Lie: Bad Marriages Cause Infidelity.


“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…

bad marriages do not cause infidelity…adulterous hearts do!

9 thoughts on “Lie: Bad Marriages Cause Infidelity.”

  1. This one has always bugged me, even more after I acknowledged the abuse in my marriage. 20 years my ex abused me and I never even looked at another guy. It’s a decision one makes, regardless. But for some reason people always feel compelled to blame the victim instead of the perpetrator. I’m weary of this mindset. I do believe, however, that the church needs to be more open to divorce. If the marriage is really that bad, as mine had been from the day I was married, the church needs to stop excusing the abuser and stop coercing the victim to stay by lying to them that if they are just (insert level of perfection expected of the faithful/abused spouse) God will save their spouse and marriage. As if Free Will is non-existent.

    1. It even says in scripture that “wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” (Matthew 7:13). The Lord knows that some people will choose destruction over ceasing sin. This is foretold in Scripture. So, why should it be a surprise to the church that some people will choose to continue in their infidelity and abuse?

  2. I am not sure you are on solid ground here.

    Bad marriages do not cause adultery, but it sure as heck can contribute to it. Individual vulnerabilities can all lead to adultery, and by refusing to recognize this, the problem remains unresolved. You seem fixated on placing blame, which is not helpful, instead of fixing the problem.

    While Good Marriages do not prevent adultery, Bad Marriages can certainly contribute to it. And I have seen far too many cases where a bad marriage, in which an adultery has occurred, has gone unrecognized and unaddressed, while attempting to place blame, instead of addressing the pre-existing problems in the marriage, and the new problems created by the adultery. Finding the cause of the distance and breakdown in a relationship, where this has happened, is essential to restore the trust in the relationship,

  3. Just wanted to mention a couple of things here. For the guy who wrote the comments about how a bad marriage can contribute to adultery…I suppose it could but I would still say that the person who chooses to commit adultery even in a tough marriage is still Choosing to cheat on their spouse. Okay. Done with that one.

    I had mentioned to a friend of mine that at the time my husband was probably having his affair…the time frame…that I honestly didn’t think there was anything wrong in our marriage. She said…” He obviously didn’t think so”…I thought about it. It grieved me greatly because while I could see he was going through something, I was here busting my buns trying to help him and encourage him in every way I could. Those answers from people can be ridiculous!

    1. A “friend” of yours? “Obviously” she believes you brought your victimization onto yourself in some way.

      In my world, that sort of viewpoint is not conducive to a true friendship. It would need addressing for the relationship to continue. A true friend doesn’t respond to a rape victim who didn’t think she deserved such an assault by saying something to the effect “obviously, you must have been asking for it.”

Comments are closed.