Yesterday, I had an interesting exchange with another pastor who raised a concern. He was wondering if my blogging is shaming for faithful spouses who choose to stay and restore their marriage with a cheater. I am writing today to address that concern. To be crystal clear:
My goal is NOT to shame faithful spouses who choose to stay after discovering infidelity.
I emphasize–in multiple places–on this blog that it is a choice for the faithful spouse to make either way without shame.
Choosing to stay is a valid choice.
God welcomed us-an adulterous people–back into His arms if we chose to repent and humbly accept His free gift of forgiveness (see I John 1:9 and I John 3:6).
That “if” is an important one.
This blog is subtitled: “Taking Adultery Seriously” for a good reason.
Taking an adulterous spouse back without true repentance does not make a faithful spouse “bad”–i.e. no shame there–but it may make one foolish.
This is coming from someone who wished I had had a wise pastor warn me more directly on these matters. So, I say this as a friend and a pastor:
It is foolish to reconcile/restore a marriage with a cheater who has not own his/her sin and repented fully of it.
I will not sugarcoat it. Cheaters cheat. Liars lie. You are dealing with all of this when dealing with a spouse who has been unfaithful. That needs to be your baseline assumption about their character until proven otherwise because they have already demonstrated by their actions that is how they will act.
So, the BIG question that needs to be answered is what has changed significantly to make the faithful spouse believe such demonstrated poor character has changed. And do others–professionally trained to examine such things–see this change as well.
This pastor and this blog will not tolerate rug-sweeping. I take adultery seriously. I will not call marriage reconciliation based on a lie–i.e. the adulterous sinner has repented when he/she has not–good.
It is not good!
It is just a setup for further heartache and soul rapes. I hear far too many stories of repeat performances by unfaithful spouses. These stories are usually preceded by stories of how the faithful spouse was unbiblically pressured, perhaps even shamed, into taking the unfaithful spouse back after the first time.
This is one pastor who refuses to do that to one more faithful spouse.
Plenty of books and websites exist out there for faithful spouses to find and use that will pat them on the back for not divorcing a cheater. Most of them are willing to overlook or shortchange the whole true repentance step for the cheater. I will not.
Faithful spouses are free to reconcile without shame.
But I exhort each faithful spouse who chooses to do so to be wise. Verify that the adulterous spouse has truly changed and repented. Because if you reconcile/restore the marriage without such change, you are being foolish and spiritually helping nobody.