If the Bible is clear that we are not to tolerate adultery, why then all the pressure to tolerate it in Christian marriages?


If the Bible is clear that we are not to tolerate adultery,

“You shall not commit adultery.” – Exodus 20:14 (repeated in Deuteronomy 5:18), ESV (Ten Commandments)

“If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” – Leviticus 20:10, ESV

“If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.” – Deuteronomy 22:22, ESV

Thus says the Lord: “Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce, with which I sent her away? Or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities you were sold, and for your transgressions your mother was sent away.” – Isaiah 50:1, ESV

“How can I pardon you?
    Your children have forsaken me
    and have sworn by those who are no gods.
When I fed them to the full,
    they committed adultery
    and trooped to the houses of whores.
They were well-fed, lusty stallions,
    each neighing for his neighbor’s wife.” – God to His People (His Old Testament Bride), Jeremiah 5:7-8, ESV

The Lord said to me in the days of King Josiah: “Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore? And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me,’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce.Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore. – Jeremiah 3:6-8, ESV

Adulterous wife, who receives strangers instead of her husband! Men give gifts to all prostitutes, but you gave your gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from every side with your whorings. So you were different from other women in your whorings. No one solicited you to play the whore, and you gave payment, while no payment was given to you; therefore you were different. “Therefore, O prostitute, hear the word of the Lord: Thus says the Lord God, Because your lust was poured out and your nakedness uncovered in your whorings with your lovers, and with all your abominable idols, and because of the blood of your children that you gave to them, therefore, behold, I will gather all your lovers with whom you took pleasure, all those you loved and all those you hated. I will gather them against you from every side and will uncover your nakedness to them, that they may see all your nakedness. And I will judge you as women who commit adultery and shed blood are judged, and bring upon you the blood of wrath and jealousy. – Ezekiel 16:32-38, ESV

“Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.” – Malachi 3:5, ESV

“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” – Jesus in Matthew 15:19 (repeated in Mark 7:21), ESV

“You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” – Jesus to the rich young ruler in Mark 10:19 (repeated in Luke 18:20), ESV

For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Romans 13:9, ESV

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. – I Corinthians 6:9-10, ESV

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. – Hebrews 13:4, ESV

…why then all the pressure to tolerate it in Christian marriages?!

Some may deny this is happening in the church. But it is. Because if you are insisting that the faithful spouse remain in the marriage after adultery has taken place without insisting first that the adultery is completely addressed, you are pressuring the faithful spouse to tolerate adultery in his or her marriage.

The message this sends is clear and wrong: Divorce is more heinous than committing adultery (even multiple times!).

Just look at the verses above and we see God does not treat adultery lightly nor ought people after His heart. Divorce is not worse than committing adultery. Adultery is always sin. Divorce is not.

It is past time we get this right.

God does not tolerate adultery.

Neither should His people!

1 thought on “If the Bible is clear that we are not to tolerate adultery, why then all the pressure to tolerate it in Christian marriages?”

  1. I just want to note that in Malachi, God is calling people out for being unfaithful to their spouses when He makes it clear that He hates divorce.
    It is also stated that the person who is being divorced was a faithful partner.

    This may be an important thing for churches to realize. They get that God hates divorce, but they are applying the passage to a faithful partner while pressuring them to tolerate their partner’s unfaithfulness. Whether this passage means that the men were committing adultery or were first divorcing their wives so they could marry someone else, God is upset about what is being done to the faithful partner and the children. He shows a lot of compassion to the faithful partner while calling the unfaithful partner out on their sin. Perhaps churches should do the same.

    Malachi Chapter 2:
    13 Here is another thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings and doesn’t accept them with pleasure. 14 You cry out, “Why doesn’t the Lord accept my worship?” I’ll tell you why! Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows.

    15 Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his.[b] And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. 16 “For I hate divorce!”[c] says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,[d]” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.”

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