Is it still adultery if you have permission?

Jay Dee

Is it still adultery if you have permission?

Nov 14, 2014

Christina and I are still out of the country, enjoying some relaxation after our mission trip, but I received an email and couldn’t hold off responding to it. The question I received through our Have A Question page is this: My husband would like to

Anonymous Question

Christina and I are still out of the country, enjoying some relaxation after our mission trip, but I received an email and couldn’t hold off responding to it. The question I received through our Have A Question page is this:

My husband would like to see me have sex with another man but has decided that since I will not do that, then we can pretend like I had sex with another man and he wants me to talk about the experience as if it happened. He’s angry at me for not wanting to participate in any of this. He has a lot of rejection issues, and says he is bored with his life and based on a lot of other things in his life he would like some excitement, and he thinks this is why he craves something new in our sex life. I am at a complete loss how to approach him or what to do to spice up our sex life. He is bored and since I don’t want to do these particular things that makes me a prude and boring in the bedroom. It’s really creating problems in our marriage.

So, there are a few issues in here, some I’ve written about before, but I’ll recap them here for the sake of any new readers and link to some posts where we have discussed these issues.

  1. While I do believe in husbands leading and wives submitting, I also believe that wives first need to submit to God. Husbands cannot overrule God’s commandments. This does not mean that husbands need to be perfect in order for wives to submit, but it does mean that if your husband wants you to do something that is a clear violation of the Bible, then it is your duty to say no.
  2. You cannot change or fix your husband. If he is having problems with life, he should seek qualified counsel. Even if you consented to this behavior, then next week, next month, or next year, he’d just get bored again unless he addresses the underlying issue.
  3. Just because your husband is angry with you doesn’t necessarily mean you have done something wrong.
  4. There are plenty of ways to spice up your sex life without involving someone else. I’ve written about hair pulling, anal sex, sexual bets and bondage, and will be writing about more activities in the near future. But, I want to refer back to point #2 these are not a solution to being bored with life.
  5. Sticking to your morality, to God’s laws does not make you a prude. You can be an incredibly sexy, vibrant and sensual person within God’s commandments. In fact, I’d argue that you should be a sexy, vibrant and sensual person if you follow what’s in the Bible, but only with your spouse.

But, the point I really want to focus on, because we haven’t really touched on it before, is whether or not adultery is “cheating” if your spouse is okay with it. This is a question that doesn’t get answered explicitly in the Bible, though I believe it is answered implicitly.

Before we jump into that though, I want to touch on Matthew 5:

You know the next commandment pretty well, too: ‘Don’t go to bed with another’s spouse.’ But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt. – Matthew 5:27-28

Jesus tells us that sin happens in the heart, before it even becomes action. That even intentionally thinking about committing a sin is already a sin in and of itself. Why? Because it is not our behaviors that dictate our admittance to heaven, it is our relationship with God. When we think about breaking away from His dictates, when we plan to sin, or relish the thought or idea of committing a sin, we separate ourselves from God in our relationship with Him. So, whether we are talking about actually committing adultery, or just considering it, or pretending we did and talking as if we did, they are all the same: it is sinning.

Is adultery cheating if our spouse is okay or encourages it?

But what if our spouse say it’s okay? Open marriages are becoming more and more popular, where spouses are committed to each other, but have agreed to have sex outside of the marriage as well. To them, they are no longer “cheating”, because they have permission, because their spouse is okay with it.

The problem with this logic is that our vows are not only to our spouse, they are to God. As well, we vow to abide by God’s rules for marriage, not by our spouses rules. We do not have the authority to go changing God’s laws, His guidelines for our life. Even though they were placed for our benefit, for our blessing, for us, as humans, that does not give us the right to go altering them.

Why not? Because there is underlying principle in each of God’s laws. Regardless of which one we’re talking about. For example, His laws regarding tithing are to help us not be too attached to material things, they force us to budget, they remind us to thank Him for providing all that we have and remind us that it is all His anyways, we are merely stewards. Even the amount, 10%, I believe is chosen, because it’s enough to force us to notice it, but not so much as to make like impossible to live.

Likewise, the laws regarding sexuality are in the Bible to help us, to protect us, to foster the best possible marriages. We were designed to have this bond with only one other human, and without the relationship that marriage brings protecting it, sex is a dangerous thing. It messes with our health in the way of diseases and infections. It messes with our minds in numerous psychological effects that are too complex to predict. It even rewires our brains with hormones, chemicals we barely understand.

Even thinking about sex can have psychological ramifications and releases chemicals to do this rewiring. I believe this is another reason why God tells us to stay focused only on our spouse, to not even think about having sex with someone else.

So, to me, even if you have permission, sleeping with someone other than your spouse is adultery. Furthermore, it is still cheating, even if they allow it, because you are cheating yourself, your spouse, and the third party by damaging multiple relationships: between spouses and each other and God.

But, what do you do Anonymous Reader?

I always suggest following the Bible. Don’t sleep with someone else. Don’t entertain the notion. Don’t be an enabler helping your husband to sin. You can’t stop him from thinking about it, but you can stop yourself from participating in it. It may cause strife in your marriage, but Jesus warned us that following Him would be difficult, that it could potentially rip families apart. Our hope is that our witness will help the Holy Spirit convict our spouses to change, because it is not our job to convict, or to force them to change, we can only invite and encourage them.

Christina wanted me to add a few questions to ask you in return to see if they might help:

  • Are you currently involved with a church? Not just warming a pew once a week, but contributing, being involved with the community of believers.
  • Do you have someone you can confide in? Someone you trust who can help strengthen you during this time, to pray for you and with you.
  • Is he open to counseling/therapy? It sounds like he has some internal issues with life that need to be addressed.
  • Pray for him and yourself. Never cease praying, for both of your benefits. Invite God to help. Don’t just ask God to fix your husband, but ask for help on how to respond, how to encourage, and how to continue to love him through this difficulty.

Your Turn

So, anonymous reader, I hope this helps in some way. To my other readers, what would you say to this anonymous reader?

Looking for help?

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