When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. – James 1:13-15
How many have heard the old saw that adultery is just a symptom of a bad marriage?
It was “a cry for help.”
This is Biblically false.
Adultery is a symptom alright. But it is not a symptom of a bad marriage. It is a manifestation of the evil desires of the adulterer/adulteress as James makes clear in the above quoted passage.
Honestly, treating adultery as a marital symptom is a really stupid understanding of adultery.
It does further damage to faithful spouses by shifting blame (unbiblically) onto them for adulterous spouses sinning against them.
Let me explain by metaphor:
Imagine a Christian accountant working for a Christian boss. This accountant unilaterally decides that he is not being paid what he ought to be paid. His salary is too low in his mind. Instead of having an adult conversation with his Christian boss on this matter asking for a raise, the accountant “corrects” this perceived “injustice” by embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars. Eventually, he is caught, fired, and prosecuted for embezzling funds then sent to jail.
How many pastors or Christian counselors would tell the Christian boss that the embezzlement was simply “a cry for help”? He just wanted to be paid a six figure salary. What’s so unreasonable about that?!
Also, how many pastors would be angry that the Christian boss fired his accountant for stealing? Would they come down on him for being “unforgiving”? How dare he allow the justice system hold a brother accountable for his crimes?!
See how insane this line of reasoning is?!
Yet when something far more precious that money is stolen from a spouse (i.e. intimacy and safety), Christian leaders lose their senses and start blaming the defrauded spouse. They join in with the cheater in shifting the blame onto the faithful spouse calling it merely “a cry for help” as opposed to what it is–i.e. adultery (sin). The adulterous spouse successfully throws them off the scent of the real problem and its Biblical cause–i.e. the evil desires in his/her heart that led to the affair.
We don’t look at the boss’ relationship with his accountant for a good reason. The boss did not embezzle the money. The accountant did.
Similarly, we ought not to look at the relationship between the faithful spouse and the adulterous spouse for answers to why adultery took place. We need to ask the hard questions about why the adulterous spouse decided stealing intimacy and raping the soul of his/her spouse is acceptable behavior. Only they (and God) can tell you why they gave into temptation and sinned.
And the sooner we put the focus where it ought to be, the better. Sin is a spiritually terminal condition as James teaches. An urgency exists for soul caregivers to halt the spiritual cancer by correctly identifying it and exhorting repentance before this individual goes to his/her gave as an unrepentant adulterer/adulteress.