Adultery and Divorce


Here is a verse that is frequently quoted to justify divorce.

*†† (Mat 5:32 NIV)But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.


But look closely and apply some logic to what the Lord said. If the woman has been unfaithful she could not been made an adulteress because she is already an adulteress by her own actions.


If this verse were a scriptural basis for divorce then why would someone that marries her be committing adultery?


What this verse tells me is that if you divorce your wife and she has not been adulteress then you are likely going to cause her to become adulteress. That must mean that she was not actually divorced or how could she become adulteress?


Consequently, since she is not actually divorced, in the eyes of God, anyone else that takes her as a wife will be committing adultery.


But, if the woman has committed adultery is divorce acceptable? And, is it required in that case?

*†† (Jer 3:6-8 NIV)During the reign of King Josiah, the LORD said to me, "Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there. {7} I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it. {8} I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries.

*†† (Jer 3:14 NIV)"Return, faithless people," declares the LORD, "for I am your husband. I will choose you--one from a town and two from a clan--and bring you to Zion.


Here in Jeremiah we see that God was willing to take Israel back in spite of her adultery. However, He eventually divorced her because of her adultery. So we can answer both questions above. Divorce for adultery is acceptable but it is not required.

*†† (Mal 2:16 NIV)"I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel, "and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.

*†† (Mat 1:19 NIV)Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.


Another basis for divorce is being married to an unbeliever that doesnít want to be married to you. The Lord could have claimed this as a basis when He gave Israel her certificate of divorce.

*†† (1 Cor 7:10-16 NIV)To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. {11} But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. {12} To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. {13} And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. {14} For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. {15} But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. {16} How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?


But all of this is missing the point that I actually want to make. First letís look more closely at the key terms we have been using, Adultery and Divorce.

Adultery defined.

*†† To be sexually involved with someone not your spouse.

*†† To apostatize. Abandonment of one's religious faith, a political party, one's principles, or a cause.

Adultery is similar to adulterate and shares a common root. We often speak of something as being unadulterated.

a∑dul∑ter∑ate (ə-dŭltə-rāt′)

*†† To make impure by adding extraneous, improper, or inferior ingredients.

*†† Spurious; adulterated.

*†† Adulterous.

[Latin adulterāre, adulterāt-, to pollute; see al-1 in Indo-European roots.]

Divorce is also related to words we use commonly in somewhat similar circumstances, for example divert and divide.

di∑vorce (dĭ-vŰrs, -vōrs)

1.      The legal dissolution of a marriage.

2.      A complete or radical severance of closely connected things.

3.      To cut off; separate or disunite: e.g. an idea that was completely divorced from reality.


So it is easy to see that things that are adulterated are impure and things we do that make us impure can separate or divorce us from God. When we divert ourselves from the faithfulness the Lord desires we become a house divided or divorced from the Lord. Our actions proclaim we are not true believers and do not truly want to remain with the Lord thus the Lord is no longer bound to us because we have desired not to remain with Him.


Adultery and divorce, as we usually think of them, are really only special cases of the more general idea of being the bride of Christ. Israel was unfaithful and then repentant and then unfaithful and then repentant and, well you get the idea. Yet through it all God never lost His love for His people. God loves you and desires that none should perish. Clothe yourself in righteousness and be steadfast in all things. Do not become adulterous. Do not divorce yourself from He who died for you!

*†† (Rev 19:6-9 NIV)Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: "Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. {7} Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. {8} Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) {9} Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" And he added, "These are the true words of God."