Our modern Christian culture actually looks down on and shames women who believe they do not have a right to divorce their husbands for their whoremongering ways. The real shame is not on these women for honoring their marriage covenants, despite their husband’s sinful ways. The real shame is on our modern church for how wrongfully tell them they are “enabling their husband’s sin” by staying.
Recently I received a comment from a woman calling herself Sarah. She wrote this comment in reference to an older article I wrote “Does the Bible Allow Divorce for Adultery?”. And this was her comment:
“This article has given my great comfort. My husband is openly and unrepentantly committing adultery with a teenager in our town. It’s common knowledge that he has rented an apartment where he spends three nights a week with her.
Everyone is telling me to leave him, even my pastor and my conservative Christian family, quoting Matthew to show that Jesus would approve. They claim by not imposing consequences I’m enabling his sin.
This doesn’t seem right to me. I stood at the alter and promised to love honour and obey him in, sickness and in health, till death us do part. Well, open fornication with a teenager sure sounds like a sickness of the soul to me. I’m to do this not because his actions deserve it, but because he is my husband and I am to submit to his authority. It is painful. At times I feel absolutely crippled with jealousy. Especially grueling is submitting to him in the bedroom, knowing how he spent the previous night.
I feel powerless, and ugly, and old, and saggy, and pathetic. But here’s the thing: in this state it’s hard enough to find the strength to be his helpmeet and mother to our three children — WITHOUT also suffering the condemnation of the entire community (much of it behind my back) for not separating. So thank you so much for the validation that I’m behaving in a godly manner.”
My Response to Sarah and Other Women With Whoremongering Husbands
Sarah – first and foremost I am glad that you saw what God’s Word actually says in Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9 and not what you wanted it to say. You saw that God only allows a man “to put away his WIFE” for fornication and that he makes no such allowance for women to put away their husbands for fornication.
Is your husband absolutely wrong in his actions of having an affair with this teenage girl? YES. But we need to be clear on something. He is not committing the sin of adultery; he is committing a different sin, but not the sin of adultery.
Our modern definition of adultery has been made gender-neutral to fit our cultural view that polygamy (or more specifically polygyny) is wrong. The fact is that God rewarded Leah with another child for giving her husband another wife in Genesis 30:18 and God expressly allows polygyny and set rules for its practice in Exodus 21:10-11, Deuteronomy 21:15-17, Deuteronomy 25:5-7. God even pictures himself as a polygamist husband to Judah and Israel in Ezekiel 23:1-5.
And God’s prohibition on bishops and deacons having more than one wife in 1 Timothy 3:2 & 12 is no different than his stricter marriage standards for priests in the Old Testament. For instance, in Ezekiel 44:22 priests were forbidden from marrying divorced women or widows (except widows of other priests) but these restrictions were not binding on the general population of men. So, the idea that because bishops and deacons – church officers – must be the husband of one wife, that all men must be the husband of one wife is absolutely false.
Not let me bring this back to our modern definition of adultery versus the Biblical definition adultery. Biblically speaking there is only one way that a man can commit adultery against his wife and it is not him having sex with another woman. The only way a man can commit adultery against his wife is by him wrongly divorcing her. This is exactly the situation that Christ is addressing.
But we have to assemble his statements together to see the full picture.
Matthew 19:3 gives us the full question that the Pharisees of asked of Christ – “The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” The key phrase being “for every cause”. In other words, they were asking “Can a man divorce his wife for any reason he chooses?” And Christ’s answer was NO.
He told them that if a man divorces his wife “except it be for fornication” that he “committeth adultery”.
And then in Mark 10:11 Christ said “…Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her”.
Is Christ saying it is a sin for a man to marry another woman while he is still married? Some of have tried to twist this verse to say that to condemn polygamy. But God allowed polygamy and made no change on that in the New Testament – so we know he is not reversing his former allowance for polygamy. So, what is the sin in marrying another? It is him divorcing his wife to marry another. In other words, the woman he is seeking to marry is insisting on him divorcing his first wife. This scenario is seen in Malachi 2:14.
So if your husband is not committing adultery by having sex with other women then what sin is he committing – the answer is the sin of whoremongering. When a man has sex with women not his wife this is a sin against his own body and against God.
In 1 Corinthians 6:15 & 18 the Bible says “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid… Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body”. And in Hebrews 13:4 the Bible says “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge”.
Here is my point in all this. You must see your husband’s sin as it is. A sin against God and against his own body. God will judge your husband for his whoremongering, if not in this life, in the life to follow. And you must leave his sin to God and continue to do what is right as a wife.
