“In those days people will no longer say,
‘The parents have eaten sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’
Instead, everyone will die for their own sin; whoever eats sour grapes—their own teeth will be set on edge.”
-Jeremiah 31:29-30, NIV
I open with this passage to remind us of God’s idea of a just realm. Such a place is where people are responsible for their own decisions and actions. This is the realm God’s people are to inhabit and the ideal that they are to seek.
Don’t fall for this one, pastors and Christian therapists:
Cheater Play: Admits to an emotional affair only to flip the situation around to a complain-fest about the victim spouse‘s “flaws” or the marriage’s “issues” that caused them to cheat emotionally.
If one has read any of the literature about cheating and repairing marriages post-infidelity, one has encountered the school of thought that treats emotional affairs as nothing more than an indicator or a symptom of deficiencies in the marriage. Please do not fall for this ungodly counsel! Affairs are not symptoms but sin.
The emotionally unfaithful spouse has stolen intimacy that rightfully belonged to the spouse who has been wronged!
A theft has taken place. The thief–i.e. the cheater–may even freely admit to said theft. It is adding injustice to injury by then turning on the victim of said theft to discuss how he or she deserved being robbed!
Pointing to circumstances–whether true or not–does not excuse the theft. People leave their homes unlocked all the time. It does not mean they deserve to be robbed of their most precious belongings.
Same goes for a marriage ravaged by emotional cheating:
Whatever the circumstances of the marriage, the faithful spouse does not deserve to be robbed of what is his or her by virtue of the vows the cheater freely made with the faithful spouse and God.
The faithful spouse is not responsible for being sinned against by the cheater. Not even partially. The faithful spouse is not the one who cheated; rather, it was the other spouse.
Sound pastoral care in such matters does not focus upon the marriage circumstances as if the circumstances caused the sin as opposed to the actual sinner. Sound pastoral care focuses on the wrongdoer helping him or her take responsibility so that he or she does not become a repeat or worse offender.
The emotional cheater needs to be in the hot seat and not the other spouse!
This is not about what the faithful spouse failed to give to the cheater that “led her/him to stray.”
It is about what lies the cheater believed to make it “okay” to steal intimacy (and possibly more) from his or her spouse.
This is not about the faithful spouse winning back the cheater’s heart and trust.
It is about the cheater pursuing the faithful spouse they wronged and rebuilding the trust they destroyed by cheating emotionally.
This is not about the “tough” life circumstances of the cheater.
It is about the cheater’s sinful response and learning that such a response is truly inexcusable.
Faithful spouses are not responsible for being sinned against by their cheaters. The unfaithful spouse bears full responsibility for cheating–even if it is “only” emotional cheating. Don’t let them fool you by making this about someone or something else than their sinful choices and actions.
An emotional affair means a theft of precious intimacy and trust has taken place. Please do not take such a confession by a cheater to mean that it is time to talk about how their victim “deserved it.”