Common (False) Narratives Need Correcting!


Church ought to be a place where adultery victims can come to find support and comfort.

Sadly, it often is quite the opposite.

It is hard to admit to another Christian that you have been cheated on, discarded, and divorced by your spouse.

This difficulty arises because two deeply entrenched narratives too frequently follow that assign blame to you, the victim:

If you are a man, the narrative is about how you must have neglected your wife emotionally for her to fall for another man. You must have worked too much or were simply just too difficult to live with in the end. She found someone else who “poured into her.” I heard this line of thinking more than once.

For faithful spouses who are women, the attack usually comes along the lines of sex. Either you did not “take care of” yourself, or you neglected your sex life with him. That is why he ran into the arms of the Other Woman. This sort of assumptive narrative is revealed in the advice given to “fix” the marriage where women are told to buy sexy lingerie and initiate more sex the cheater.

These narratives of false causation–i.e. emotional inattentiveness or sex frigidity cause cheating–are reinforced by the evangelical marriage-proofing industry. This industry encourages couples to develop good communication skills and attend to their sex lives.

However, I have yet attended such a seminar that warned the absence of good listening or a good sex life is no excuse to cheat or discard a Christian spouse. You are still responsible to God and your spouse for keeping your vows to “forsake all others.”

To be clear, I think every marriage can benefit from working on communication skills and jazzing up marital sex. However, I have attended enough evangelical Christian marriage/pre-marital seminars and read enough marriage books to understand how easy it is to draw the inference from those teachings that a dull/nonexistent marital sex life or poor emotional intimacy is what causes infidelity and divorce.

Such an inference is a lie.

Scripture teaches us that sin–and both marital infidelity and unbiblical divorce are sins–comes from the heart of the sinner alone (e.g. Mark 7:21-23, James 1:13-15, etc). Sin is not caused by the poor quality of a human relationship whether sexual or emotional in nature.

By all means, work on communication, emotional closeness, and sexual vibrancy in Christian marriages. But do so understanding that these aspects do not make the marriage immune to destruction via infidelity and abandonment. Only the character and integrity of both marriage partners can do that–i.e. where both spouses have decided and have acted to keep their vows before God and fellow “man.”

4 thoughts on “Common (False) Narratives Need Correcting!”

  1. You are so right, Divorce Minister. I feel like I actually rewarded my husband for cheating on me by doing the things that were suggested to “save my marriage” . Meanwhile, he became even more of a liar and cheater. Bleh.

  2. At a time when my ex-husband and I were married, a few years before the divorce, he was emotionally and sometimes physically abusive to me. Another man came into my workplace, and started paying a lot of attention to me. I was very flattered by the attention but I would never have had any type of affair with this man. It made me realize what was missing in my marriage: love, kindness and respect from my husband. I tried to repair my marriage by telling my husband how unloved and disrespected I felt and begged him to show me love and kindness. He refused. About a year later, I found the evidence of HIS affair, which he denied, telling me I was crazy.

  3. Hmmm. I had more sex with my unfaithful ex. I ended finding out I have HPV. I’ll never know when I got that. But, I don’t think more sex with a cheater was such a great idea for my health.

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