Character and Adultery

“So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” -2 Corinthians 5:9-10, NIV

“Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.” -Proverbs 20:11, NIV

“This is the way of an adulteress: She eats and wipes her mouth and says, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.'” -Proverbs 30:20, NIV


As the first proverb points out, we are known to others by our actions. This is true even with children. Furthermore, we will be judged by those actions on Judgement Day as the Apostle Paul teaches us from 2 Corinthians 5. Each person is accountable for his/her own actions. This means saying he/she drove me to sin will not cut it on Judgement Day. It will be a reckoning concerning what YOU did in the body…not your spouse, kid, mother, father, or anyone else.

Back to the subject of adultery:

Adultery is the culmination of choices leading to the manifestation of a serious lack of character. The sexual violation is not the only act demonstrating a bankrupt character. One cannot cheat without lying. Many might understand that the sexual violation of the marriage union is awful–and it is–but they fail to grasp the destruction that comes from all the supporting lies surrounding the sexual infidelity. I can tell you from personal experience that the lies surrounding the sexual infidelity are far more devastating as they wreck havoc upon one’s sense of safety and reality.

How long was it going on? Is he the only other man? Did she tell me the truth when she said they were just catching up with good friends out on the town? What slander did she tell her “friends” about me to justify cheating?

When divorce becomes the focus as opposed to the character deficiencies of the cheater, the lies are reinforced and the faithful spouse is further damaged. This harms the cheater as well as they are robbed of an opportunity to repent before facing Christ’s Judgment Seat. No one is really served by this approach–except possibly professionals making money off of this situation.

By focusing on anything but the cheater’s character deficiency as revealed by her/his adultery and lies, one reinforces excuses and character formation in the cheater is avoided. Once again, adultery is treated as the minor story or mere marriage symptom as opposed to the serious sin God declares it to be.

This is not godly.

It spells disaster for the soul.

4 thoughts on “Character and Adultery”

  1. This is so true David! After my divorce, people (mostly leaders) told me that divorcing at all was the biggest sin. I couldn’t understand why the focus was on the fact that I divorced my husband and not on what he did/was continuing to do. He is a sex and porn addict, had an affair with my best friend (“sister” in Christ) and others along with multiple one night stands. He hid money from me, isolated me from friends and family, emotionally abused me and the list goes on. He still persists in his addiction after 14 years which has affected our two children immensely. They should not have to know this about their father and have to live with it. Despite all of these things, I was told that I should not have divorced and since I had divorced that I should stay single. I was also told that I shouldn’t tell my children (now in their teens) about his behavior or his sex addiction. This just let him continue in his sin and did nothing to “protect” my children because they found out on their own anyway. I felt for a very long time like I was the one with the Scarlet letter when I had done nothing but try to protect myself and my children from evil. People just labeled my the “bitter ex-wife” and stopped listening to me. So wrong…

  2. Yep, this too goes along with my former pastor. He assumed that my ex-wife cheated because I “forced” her to cheat by being a bad husband.

    The marriage was bad. Some may say that’s my responsibility, I’m the man, the spiritual head of the home. OK, I’ll buy that. What part of that gives her a pass to have an affair?


    There are only so many times you can ask how things are, and get the answer you know is a lie, “fine” until you just stop asking the question. If things are not bad enough for your spouse to be 100% open and honest about how she is feeling and what she wants, no leader can lead a relationship out of that fogbound dark place.

    If the marriage is bad for her, it’s most likely bad for him too. So if she cheats, or just walks away, why do we blame her betrayed or abandoned husband? Why isn’t she held responsible for not speaking openly and honestly, especially when he’s asked questions. You know, tough questions like, “What would you ideal marriage look like?” or “What does romance mean to you?”

    If her answer is “If you loved me, you would know what to do” then the problem probably isn’t with him. She either has an unrealistic expectation, or realy doesn’t know what she wants.

    Character means being honest about what’s going on. If your husband asks how you are and you say fine when you are not fine, that’s not demonstrating good character. If there is something missing in your marriage and you don’t go to your spouse with your complaint and some possible solutions, then you are not demonstrating good character. If your spouse complains about something in the marriage and instead of working with him to solve the problem, you turn it back around on him, you are not demonstrating good character.

    Chances are, if you are unhappy, he is too. The character filled response is you work with your spouse to address not just your complaints, but his too. If you just go out and have an affair, or just leave him because you feel or don’t feel _________, then you may not be demonstrating good character.

    1. “If her answer is “If you loved me, you would know what to do” then the problem probably isn’t with him. She either has an unrealistic expectation, or realy doesn’t know what she wants.” Definitely could be those two things. I’d say it’s probably more that she’s trying to play the mind reading game, which no one but her wins at since only she has access to her internal thoughts. It’s kinda hard to do something when they don’t tell you what it is you’re supposed to do!

    2. Agreed, uniballer1965. I would add from a marriage conference I’ve subsequently attended (post-divorce) that many conflicts are NEVER resolved in even healthy marriages. My take away from that: part of maturity and mature relationships is learning to live with differences. Your spouse was never meant to fill your every need. Only God can do that.

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