“If you want to come back, O Israel,
you must really come back to me.
You must get rid of your stinking sin paraphernalia
and not wander away from me anymore.”
-Jeremiah 4:1 (from 1-2 block), THE MESSAGE
This verse comes on the heals of the chapter where God declares His divorce of Israel over her adulteries (see Jeremiah 3:8). Here we see God talking about the need for repentance. God is willing to forgive and restore the relationship…
God requires a true turning of Israel from her idols. He requires an end to Israel’s idolatrous adulteries. And He requires proof via action on the part of Israel.
Lip service is not enough.
They have to throw away their idols!
A godly reconciliation–i.e. marriage restoration–after infidelity discovery requires following this healthy boundary model. This is the sin qua non (without this nothing) of godly marriage restoration. Complete turning from the adultery partner (OM/OW) with actual, action-based evidence to prove it.
No more being Facebook friends with the OM/OW.
No keeping of lover’s gifts (or secrets from one’s spouse) with the OM/OW.
No more coffee visits or drinks after work with OM/OW.
In fact, it may be a good idea to actually find another job if the OM/OW is going to remain there. The adulterous partner needs to rid himself/herself of all connection, as far as possible, with their idolatrous, adulterous relationship–i.e. a sinful relationship that they prioritized over God and His clear command against it (e.g. Ex. 20:14).
A turning in deed is needed.
Evangelical pastors and elders–of all people–ought to stand firm in supporting this boundary for faithful spouses. In fact–I maintain–they ought to insist on it as part of providing sound Biblical counsel for couples dealing with a marriage violated by infidelity.
After all, if God required it regarding unfaithful Israel, why would we not want to follow God’s own example in a similar situation?
Reconciliation or marriage restoration at all costs is dangerous. It is dangerous because a real cost to such advice can be godliness. Further, it can cost the spiritual well-being of both partners (not to mention the emotional, physical, etc. well-being of the faithful spouse).
I say it can cost both partners spiritually when repentance is not prioritized over marriage restoration (following adultery) for good reason:
Without true repentance, the cheater may persist in sin to his/her damnation (e.g. Hebrews 10:26-27). For the adultery victim, he/she may find his/her image of God damaged because he/she is experiencing God as someone who tolerates the continued rape of his/her soul with apparent indifference, which is a lie.