Blame Only Where Blame’s Due

Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin. – Deuteronomy 24:16, NIV

Even under the strict law of the Old Testament, God followers were taught the principle that one punishes only the one who commits the sin. This is especially pertinent to the case of adultery since it was a capital offense in those days:

If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel. -Deuteronomy 22:22, NIV.

Notice: Deuteronomy 22:22 does not say put the faithful husband or wife to death for the sins of their adulterous spouse.

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The adulterer or adulteress bears full responsibility for the act of adultery alone and its consequence.

Now, I am glad that we do not kill people over adultery today. Mercy is warranted as human life is always precious. However, I do believe we need to realize how seriously God took adultery in the Old Testament. And while mercy is now extended to adulterers and adulteresses, that does not mean God takes adultery less seriously today than He did in the Old Testament days.

Even when Jesus preserved the life of the woman caught in adultery, he pardoned her with the understanding that he had the power and justification to stone her to death. In other words, she did not deserve to live due to her adultery (see John 8:1-11). Furthermore, Jesus extended mercy with a further command to her to not continue sinning (see vv. 11). Even mercy has healthy boundaries here.

Furthermore, just because we do not stone adulterous spouses anymore, it does not follow that God suddenly decided to promote a shared-blame frame of mind in these matters. Such would be a radical change from the above noted teachings. If the God found in the Old Testament did not blame or punish the faithful spouse, why would He encourage punishment or shared blame in the New Testament? This would be out of character for God who is unchanging (Hebrews 13:8).

These two truths ought to inform how we view faithful spouses:

1) Adultery is a serious offense, which God considered worthy of the death penalty in the Old Testament. In other words, it is a HUGE DEAL to God! Any approach to addressing adultery that minimizes it calling it a “mistake” or just a “slip up” is an ungodly approach for that is not how God views adultery.

2) It is ungodly and unjust to blame and shame a faithful spouse for the adulterous spouse’s behavior. I would include both the adultery and the subsequent divorce following from the unrepentant sin in this. A divorced, faithful spouse ought to receive the same sympathy and compassion that we–Christians–offer a widow or widower as that is what they would have been in the Old Testament. Blaming them for the divorce following adultery is wicked. It is to assign punishment to them for the sins of their former spouse.






3 thoughts on “Blame Only Where Blame’s Due”

  1. If this is true, then why is my STBXW, her sister and brother-in-law, and several at my church blaming me for her affair, her leaving me for the AP and ultimately moving in with the jerk? I’m blamed for my kids know some of the truth. I’m blamed for being hurt.

    1. Because some love the lie and the darkness more than the truth and the light. I am sorry, ChumpDad, you have endured such ignorance and evil. It is not your fault. You cannot make them believe the truth but you CAN refuse to accept such lies for yourself.

    2. It is true and it’s a terrifying thing to admit that it’s true when coming from the camp of pointing fingers at the faithful spouse. Path of least resistance is to not overturn what’s been the norm for some time, even if it merits overturning. You can’t reason with stupid. I noticed you mentioned that it’s her family that’s siding with her. They’re choosing blood over water. It’s easier to keep their sister in a good light than actually see what’s going on. It’s easier to fall for the damsel act and point the finger at you, sadly. Same goes for the ones in church. One retort that I would probably use myself, as I’d be so fed up with those lies I’d just let it fly, would be to point at the brother-in-law and say “You! Go get a hooker!” and then look at the sister and say “You! No get over it and go clean the counters better. If you’d cleaned them better he wouldn’t be with a hooker in the first place!”

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