How should a Christian respond if their spouse has an affair?

Last updated on February 26, 2024

What to do when your spouse has an affair?

Having an affair is a serious sin. God has made husband and wife into one flesh. If one of them commits adultery, he or she is badly damaging the marriage. It is a terrible breaking of trust. What should you do if that happens to you?

You should forgive. In Ephesians 5:25 we read “husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church“. How does Christ love us? He loved us when we were still sinners. When does Christ divorce His wife, the Church? Never, even though He knows we are sinful. We are called to forgive each otherseventy times seven times” (Matthew 18:22). So when a husband or wife who had an affair is repentant, the spouse should forgive. That is a picture of how Christ loved the church. It is a testimony to God’s grace.

Valid ground for divorce?

Many Bible teachers believe that adultery is a valid ground for divorce. We do not want to condemn that view, but we want to explain here why we believe that Jesus’ prohibition to divorce was an absolute one. In Luke 16:18 He says “everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” There are no exceptions. In Matthew 19:9, it seems that Jesus gives an exception when he says no divorce “except for immorality“. However, ‘immorality’ does not refer to adultery, but to a sexual relationship before marriage. When your fiancée or fiancé has an affair, you do not need to go ahead with the marriage. For Jews, breaking off the marriage was talked about as a divorce, and that is what is meant here.

Irreparably broken

If a spouse continues with the adultery, or has multiple affairs, the marriage might be irreparably broken. Separation might be unavoidable. However, even then the perspective should not be finding a new husband or wife, but reconciliation. This is shown in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11: “To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband). If the former spouse remarries somebody else, thus cutting off any possibility of being reunited in marriage, then the spouse who held out for remarrying their former spouse is now free to marry someone else.

One flesh

In Christian marriage, God makes husband and wife into one flesh. No sin, not even adultery, can tear that apart. Let us all pray that, if the Lord wants us to marry, He will allow us to have a marriage that is a beautiful picture of the love of Christ and his church. That way we will be faithful to our husband or wife, and faithful to what God tells us in his Word

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