A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
and favor is better than silver or gold. – Proverbs 22:1, ESV
As Christmas is just around the corner, I am encouraging all faithful spouses to reclaim their good name as a holiday “gift.” I am weary and righteously angry at a world where image protection for adulterers and adulteresses means putting further costs upon the faithful spouses and their families.
It is not the job of the faithful spouse or church leaders to protect the image of the adulterous spouse. If the adulterous spouse was truly concerned about their good name, then they ought to have behaved differently. It’s a little late to worry about it after the fact of committing adultery. “The cats out of the bag” as they say. Bad deeds reflecting badly on one’s reputation. It’s a natural consequence. Now is the time for repentance and honest rebuilding of one’s reputation by actions.
Lying by commission (i.e. they’re marriage is in trouble for unknown reasons when adultery is known) or by omission (i.e. letting people assume the faithful spouse is to blame for the very public troubled marriage) is not becoming of Church leaders claiming Christ’s name. The job of the church is to encourage godliness, which starts by encouraging repentance in this case. Don’t hide the evil deeds, expose them so that true healing can begin.
A person with a truly good name has the character to back it up. It isn’t just another lie or false front. No PR firm is needed. Their life and deeds speak for themselves. They have character.
So, this Christmas, I encourage faithful spouses not to accept the whole narrative of “we grew apart” or “we had irreconcilable differences” when adultery actually took place.* Divorce ought not to be a mark of failure for the faithful spouse but rather a mark of righteousness (see link here). It says evil is not tolerated, and sin has consequences.
Faithful spouses have a good name. They survived the most awful trauma of any human relationship and are still here by God’s grace. And they did not commit adultery either.
They were faithful!
Now, that’s a good name.
*While I do not recommend launching a punitive campaign (e.g. putting up a billboard with the ex’s name and the deed), I do think it is appropriate to share what the cheating spouse did if asked about one’s well-being/divorce or if one needs support. The shame is not the faithful spouse’s to bear. And I would add that I think it is noble (though, not demanded of faithful spouses) to explore if true repentance is even in the realm of possibilities before choosing divorce. Divorce is costly but may be the lesser of two evils where unrepentant adultery makes a repeat performance later more likely.