Is it cheating if... 11 Bible verses explaining God's definition of adultery


Infidelity is one of the most common causes of marriage breakdowns. The act of adultery doesn't just demonstrate a lack of commitment but a betrayal of the vows that husband and wife agreed to uphold throughout their marriage.

In the Old Testament, God deemed adultery a sin punishable by death. In our society, the consequences of infidelity aren't that severe, but cheating on a spouse can ruin marital relationships, family bonds and friendships. And it's damaging effects aren't limited to the innocent parties, those committing adultery suffer its ramifications too.

Despite the apparent ubiquitous nature of cheating on a partner, it remains one of the acts which Christians and non-Christians alike regard as morally wrong. However, when most people think about adultery their minds turn to acts of physical intimacy but can unfaithfulness extend beyond this? Here's what the Bible has to say about it:

It's about more than actions

Matthew 5:8 - "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

Luke 11:34-35 - Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy,[a] your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness.See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.

It's not just harmful to those who it's committed against

Proverbs 6:32 - But a man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself.

Matthew 5:32 - But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

1 Corinthians 6:18 - Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.

It's something God explicitly commands us not to do

Exodus 20:14 - "You shall not commit adultery."

Colossians 3:9 - Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices.

Hebrews 13:4 - Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

It demonstrates a prioritisation of earthly, individual desires over acts that lead to God

Romans 13:14 - Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

Colossians 3:5 - Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

It can be forgiven

John 8:10-11 - Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."