When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
– I Corinthians 13:11, NIV
Let’s get something straight…
A crushed “delicate flower” or a “bruised reed” does not have the energy to launch an adulterous campaign of deception and gas-lighting.
They are a puddle on the ground. Broken. With no more energy to make excuses and lie.
They are malleable humbly understanding they need help having reached their own limits.
If they are the adulterous spouse, they realize the futility of trying to control the narrative and fix themselves as they realized they have just failed spectacularly on both accounts. They know that the music has stopped, and they “got nothing.”
On the other hand, the real “bruised reed” or “crush flower” is the faithful spouse as they sit there gutted by the truth of their spouse’s contemptuous betrayal.
One look into their hollowed out eyes ought to make that obvious to anyone courageous and caring enough to see their bludgeoned and bleeding souls.
And let’s get another thing crystal clear:
The one who bruised or crushed the faithful spouse is the adulterous spouse.
The faithful spouses are the ones needing support, tenderness, and protection. And they are the ones who ought to be protected from further shame and blame as they are the innocent ones in this.
The faithful spouse did not commit adultery.
And they certainly did not cause it. The wickedness in the heart of the adulterous spouse caused the adultery as Jesus unequivocally taught (e.g. Mark 7:21).
Furthermore, treating an adulterous spouse as a “bruised reed” or “delicate daisy” is a great way to be the adulterous spouse’s stooge.*
When church leaders take action or inaction to protect the reputation of an adulterer/adulteress, they are helping them hide the truth and avoid making actual changes. In other words, church leaders are helping them avoid repenting of their sin.
Someone who is truly repentant owns their sinful actions and poor decisions. They realize a consequence of bad behavior means they will have to earn back the reputation destroyed by THEIR OWN behavior. Such people realize other people knowing the truth is not the problem. The problem is their sin.
If the adulterous spouse is more upset about people knowing than by what they did to their spouse, then such is a strong indicator that they are not truly repentant.
Someone walking in the light does not need the cover of shadows and darkness anymore.
*I’ve been reading Dr. George K. Simon in his book, Character Disturbance:The Phenomenon Of Our Age. His firm approach towards character disturbed individuals has influenced this post as well as his call to professional counselors to not treat everyone the same (see especially pages 36, 39-40, and 55-56 in his work). Also, he warns about how character disturbed individuals are good at manipulating even professional counselors.
**A version of this post ran previously.