Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—
this is God, whose dwelling is holy.
God places the lonely in families;
he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.
But he makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
-Psalm 68:5-6, NLT
“Broken” Home Shaming
I call it “Broken Home Shaming” because I notice how more traditional people may use the break up of the family and related statistics to guilt and shame the faithful spouse to stay within a marriage where adultery remains unaddressed. There are plenty of nasty statistics out there about children who grow up without both a father and mother.
Several points I want to make on this topic:
First, the home was broken by the adulterous behavior of the cheating spouse. Generally, Christians do not shame or blame spouses of convicts who divorced or separated from their spouses for attempting to murder them.
It is the same idea here for faithful spouses. Adultery risks the faithful spouse’s well-being on all levels including the physical–e.g. STD risk. It is neither just or kind to condemn someone for protecting themselves from an emotional, spiritual, and even existential threat to their very being.
Having a divorced parent is better than having a dead one.
Second, I believe in God’s goodness and justice. Applied to these situations, I believe in God who will look out for the children and support them as the Father (or Mother) to the Fatherless (or Motherless).
God gives us permission to divorce in situations where adultery is present (e.g. Jer 3:8, Mt 19:9). I just do not believe God would give us permission to do something that would condemn innocent parties–i.e. children of divorce–forever. That seems contrary to God’s nature.
Third, the alternative to divorcing an unfaithful spouse–i.e. “breaking” the home–is tolerating adultery (assuming the cheater is not repentant). Is that the sort of morality that a godly parent ought to model to his or her children? Do you want them to grow up either following this example or having contempt for you not standing up for yourself and godliness?
Personally, I think it is healthier for children in these situations to see a strong parent who makes it clear that he/she believes in marriage deal-breakers and Scripture that teaches such (e.g. Jeremiah 3:8).
Finally, God did not make keeping the family “intact” more important than the addressing of adultery. God commanded the “breaking” of families via the death penalty leveled at the adulterous in the Old Testament (see Deut. 22:22). And His Word is clear that God will not condemn the innocent for the sins of the wicked (e.g. Ezekiel 18:20).
If a church leader or anyone is shaming a faithful spouse for “breaking up” their family, then they fail to grasp these two basic Biblical principles regarding adultery. The priority is addressing the adultery, and sometimes even God thinks divorce is necessary to deal with that evil (see Jeremiah 3:8).
It is wicked to condemn or shame a faithful parent who decided to follow God’s example in refusing to tolerate adultery.