And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
– Leviticus 20:10, KJV
Not all sins in a marriage are acceptable to God as worthy of ending a marriage (e.g. Mt 5:32).
Not all sins call for the death penalty, even in the Old Testament times.
Not all sins are as devastating as adultery is.
Not all sins are explicitly called “evil” like adultery (see Deut. 22:22).
All sins are NOT equal.
Why does this matter?
It matters pastorally when confronted with the evil of adultery. If the pastor ascribes to the “all sins are equal” heresy, then he or she is one short step away from espousing “The Shared Responsibility Lie.” And they are diagnostically ill-equipped to deal with the actual evil they are supposed to be confronting.
The pastor has proverbially shown up to a gun fight with a butter knife.
It won’t end well for anyone in this fight, spiritually speaking.
And if that is not bad enough, this pastor is about to do surgery on the victim–i.e. the faithful spouse–with that dull blade. He is about to cut the adultery survivor open by ascribing to lies and flawed theology.
Lie #1: The faithful spouse is responsible, in part, for the infidelity of the adulterous spouse–aka “The Shared Responsibility Lie.“
Lie#2: All marital sins are equal and ought to be treated as such in pastoral counseling–see my points above.
Lie #3: Counseling for divorce is never acceptable for a Christian leader even in the case of adultery (see post here).
I am tired of hearing stories of pastors–well-meaning but wrong–going on a sin-quest with faithful spousese after they expose their partner’s adultery. “So, what did you contribute to the sins in your marriage?” This is beside the point in these matters. You could ask the same thing of the pastor as we always have sin in our marriages because we are sinners (see I John 1:8). To level this question at an adultery survivor is victim-blaming. And this victim-blaming happens too often. It is so bad that I trust very few pastors not to ascribe to the above lies and make this horrific theological and pastoral error.
The problem is that big.
So, if you are a pastor, chaplain, or elder/Christian leader reading this, do yourself a favor before God and for your congregants.
Please, do not fall for these demonic lies.
Please, do not further victimize the victims of evil adultery.
Please do not engage in the game of false equivalencies–e.g. “Your sinful disrespect of me that one time is the same as my cheating on you for a year.”