Question:

I would like some more information on fornication. My husband confessed to me this morning that he had an physical affair with a co-worker eight years ago. He said it just happened once and he has hated himself for it ever since. His behavior so long ago explains a lot of the way he has treated me. He is a recovering alcoholic and has been physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive in the past. I stayed in my marriage because I knew I could not get married again scripturally and did not want to be alone. I decided to make the best of it. My husband has been baptized since then and I truly feel that he repented. Knowing about his affair, however, has given me hope in a strange way. Am I free to leave this marriage? Had I known about it eight years ago, I would have welcomed the get out of jail free card. I would appreciate an honest answer and would be happy to provide more information if you need. I have never broken my marriage vows. I am miserable in this marriage and it has affected my faith. I think I remember reading somewhere once that the Greek word for fornication indicates ongoing behavior and not necessarily a one-time act. Thank you.


Answer:

Let me see, now that your husband and marriage has greatly improved because your husband has turned to the Lord, you want to reward his efforts by dumping him?

I'm sure that even now your marriage still has ways to go, but it leaving your husband now is not going to make life better for either one of you.

God doesn't like divorce. "For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one's garment with violence," says the LORD of hosts. "Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously"" (Malachi 2:16). The firm statement is that it is to be avoided. "Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband" (I Corinthians 7:10). Yet, sadly, people insist on focusing on escape instead of honoring their commitment and striving to make it work.

Yes, the word for "fornication" in Matthew 19:9 in the Greek means an on-going, or unrepentant, acts of sex outside of marriage. Greek has more cases to indicate time, number of people, and the like than English has. In this case, the Greek word porneia is in the dative case which means a person is involved in fornication. It doesn't match your current situation.

It is probably good that eight years ago that you didn't know about the affair. If you had, your husband would not have turned to God through your influence. "For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband?" (I Corinthians 7:16).

I would urge you, instead, to continue working on your marriage. You've made progress and it can continue to progress if you let it. Much of the attitude we have toward things comes from within ourselves. If we only look for the miserable aspects, that is all we see and so we make ourselves miserable. There are good things about your marriage, so focus on those. Like a small ember, gentle blow on them through encouragement and it will eventually become the raging fire of love.