Marriage is a sacred covenant between a man, a woman, and God. When you stand before God and make your wedding vows, you promise your spouse that you will forsake all others and remain faithful. This is not just a nice sentiment, but a solemn oath made before God. As Christians, it is so important that we understand what the Bible says about fidelity in marriage and keeping our vows.
In this post, we will explore the biblical principles behind forsaking all others and remaining faithful to your spouse. We will look at what Jesus and the apostles taught about marriage, adultery, and divorce. As we dive into God’s word, keep an open and teachable heart. It is my hope that this post will give you a better grasp on God’s design for marriage and inspire you to honor your vows.
Here are the key takeaways we will cover:
- God designed marriage to be an exclusive covenant between one man and one woman.
- Adultery is explicitly forbidden in Scripture.
- Divorce is permitted only in special cases, not as an “easy out” of marriage.
- Jesus calls us to a high standard of fidelity, even avoiding lustful thoughts.
- Keeping your marriage vows pleases God and protects your relationship.
- With God’s help, lifelong faithfulness is possible.
Let’s explore what the Bible says about forsaking all others!
God Designed Marriage as an Exclusive Covenant
From the very beginning, God designed marriage to exist between one man and one woman for life. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
This beautiful union between husband and wife reflects Christ’s relationship with the church (Ephesians 5:31-32). Marriage also provides companionship and pleasure to curb sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 7:2, Proverbs 5:18-19). God designed the marriage bed to be honored and kept pure (Hebrews 13:4). His plan is for each spouse to have their sexual needs met only in marriage.
Because marriage is a covenant, the “one flesh” union makes the marriage bond distinct from all other relationships. A married couple vows faithfulness to each other in exclusivity. They commit to forsake all others romantically and sexually. This covenant should motivate spouses to protect their union and become “one” in mind, heart, and body. Forsaking all others is essential to bonding and intimacy in marriage.
Adultery is Forbidden
Scripture could not be clearer—adultery is explicitly forbidden throughout the Old and New Testaments.
One of the Ten Commandments states plainly, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). Adultery was so serious it was punishable by death under the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 20:10). In the New Testament, adultery is still recognized as a grievous sin. Jesus expanded the definition to include not just physical acts but adulterous thoughts and intents of the heart (Matthew 5:28).
The act of adultery is a breaking of covenant. It defiles the marriage bed and tears the one flesh union God intends for husband and wife. Adultery often leads to jealousy, anger, broken trust, divorce, and long-term emotional damage. It brings such serious consequences because it strikes at the heart of God’s design for the marriage relationship.
As a follower of Christ, you must stand firm against any form of adultery. Do not let the culture or your fleshly desires distort your view of cheating. Ask the Lord to increase your hatred of adultery and infuse you with a passion to pursue moral excellence. You must forsake all others to maintain a strong Christian marriage.
Divorce Permitted Only in Special Cases
Scripture permits divorce in certain situations, such as in cases of marital unfaithfulness (Matthew 5:32). However, this does not mean that God desires divorce. God says plainly, “I hate divorce” (Malachi 2:16).
Jesus explained that provisions allowing divorce were given “because of the hardness” of people’s hearts (Matthew 19:8). His standard for marriage is a full commitment between husband and wife for life. By forbidding divorce except in extreme circumstances, Jesus was holding marriages to a high standard.
God’s heart is always for reconciliation and redemption when a spouse is unfaithful. With genuine repentance and forgiveness, along with counselling and accountability, marriages can be healed even after infidelity. As Christians, we need to see divorce as a last resort, not a convenient way to escape issues and “start over.” This trivializes marriage and the covenant vows. Of course, in cases of abuse where reconciliation attempts fail, divorce may be necessary.
Do everything in your power to uphold your marriage vows. Keep your heart soft and pliable towards your spouse. Seek help immediately if you face difficulties or unfaithfulness. Surround your marriage with prayer, wise counsel, and Christian community. Except for scriptural grounds of adultery or abandonment, you must remain faithful for life.
Jesus Calls Us to a High Standard of Fidelity
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus takes the Old Testament commandments against adultery to a deeper level:
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).
Like all of God’s commands, obeying them starts in the heart. We are called not just to avoid wrong physical actions but even wrong thoughts and intents. Jesus sets a high bar to protect our minds and marriages.
You must guard your eyes and not allow them to linger on someone who is not your spouse. Job said he made a covenant with his eyes not to gaze lustfully at another (Job 31:1). You must do the same. Avoid compromise and temptation by setting standards and boundaries to keep your thoughts clean. Do not entertain any fantasies about others or relive old memories.
Make your marriage bed pure by keeping it separate from all other relationships—past, fictional or virtual. Foster an undivided heart toward your spouse. This is what it means to forsake all others. It requires brutal honesty before God and rigorous discipline by His Spirit. But with His help, a lifestyle of purity is possible.
Keeping Vows Pleases God and Protects Marriage
Forsaking all others does not just happen at the wedding altar—it requires lifelong vigilance. As Timothy Keller said, “To commit oneself for life is literally to limit one’s options. There are continual temptations to keep options open.” Our human tendency is to hedge our bets and keep an escape route. But God calls you to defy this instinct. He wants you to fully give yourself to one person without holding back.
Remaining faithful pleases God because it honors the covenant of marriage (Proverbs 2:17). He promises blessings to those who keep their vows (Psalm 15:1-4). Faithfulness also brings great benefit to your relationship. It fosters security for your spouse and children. It builds trust and intimacy over a lifetime. Forsaking others solidifies the bond between husband and wife.
You have the responsibility to protect your marriage from outside intruders. Set wise boundaries with members of the opposite sex. Do not flirt with temptation or entertain sinful thoughts. Avoid compromising situations and be proactive to prevent affairs. Your spouse is worth this diligence.
Remember your wedding day feelings of love and commitment. Reaffirm your oath to forsake all others every day. As John Piper said, “The unveiling of that faithfulness of God in the future has tremendous power to shape our lives now.” Keep your eyes fixed on eternal rewards.
With God’s Help, Lifelong Faithfulness is Possible
If faithfulness depended on your strength alone, the standard would be crushing. But God knows our frail frames and provides escape from temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). Rely on the Holy Spirit to strengthen your resolve against lustful thoughts. Let Scripture renew your mind and produce new desires to obey God’s commands (Romans 12:2). Draw near to Jesus and gain strength from His limitless grace (Hebrews 4:16).
Surround yourself with faithful friends who will keep you accountable. Open up regularly with your spouse and share any struggles transparently. Protect your marriage with boundaries, pure thought lives, and consistent prayer. Make your home a haven where it is easy to be faithful.
By God’s power, lifelong faithfulness is possible. Do not let failures or discouragement make you give up. God forgives and restores when you repent! He is able to empower you to love, honor and cherish your spouse all the days of your life. What a joy to finish life still exclusively devoted to your covenant partner. This glorifies God and leaves an enduring legacy. May it be said of your marriage: “They were faithful to the end.”
In the covenant of marriage, God joins one man and woman together as “one flesh” for life. His design requires forsaking all others and remaining faithful to your spouse in mind, heart and body. Adultery is destructive and against God’s commands. Scripture only permits divorce in extreme cases, not as an easy way out. Jesus calls us to a high standard that avoids adulterous thoughts. By God’s grace, with wisdom and vigilance, it is possible to keep covenant vows and forsake all others. Faithfulness pleases God, blesses your marriage and leaves a godly legacy. May your union glorify Christ as you joyfully fulfill your oath to forsake all others!