Experiencing the adulterous betrayal of one’s spouse is bad enough. It is soul rape, after all. That pain alone is excruciating. A sucker punch to the gut that lingers for days, weeks, months…. It feels like your spouse disemboweled you and turned your world upside down with one awful adulterous revelation (let alone all that might follow).
The betrayal does not end there.
Like dropping a rock in a still pond, adultery sends ripples of betrayal through the whole community.
Now, the faithful spouse has to sort through friends and family in deciding who is safe or trustworthy. The negative side of this experience is what I am calling the “Betrayal Ripple Effect.” And it hurts.
You find out your mutual Christian “friends” of years or even decades are entertaining your cheating (ex) spouse as if nothing ever happened. Maybe they had him or her over for dinner? Perhaps they even welcomed the adultery partner, too? They may even defend this action with words suggesting there’s always two sides to a story or they want to stay friends with both parties regardless. Time to move on and not be “bitter.” Needless to say, I do not consider such behavior the sort of thing a true friend would do.
A true friend cares when their friend is wounded by another.
The pain of a friend matters to them.
They are far from nonchalant about the matter.
And if it is another friend who has caused this pain, they are quick to pressure that friend to make amends. They don’t turn a calloused blind eye to the wounded friend and pretend nothing ever happened.
That’s just cold.
Maybe I am just old school on this number.
But I am in good company in this. King David was old school as well. He declares his allegiance to God by writing:
Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
-Psalm 139:21, NIV
If our passions of righteous anger over a friend who was injured wrongly is not roused, then I suggest we never really loved this friend. Our heart connection is too shallow. King David understood this. He understood that his passions needed to be aligned with the passions of God including God’s righteous anger.
Do not forget: King David was called a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).
So, I encourage outside friends to grasp this.
It feels like a betrayal when the known adultery is treated as nothing and the relationship with the adulterous spouse is not altered accordingly because it is a betrayal. You are entertaining a liar who likely will continue to slander the faithful spouse. And you are supporting someone in their adulterous sin treating them as if they are in good standing with God and His people as opposed to exhorting him/her to repentance as Scripture teaches (see I Cor 5: 9-12). Not altering the relationship tells the faithful spouse that you do not care that the adulterous spouse raped his/her soul and have little regard to God’s mind on the matter.
“No big deal. (Yawn.) Please pass the potatoes.”
Also, what floors me in these scenarios is how these “friends” are okay with continuing a relationship with someone who has obviously been lying to them as well. In fact, the adulterous spouse may have used them to abuse or manipulate the faithful spouse. Does that not bother them? Are they really okay having been made party to adultery?
I suppose it is less bothersome if they have bought the lie that the faithful spouse deserved such treatment (see shared responsibility lie). But that is far from a Christian stance. If God did not let Adam or Eve get away with blaming each other and the Serpent (i.e. the Devil), I doubt God will accept such lame excuses years later. We are each fully responsible for our choices to sin.
That said, I understand it is hard to negotiate these waters after adultery discovery. But think how you would feel if your friend turned a blind eye to the perpetrator who violated you in such an intimate and humiliating way:
Would you trust or feel safe around such a friend? How would that feel to learn about the vacation they took with the perpetrator replete with photos? Wouldn’t you minimally question that friend’s level of empathy or compassion towards you? After being betrayed through deceit and adultery, wouldn’t you question if this friend was party to the lies as well?
The same works for faithful spouses.
When my friend hurts, I hurt. If they are assaulted, it is an assault on my own heart.
But perhaps, I am a dying breed of friend.
I know, though, I am not alone. And I hope for my sisters and brothers who have been betrayed our number increases. We need more of the kind who share God’s heart on these matters and are willing to stand up to evil instead of enabling it. The ripple effect needs to be ended with finality. It needs to break upon the rock of loyalty and righteousness.
May the number of men and women who are willing to stand up to unrighteousness increase. And may more be moved with the sort of deep passion that moved King David so many years ago.