What Does the Bible Say About..? Logo

What Does the Bible Say About..Adultery in the Heart?

I married someone I didn't love, barely knew, on account of insecurities. I knew at the ceremony that I made a really big mistake. After returning from our honeymoon, my husband said ..."Well we can't get a divorce so we may as well deal with it." From that day forward I decided since I married in Jesus name I could not leave the marriage so I fulfilled my wifely duties as unto the Lord. However, for a number of years as I reached for my husband he resisted, putting everything else before me, work, computers, friends, games you name it. Our lack of compatibility from the beginning gave birth to our living two separate lives. Living two separate lives gave birth to my husband putting me off, as far as showing me affection, care and concern. As we entered into engagement a few months into our marriage I immediately gained weight and entered into a silent depression. Our lack of affection led to me confiding in my male friend of 16 years, (he encouraged me to pray and try to understand "men" and my husband). My husband was led to porn and masturbation. He didn't want to take the time to spend with me because he was busy doing other things and by the time he wanted sex, I was either sleep or emotionally hurt to the point that I just couldn't give in to him. I would fulfill my duty to him at times and the tears and pain of emptiness would soon follow. We've been through counseling. We had premarital counseling. We're regular churchgoers and we read and pray on a regular basis. We've sought counseling, things changed for a little while but I can't change him and he can't change me. We deal with one another peaceably but I don't want to be here. I want to leave our marriage based on adultery in the heart. I feel that I made a mistake from the beginning. I sacrificed myself to the point where now I have no desire to sacrifice myself anymore. Whether he shows me love and affection now does not matter to me anymore. I'm happy for him, the fact that he realizes his mistake, but I don't want to be the one to reap the benefit of his love blessings. I don't love my husband. I don't want to kiss him. He is close to me; I've known him for years. I'm comfortable being his friend, but I don't want to be his wife. At this point, I want to say God forgive me, but based on your permissible will, I choose to leave this marriage. Is leaving a marriage based on adultery in the heart and based on my circumstances permissible in the eyes of the Lord?


I have given several answers about divorce, some of which contain what the Bible says specifically about the subject. To read my previous answers go to my topical index and scroll down to the key word “divorce.”

You do raise a question that has not been asked before. Is it permissible to divorce based on “adultery in the heart?” Jesus gave only one circumstance in which God approves of divorce: “fornications.” While some say this includes adultery, it does not specifically say that adultery is a reason for divorce. As I have indicated in other answers, some say this simply means that the spouse falsely represented herself as a virgin before the marriage and has nothing to do with anything that happened after the marriage. Others say it applies to any adultery, or only to multiple adulteries. One thing is clear, though. It applies to a specific act between two people in the same location. If the act of fornication has not occurred, then divorce is not an option.

The passage in which Jesus says that if one looks at a woman “to lust after her” (which most scholars of Greek say also requires a specific action, not just a thought) he has already “committed adultery in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28) is simply stating that the thought is parent to the action. Anyone who commits fornication has already thought about adultery. He isn’t defining a new sin, “adultery in the heart.”

One reason God is so adamant about not ending a marriage may be that he wants us to think carefully before committing to something that is not good for us. When we do commit too quickly we may have to suffer the consequences, as you obviously have.

“You can’t get a divorce, so deal with it” is not an appropriate remark from him. Besides showing him to be unfeeling and possibly selfish, it may lead you to feel unnecessarily trapped. “Deal with it” may, to his chagrin, mean that you may consider leaving him without a divorce. (A less religious person might think it would also mean dealing with it with a deadly weapon, but that would not be a good way to deal with it.) There may be scriptural ways to “deal with it” that he never considered.