Faith Forum: Is infidelity an unforgivable sin? (2023)

Faith Forum: Is infidelity an unforgivable sin? (1)

Infidelity is unfaithfulness to a spouse or sexual partner, and it can also be disbelief in a religion. Some say this violation of the sexual exclusivity contract is the root of all sins.

“Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14) is one of the Ten Commandments. Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), a leader of the Church of Scotland, described it as “a fearful blindness of the soul.” Some argue that although premarital sex can be destructive, it is not infidelity. Others disagree.

Swedish theologian Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) pointed out that “infidelity has emanated chiefly from the learned.” Some indicate that though infidelity can destroy marriages and lives and cause psychological damage, but God can ultimately erase it from one’s record.

“Infidelity is not a sin, according to the majority of God-fearing adulterers,” according to a survey by Victoria Milan, which describes itself as “a dating website for married and attached people looking to have an affair” and claims to have over five million users worldwide.

According to this survey, “77.5 percent of people surveyed agree life is too short, and don’t consider infidelity an unforgivable sin – and more often than not, even if it is – it’s worth the risk.” It goes on to say that “religion and affairs are more similar than people think: they both provide fulfillment, satisfaction and purpose in life.”

Religious infidelity, like rejecting, doubting or lacking a religion, can also have consequences in certain places.

We asked our panel of religious leaders of the region the following question: Is infidelity an unforgivable sin?

Here is what they have to say:

(Video) Cheating and adultery is running rampant in western society today. Stay loyal to your commitments.

Fidelity: Cats on a fence

Brian E. Melendez, American Indian spirituality scholar

From a tribal perspective, infidelity (good, bador indifferent) plays a part in the story of all of our lives. Culturally, the concept of infidelity varies depending on customs and social conventions of the people sharing space. From my point of view, it’s not a sin (I’m a spiritualist, I don’t do sin …);rather, it's a life experience that changes the foundation between two people forever.

Some people are wild catsand there’s no way to ever tie them down, and that’s a beautiful thing: We all got a little of that in us! A high regard for nuptialsis only as strong spirituallyas the people who make those agreements. Fidelity (right now) is weakened by our collective Western modalitieswhichcontinually condition us to be inconsiderate and unstable.

Probably the better question is,why aren’t people cheating more? Promiscuity, modern technology, sexual equality and Uber … that’s happening in Anytown, U.S.A right meow.

Avoid slippery slope

ElizaBeth Webb Beyer, Temple Beth Or rabbi

These three sins absolutely must be avoided: adultery (Exodus 20:13-14,Leviticus 20:10), idolatry and murder. Adultery is considered a great sin(Genesis 20:9,Genesis 39:9). Maintaining a primary bond with one’s spouse is essential. Failing to hold one’s spouse as the most important human relationship is the beginning of problems.

Spending extra time with co-workers, colleagues or friends of the opposite sex is a slippery slope. Touching, calling outside of work, sending emails or textsand joking with the “other” can lead to wrongful emotional attachments. Once trust is broken and betrayal is discovered, it takes great commitment, emotional resilience and time to put the pieces back together. Intimate relationships allowing for emotional vulnerability take investment of thoughtfulness, time and energy to grow and even longer if they need to be rebuilt. Adultery is forgivable, but only after much soul-searching, a complete change of behavior and invoking G-d’s mercy.

Unforgivable? No!

Stephen R. Karcher, St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Church presiding priest

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Through Christ’s Cross and Resurrection all is forgiven, healed and saved, but we must come to Christ to get it. So, there’s really no "unforgivable"sin. Christ lived to benefit everyone who realizes they’re sick with sin and wants healing —that is, those "burdened and heavy-laden" who want rest. If the Gospel was about "un-forgiveness," then it wouldn’t be "good news."But "Gospel"means "good news," and this Good News isn’t about what’s "unforgivable," but about forgiveness for everyone who loves Christ and determined to keep his commandments. This is a life’s work and not a one-time decision or just a mental exercise. Real repentance is a physical and spiritual effort that reaches every dark corner of our life and leaves no secrets and nothing to the imagination. In this way, by cooperating with God’s Grace, our burden is lifted and the forgiveness we receive becomes a gift we give.

