful shoes. We are just going to have to encourage one another with the real truth.

  14. “Adultery is soul rape.”

    Thank you.

    You have described the core, shattering damage for partners of men who sexually: emotionally betray, break covenant of marriage.

    I think of the hundreds, thousands, of times I shared most personal desires, cares, goals, worries… While my husband played me, then scurried off to text a hook-up he was “dating” —

    The countless times he positioned me, naked, across our marital bed and I complied to please my husband….

    And was then condemned by my therapist for not honoring my boundaries…

    The long list of marital economic agreements…. Now dismissed as “no fault divorce” and “own your part in failure of marriage…”

    God help us all…

    We are regressing….

    This is an ugly, devastating backlash….

    God help us all…

  15. Great article. The rape of my soul had me doubting and questioning God and his wisdom. I had lost my faith and wanted nothing more to do with anything religious. This is just what I needed to see that God has made provisions for me and the evil that has come into my life to protect me.

  16. I was married to a man who had habitual adultery relationships l still feel raped to this day ,he has been dead for years ,the aggressive women that took part are the perpetrators in my cases,every time I see a willingly women ,I can feel the nastiness all over again IAm single and a dirty Virgin @51 years old.every act they commit Ed a child was planned ,how that for family planning?

    1. My heart goes out to all the wives that have been betrayed. For about 4 weeks ago I have discovered that my husband committed adultery. We are now married since 20 years and the pain I felt is just devastating. My husband also got angry with me when I cried so much after his confession. Never will I forget those cold eyes looking at me and blaming me for HIS misery. What I have learnt is that when a person commits adultery he has lost his soul. He no longer has a beating heart, he is dead inside! To all those out there suffering a betrayal, please keep strong! We have a heart of flesh, those who betray have a heart of stone! They are destroying themselves!
      May God walk with all the betrayed spouses! You are walking in Gods grace! Those who are betraying are walking with the evil.

      God bless you all and stay strong!

  17. WOW! For a couple of years now I haven’t been able to put into words how I felt re: my wife’s infidelities. Soul Rape. That is it. My mentally ill wife led me to believe that I was the cause of the problems, and I bought it. Through a series of events, people God placed in my life, and His word, I realized I was not the cause. I didnt force her to behave in a sinful way. She chose it. She owns it. And that has made all the difference for me. I still feel violated, but God is working on my heart to forgive, daily. Thanks for the blog

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