Last week's Ottawa Citizen "Ask the Religion Experts" question was, "how is adultery and divorce viewed in your faith?"
WSO's Balpreet Singh's answer from a Sikh perspective is below. For the replies from the other Experts, please click here.
Marriage is a sacred institution for Sikhs. Much more than just a civil contract, marriage is considered a spiritual union, created in the presence of the congregation, Guru and God.
According to the Sikh scripture, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the ideal of a married couple is to live as one soul in two bodies. Given the sacred nature of marriage in the Sikh faith, both adultery and divorce are taken very seriously. Extra-marital sexual relations are considered a severe violation of the Sikh code of conduct. For Sikhs, lust is a major vice that is an obstacle to realizing God, and therefore, adultery is not only a betrayal of trust but a major spiritual lapse that has very serious consequences for one’s spiritual life. An initiated Sikh who engages in such behaviour is considered an apostate who must be re-initiated into the faith after confessing their lapse and accepting a religious penalty from the Punj Piare, or the five Sikhs who are selected by the congregation to administer Sikh initiation.
There is no formal process set out in the Sikh faith for divorce and every effort must be taken to resolve marital issues and maintain the marriage. Couples can approach the congregation or Punj Piare to request their intervention and assistance to help overcome any serious conflicts. However, where extenuating circumstances exist such as abuse, continuing infidelity or a refusal to reconcile by one party, divorce may become unavoidable. In such cases, there is no religious divorce available, only a legal dissolution of the union. Divorce is considered a last resort and certainly not something that should occur in the ordinary course.