‘If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. – Leviticus 20:10, NASB
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. – Mt 5:17-18, NKJV
“Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery. -Mt 5:31-32, NKJV
My stance on adultery, divorce, and remarriage is that a faithful spouse is free to divorce one’s spouse and remarry in the event of adultery without any shame or violating God’s will on the matter of their marriage. In other words, it is not a mark against the faithful spouse’s character to divorce after adultery has taken place in his/her marriage. I come to this conviction from reading passages like the ones mentioned above among others (e.g. Deut. 22:22, Jeremiah 3:8, Mt 1: 18-19, Mt 19:9, etc).
I would add this option holds whether one’s adulterous spouse repents or not. It was not a three strike system in the Old Testament on this matter. If you committed adultery once (and were caught), you were put to death whether or not your faithful spouse wanted to work on the marriage. Adultery is that serious. And Jesus did not deny this in defending the woman caught in the adultery (John 8). She deserved death.
In addition, I do not see Jesus adding qualifications to his exception in Mt 5:32 or Mt 19:9. If it is an exception (as adultery clearly falls under the sexual immorality heading), then it is an exception. God would not tell us that something is permissible if it was sin.
That said, I want to be clear that I am not saying you have to divorce your adulterous spouse. I am saying one is free to divorce an adulterous and not that one ought to divorce. You can show your spouse mercy in staying married to him or her.
It takes discernment to determine which is the best of the bad options to take following adultery discovery. How many times one extends mercy to one’s adulterous spouse by not divorcing is really up to the faithful spouse. They are not obligated to extend mercy even one time. An exception is an exception.
That said, the faithful spouses are the ones answerable to God on this decision, and they need to be at peace with their decision either way. It is a hard decision to make. And ultimately, they will be the one with the STD and not the pastor telling them to stay if they judge wrongly about their adulterous spouse’s state of repentance.
Both roads are open to faithful spouses–i.e. the road through divorcing the adulterous spouse or the road to restoration of the marriage (provided the adulterous spouse leaves this one open as it takes two for this to happen). The choice is freely left to them.
Personally, I would encourage all faithful Christian spouses to consider marriage restoration before divorcing. Divorce destroys a lot, and if true restoration with full repentance is on the table, it is worth considering in my opinion.
Go to my resource page and look at the resources under Dr. David Clarke. If you take his approach to adultery, you will have a better chance of knowing whether or not your marriage stands a chance for restoration. Dr. Clarke deals with adultery directly and Biblically with no blame-shifting upon the faithful spouse allowed. At least, if an approach like Dr. Clarke’s fails, you can walk away from your marriage with the peace of mind knowing your adulterous former spouse was unwilling to choose to repent, and therefore, divorce was the best of the bad options left on the table.
That said, I will repeat what I have said before: a faithful spouse is free–regardless–to divorce an adulterous spouse. What I suggest above is just what I consider wisdom in these matters. It may help provide peace to the faithful spouse in the end. But the decision remains freely and fully in the faithful spouse’s hands (once again, provided the adulterous spouse has not already decided to unilaterally divorce).