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?

45 thoughts on “Is it still adultery if you have permission?”

  1. teg says:

    I read this blog with interest, and very often I agree with you. Basically I agree here also, but when you write about issues like this, it is very important to bring recognize also the small details in the Bible passages you refer to. Unfortunately, you cannot use “The Living Bible” and similar translations in cases like this. You have to use a good and rather literal translation – or perhaps even several… But the Bible reference you use here is translated so freely that it is almost useless. So, please, use better translations in the future. And from my point of view, I would also refer to some of these passages: Matt 19, 1 Cor. 6::12,16-18, 1 Cor 7:4, Hebr 13:4, Eph. 5:5…

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Alright, I’m confused. It sounds like yurt agreeing, and yurt lulling verses to back up my position. But the words you use sound like an argument.

      As for versions, they each have their place. For my own study, I tend to use Greek and Hebrew mechanical translations, or Amplified or Expanded versions. But, as I was out of the country, had no access to internet or multiple versions at my fingertip, I chose an easy to read one, because the anonymous reader did not mention anything about her faith life.

      Unfortunately, the vast majority of Christians do not read their Bible, so it does no good to throw a complex version at them every time. Sometimes its helpful to offer something that they can connect with. And I believe that while the translation may not be literal, it is in keeping with the rest of scripture. The verses you provided can attest to that.

      Thanks for the other passages, I did not the luxury of time to look for them when I wrote the post, though I am aware of each of them.

    2. Jason says:

      How is that the case when people like Moses had several wives and it seems like it was an okay thing? I mean at some point Moses had one wife and obviously looked at his soon to be new wife is a sexual way. Then later he had a bunch of wives and God wasn’t obliterating him for it.

      1. Jay Dee says:

        So far as we know, Moses only had one wife at a time, Zipporah, and then 40 years later, the Cushite woman. At no point does the Bible say he had two wives at once.

        1. Anonymous says:

          OK so what about sollam not david

          1. Jay Dee says:

            Good question. I addressed that in this post

  2. brian says:

    well put / well said – that sums it up

  3. Discovering a more intimate response says:

    Thank you for the excellent response to this question. This husband shows all of the signs of being heavily involved in pornography, which will quickly lead a man to sexual boredom with his wife. I Am currently writing a book on studies from the song of songs. One of the things I have learned from that study is that when we make sexual intimacy part of our worship and gratitude to God, the boredom factor changes because our focus and attitude change. God provides couples with a lot of liberty when it comes to sex, but inviting 3rd parties to the marriage bed is always considered to be impure.

  4. happywife says:

    This is great advice Jay. I was struck by your point #3. Just because the husband is upset doesn’t mean the wife is in the wrong. I think I have a tendency to equate submission with keeping my husband happy. Intellectually I know that’s incorrect, but in the moment I automatically go to thinking I must be wrong/unsubmissive. It’s oppressive thinking. I think I’m going to be more aware of when I start to think this way now.
    Just to clarify, my husband has never asked me to do anything immoral, but even in the little things, I tend to think that being submissive=keeping him happy/avoiding conflict. Thanks for great food for thought!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Happy to be of service! Thanks for sharing your reaction, we appreciate it a lot!

    2. James says:

      I have 2 thoughts,
      If your husband is bored with what you currently have, and He wants you to do things with another man, how long will it be before He becomes bored with that and wants you to do something even more sinful .

      God created intimacy and the physical part of a relationship to be enjoyed by a husband and wife. It is something special to be shared by only them. Why would he want to give that up by letting you do things with another man?

  5. Lindsay Harold says:

    You’re absolutely right. A marriage vow is not just an agreement between two people. It’s between two people and God. Since you can’t get permission from God to have sex outside marriage (He’s already been very clear what He thinks of that and He never changes), there is no way that it’s okay to do so. It’s still adultery, even if your spouse is okay with it.

    Also, our responsibility as believers to confront sin and encourage each other in the Lord still applies between married people. If a spouse is wanting to do wrong (or actually doing it) we have a responsibility, not only to refrain from engaging in it too, but to work to move our spouse away from that sin. Of course, we have to do it in the right way. But a wife being submissive to her husband does NOT mean she is to enable him in his sin or to sin if he tells her to. There’s an authority hierarchy and God’s authority supersedes her husband’s.

