“‘You adulterous wife! You prefer strangers to your own husband! All prostitutes receive gifts, but you give gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from everywhere for your illicit favors. So in your prostitution you are the opposite of others; no one runs after you for your favors. You are the very opposite, for you give payment and none is given to you.
“‘Therefore, you prostitute, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because you poured out your lust and exposed your naked body in your promiscuity with your lovers, and because of all your detestable idols, and because you gave them your children’s blood, therefore I am going to gather all your lovers, with whom you found pleasure, those you loved as well as those you hated. I will gather them against you from all around and will strip you in front of them, and they will see you stark naked. I will sentence you to the punishment of women who commit adultery and who shed blood; I will bring on you the blood vengeance of my wrath and jealous anger. Then I will deliver you into the hands of your lovers, and they will tear down your mounds and destroy your lofty shrines. They will strip you of your clothes and take your fine jewelry and leave you stark naked. They will bring a mob against you, who will stone you and hack you to pieces with their swords. They will burn down your houses and inflict punishment on you in the sight of many women. I will put a stop to your prostitution, and you will no longer pay your lovers. Then my wrath against you will subside and my jealous anger will turn away from you; I will be calm and no longer angry.
-Ezekiel 16:32-42, NIV
Does it sound like God is of the “mistakes were made” sort of perspective on adultery? Is He holding court on Jerusalem’s FOO (family of origin) issues? Does Jerusalem’s “lack of happiness” factor into this discussion?
Or do you think God sees adultery simply as a sinful and willful choice made solely by the unfaithful spouse?
This is a graphic and jarring passage of Scripture. Yet we are told by Scripture that this is the same God who came to us as Jesus (e.g. Hebrews 13:8). Holiness is apparently very important to Him. He is not interested in being “sloppy seconds” in His marriage to His covenant people.
Adultery REALLY riles up God’s righteous indignation!
When Christians and Christians leaders worry about the outrage of faithful spouses, I wonder if they have ever read passages like this one and paused long enough to realize what these passages teach us about God’s heart concerning adultery. God does not treat adultery like it was some sort of marriage symptom or an unfortunate mistake made by the adulterer/adulteress.
God lays the full blame with great fury upon the unfaithful spouse alone.
Plus, the passage I quoted above is far from inconsistent with other passages in the Old Testament where God utilizes the metaphor of adultery to speak about idolatry (e.g. just look at the book of Hosea).
The language is strong.
Far from condemning anger when adultery is present (and repeated without regard to the faithful spouse), I see God modeling in His Word an appropriate emotional response for a faithful spouse to have to such intimate humiliation and violation. It calls for anger.*
Adultery is a very BIG deal to God!
Encouraging such righteous anger over adultery is actually encouraging godliness in faithful spouses. It is calling them to respond as God responds to adultery.
Who knows? Maybe by encouraging such anger–in appropriate and safe settings–marriages might be saved.
If evangelical Christian pastors really interested in saving marriages after adultery, why don’t we start here?
It’s a godly remedy after all.
And I have more than one verse to prove it.
*IMPORTANT DISTINCTION: As humans, it is not our role to seek revenge but God’s. I am pointing out how Scripture utilizes healthy anger in light of adultery to illustrated how God’s anger is justified in the face of idolatrous adultery. After all, the Bible says, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19, NIV).