No More Silence From the Pulpit On Adultery

If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel. – Deuteronomy 22:22, NIV

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

wpid-2014-10-04-14.29.11.jpg.jpegThe tagline of my blog is “Taking Adultery Seriously.” I write this blog in part to correct the silence concerning adultery. It is evil as Scripture says (see above).

Evil must be named.

It must be addressed.

So often I read and hear of people guilted into staying in a marriage ravaged by adultery “for the kids.” But where were these counselors decrying the evil of adultery before the marriage got to this point? Why are they not laying the blame firmly at the feet of the adulterer or adulteress for the destruction of the relationship? Why are they further victimizing the victim of adultery?

Let the faithful spouse decide the wisest course forward without trying to manipulate them one way or another for crying out loud!

The cheater has just raped the soul of the children’s mother or father–i.e. the faithful spouse. How about some stern warnings from the pulpit about how adultery hurts children? It is not just a wrong committed against the spouse after all. How about some stern warnings from the pulpit naming adultery as evil? That’s how God sees it. How about some stern warnings from the pulpit giving the gory details of how adultery destroys families and marriages? Because that is what it does.

Forgiveness is important. And I agree Christians are to forgive the ones who sin against them as God has forgiven all of us–i.e. the adulterous spouse included. However, forgiveness ought not to be a disguise for silence over the commission of evil.

Adultery is ugly. Talking about it makes people uncomfortable. Yet to teach the full counsel of Scripture means that we sometimes have to teach uncomfortable things.

Adulterous spouses look bad because what they did was bad. Not talking about it allows the evil to grow. It is evil as Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer so eloquently puts it above. Not to talk about it helps it continue.

Maybe if we exposed the evil to the light, then more Christians would be better equipped to walk in it?

6 thoughts on “No More Silence From the Pulpit On Adultery”

  1. Thank you for sharing this, I have only just seen this in my email inbox and was encouraged by your sharing.
    10 months has past since my husbands confession of adultry and he is no closer to understanding the depth of what he has done than the day he confessed. Due to information our teenage son came to me with I was able to get him to agree to leave the family home a week before his confession.
    Our church eldership chose to deal with him in secret leaving me to choose between staying in a realationship with him or being seen as the cause of our seperation by our congregation (as I chose to leave our family church as a result of their action) he is now conviced that he is sanctified by submitting to their authority. When we first seperated our congregation was told that we had seperated because we had a few issues to work through, when members ask whey we are still apart elderships responce is ” they are not agreeing on things at the moment” They think by keeping quiet about the truth of the matter will give him the opportunity to come to a place of full restoration by his own valition.
    For me the Scripture ‘ God will not be mocked and that which you sow you will reap also’ keeps coming to mind. Jesus was never silent in the face of sin.

    Thank you for speaking truth into the darkness that surrounds so many.

    1. Thankful,

      While your elders may be well-meaning, they are sadly wrong on this approach. This has now become a public issue in the church. They need to be truthful and Biblical. Why are you apart? Your husband committed adultery and has not repented as I read what you wrote (I could be mistaken as I have not heard what being under their authority means). But I would add it is unlikely he has repented as he would be the first to allow people to know about what he did owning his sin 100% with humility.

      The elders need to reread Mt 18 on church discipline. The shame ought not to be on you for insisting on a separation…it ought to be on your husband for committing adultery. And while they are reading in Matthew, they ought to read Mt 19 where Jesus allows for divorce without shame for the faithful partner after adultery. That’s you.

      Sounds like you are dealing with a lot of unbiblical approaches and a lot of image control. I am sorry, Thankful. You did not deserve this. No one deserves such contemptible treatment!


  2. My humble opinion is that we don’t hear as much of it from the pulpit, because the person behind the pulpit is as likely to be engaged in this activity as anybody else–evangelical, charismatic, conservative, liberal, regardless of label or denomination….

    1. Sand,

      My take is that it more a matter of avoiding uncomfortable subjects. I know many pastors, and they are good people trying their best to care for the sheep. My sense is that they are just not well equipped to handle this messy subject.

      That said, I am sure some of the discomfort DOES come from adultery in some pastors’ hearts/lives as some here can attest from being the faithful spouse in that scenario.

      I write this because I want to encourage you, Sand, that good pastors exist out there even if the prohibition of adultery is not taught as much as it ought to be. God’s people and true servants still exist. I hope this blog is a start in helping end the silence on this subject and equipping those who genuinely DO care but have NO idea how to approach it.


  3. Pastor David, as a Catholic, I am amazed and horrified about the coverup of the sexual abuse of children in the Church by Priests and the enabling of those in higher positions of authority to accomplish this. Not connected to divorce but still speaking to the character of those we entrust as ambassadors of God.

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