What can we learn about adultery from the Book of Hosea? Does God expect us to stay married to an adulterous spouse, like Hosea did? Was the story of Hosea and Gomer a story of how marriage should be conducted today? Is the story literal or figurative?
The story of Hosea and Gomer is a wonderful story in the Bible. It reveals that even though the Israelites committed spiritual adultery on God (through rampant idolatry), God remained faithful. It is important to note that Hosea and Gomer were real people, and this is a true story in the Bible. God indeed called his prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute.
But even though the story of Hosea and Gomer actually took place, Christians should realize that God does not call us to marry prostitutes, or remain in severely adulterous marriages. God often called prophets in the Old Testament to do bizarre things (such as preaching naked (Isaiah), wearing yokes (Jeremiah), and more).
Instead, God is simply calling His prophet to make a bold illustration to the Israelites by marrying a prostitute. During this time, the nation of Israel was in rampant idolatry, yet they were also experiencing a time of prosperity. They had turned their backs on God.
This is why God had Hosea marry this prostitute. For Christians today, this is not a command or illustration on how a marriage should work. In fact, the Bible warns against adultery, and Jesus taught that it was permissible for a spouse to leave in the case of sexual immorality.
What Did Jesus Say About Divorce In Adultery?
Jesus had this to say about divorce:
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.” (Matthew 5:31) [Emphasis mine]
Here, Jesus clearly taught that a divorce is a sin because it causes someone to commit adultery, unless adultery/sexual immorality has been committed. In that case, a divorce is acceptable.
In other words, if Bobby committed adultery against his wife (Suzy), Suzy has the OPTION (not requirement) to divorce Bobby. It would not be a sin in that situation, because Jesus is clearly saying Suzy doesn’t have to put up with Bobby’s cheating ways.
Furthermore, in the Old Testament God allowed Moses to declare a certificate of divorce for any man who wanted to put away his wife due to uncleanliness. Even so, many of the Israelites abused this, and Jesus said Moses allowed them to write a certificate of divorce because of the “hardness of their hearts.”
He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
Jesus references this law in the New Testament, and says that God only allowed it at the time because “of the hardness of their hearts.” He goes on to say that it wasn’t always this way, and what God puts together, no man should put apart.
However, He makes it clear that if a spouse breaks the bonds of marriage by being adulterous, the other spouse is not REQUIRED to remain in marital bonds. They can choose to end the marriage in divorce. Again, this is an option, not a requirement or command. If the two spouses can reconcile, then that would be the ideal situation.
Even the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7 that:
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.
So God dictates in the Old Testament the rules for an appropriate divorce, and Jesus reiterates God’s rules for a Biblical divorce in the New Testament. Paul further says we are not forced to stay with a spouse who is “unbelieving or sinning against us and God.”
These are God’s command for marriage, as dictated in the Bible. He would have us remain faithful, loyal, and happy our entire lives. God hates divorce. It is never his plan. However, humans have a way of messing up God’s plans. Therefore, God does allow for divorce in extreme situations of marital infidelity/sin.
But What About Hosea and Gomer?
Hosea is a great chapter because it shows us Gods unrelenting love for Israel (and us). Even though Israel disobeys God multiple times and even commits adultery against God (idol worship), God still loves Israel. This is really beautiful and poetic.
But it would be a very serious mistake to take this chapter and assume this is a principle of marriage, divorce, and adultery. It is not. For lessons on that, we must see direct scripture of what God says regarding this for Christians, especially in the New Testament.
This verse shows us why God commands Hosea to marry a prostitute: Because Israel is acting like a harlot:
Then the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other Gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.” Hosea 3
Final Words on Marriage, Divorce, and Adultery:
God gives us choice in who we marry, so we should be careful to marry someone who follows God’s laws, someone we truly love, etc. Marriage should last a lifetime, and this is God’s Holy Plan for marriage.
All of the issues of divorce can be avoided by doing one simple thing: LOVE. If there is true love in the marriage, there is no need for sin and divorce. If we all follow God’s commands, we wouldn’t have divorce as an option would we? But sometimes people don’t want to play by the rules. Sometimes people want to obey the flesh rather than obey God.
For this reason, God has allowed for divorce in the case of infidelity. So if someone’s spouse commits adultery, the other spouse will have the option of reconciling or leaving. That is their option. Ideally, it would be great if they can reconcile.
It is always ideal for a couple to work out their problems and remain together. Sometimes people make (bad) mistakes, but a couple can often reconcile and work through it with the support of Christian friends and Godly counsel. Many wonderful Christians have weathered the storm of infidelity successfully, and were able to restore their marriage and live a happy life. Unfortunately, not all Christian couples do this, and some marriages do end in divorce.
If a spouse can’t overcome the sin of adultery, then the other spouse can divorce (as Jesus clearly taught). It isn’t ideal, but it is acceptable.
Have you trusted Christ as your savior? Or are you committing spiritual idolatry? Have you been faithful to your master? Jesus died so that you and I may live. If you haven’t accepted Christ as your savior, I urge you to do so.