Is emotional adultery a Biblical reason for divorce?

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An emotional adultery is a promise between two people that is similar to the emotional intimacy of a romantic relationship while never being physically consummated.

Although Jesus said that one who wrongly lusts after a woman has committed adultery with her in his heart (Matt. 5:28), that doesn’t mean that a person’s act of lust gives his innocent spouse the right to divorce. The Bible makes a clear difference between emotional and physical infidelity for Jesus stated that the only reason for divorce is physical adultery: “I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9). Physical adultery is the only cause whereby the innocent party is free to choose whether the marriage relationship shall be continued or cut through divorce.

We see the same truth in the sixth commandment which states, “you shall not murder” (Exodus 20: 13). Although Jesus said, the person that is angry with his brother without an appropriate reason is guilty of breaking this sixth commandment (Matt. 5:21-22), He didn’t intend the religious authorities to sentence the person who is guilty of anger with the same punishment as the person that physically kills another human being.

It is clear that the Law is made to give justice in proportionate to the crime. Jesus’ explanation, in the sermon on the Mount, was merely for the purpose of showing the wider application of the Law. It was not given to justify extreme penalties against less than extreme violations.

Therefore, the wife that divorces her husband for his emotional adultery is acting outside the teachings of the Bible. In that case, her divorce is a sin against God’s will even more than the sin of her husband. Therefore, instead of going through a divorce, the troubled couple should earnestly and prayerfully work on their marriage that the Lord may heal and restore their relationship (Ephesians 4:31-32; Colossians 3:13-14; Ephesians 4:26).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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