Not Responsible For Spouse’s Adultery

Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin. -Deuteronomy 24:16, ESV


Today, I quote some basic justice principles laid out in the Old Testament. It is actually rather clear; however, the dynamics around infidelity often put both survivor and onlookers in a fog over these matters.

So, please indulge me as I lay out this simple principle: The persons who committed adultery are responsible for the consequences of their own sins.

Their faithful spouses are not responsible. They did not commit adultery.

Their father or mother are not responsible. They did not commit adultery.

The adulterous spouse is 100% responsible for committing adultery. No shared responsibility is allowed in how the Bible actually teaches on this matter.

If a counselor tries to shift blame upon the faithful spouse for the adultery trying to unwind how the faithful spouse “contributed to the other spouse’s choice to cheat,” this counselor is not giving Biblical advice. And I say the same thing goes even if this counselor is an ordained minister. The ordained minister ought to know better.

It is not a mystery as to what causes adultery. James tells us straight up:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. – 1:13-15, ESV

Whose desires are being played by Satan?

Is it the faithful spouse’s? No?

Is it the desire of the cheater’s parents? No?

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14, ESV, emphasis added). Notice that the person who sins is singled out in this verse. The adulterer/adulteress is the all alone in this matter. And if that was not clear enough, James adds emphasis upon who owns the desire being utilized in leading the person into sin. It is the one who chooses to give into the temptation–i.e. the adulterer/adulteress.

People seeking to give wise and Biblical counsel on the matters relating to adultery would do well to pay attention to the progression James lays out in this first part of his letter. The focus ought not to be upon a faithful spouse’s contribution to the sin of adultery but rather upon why the adulterer/adulteress gave into temptation.

Until the adulterer/adulteress is taught how to close the door to those desires being played and thereby learns how to not succumb to temptation, one ought to expect the sin to repeat itself. And James is very clear where that road leads: death.

The only way to escape the path to death is by owning fully one’s choice to sin. All other paths are just tributaries leading ultimately to the broad road of death and destruction.