  6. LatterDay Marriage says:

    This is an opportunity for the wife to help her husband. She should tell him the things you’ve said here and tell him she loves him too much to play a role in him spiritually harming himself. She can offer him many other pleasures, commit to overcoming some inhibition even, anything he needs from her that will not do harm to his or her relationship with God.

    I think it would be a good idea for the husband to look inside himself and ask himself why this particular fantasy appeals to him. Does he need to feel a need to exercise power and control over her? Does he feel a need for external validation of his wife’s desirability? Does he have some repressed anger towards his wife that he wants to vent by having her abused in this way? Does he feel jealous of her devotion to God and want her to choose him over God? If he can pin down his motives, they may be able to find a better way to address his needs and feelings.

  7. Chris Duchardt says:

    I want to echo what was said by “Discovering…” Having been the husband that was deep into porn I quickly recognized this sign! This wife needs to have a heart to heart with her husband and if necessary start checking his internet history on both phone and computer. “Companies” like Covenant Eyes and X3 watch are good ones if he needs “built in” accountability for these devices. I would also talk with the leadership in your church and try to get him some accountability with the men in leadership in your church.

    As for the adultery question…YES!!! Permission or no permission it is still adultery for a married man or woman to be with anyone that is NOT THEIR SPOUSE!!!

  8. greville constantine says:

    Adultery is adultery. Sin is sin. There is no question about that. When God established marriage, he made it clear ,”a MAN shall leave his mother & father & cleave onto his WIFE”. Not WIVES and vice versa. And let’s remember,” he who findeth a WIFE,(singular) findeth a GOOD thing”. If even the husband ( or the wife for that matter) says its OK to indulge, in the sight of God it remains an abomination. In the above mentioned situation, wisdom, professional counselling, & God’s love is needed to deal with this.

  9. Sophia says:

    I have been in this place. For years I indulged my husband’s fantasy of seeing me with multiple partners. Our stories are so similar it was as if I was reading my own post! When I finally stopped running from God I was able to summon the strength to put a stop to it. It wasn’t easy and there was backlash from my husband. He argued about boredom and that it’s ok because “nobody’s getting hurt”. Well I was getting hurt and so was my marriage, sex life and worst of all, my relationship with God. So I prayed A LOT! I prayed for help, for guidance, for God to touch my husband’s heart,for the courage to say no and for the belief in my core that with Him I am enough. The power of prayer is nothing short of amazing. Our marriage survived the turmoil and we’ve never been closer. Does he still have the thoughts? I don’t know. I don’t ask. That is between him and God! I will be praying for you and your husband.

  10. Crystal says:

    The bible says you become one flesh with your spouse adding more people into that I dont believe God intends that kind of life for us when we become married. If you entered the relationship with this ONE person and you were happy in the beginning what changed? Its not fair to the person in the relatioship who wants to be with just you and only you. When we get married and decide to give ourselves completely to our spouse we should feel a sense of proudness toward our spouse that they want to live the rest of their life with you. And for that God blesses us because it shows discipline on our part and respect for Gods law.

  11. meg says:

    I have been suspecting my husband is cheating on me with his one time teenage admire. Although he has always denied it. He recently asked my permission to go to bed with her. What should I say, a yes or a no

    1. Jay Dee says:

      No! Why would you say yes?!

  12. mack says:

    I have read 1 Cor and others about this.
    What I wonder about is what Kings David and Solomon and others did with their wives and concubines. Both were noted to be men after God but yet had multiple partners: Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. With that said, Solomon was chastised for going after woman of other countries and idols, and please correct me if I am wrong, not for having all those different partners.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Deuteronomy 17:15-17 clearly states that he shouldn’t have had them, and then in 1 Kings 11:11 God states Solomon not following his decrees as the reason he would lose the kingdom. To me, that’s enough, but no, there is no passage I’m aware of that explicitly states that he, by name, should not have had multiple wives.

      1. Juan says:

        While I generally agree with your analysis, I need to point out that this Deuteronomy passage is in relation to a king of Israel, not the general population. A king should not acquire many wives. How many becomes “too many” I guess is debatable, but there is no biblical prohibition against polygamy. For Solomon, the text indicates God told Solomon not to marry women from certain nations. Solomon did anyway and God was angry at that. He was not angry that Solomon had multiple wives. Even in the New Testament, only elders are required to have only one wife. This would imply that men having multiple wives was not atypical.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          Sexual immorality was not atypical either, nor drunkness, though they’re told not to have any part of that either.

  13. alchemist says:

    I’ve come to think of God’s commands less as “rules” and more as the way things really are.

