“How long will you defend the unjust
and show partiality to the wicked?
Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
-Psalm 82:2-4, NIV
It is not a level playing field when adultery is discovered. The adulterous spouse has access to all sort of information to which the faithful spouse has been denied. If knowledge is power as the saying go, the adulterous spouse has the power. They decide–for the most part–what they will or will not reveal to the spouse whose soul they have just raped.
This is why it is so important as Christian leaders to champion for the faithful spouse in these situations. They are weak and needy in the sense that their lives have been turned upside down, and they are not the ones with the power to set the marriage “right” (other than by divorcing and starting over).
In other words, putting pressure on faithful spouses to be “better” spouses in these situations is akin to defending the unjust. It truly is partiality to the wicked when “The Shared Responsibility Lie” is defended by Christian leaders. They are putting their power as leaders into the wrong side of the situation. The adulterous spouse is the one who needs to feel the heat and pressure. They need to discover humility, not so much the humiliated faithful spouse!
I remember from a DivorceCare session how one spouse often has prepared for the divorce well-before the other. This works for adultery as well. The adulterous spouse has had weeks, months, if not years to weave the web of treachery and develop ways to disconnect from the faithful spouses’ pain/heart.
The faithful spouse usually finds himself/herself out of breath from the sucker punch known as adultery discovery.
They are not playing with a full deck of information, and they are playing catch up discovering the true identity of their adulterous spouse plus trying to piece together the Swiss cheese narrative of their marriage. Faithful spouses are vulnerable in this time. Kicked to the floor. They do not need religious leaders landing more body blows.
What faithful spouses need in these moments are religious leader champions. People who will tell the the truth of the situation and apply pressure where/when needed on the adulterous spouse assuming he/she has not already fled the scene of their “crime” so to speak.
In Psalm 82, we see God instructing the rulers to look out for the vulnerable and powerless. This instruction is as pertinent today as it was then. We need more religious “rulers” willing to look out for the powerless–i.e. the faithful spouses and their children–and fewer doing the wicked’s bidding.