Adulterers/adulteresses and their apologists say the cruelest of things:
“I still love you. It only happened once. We all make mistakes. Can’t we just pretend it didn’t happen?”
“It was only just one slip up. Why can’t you get past it?”
“He just had one bad night. Why are you so hung up on one instance of infidelity? Can’t you forgive and move on? I thought you are a Christian.”
Maybe you heard these words or a version of these words come out of your cheater’s mouth?
Perhaps, a well-meaning but horribly insensitive pastor said these things to you or another Christian trying to make the ugly uncomfortable truth go away.
All of this reminds me of an exchange from the movie “Silver Linings Playbook.” This movie follows the story of a man who was cheated on by his wife and exploded violently on her affair partner when he discovered him naked with his wife in the shower. The scene that comes to my mind from this movie is when Pat (the faithful spouse) is in therapy for his explosion. Dr. Cliff Patel is his therapist. Here is what they say:
Pat: My father is the explosion guy. I’m not that guy. He got kicked out of that stadium he beat up so many people at Eagles games, he’s on the exclusion list. I had one incident.
Dr. Cliff Patel: One incident can change a lifetime.
“One incident can change a lifetime.”
I wonder if that resonates with you as it does with me?
It is applicable to all sorts of situations even beyond adultery. And it is a reminder that some moments are weighed heavier in consequences than others. It is a sobering thought.
Pastorally, I am firm in the believe an act of adultery is one of those heavy consequence moments. You do not “just get over” an act of adultery (presuming that it only happened once and ignoring all the deception around it). It is like asking a rape victim why she isn’t over her rape because it only happened once. Adultery is soul rape. That’s the spiritual truth on the matter.
Once adultery has happened. The world is a different place for the faithful spouse. A wise pastor and a compassionate Christian would understand this.
Scripture does not say only kill the adulterer/adulteress if they’ve committed adultery more than once. It simply states, “If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel” (Deuteronomy 22:22, NIV).
Adultery is minimally one moment.
And yes, that moment does change lifetimes (plural).