Is adultery always adultery?


Thou shall not commit adultery. One of the 10 Commandments of God. Jesus said that what God has joined, let no man break.

Having said that - what is in the spirit of the law? For me, adultery is the act of having relations with someone other than your spouse in a “secretive” matter without the other’s knowledge - this leads to pain inflicted on the other when the other finds out. But what happens when one’s spouse is no longer considered one’s spouse and they divorce (not annulled, but civil divorce). Jesus said for no man to try to break the marriage. In other words - don’t even try to break the marriage up. But it has been broken - emotionally, spiritually, and physically. It has been broken - now what? How would Christ have responded to this question?

If a man or woman goes through a civil divorce and both go their own way, is the spirit of the law of adultery implied to include those individuals? Add another point - my new relationship is built on mutual love and understanding. We both continue to be close to God and ensure that God is part of our lives. I have never felt more closer to God than the last few years. But this doubt in my actions continue to plague my thoughts. Am I doing the right thing according to Word of God?

I don’t think that God’s mercy would allow an individual who has sinned in the past, divorced, repented for their wrong doings, and then allow that person to live out their life in sorrow and loneliness. As a parent, I would never subject my children to this. If I wouldn’t, why would God, in all His mercy, allow this pain on His children?

Thank you for reading my question and please pray that I could one day be fully in God’s graces.



So basically, you can’t quite buy your own rationalization; almost, but not quite! First of all God has already defined adultery and doesn’t need any help, thank you. Adultery-whether it is in secret or in the open, is still adultery. Emotions have nothing to do with it. Civil authority has absolutely no power whatsoever to dissolve a valid marriage in God’s eyes. The obtaining of a civil divorce is a civil transaction—not a spiritual one! The fact that you have physically walked away from your spouse and feel emotionally separate from her doesn’t change the reality of the marriage vows you made for life. Feelings are a response to reality—not reality itself.

Our Blessed Lord was quite clear about divorce: “So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder. (Mt 19:6)”

When we build on a fallacy, no matter how close to God we tell ourselves we feel, reality has a way of nagging at the edges of our consciousness.

To repent of a divorce is to renounce it—not abide by it and attempt to marry. What we say to God by vow matters. It’s not God’s fault that we want to change our mind in mid course. It’s certainly not from a lack of mercy that He expects us to keep our word.

Practically, what does one do in your situation? I don’t know how possible an annulment would be for your Catholic marriage. That might be a way to go. If not, then you could live in a celibate way with your current non-Catholic marriage spouse. You would then be able to go to Confession and receive Holy Communion because you would no longer be living in mortal sin. Our Blessed Lord only asks that we love Him as unconditionally as He loves us—as He showed us on Good Friday. Putting Him first in this way is the only way you will know peace—because this is based on the truth of reality. Only reality works in the long run. You and your situation are in my prayers—really. I will pray for you before the Blessed Sacrament during my hour at 2 a.m…

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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