“Son of man, give your people this message: The righteous behavior of righteous people will not save them if they turn to sin, nor will the wicked behavior of wicked people destroy them if they repent and turn from their sins. When I tell righteous people that they will live, but then they sin, expecting their past righteousness to save them, then none of their righteous acts will be remembered. I will destroy them for their sins.”
– Ezekiel 33:12-13, NLT
I am concerned.
My concern extends to the counseling philosophy that instructs faithful spouses to become better husbands and wives without addressing the clear and present spiritual danger that ongoing deception and infidelity is presenting.
Do not get me wrong:
I think developing relationship skills and growing as a partner are worthwhile endeavors.
My concern is over “putting the cart before the horse.”
Personally, I think working on the faithful spouse while the infidelity remains unaddressed and unrepented sends the wrong signals spiritually. Working on a marriage one partner is actively destroying is foolhardy.
Particularly, focusing on the faithful spouse’s shortcomings as a partner reinforces “The Shared Responsibility Lie.”
Cheating spouses are sent the message that they were right all along–i.e. they cheated because of their spouses’ inadequacies. A pastor or counselor–i.e. a third party–has just confirmed this contempt-filled narrative to them. So, it must be true. Wrong!
This is extremely dangerous spiritually.
The pastor or Christian counselor is helping the adulterous spouse pack their bags to damnation, in my opinion (see Scripture quoted above). They do this by avoiding the needed confrontation of the unfaithful spouse and by refusing to exhorted this partner to repent of his/her adulterous ways.
The adulterous spouse cannot even engage in true repentance until he or she takes full responsibility for his or her sin. After all, how can we turn from a sin if we maintain it was someone else’s fault–even partially? We can’t.
Spiritually and pastorally, the priority must be repentance for the adulterous spouse.
Dealing with the faithful spouses’s shortcomings as a partner may need addressing. However, working on being a better husband or wife as a faithful spouse ought to only become part of the conversation after repentance from infidelity is addressed (and that to the satisfaction of the wronged partner).
After all, it makes no sense to work on a ship’s rigging while one partner is firing a canon into its bottom. Stop the partner from firing the canon into the marriage’s hull and patch the cannon ball holes first. Then you can turn your attention to the “rigging.” That is proper spiritual triage and not the other way around.