Sharing only testimonies of reconciled and restored marriages following adultery…
feeds false hope in “reconciliation” for faithful spouses dealing with unrepentant cheaters.
Show of hands. How many here thought their marriage was going to “make it” and then you would have a testimony about marriage reconciliation to share with others?
I know I did.
The Christian culture I grew up in subtly and not so subtly had signaled to me that only those sort of testimonies were valuable. You know, the “Hallelujah! Yet Jesus brought us back together after all of that” sort of testimonies. They were the ones the pastors wanted to showcase on Sunday mornings, and they were the sort of testimonies that would garner the Christian crowds for marriage conferences.
A story of righteous divorce?!
My Christian community–like many others, I suspect–did not want to hear it. Divorce was shameful. To talk openly about one’s divorce and how adultery directly destroys marriages was not something I ever heard preached from the pulpit. At least not with detail.
Restored marriages? Yes.
Divorcing adulterous spouses? No.
My point in writing all of this is by way of explaining that a pressure still exists in evangelical Christian circles to “reconcile” marriages even without repentance. This pressure feeds into the already natural grief-induced delusions faithful spouses have that they can fix a marriage if only they try harder. That is a lie.
They cannot fix this because they cannot repent for their cheating spouse. The adulterous spouse must repent on his or her own. Only when that ingredient is present can Godly restoration occur.
In general, I have not seen much out there giving hope to the righteously divorced affirming them in their choices not to tolerate adultery.
It may not be explicitly stated, but the idea that one somehow let God down or am a second-class Christian for getting divorced is still very much alive in the evangelical Christian world. I know I felt it. In fact, I pretty much experienced it explicitly from an evangelical pastor in his own words to me.
This is another reason why sharing testimonies of righteously divorced Christians is important. It helps show a way forward and remind those adultery victims that God will not abandon them even if divorce happens.
It also helps them to approach their ravaged marriage with clearer heads. These testimonies of the righteously divorced suggest the Christian community–and God by extension–will be there for the faithful spouse even if that means the faithful spouse chooses divorce to deal with the cheating as God did (see Jeremiah 3:8).
The fear of loss community or being cut off from God diminishes and with that comes clarity. A faithful spouse is no longer worrying as much about God or the Christian community’s rejection. Instead, he or she can focus where such focus is needed–i.e. whether or not the cheater repents.
To change the Christian culture, we must change what we think is acceptable or unacceptable for Sunday mornings. We must push against the covert prejudices and reaffirm by example the truth.
God is supportive of a spouse who chooses to divorce an adulterous one.
It is past time the testimonies we share catch up with this ancient, Biblical truth!