“For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person….”
-Matthew 15:19-20a, NIV
Bad marriages cause infidelity = Lie!
When Jesus talks here about sexual immorality and adultery, I do not see any long explanation about the sad state of the culture around Him nor about how bad marriages were driving spouses to cheat. Rather, I see Jesus teaching us that adultery comes from the heart of the sinner.
For those who missed it, that means bad marriages do not cause adultery but rather “evil thoughts” from the heart of the adulterous spouse does.
As pastors and Christians, we do not need social science to back up this truth (even though it does–see Dr. Shirley Glass’ book, Not “Just Friends”). Jesus already gave us clear teaching on the matter:
Do not look at the state of the marriage to find the origin of the sin; look to the sinner who committed adultery if you want to find that sin’s source.
This is not to say the all marriages prior to infidelity were good marriages. They weren’t. Some were good, and some were bad.
It is to say–as far as God is concerned–the state of the marriage is irrelevant in answering questions of origin when it comes to sin. The marriage did not sin. Rather, the adulterous spouse did.
Another point is important here: By teaching that bad marriages cause infidelity, a pastor or Christian leader is teaching a lie that those spouses get a pass to cheat.
I do not see anywhere in the Bible where God says it is “understandable”–read: excusable–to commit adultery and thereby break one of the Ten Commandments. Do you?
The “Bad marriages cause adultery” lie creates a dangerous dynamic. It lulls people to sleep with false security who think adultery only happens to people in “bad” marriages. Further, it implies permission for those in self-described “bad” marriages to cheat.
It is best to come back to the truth: Adultery is caused by an adulterous spouse choosing to violate his or her marriage vows period. It is never permissible to sin. That means the circumstances of your marriage cannot ever give you permission in the eyes of God to commit adultery for adultery is always sin.
Best to bury the lie…