What Does the Bible Say About Adultery and Divorce?

Marriage, divorce, and sexual immorality are very hot topics in today’s world. The Bible has much to say about sexual immorality, marriage, and even divorce. As you may imagine, there are many types of circumstances which may arise concerning marriages.

So what does the Bible say about adultery and divorce? Is adultery a serious sin? Is divorce ever allowed?

What Does the Bible Say About Marriage?

The Bible clearly teaches that marriage is meant to be a life-long union between one man and one woman. This is the way God originally intended for a marriage to work, as we can see from the Bible.

Marriage is meant to be a fulfilling bond between a man and a woman. Notice the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible: God created Adam and all of the animals. However, Adam was lonely, and did not have a suitable mate. Therefore, God created Eve from Adam’s ribs, and Adam proclaimed,

This is at last bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called a woman, because she was taken out of man. (Genesis 2:23)

I find that story so moving, because we see that Adam was finally fulfilled by a woman. The Bible speaks in many places how it is very good for a man to have a wife, or for a wife to have a husband:

Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.

Proverbs 18:22

God understands how a loving bond between two people can be very fulfilling and rewarding. The Bible even says,

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)

Not only is a marriage fulfilling, but it is sacred in God’s eyes, and God makes it very clear that He expects a marriage to last for as long as they both live. In Matthew 10 we see this comment: “Therefore, what God has joined together, man must never separate.”

Furthermore, Adam and Eve lived an incredibly long time. We aren’t told when Eve died, but Adam died at age 930! And by the Biblical account we can assume Adam and Eve remained together until death (they continued to make children). Now if Adam and Eve can survive a marriage for hundreds of years, you would think we could make it work for just a mere 60 years or so until death, right?

So it is very clear from the whole entire Bible that God supports and created the institution of marriage, and that it is intended to be between one man and one woman for a lifetime. Those are facts fully supported by scripture.

Today, many people see marriage as nothing more than dating. When they get bored with their spouse, they want a divorce so they can go and get a new spouse. Celebrities seem to do this all the time. Or the first time a problem pops up in a marriage, divorce seems to be the most popular option for today. This is terrible, as divorce should never be an option between couples, except in the case of marital unfaithfulness or other terrible sin (such as extreme abuse).

What Does the Bible Say About Divorce?

The Bible also makes it clear that while God “LOVES” marriage, he “HATES” divorce. If you take a look at today’s society, it isn’t too hard to see why a loving God would be strongly opposed to divorce.

My parents divorced when I was young, and I had to grow up without a father–something that was very difficult emotionally. The same thing happened to my wife. I have seen other family members have their families ravaged by divorces. They are terrible, and they leave scars on children and ex-spouses for their entire lives.

The high divorce rate in the world right now is demolishing the family unit. It promises a hard future for all of the divorce victims involved (financially, emotionally, etc.).

In Malachi 2:16 it reads,

“For I hate divorce,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the LORD of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”

God really hates divorce. We should all take the time to get to know our potential mates, and fully understand their personality, views, religious beliefs, etc. before entering into a life-long commitment with them. Sure people may change over time, but in general, if you are careful to pick a mate that you truly love (and they love you back), then you will rarely go wrong.

Jesus also mentions divorce in Matthew 5:31

But I say to you, any man who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

This makes it clear that divorcing is a sin unless there is a strong reasoning behind it (sexual immorality on the part of the other spouse).

The Apostle Paul also speaks of divorce in 1 Corinthians 7:12-15 saying:

But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. 9 But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. 10 But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband 11 (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.
12 But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. 15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.

In the passage above, Paul reiterates Jesus’ point that couples should stay together. If a husband leaves his wife for a trivial reason other than sexual immorality or other serious sin, then he commits the sin of adultery and causes her to do the same. Paul then goes on to talk about a situation where a husband is a non-believer, and yet the woman is a believer. He says that they should remain married unless one leaves or is discontent.

He then commands that if a married couple does separate, they must remain unmarried throughout their life, or be reconciled to the original spouse.

Regarding adultery, the Bible has much to say about that as well. This article explains what the Bible says about adultery, and how to repent of this serious sin.

Should People Re-Marry After a Divorce? Is the Sin of Adultery Forgivable?

The Bible is very clear in Paul and Jesus’ words that it is a sin to remarry in the event of a trivial divorce. Only in the event of sexual immorality (or abuse), is a divorce acceptable to God. Of course, remarriage is permissible in the event of the death of a spouse.

However, if an extreme sin was committed (Jesus mentions adultery/sexual immorality), then the Bible suggests that remarriage is acceptable (or at least not a sin) for the innocent party.

Remember, Jesus says that if a man divorces his wife (except on the grounds of sexual immorality), he causes her to commit adultery, and a man who marries that previously divorced woman commits adultery. The way this is presented, it gives the impression that it is NOT a sin to marry a person who divorced for proper reasons.