    I get the impression sometimes people think the moral commands of the Bible is more like a suggestion or an arbitrary rule. Like take off your shoes when you walk into someone’s house, or you must sign a special form for the DOE to buy iodine. You know, weird man-made restrictions that could easily have been otherwise.

    I think the moral law (like you shall not commit adultery) is much more like the “law” of gravity. If you jump out of a plane without a parachute you will die. If you sleep with someone other than your spouse there will be dire consequences. It’s not a punishment from God, nor is it an arbitrary rule he made up or a suggestion. It’s just the way things are. The way He in his infinite love and wisdom designed the world. I think the world is an reflection of His nature.

    Like this part from the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe:

    ”Oh, Aslan!” whispered Susan in the Lion’s ear, “can’t we – I mean, you won’t, will you? Can’t we do something about the Deep Magic? Isn’t there something you can work against it?”ï„Ž

    ”Work against the Emperor’s magic?” said Aslan turning to her with something like a frown on his face. And nobody ever made that suggestion to him again.

    The deep magic (the moral law) that the Emperor (God) put into the world before the beginning of time.

  14. J says:

    Have I already committed the sin of adultery because I entertained the thought? My husband has been telling me I have his permission. I kept telling him I was not going to do that. Now I have met someone I want to be with because My husband won’t even try to have sex with me, he said he lost his passion. I really don’t know what to do. I feel since I have already entertained the thought I might as well. I really want my husband but since he is not willing to try, I feel I should just move forward in this.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Do you sin by entertaining the thought of adultery? Yes.
      Does that mean it’s no worse is you continue? No.
      Because while one sin is no worse than another, the decision to go ahead with sin when you know is wrong is also sin. It becomes then a pattern of behaviour of not listening to God. While it will undoubtedly damage your relationship with your spouse, I’m more concerned with your relationship with God.

      Is is unfortunate that your husband is not willing to work on the marriage, but that doesn’t give you permission to sin against God.

  15. Anonymous says:

    What if the Husband and wife and third party are involved at the same time for her pleasure… to be the center of pleasure and attention. To make sure the husband is “Giving” her what could and would feel amazing…

    1. Jay Dee says:

      There aren’t loopholes to this. It’s adultery, plain and simple, and it will damage your relationship, whatever the intent.

      1. Oral T Scott says:

        No but b.c wont. We have been doing it for years here and there. My wife likes to be s hgh a red with other men and I think it’s fun to watch. We both are heavily involved in the church. God gave us sex as a gift. It wasnt until later man put rules in it not Gid. The only rules from God is no gay sex. If you cheat on your spouse it’s wrong and will be punished. If you and your spouse agree to it then it’s not cheating.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          There are many people in church who are “heavily involved” and yet still haven’t really understood or internalized the basic concepts. The commandment isn’t against “cheating”, but adultery, reiterated over and over again in scripture. Permission from your spouse is irrelevant.

          We also know Satan tempts those any way he can. In this case, he has succeeded in convincing you that sexual immortality is a good thing, and you have even let him believe you are acting in accordance with scripture. Father of Lies indeed. Anyone who has read their Bible knows that there are a many rules given by God governing sex, far beyond just “no gay sex”.

          But, I agree, God gave us sex as a gift. A gift between us and our spouse. Unfortunately, you have watered that gift down so that you can pass it around to others you shouldn’t all the while still thinking and claiming that it’s just as good as what God gave you.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I am still vary confused. I understand that which u are explaining but if the marriage is already crumbling and you are trying to have a walk with God and you do love and respect god but Ur spouse is absolutely intentionally refusing god and refusing to even try or even tempt to turn to God with you no matter what you try to say or do Ur spouse still absolutely refuses to have a spiritual relationship with you and God and Ur marriage is crumbling bc Ur spouse still refuses to help and support Ur walk with God and not tempting to have a walk with God himself and u that it is stressing and streaning u and u have tried everything but u both are on the same page and agreement that having an open marriage actually does make your bond and love for each other stronger and reignite the love for each other that in our case save our marriage how can it still be a sin if u still love God and u aren’t doing with strangers but only with one couple that is family and both marriages still love their spouses it’s just pleasure changes and sparks both marriages back together how can it damage Ur marriage if neither of u are ever jealous and u don’t have conquests and u don’t let that stop u from loving God yourself and not change Ur love for God how can it still be a sin when Ur spouse refuses to attend counseling but by doing this with one couple and one couple only it in turn does save your marriage.

