Is adultery grounds for divorce?

You are here

Is adultery grounds for divorce?

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up

×

The Greek word translated “sexual immorality” is porneia , and it covers a wide range of sexual misconduct, including but not limited to adultery. The word encompasses many other sins of a sexual nature. Christ’s words in Matthew 19:1-12 Matthew 19:1-12 1 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan; 2 And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there. 3 The Pharisees also came to him, tempting him, and saying to him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 4 And he answered and said to them, Have you not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall join to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh? 6 Why they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder. 7 They say to him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorce, and to put her away? 8 He said to them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, Whoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery: and whoever marries her which is put away does commit adultery. 10 His disciples say to him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. 11 But he said to them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. 12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
American King James Version×
shed more light on the subject.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary explains that porneia referred to “a relentless, persistent, unrepentant lifestyle of sexual unfaithfulness (different from a one-time act of illicit relations)” (1983, 1985, notes on Matthew 19:1-12 Matthew 19:1-12 1 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan; 2 And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there. 3 The Pharisees also came to him, tempting him, and saying to him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 4 And he answered and said to them, Have you not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall join to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh? 6 Why they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder. 7 They say to him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorce, and to put her away? 8 He said to them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, Whoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery: and whoever marries her which is put away does commit adultery. 10 His disciples say to him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. 11 But he said to them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. 12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
American King James Version×
). In other words, Christ referred to a pattern of immoral behavior or habitual sin. Other scriptures bring out the fact that there is a difference between sinning and living in sin (1 John 3:8 1 John 3:8He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sins from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
American King James Version×
). There is no doubt that sexual misconduct could be grounds for divorce, although there should be hope of saving the marriage if the conduct is not habitual.

Another essential godly principle is forgiveness. One should not abandon a marriage without knowing whether the offending party truly repented of his or her conduct. Considering God’s intent for a marriage to last until death, divorce should occur only when there is no repentance or chance for forgiveness and reconciliation.

A Christian’s goal should always be to save the marriage. Sadly, in some cases, that simply won’t be possible. Christ gave “except sexual immorality” as the “exception clause.” If a divorce does occur under these conditions, remarriage is possible without God considering it adultery.

For more information, please read our booklets Marriage and Family: The Missing Dimension and The Ten Commandments .