Statement 1: Adultery is a tragic betrayal of trust and an evil violence done to a marriage covenant. There is never an excuse for it and that sin alone is enough to send a person to hell for all eternity without a Savior to cover for it.
Statement 2: Divorce is a tragic betrayal of trust and an evil violence done to a marriage covenant. There is never an excuse for it and that sin alone is enough to send a person to hell for all eternity without a Savior to cover for it.
I think it's safe to assume most Christians would whole-heartedly agree with Statement 1 as written. Statement 2, on the other hand, would be less supported as written. I think the part that would draw fire is calling divorce a sin and saying there is never an excuse for it. There are Christians who think there are all kinds of excuses for divorce. There are other Christians who think divorce is a sin except for the when a spouse commits adultery. Adultery is the only excuse for divorce. There are also Christians who think divorce is always a sin, and adultery isn't a get out of marriage free card.
While discussing the posts found here, here and here; the question was asked, "Is the one choosing the divorce committing a bigger sin than the one committing the adultery? Shouldn't they receive the same grace?"
I've thought long and hard about that question and hope this response is helpful because I know there are many who wonder the same thing as the person who asked it. So here goes. There is a subtle danger at the bottom of that question. The question assumes divorce is not the best choice, but the necessary choice in order to punish the adulterer and get revenge. "You slept around and hurt me very deeply. So I'm going to divorce you and hurt you back." "You slept around and broke my trust. So I'm going to divorce you and make you lay in the bed you've made." "You slept around and really I'm glad because I've been dying for an excuse to get out of this marriage and still look like the good guy." Of course no one says the last one, but I guarantee you based on things I've personally heard, people think this way. That's the point I took away from the original posts we're discussing.
When one spouse commits adultery, it often ends up showing just how little both spouses care for the covenant they've made for "better or worse till death do us part." Think of it this way. Tom commits adultery. He obviously has little respect for the covenant he made with his wife and little fear of God. When Tom's wife, Jerry, finds out about the affair, she wants a divorce. She also has little respect for the covenant she made with her husband and little fear of God. Otherwise she would do everything she possibly could to keep that covenant intact. Instead, she's just as quick to search for a way out as Tom. Tom grew weary with keeping his covenant and decided to commit adultery. He'll probably give some lame excuse about not getting any or not feeling loved or feeling too much pressure or maybe he'll just fess up to being evil. Jerry has also grown weary of keeping her covenant and has decided to get a divorce. She's giving some lame excuse about not having a faithful husband. When both are so quick to give up the union that GOD joined together, it seems that Tom just beat Jerry to the punch, but neither are all that concerned about God's union. They're both concerned about their own personal glory.
So is the one who gets a divorce committing a bigger sin than the one who commits adultery? Why don't we let God decide on judgment day? Should they receive the same grace? Absolutely. But here's the practical problem this question poses. If Tom or Jerry has an affair, he or she can repent of that and work toward restoration, all the while remaining married. If Tom or Jerry gets a divorce, repentance would mean going back to the marriage covenant they broke. Repentance would not mean, "Oh I guess I shouldn't have gotten divorced, but no use crying over spilled milk. I might as well find a new wife and live happily ever after... or at least until the next affair."
In my experience, spouses who get divorced because of an affair don't think they need to repent of ending the marriage. They think of themselves as victims of their evil adulterous spouse who already ended the marriage with the adultery. But why is adultery the marriage-ending sin? Would someone actually argue that adultery is more damaging to the marriage than perpetual nagging or perpetual harshness or perpetual denial of intimacy? Really? I have a feeling the reason adultery is the one get out of marriage free card is because of a couple of statements that Jesus made. The question is this: If it is determined that Jesus didn't mean for his statements to be a get out of marriage free card when a spouse commits adultery, would the entire face of Christian marriage and divorce drastically change? I fear it would not. I don't think Christians get divorced because they're trying to faithfully live out a text of Scripture (divorce is never commanded). Christians get divorced for the same reason everyone gets divorced. They have hard hearts. Is the same grace necessary? Oh yeah.