And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
-Jeremiah 3:8, KJV
Somehow our Christian pastoral advice for marriage has become so twisted that it fails to acknowledge the consistent Biblical idea that adultery is a “deal-breaker” when it comes to marriage.
We know that God is love incarnate (see I John 4:16).
Further, we know that God was Israel’s covenant partner–i.e. her “Husband.”
It was not a deficiency on God’s part to love that led to Israel’s adulteries. Further, God’s divorce does not call into question His nature (for the non-heretical)–namely, that God is love itself. In fact, I believe God was demonstrating His love towards Israel even in divorcing them as He gave them the freedom to follow their own disastrous choices.
God had a deal-breaker.
He does not force His love on us. God allows us to choose whether or not we want Him as our Lord, Savior, and Lover. If we choose otherwise, He respects that. And we see in Hebrews (10:26-27) that this is even true of those who once tasted God’s goodness under the New Covenant!
Any teaching about love (and respect) in Christian marriage that does not acknowledge this important aspect of personal responsibility for individual choices is a false teaching. Love (and respect) must be understood in the context of a God who loved and respected adulterous Israel so much that He released her via divorce to pursue her follies.
In other words, refusing to tolerate adultery is a godly marriage deal-breaker!