Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
-John 8:31-32, NKJV
Much of my intense emotions and stridency surrounding my ex-wife cheating on and abandoning me came down to a struggle to believe and hold onto the ugly truth. In some ways, it was a fight for my own sanity.
-That did happen.
-Such actions were utterly cruel and premeditated evil.
-No justification exists that makes it okay.
-I am not to blame for her sin in any way–whatever others my imply or even say.
We can “know” the truth in our heads. The facts can even stare us in the face. However, the freedom does not come until we hold firmly onto that truth–i.e. we must believe.
This is hard to do.
Internally, I did not want to believe the woman I married was capable of–let alone did–the sort of things she did in ending our marriage. Even with solid evidence in front of me indicating sexual infidelity, I wanted to believe it was “only” an emotional affair. And too many religious people pushed me to believe that lie.
Internally, I wanted to believe “The Shared Responsibility Lie” that I could have done something to have changed how things ended. I did not want to sit in the uncomfortable truth that I did not have any control over my (ex) wife’s choices to reject me and God in ending our marriage via adultery.
Internally, I was furious with the part of myself that believed her lying narrative. This is why–in part–I pushed so hard against those who supported the lies–e.g. I was to blame in part. The external struggle was a manifestation of my inward struggle to believe and hold fast to the truth.
Freedom comes with believing or holding fast to the hard truths.
-Nobody likes to be played.
-Nobody likes to have their life torn to shreds.
-Nobody likes to be betrayed.
All three happens to a faithful partner when a spouse commits adultery. These three and more make it hard to accept the ugly truth.
The faithful spouse is reeling from the revelation, and all the grief that comes with such an awful discovery. This makes them vulnerable during this time. We need good and true friends to support us in believing these hard truths. People who will remind us that we did see what we saw and she/he did do what she/he did.
As a reader here–shout out to Loren–has pointed out, the cheating spouse is now our adversary and not our friend! That is another awful, ugly truth we need to grasp and believe for our own well-being. The longer we refuse to believe this truth, the longer we remain vulnerable to the cheater’s manipulations and potential abuse (e.g. financial, etc.).
Grasping the truth frees us:
- Knowing and believing that adultery is soul rape –and we are adultery victims–makes us less tolerate of other Christians minimizing what happened to us and helps us understand why we are in such excruciating emotional, spiritual pain. It both helps us make sense of our new sucktacular reality while gives us a footing to fight back–if only internally–against those who would minimize what we have just survived.
- Knowing and believing that we were not responsible in any way for our spouse’s infidelity frees us from embarking on the marital “Sin Quest” other ignorant Christians–even pastors and counselors–might push us to undertake. Yes, it means embracing our vulnerability and powerlessness, which is hard. But it also means we are equipped to reject those lying voices who are telling us–externally and internally–that we were the authors of our own abuse–i.e. soul rape.
- Knowing and believing that we were not responsible in any way for our spouse’s infidelity frees us from foolishly wasting time on unilaterally saving the marriage. (That is impossible, by the way.) It helps us realize the problem is not internal to us but external. Our marriage skills–however poor–did not cause this. The cheater’s lack of character did. Such a problem cannot be fixed by working on ourselves or developing better communication skills. This is a cheater sin problem and not a symptom of the faithful spouse’s deficiencies. It only gets fixed through the cheater repenting and working on himself/herself–and that is assuming a faithful spouse is willing to extend grace to the cheater by sticking around.
- Knowing and believing that adultery is never acceptable or justifiable brings peace. We do not have to defend ourselves any more, because we know the truth and those who are unwilling to accept this truth have declared their allegiance to the Kingdom of Lies thereby. Sometimes–depending on the relationship–it might be worth pointing out such an allegiance. However, we can walk in the truth and peace knowing whatever flaws and sins we brought into our marriage could never justify our (former) spouse choosing adultery.
- Knowing and believing that God accepts divorce for faithful spouses in situations of adultery–for example–frees us from spiritual shame and guilt trips. God is a divorcee, too (see Jeremiah 3:8). He does not expect His followers to tolerate adultery either (e.g. Deut. 22:22). If God is not ashamed to divorce adulterous Israel (Jer. 3:8), why ought any of His followers feel ashamed of divorcing a cheating spouse?! This truth arms us to reject the religious shaming that is not ours to bear.
The truth does set us free. However, we need to believe and walk in the truth in order to experience that freedom. Hearing and seeing is not enough. We must abide in the truth, even and especially, when that truth is hard to accept.