Real Talk w/Terry

Is Infidelity Grounds For A Divorce?

A couple of years ago, I had an encounter with a young lady who was at her wits end. She had just learned that her husband and children’s father had an affair and had fathered, not one, but two children outside of their marriage. She was extremely frustrated at the fact that many people in her circle of friends and acquaintances knew of this affair and the first love child, and chose not to tell her. She learned of the affair as the mistress was about to give birth to baby number two. As a Christian, she solicited my advice concerning what I felt she should do in the situation. She point blank asked me, “can I leave my husband, he cheated on me?” I was a little speechless, and was trying to think fast on my feet. I knew that she was eager to hear what I had to say, but more importantly I knew that I could not say something that could lead this young lady to make one of the most important decisions of her life. I then responded, “let’s see what the bible says about divorce.” She continued sharing as I frantically looked for scriptures on my Bible Gateway app to share with her. I feverishly scrolled through the Old Testament then the New Testament looking for scriptures to share.

First off, in Malachi 2:6, the bible says, “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect” says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful. The scripture passage before this one ends with the words, do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. God knows the pain and shame that is caused by a spouse’s unfaithfulness and warns of infidelity by telling husbands not to harm their wives by first of all hating them, then by being unfaithful and finally divorcing them. God clearly does not like divorce, however, God knows that man and woman are not perfect and that we live in a fallen world. He knew that infidelity would exist. And therefore gave Moses guidelines in the Law where divorce was acceptable. In Deuteronomy 24:1, the bible says that a man can divorce his wife if he finds something indecent about her; and in the New Testament in Matthew 5:32 the bible clearly states sexual immorality as an acceptable reason for a divorce.

Now back to my conversation with this young lady, I tried to distract her from the subject as much as possible, but did read through the scriptures that I found concerning divorce. And she of course was relieved and jubilant when I read Matthew 5:32, exclaiming, “see, the bible says that sexual immorality is a reason for divorce!” I could not disagree with her, but continued my tactic of distracting her.

Matthew 5:32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (NIV)

Based on what the bible says about divorce, one would conclude that a spouse can divorce based on unfaithfulness. This being true, it is not God’s original design for marriage. Realizing it was not good for man to be alone, God created Eve for Adam and stated that they were one flesh. And regarding marriage, “that for this reason shall a man leave his father and mother.” The man leaves his father and mother to become one with his wife. Clearly God’s original blue print for marriage was that it would be until death parted the couple. However, the part of the vow that says, “until death do us part” is not the reality for many couples. And like the young lady I was talking to, divorce becomes not only an option, but their reality.

11 thoughts on “Is Infidelity Grounds For A Divorce?”

    1. The answer is complicated. I am in agreement with the word of God that unfaithfulness is a justifiable reason for divorce. However, I do believe that some relationships can rebound after infidelity and that an unfaithful spouse should not be an automatic pass card to divorce court.

      1. Hm, that’s very interesting and I get what you’re saying. But how do we come to the conclusion on which situation is OK to have a divorce, and which one it’s better to stay? I don’t know if you’ve ever been betrayed-but I think it’s terrible to ask someone who has been betrayed, to stay in that relationship. And since we’re on the topic of the bible and how God wanted marriage to be-should I then stay with my husband that has hit me? Think about it: God wants us together til death do us part, and what if he’s only hit me twice? One thing we can agree on is that it’s complicated. Nice post, btw.

  1. Unfortunate to say that I was in her place at one time searching the Bible to find if there was an allowable reason for divorce. Like you pointed out I too found that adultery was a reason but at the same time it states in 1 Corin. 13:7 about love never giving up and enduring all things so I had to ask myself do I really “love” this man. Also God says we are to forgive so if I truly forgive him how could I walk away? For me it was more a battle of pleasing God more so than pleasing him.

    1. @Lady: What you say about God’s stance on forgiveness is very true, but would you advise a woman that was abused to stay with her husband? What if he’s changed? In God’s eyes, a physically abusive husband should be forgiven, just like anyone else. But I highly doubt we would give it a second thought if a woman sought advice on whether or not she should leave her abusive husband.

      1. You are correct, we would not advise her to stay. There is nothing wrong with leaving but what I get from it ( I say I because my word isn’t law and just my opinion) is that she has the right to leave but not divorce. You separate from the abuse but continue to live as a married woman, meaning “no adultery”.

        Of course all of this is easier said than done when in the situation.

      2. I don’t think that God ever intended for women to endure being beaten, maimed, or even killed at the hands of their husbands. He gave us free will and the ability to make choices which sets us apart from the animals, and I think he expects us to use them wisely in ensuring our own survival and that of our children.

      3. @Kristie: If your comment was directed towards me, I understand everything that you were saying; that wasn’t the point I was trying to make. I was trying to say that many Christian women advise betrayed spouses to stay and forgive their cheating spouse. They believe that marriage is sacred and that everyone deserves forgiveness. “People change”, many of them like to say. Or, they tell them to stay merely to fake a happy family for the children’s sake.

        An abusive husband (in the eyes of God), is no worse than a cheater. So by the laws that many Christians like to speak of, an abusive husband should be forgiven as well and given a second chance if he says he’s willing to change. But, many women would tell her to leave and that she’s stupid for staying with an abusive man. Why isn’t she just as foolish for staying with a cheating man? That was the point I was trying to make. Is staying with a man who abuses you emotionally, using God’s wisdom? God sees no difference between physical abuse and emotional abuse.

        @LadyJsVoice: I respect your opinion, but I’ll be honest-it caught me off guard. Do you really believe that God would subject a woman to separating from an abusive man, but living as if she’s still married for the rest of her life? If God loves her, don’t you think He would be just fine with her moving on to a man that treats her as God intended-treating her as Christ treated the church?

  2. God has made no secret of his feelings about marriage and divorce. Per the Bible, marriage is between one woman and one man who vow to forsake all others and remain faithful for as long as they live. Divorce is permitted, but only under certain circumstances, and certainly not as liberally as it is practiced today. What God never intended was for one partner to be unfaithful to the other with another person. He knew it would happen, however, because He knows how weak and sinful mankind can be, so he did provide for an out. This is not something to be taken lightly, however. A woman faced with this dilemma has many factors to consider and pray about before making any decision. She needs to listen to God and search her heart in order to do what is right.

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