Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.” But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.
-I Corinthians 6:15-17, NLT
A spiritual trauma occurs when a partner commits adultery.
The cheater is forcing another soul into the oneness of the marriage union. This is against the explicit wishes of the faithful spouse. They gave their solemn vow to each other before God to “forsake all others.” Adultery is soul rape. That is the spiritual truth of the matter.
When divorce occurs, another spiritual trauma takes place.
I felt this most acutely when my spouse abandoned me and when the divorce was officially finalized. It was a dismemberment. The oneness of marriage was cut in two. And that bloody image is a fitting metaphor for how it felt emotionally and spiritually for me, at least. (Even though, I am now very thankful for the mercy of my divorce, which opened the way to new life and Mrs. DM.)
When it comes to healing from these traumas, I believe we have to start at naming and acknowledging them for what they are–i.e. spiritual traumas. They are soul rapes and dismemberments as Scripture teaches.
Naming the trauma makes it less scary. Also, it is reality affirming for the victims of such traumas. Something did happen. It was totally wicked and/or traumatic on the deepest level of one’s being. That is why the pain is so acute and difficult to ignore.
God knows faithful spouses have enough unknowns to deal with after infidelity discovery. They do not need more wishy-washy “support” from Christians who do not have the stomach to name what they have just experienced for the ugly thing it is.
Another important part of acknowledging adultery and divorce as spiritual traumas is to acknowledge the role pastors and chaplains have in bringing healing to the victims of such things.
I started Divorce Minister to such ends. My heart broke as I experienced–as well as observed–how pastors frequently abdicated this role handing it off to psychologists, therapists, and other professionals. Or worse, they added to the traumatic experiences teaching “The Shared Responsibility Lie”–i.e. both parties have some responsibility for the sin of adultery and the subsequent divorce–abusing texts to “save” marriages.
Spiritual wounds call for spiritual healers.
Pastors/chaplains are uniquely positioned to bring healing to such situation. We have the opportunity to support those who are asking the deep questions of making meaning out of life’s traumas. Humans are spiritual beings who long to know how to relate to God in the midst of such traumas especially. Pastors/chaplains are the ones who ought to be prepared to help in that special way.
I have nothing against good therapists, psychologists, or other health professionals. They have a role to play in the healing process as well. My point here is to remind us that pastors and chaplains have a role to play in that process as well. Adultery and divorce are spiritually wounding, after all.