Forgiveness and a nonexistent sin

Bradley S. Corbin, Baha’i faith teacher

Infidelity has two meanings: one being unfaithful to a spouse or sexual partner, the other disbelief in a religion.

The Baha’i Faith condemns infidelity in marriage, but this sin may be forgiven. “Should anyone be afflicted by a sin, it behoveth him to repent thereof and return unto his Lord. He, verily, granteth forgiveness unto whomsoever He willeth, and none may question that which is pleaseth Him to ordain. He is, in truth, the Ever-Forgiving, the Almighty, the All-Praised” (Baha'u'llah, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas).

All religious teachings of the past have divided the human world into two parts: people of the Book of God, or the pure tree;and the other people of infidelity and error, or the evil tree. Bahá'u'lláh removed this division by proclaiming the oneness of the world of humanity;this principle is specialized in His teachings. This principle removes infidelity in religion; therefore there is no sin to be forgiven.

Jesus forgives all sin

Steve Bond, co-lead pastor, Summit Christian Church, Sparks

The Bible teaches that the blood Jesus’ shed on the cross covers all sin, including infidelity. “… the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). This means that any sin we commit, including infidelity, can be forgiven when we come to Jesus with a repentant heart.

Jesus was without sin. His perfect life allowed him to sacrifice himself on our behalf. According to the Bible, “the wages of sin is death …” (Romans 6:23). Thus, apart from Jesus’ shed blood, we are all under a death sentence because we are all sinners. But once we recognize this and appeal to Jesus, we are forgiven from all our sin.

(Video) Can Someone Who Has Committed Adultery Go to Heaven?

God’s forgiveness, however, does not exempt us from the earthly consequences of our actions. Sexual sin often scars more deeply than other types of sin. Consequently, more of God’s grace and time is often needed for complete healing.

Nothing is unforgivable

Kenneth G. Lucey, UNR philosophy/religion professor

Marital infidelity is not an unforgivable sin. The reason is that there is no such thing as a sin that cannot be forgiven. At least within Catholicism, as I understand it, any act whatsoever can be forgiven if one confesses that act with appropriate contritionand receives the sacrament of absolution. Far worse acts, such as human murders, can be forgiven, again assuming the appropriate confession and contrition.

Within a broader religious context, such as religions where a man is allowed to have multiple wives, it is less clear exactly of what marital infidelity consists. If such a married man keeps a mistress and then takes her as a second wife, has he committed an infidelity? In the West where some marriages embrace polyandry, it is not even clear that extramarital sexual activity constitutes infidelity. In such cases it is clearly not considered a “sin” by the people involved.

Transgression against two

Sherif A. Elfass, Northern Nevada Muslim Community president

Infidelity is a transgression against God and against another human being. Allah says in the Quran: “Say, O My servants who have transgressed against themselves (by sinning), do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful" (39:53). Thus, Allah (SWT) will forgive the transgressionwhich was committed against Him, if the transgressor offered sincere repentance. Such repentance, however, is not simply saying “O Allah please forgive me.” Sincere repentance involves experiencing a profound sense of guilt and resolving to never to repeat it in the future.

Meanwhile, the transgressor has to also seek forgiveness from the person whom (s)he transgressed against, but the result varies. It usually depends on the person. While every human being is a sinner and is usually hopeful in receiving God’s forgiveness, we are not as forgiving as we should be.

Faithful to our promises

Lauri Anne Reinhart, director of lay ministry formation leadership, Roman Catholic Diocese of Reno

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We believe that all sins are forgivable by God — all of our sins. But has the person who has committed infidelity repented of their behavior and committed to not repeating it? Or does their asking for forgiveness from God come with conditions? “I’ll change if …” Complacency is also wrong: “God has to forgive me …”

Another word for infidelity is adultery; adultery is the opposite of moral goodness and it is so important that it is the sixth of the Ten Commandments. Adultery damages one’s relationship with God as well as with the person to whom you promised to be faithful.

