During my first marriage, my (now) ex and I attended counseling sessions from a variety of individuals. Some were okay and others were downright destructive.
Today’s post is about three charges I wished all those “Christian” therapists would have grasped and honored.
***I am speaking not as a therapist, but rather as a pastor and faithful spouse client who happens also to be privy to others’ awful experiences in offices of “Christian” therapists/pastors.***
1. Stop pushing the typical cheater “justifying” lies.
Whether that is promoting the lie that “bad marriages cause infidelity,” “The Shared Responsibility Lie,” or “Infidelity is a symptom of marriage issues,” it matters not. All are incredibly destructive.
All these lies obscure the fact that only the cheater has the power to prevent future instances of infidelity, because it was the cheater–not the other partner or even the marriage–who decided to commit adultery. You might let the cheater off the hook by buying and supporting these lies, but I assure God will not on the Judgment Day (e.g. 2 Corinthians 5:1o).
So, stop serving faithful spouses bowls from that turd stew! Those floaters might look like beef, but they ain’t. Like the lies that they represent, they will make the person who consumes them terribly sick.
Please, put the ladle down.
2. Take emotional affairs seriously.
This is a big one. If a spouse is confessing to cheating emotionally, it means this spouse broke his or her marriage vows. They are confessing to you that they did not “forsake all others” emotionally (minimally). This means you have a cheater who just admitted to sinning against his/her spouse, the victim of the sin.
That’s serious stuff!
And it is not fixed by suggesting the victim caused his or her own victimization–even if it is an emotional affair.
God is not going to interrogate our spouses and hold them responsible for the sins we committed against them. Rather, God holds us responsible for our own sins (e.g. 2 Corinthians 5:10). Emotional affairs are not an exception to this “rule.”
So, please, do not let the allure of the worldly philosophy that says emotional affairs are caused by marital deficiencies take you captive. Christians ought to know better:
Sin is not caused by circumstances but by sinners. And emotional affairs are sins.
3. Do not enable a cheater in abusing the faithful spouse further.
Please do not feed false hope. In my opinion, Christian counselors or pastors doing this are just as bad as Christian charlatans who insist dying family members will be healed or resurrected from the dead when that is not the case.
While I do believe God can miraculously heal people and even bring people back from the grave, I have never experienced–personally–a resurrection in real life among someone I knew or to whom I provided end of life spiritual care. It is not the norm. Resurrection is a miracle.
If a cheating spouse is not fully engaged in fixing the marriage that he or she so sinfully violated, then please tell the faithful spouse the truth–i.e. the marriage is un-fixable due to the cheaters decisions to choose sin over repentance. It is a tough truth. Like a piece of rough meat from the stew. However, ultimately, it is life-giving as it is truth as opposed to a lie.
I get that this is bad for business and incompatible for a “marriage saving” sort of “Christian” practice. However, a true Christian counseling practice offers truth even when it hurts its “marriage saving” image and the business’ bottom line.
At the end of the day, do you want to be part of the crowd Jesus interrogates for stringing along a faithful spouse and allowing blame-shifting plus gaslighting in your office?
Do you want to be part of the crowd that defended the faithful spouse by giving him/her the difficult truth that the cheater was not repenting?
I know there are some solid pastors and Christian therapists out there that get these points and live by them. It is my hope that such a tribe increases because faithful spouses need them and God expects His people to be speakers of truth always.