If you can learn to frame your husband’s sin as the Bible does and not as your feelings as a woman lead you to, it will go a long way to helping you to be a better wife to your husband even as he remains in his sin. Your jealousy toward this other younger woman would disappear overnight if you realized that your husband’s sin is not in merely having sex with another woman, but that it is because he is unlawfully having sex with another woman. In Biblical times your husband could have legally married that teenage girl and taken her as another wife. You would be absolutely wrong and in sin to be jealous of your husband taking another younger wife. I would argue that your jealousy even now, is sin.
You do not own your husband; your husband owns you.
Many Christians falsely point to 1 Corinthians 7:2 to say that God gives husbands and wives equal ownership over one another. 1 Corinthians 7:2 states “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband”.
What most people do not realize is that there are two different Greek words for own in that passage. The first with the man is “heautou” which refers to exclusive ownership. The second Greek word with the woman in regard to her husband is “idios” and does not refer to exclusive ownership. It can actually refer to the one being owned.
Romans 14: states ““Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own [idios] master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.”
And since we know that the husband is the master of the wife according to 1 Peter 3:5-6, then we know what 1 Corinthians 7:2 is saying. It is saying each man should own his wife as her master and each woman should be owned by a master (her husband). In no way does it limit a man to just one wife. It is saying he should have at least one wife if he does not have the gift of celibacy.
If your husband is committing the sin of whoremongering should it bother you as his wife? Certainly. Whenever we see someone else sin it should bother us. But it should not bother you based on feelings of jealousy. If your reason for being upset at your husband is “Why am I not enough for you? Why do you need this other woman?” that is the wrong reason to be upset.
In fact, you are actually taking up an offense against God and being upset at your husband’s God given polygynous sexual nature.
Your husband’s actions are not wrong because you as his wife are not enough for him sexually. Your husband’s actions are wrong because he is having sex with a woman outside of marriage and he is committing the sin of whoremongering against God. In other words, your husband has allowed his sin nature to corrupt his God given polygynous sexual nature into causing him to commit the sin of whoremongering.
Yes, his sin should bother you. But it should bother you because it is a sin against God. Now if he leaves you for this woman, then the sin does become against both you and God. But do not worry yourself over it until it actually happens.
And remember how 1 Peter 3:1-2 (NASB) says you as a wife should respond to your husband’s sin:
“In the same way, you wives, be subject to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won over without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your pure and respectful behavior.”
Win him with your submission and your pure and respectful behavior toward him. In other words, attempt to win him back to God with your actions, not with your words.
And part of your pure submissive, pure and reverent behavior toward him is you freely and willingly (without an attitude) giving yourself sexually to your husband and putting all thoughts of that other woman out of your mind. Rid yourself of your jealousy
and give it to God.
To listen to the companion podcast for this article click on the link below to go to BGRLearning.com.
2 thoughts on “Am I Enabling My Cheating Husband’s Sin by Staying with Him?”
The type of sin he has committed aside, what if, due to the extramarital relationship, the husband gives his wife a sexually transmitted disease, some of which can cause lifelong health problems?
First, a woman must recognize her husband not just as her head, but as her earthly master just as the holy women of old did including Sarah (1 Peter 3:5-6). And then we must look to 1 Peter 2 which states the following:
“18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.
19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps”
In 1 Peter 2:18-21, God tells all those who are under masters, whether they be wives or slaves, that it is literally “thankworthy” if a person (and the Greek is gender neutral – it just means “someone”) endures grief suffering wrongfully at the hands of their master. And it says this “acceptable with God”. The passage is NOT saying it is acceptable or thankworthy on the part of the master who is mistreating the one under him. That master is clearly in sin. But says it is glorious when those under masters patiently take wrongful treatment not fighting back. Now what I said completely goes against everything we are taught in modern times. We are taught never to take abuse from anyone. But that is not what the word of God says.
Must we always suffer wrong treatment from everyone everywhere and never defend ourselves? Of course not. Why did Christ suffer wrong treatment? He did it as part of his mission and his ministry. And wives have a sacred ministry from God toward their husbands as 1 Peter 3:1-2 clearly states:
“1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.”
“Conversation” in the old English of the KJV does not mean “have a conversation with him”, it means “behavior” as the newer translations translate it. God wants wives to endure harsh and wrong treatment without a word, and instead they are to repay their husband’s evil deeds with subjection, kindness and reverence toward him.
And to go directly to your question – yes, a wife may have to live with lifelong health issues as a result of contracting a sexually related disease from her husband.
The fact is there were sexually transmitted diseases that were known during Biblical times. If God allowed for a woman to leave her husband over her contracting an STD he would have said so. God only allows women to divorce their husbands for what Exodus 21:10-11 states which is failure to provide food and clothing or his refusal to have sex with her anymore.
For more on the difference between wives and slaves in the Bible see my article “8 Biblical Differences Between Wives and Slaves“