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                       Redefining Adultery (Part 2)

     In part one, we wrote: "Biblical teaching on God's marriage
law, including divorce and remarriage, is clear. God's plan is one
man and one woman making a lifetime commitment to each other. 'So
then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has
joined together, let not man separate' (Matt. 19:6). There is only
one reason for divorce and remarriage; that is the cause of
fornication (Matt. 19:9). Jesus said...'whoever divorces his wife,
except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits
adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits
adultery.'"  In that same article we considered some efforts to
"redefine" adultery.  We are being told that adultery is not a
sexual act--it is "covenant breaking"-- and  that you cannot "live"
in adultery.  Some now say there is no such thing as an "adulterous

     In this article we want to deal further with arguments which
attempt to circumvent the Biblical teaching of Matt. 5:32; 19:9;
Mk. 10:11-12; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:2,3 and 1 Cor. 7:10-12 (Please
read these passages).

Argument: "I've gained new insight because I'VE RESTUDIED this
1. It is commendable to restudy, and to be open minded.
2. But shouldn't it raise some questions, when God's marriage law
has been simple enough to understand, perhaps for years, and then
I gain new insight[?] when I'm the one who is divorced, or my
children have divorced and perhaps remarried?
3. Sometimes we might hear of a policeman who has been taken off a
case because he is personally involved; it is feared that he might
not be rational in his choices and conduct because he has lost his
objectivity; he is too close to the situation to see clearly.

Argument: "That's easy for you to say. You've got a wife to go home
1. Do you mean that others should feel guilty because they have a
good marriage?  What does the marital status of others have to do
with the question?
2. Don't you want the help of someone who can see clearly; whose
vision is not distorted by his emotional state and personal
involvement? Someone who has nothing to defend and can look at
these matters objectively?

Argument: This is TOO HARD! You're putting me in an impossible
1. Prov. 13:15: The way of the transgressor is hard.
2. Our tendency is to blame somebody else. The slothful servant in
the "Parable of the Talents" told his master, "You're too hard"
(Matt. 25:24). That certainly did not excuse his disobedience. 
3. The disciples understood the teaching of our Lord to be strict.
Understanding the Lord to say that marriage is a lifelong
commitment of one man and one woman, and the only cause for which
one could divorce his spouse is that of fornication, and further,
if one divorces for any other cause, when he remarries he is
committing adultery--their response was this: "If such is the case
of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry" (Matt. 19:10).
They felt it was excessively strict; that celibacy would be better!
"But if His teaching here is of such a nature that one can divorce
and remarry multiple times, and then simply say, 'I'm sorry for
having broken all these covenants, but I will stay with my present
mate;'....Where is the difficulty in such a practice? A man would
never be deprived of sexual satisfaction. But the Lord indicated
that there were situations that would be otherwise"
(Jackson-Scott Discussion, p.117).

4. When Jesus' audience understood what He taught (re. bread of
life; seeking eternal life, etc.), they said that it was hard (John
6:60). Then they turned away and walked no more with Him (v. 66).
What was Jesus' response? He did not run after them, nor did He
attempt to accommodate His teaching to suit them. Rather, "Then
Jesus said to the twelve, Do you also want to go away?" (John
6:67).  Keep in mind that this is the Messiah that would not break
a bruised reed, nor would He quench the smoking flax; yet
discipleship is on His terms, not ours!
5. If you want to go to heaven badly enough, you will do whatever
it takes. Have you noticed the context of Matt. 5:29-30?

Argument: No one in the Bible was ever told to leave an
unscriptural marriage.
1. If the Bible gave a specific instance of repentance from every
individual sin, how big a book would the Bible be?
2. Acts 2:38 says "Repent." That is inclusive of every sin. Rom.
6:1,2 addresses the question of continuing in sin: "What shall we
say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly
not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" Jesus
said that the people of Nineveh "repented at the preaching of
Jonah" (Matt. 12:41). But Jonah 3:10 says, "Then God saw their
works, that they turned from their evil way..." When one repents,
he turns from that which is sinful. That includes adulterous
3. Ezra 9,10 deals with the principle of repentance from forbidden
4. In Mark 6:18, John told Herod Antipas, "It is not lawful for you
to have your brother's wife." The present tense form is used. The
force of the passage is, "It is not lawful for you to keep on
having her." If Herod were to be right with God, he could not
continue in that relationship.
5. There is no question that every past sin is forgiven when one
obeys the Gospel. But which of those sins can you continue in and
have God's approval?
     1. It is inconceivable that penitent hearts would continue in
fornication, adultery, homosexuality; as would be true of hating,
lying, or stealing.
6. There is only one way to get out of adultery, when you are
living in an adulterous marriage, and that is to sever the
relationship that you are having with that person.
7. One cannot rob a bank and keep the money, and at the same time
be in right relationship with God.

Argument: You teach that a MURDERER can be forgiven, but an
ADULTERER cannot be forgiven. 
1. This is a misrepresentation. The Bible does not teach that an
adulterer cannot be forgiven. The murder who is forgiven is the one
who repents. He does not continue to commit murder. 2. The
language of scripture is clear: 
     a. It is not lawful for you to have [keep on having] her 
(Mark 6:18). 
     b. To continue in the unapproved marriage is designated by the
Lord's words, committeth adultery (Mt.5:32; 19:9; etc.)

     c. "If, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she
will be called an adulteress" (Rom. 7:3).

3. Since these verses teach an ongoing sinful relationship, to have
a parallel situation would require a murderer who continues to
commit murder. One who has committed a sin that is in the past, of
which he repents, is not continuing to practice it.
4. If you murder a man, you cannot bring him back to life, but you
can refrain from murdering others.

Argument: But you cannot live in Adultery.
1. As indicated above, Mk. 6:18, Mt.5:32; 19:9; Rom. 7:3 does show
"living in adultery." Colossians 3:5 forbids fornication and other
sins, adding "in which you also once walked when you lived in them"
(v.7) Adultery is one form of fornication; if you can live in
fornication, you can certainly live in adultery.

Conclusion. When truth has been clearly set forth, but one
continues to quibble, and calls for "discussions" that he might air
his views, which are contrary to sound doctrine, the point is
reached that one becomes a "gainsayer" (those who contradict, NKJV
Tit.1:9) whose mouth must be stopped (Titus 1:9-11)
     a. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in
the faith (Titus 1:12).
     b. If one continues to be factious, reject him (Titus 3:10). 
 ------  Leon Mauldin

If you have corrections, questions, comments or suggestions about these questions and answers, please contact Leon Mauldin directly at

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