What Is The Biblical Meaning of Adultery?
The biblical meaning of adultery is found clearly in the Holy Bible. The problem is the truth is bitter and hard for most of us to swallow. Let’s see if you’re up to the task…
In order to know what adultery truly means, the appropriate scriptures must be referenced, and some observations made.
The first thing God wants us to know about adultery is that it should NEVER be committed.
Exodus 20:4: Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Adultery is an action taken by someone that offends God. It is the seventh of the Ten Commandments. God does not allow anyone to commit adultery. Every act of adultery is a violation of God’s moral law. Therefore, adultery is sin (1 John 3:4).
What is considered adultery?
The most obvious definition of adultery is found in the book of Leviticus. This book of the Bible contains many laws for God’s people who were under His government.
Leviticus 20:10: And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
The biblical meaning of adultery here in Leviticus is when a husband lies carnally with another man’s wife. This is a sin worthy of death, which is implemented when God rules a nation. The death penalty is also for the married woman who cheats on her spouse.
The Bible calls someone who commits adultery an adulterer or an adulteress. The adulterer is the man who is guilty of infidelity, and the adulteress is the woman.
Anyone who voluntarily commits adultery should be put to death under God’s government. There are some cases where death is not required; for example, if someone is forced, the victim has no sin worthy of death (Deuteronomy 22:22-26).
Adultery is when two consenting covenant bound individuals agree to engage in sexual intercourse with one another. If only one of those individuals is in a covenant bound relationship with another person, it is still considered adultery. In other words, you can commit adultery without actually being married.
Two Forms of Adultery
There are two forms of adultery in the Bible that need mentioning. One form is internal and the other is external.
I) Internal Adultery
The internal form of adultery takes place on the inside of a person. It’s when an individual covets another person’s spouse. The Lord commands His people, saying, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife.”
We know that coveting another man’s wife is a form of adultery. It’s not punishable by death, but there is judgment for our thoughts. We will answer to God for every sinful desire we entertain.
Matthew 5:27-29: Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
Jesus Christ is speaking in the verses above, and He says that looking on a woman to lust after her is the same as committing adultery. This is called committing adultery in the heart.
A person commits adultery in the heart when adulterous desires are allowed. Christians cannot allow adulterous thoughts. There is everlasting punishment for a married man who looks on a woman to lust after her. The woman does not need to be married, although the Lord is not excluding wives.
A married man can still commit adultery in his heart by lusting after a single lady! This is why it’s important for all ladies to take extra measures to not cast a stumbling block in a man’s way. If a young lady has a love for God and a desire for righteousness, this shouldn’t be a problem.
*If you are guilty of committing adultery in the heart, you need to confess and forsake your sin, before it’s too late. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
II) External Adultery
Not only is there internal adultery, but there is also external adultery. External adultery is when adultery is committed as the result of an evil inner desire. Therefore, external adultery is more serious than internal, because it includes both forms of adultery.
Luke 16:18: Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.
There are four people guilty of adultery in Luke 16:18. The man who divorces his wife commits adultery by marrying another woman. The woman he marries enters an adulterous relationship, therefore, commits adultery. The now ex-wife, who marries another man commits adultery, And lastly, the man who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
The scripture in Mark’s Gospel verifies this truth.
Mark 10:11-12: And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. 12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.
God HATES putting away! Divorce is not recommended, but permitted under certain conditions. God leads us to a higher standard of righteousness, and He has commands to prevent divorce, but we must follow them.
When can a Christian divorce and remarry?
There are at least two ways a Christian may divorce and remarry without committing adultery. The first is to do it before the marriage covenant is consummated by coming together (Matthew 1:19). The second is to divorce for fornication, which is sexual sin outside or before marriage (Deuteronomy 24:1-2, Matthew 5:32 and Matthew19:9).
The Bible permits divorce and remarriage when a spouse has been unfaithful before marriage, and it’s not revealed until afterwards. There are no scriptures that permit divorce for adultery—only fornication.
The Bible teaches however, that if couples engage in a sexual relationship before marriage, they are never allowed to divorce…
Deuteronomy 22:28-29: If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; 29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.
The biblical meaning of adultery is when a husband has sexual intercourse with someone other than his wife. Adultery is when someone marries a divorced person or engages in a sexual relationship with someone married. Men and women both can be guilty of adultery.
God takes this sin very seriously, even to the point of the death penalty!
*Do you think God is too harsh on adulterers and adulteresses, or do you think Christians take this sin too lightly? I would love to hear your thoughts; you can share in the comment section below…
- What Does The KJV Bible Say About Divorce & Marriage Vows?
- No, You Cannot Put Away Your Spouse To Marry Another!