  17. Anonymous says:

    If I’ve already sinned this commandment, will God forgive me and allow me into heaven? Doesn’t the bible say if we ask God to forgive us our sins, and truly mean it, He will forgive us. I still want to go to Heaven.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      It is not a single act that decides whether or not we will go to heaven, but rather our character. Look at King David. He committed adultery, murder and plenty of other sins, yet God calls him a man after His own heart. It wasn’t the bad or good things David did, but rather that David was repentant and always working to be right with God.

      Your infidelity won’t keep you out of heaven. Lacking a desire to be right with God will.

  18. Cheryl says:

    I’m concerned about your #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.”

    When a man is showing great disrespect to his wife by suggesting she sleep with another man, why suggest a list of “spicy” options that for the most part show disrespect to a wife? (I know nothing about sexual bets, but the others aren’t things I would suggest as “spicy” suggestions for any marriage–I’m not saying they are necessarily sin, but that there are lots of better ways to add interest to a marriage bed.) In the hands of a man who isn’t respecting his wife, all of these could be particularly bad. It’s like saying don’t let him poison you, how about if you suggest that he beats you instead? The wife involved may tell herself that she “must” submit to some kind of demeaning sex if she comes for help on one sort of suggestion and has these suggested alternatives. Again, in a healthy marriage, if these actions are mutually chosen, I don’t care. But as a list of alternatives to a sinful option, it’s like telling a wife that she has to endure SOMETHING, so it might as well be one of these.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I can definitely see how that could be a concern. However, her overall note didn’t seem to convey that she was feeling disrespected. While I understand and agree that is disrespectful to his wife to ask that of her, his attitude does not seem to be one of disrespect. Those are very different things.

      To me, it seemed she was asking how to make things exciting without drifting into sinful practices, and so I offered some options, couched in a lot of caveats and suggestions that they see further help.

  19. NoGames says:

    “Are you currently involved with a church?” Doing what? Living life together? Sharing? Talking? Life/small groups? Lol, with a bunch of potentially back stabbing, back biting, hypocritical people? Not happening.

    “Do you have someone you can confide in?” Can you really trust people? No. Not ever.

    “Is he open to counseling/therapy?” Been there. Since that. Often just a money draining exercise in futility. Better off talking to the wife and trying (but failing) to figure her out.

    “Pray for him and yourself.” Good luck.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Well, all people are potentially back stabbing, back biting and hypocritical. Being Christian doesn’t fix that immediately 🙂 But small groups I’ve been in have been amazing. We do live life together. We share, we talk, we love each other, support each other, hold each other accountable. It’s amazing. Some of my best friends are people I’ve been in small groups with in the past.

      And, yes, you can trust people. Can you trust them 100% of the time, no. They’re people. But living without any trust makes you bitter.

      As for counseling and therapy, yes, sometimes you get a bad match. Some people don’t respond well to therapy. Sometimes therapy isn’t the answer. Doesn’t mean it’s not for anyone.

      And prayer has nothing to do with luck. But even if you don’t believe that God will actually do anything in response to prayers, pray can be a time of vulnerability and intimacy for couples. Of course, that requires trust, which you seem to have problems with as well. So, I can see how that can be a challenge.

  20. Frank says:

    Me and my wife been married for 16 years. She said to me I don’t love you anymore I seen someone else She told me I love my exboyfriend now. I have a question Is it a sin to sleep with her? Or I have to tell her to divorce. I have 2 sons. Thank you

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Love can change. I’d start working on the marriage and try to recover from where it currently is.

  21. James Grubbs says:

    I feel super sad for the authors wife. ??? Forcing a woman, even if it’s your wife to perform sex or sexual acts that she is not okay with is called sexual assault And rape, not God’s will. You’re real messed up in the head you make chauvinist pig!!!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I’m not sure how you got that from this article…

      1. Kevin says:

        I think James Grubbs was talking about/to the husband of the wife who wrote to you. not you Jay Dee. Otherwise, like you, I don’t understand it.

        1. DearWifenHomeSchoolmom says:

          I agree with Kevin on this.. Looks like they are referring to the husband that is expecting this sinful act of his wife.

  22. hispanicwithanitalianfirstname says:

    Anal sex is in The Bible is sexual immorality

    1. Jay Dee says:

      If you’re going to make a statement like that, you’re going to have to back it up with scripture.

Share your thoughts