Back in the days of unfettered press snooping, shaky relationships and divorce cases involving celebrities were the stock and trade of newspapers such as the SUN and the News of the World. Sales of these newspapers relied on their ability to publish as much salacious and graphic detail as possible, particularly if adultery was involved.
However, a recent study has noted that adultery as a cause of divorce has been in decline for a number of years, being replaced by the unreasonable behaviour of one of the partners as a primary cause. The research carried out by the Co-operative Legal Services, shows that there are five times as many divorces now than occurred in the 1950s. It also highlights a marked change in the attitudes of society to divorce.
According to a recent article in the Mail Online:
“The study highlighted the Eighties, rife with young, upwardly mobile professionals, as the most adulterous divorcees across the ages with nearly one in three (29 percent) of all divorces granted due to cheating on a partner.
In the same decade, almost one in five (17.5 percent) divorces were down to the man’s infidelity. In contrast, figures for 2010 and 2011 show a fall in the number of divorces because of affairs with only one in six divorces ending because of a partner being unfaithful.”
In the 2010s only one in ten (9.8 percent) - the lowest among the decades – was the result of cheating men.
In the ‘naughty’ 90s almost two out of five divorces (38 percent) were granted to women because of their man’s unreasonable behaviour. Yet, less than one in 20 (4.2 percent) of marriages were dissolved because of poor behaviour by women.”
While adultery and divorce for whatever reason carried a certain social stigma in the 1950s, as secularism has advanced the values of fidelity, and the institution of Christian marriage based on sound Biblical teaching has declined.
The Bible is quite clear about the value God places on faithfulness in marriage. The Seventh of the Ten Commandments states bluntly: "You shall not commit adultery.”
Commenting on the value of the Seventh Commandment, the ‘Discipleship Ministry’ website says: “This Commandment deals with the most intimate area of our earthly existence. God is not against sex. He created it! But He has established the proper use of His most powerful natural gift to us. The ability to create new life and a new living being is to be used within the confines of marriage where every child born can receive the love and protection of a father and a mother within a family unit. To safeguard His purpose, God has issued this Commandment for the welfare of us all.”
Sadly marital unfaithfulness is a fact of our contemporary consumer society affecting every section from the highest to the lowest. Recent marital scandals in the USA involving high profile TV evangelists and mega-church pastors are evidence that even position in the church does not bring immunity from sin.
The key principal from scripture when dealing adultery is forgiveness and reconciliation...that’s what Jesus taught! The good news is that some couples are able with much grace, love and prayer to be reconciled and move forward together in the wake of infidelity. Sadly, others are unable to come to terms with unfaithful behaviour and divorce for them becomes the only option.
Recently interviewed by the Huffington Post, British actress Gwyneth Paltrow said: “should she ever be faced with infidelity in her marriage to Coldplay musician Chris Martin, she would like to think she would be forgiving of the indiscretion.”
Well said Gwyneth! Let’s pray that your optimism and generosity is grounded in a personal relationship with Christ Jesus and that you will never have to face that situation.