Moral behavior is one way we witness to the God we believe in. Faithfulness to another mirrors our belief that God is faithful to us. Jesus promises to be with us always and he will be faithful to His promise. As believers we strive to be faithful to ours.

Forgiveness is skillful

Matthew T. Fisher, Reno Buddhist Center resident priest

Our karma —or actions —may be skillful or unskillful, but no action is unforgivable. Forgiveness toward ourselves and others is an essential part of the compassionate life. Infidelity is an unskillful action and does grave damage to the family. All errors of judgment can be forgiven. Very bad karma may result in a hellish existence for some time, until the unpleasant fruits of those actions have been borne and pass.

Spouses put good effort into nurturing their relationship and their partner. Most relationship problems are solvable with improved communication and adequate respect. But we also need to see that all sentient beings are struggling through life. Our struggle is generated by our distorted view of this life as “our life”—something that belongs to "me" alone. Life is much more interdependent than our small self can see. In a world of goofballs, forgiveness is essential.

Serious, but forgivable

Ryan J. Earl, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints assistant area public affairs director

We believe that infidelity is a serious, but forgivable, sin. One of Christ’s most powerful examples of compassion and forgiveness was his treatment of the woman caught in adultery (John 8).

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When a spouse has made a mistake but has repented, the couple can rebuild their relationship as they exercise faith and find ways to obtain healing through Jesus Christ and His Atonement, both individually and as a couple. (See, "Marriage, Technology and Emotional Infidelity.") Rebuilding trust is scary and difficult, but possible. As couples allow themselves time to heal, thoughtfully work at communication about the tragic eventsand make restitution by being different in action, validating each other and apologizing, healing starts to emerge. Forgiveness can be a slow process, but it is attainable. “The power of our covenants is greater than any challenge we face or we may face” (Elder Walter F. González).

Next week’s topic: Should believers defend religion or let God defend it?

Faith Forum is a weekly dialogue on religion produced by religious statesman Rajan Zed. Send questions or comments to or on Twitter at @rajanzed.


Faith Forum: Is infidelity an unforgivable sin? ›

The Bible teaches that the blood Jesus' shed on the cross covers all sin, including infidelity. “… the blood of Jesus, God's Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). This means that any sin we commit, including infidelity, can be forgiven when we come to Jesus with a repentant heart.

What are the 3 unforgivable sins? ›

I believe that God can forgive all sins provided the sinner is truly contrite and has repented for his or her offenses. Here's my list of unforgivable sins: ÇMurder, torture and abuse of any human being, but particularly the murder, torture and abuse of children and animals.

What is God's punishment for infidelity? ›

"`If a man commits adultery with another man's wife--with the wife of his neighbor--both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.

What is the unforgivable sin in the Bible? ›

One eternal or unforgivable sin (blasphemy against the Holy Spirit), also known as the sin unto death, is specified in several passages of the Synoptic Gospels, including Mark 3:28–29, Matthew 12:31–32, and Luke 12:10, as well as other New Testament passages including Hebrews 6:4–6, Hebrews 10:26–31, and 1 John 5:16.

Can a man forgive a woman for sleeping with another man? ›

Both sexes forgive similarly

Despite experiencing the different types of infidelity differently, men and women are about equally willing to forgive their partner. And the new findings show that the degree of forgiveness is not related to the type of infidelity.


1. They Have Uncrowned Him-From Liberalism to Apostasy by Archbishop Lefebrve
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2. Ivan Illich | The Corruption of Christianity: Corruptio Optimi Pessima (2000)
(The Golden Thread)
3. Wokeism, Culture Wars & the Rise of a Post-Christian Western Society | Ayaan Hirsi Ali
(Rep. Dan Crenshaw)
4. I Am An Awful Person Who Lost Everything For Cheating On My Husband | Reddit Cheating Stories
5. Watch How God Can Turn Your Situation Around - Stand Firm and Keep Trusting God Who Never Fails
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6. Harlotry: The Other Mystery (ETHOP WK6) - 3.20.20
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