How Long Will You Mourn Over The Adulterous Spouse?

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” -I Samuel 16:1, NIV

IMG_2399.JPGBefore I met Mrs. DM and after I was officially divorced, I remember God whispering into my heart. “She did not reject you; I alone have rejected her for you. She is not worthy to be your partner for what I have for you.”  It was a balm to my heart to know God was far from done with me and my future. My ex-wife may have rejected me, but God was well-pleased in my faithfulness to Him.

He honors fidelity.

One regret I have from this season of my life–i.e. between adultery discovery and dating Mrs. DM–is how long I mourned and pined to not be divorced from my first spouse. That said, I do not regret giving her multiple chances to choose life over sinful rebellion repenting of adultery and choosing to revive the marriage. However, I do regret internalizing false religious messages that I was to blame (in any way) for her cheating on and divorcing me. It caused a great deal of unnecessary suffering for me to dwell and long for life to be otherwise.

I wished someone had given me some commonsense advice as I struggled about the marriage’s end. And it needed to be unwavering advice. Advice that told me that she had to work hard to earn a way back into the marriage after her infidelity and abandonment (I take this from Dr. Phil’s article on infidelity here). It was on her (and by parallel, on any adulterous spouse) to demonstrate repentance for the marriage to avoid divorce after adultery.

When adultery takes place, it is no longer a matter of you demonstrating your “worthiness” to keep the adulterous spouse. No, the burden of proof is upon the adulterous spouse to demonstrate an end to the sinful behavior and habits leading to such behavior. Anyone who counsels otherwise is setting up the faithful spouse for future heartache and possible future, multiple adultery discovery days. Demonstrated repentance showing a change in character is necessary for a faithful spouse to be safe in staying in a marriage ravaged by adultery. And it is Biblical to expect this (i.e. true repentance from sin).

Armed with this solid advice about the burden of proof, I think I would have been able to move on faster. I would have been able to internalize the words whispered to me by God more quickly. And this advice would have armed me to stiff-arm those religious people who would have liked me to take responsibility for restoring the marriage or tried to subtly shame me for the divorce:

Um, no. I am not responsible for another person’s sin. It is not my job in any way to repent for her abandonment of me and adultery. It saddens me to hear you side with Satan in his lies about this matter. I do not receive this. And I hope you will choose godliness in the future instead of blaming a faithful spouse for the adulterous spouse’s sin.

Yes, I am a divorced pastor. I was divorced by a spouse who was unfaithful to me. God chose divorce in the face of adultery as well; so, I am in good company.

The shame of divorce or adultery is not ours to own as faithful spouses. In this holiday season, I encourage all to remember that. And remember that God sometimes rejects those who choose sin over obedience.

Obviously, it turned out well for me. My ex drop my last name, and God found a worthy partner for me in Mrs. DM!

2 thoughts on “How Long Will You Mourn Over The Adulterous Spouse?”

  1. Thank you, Rev. David, for this blog and these cogent observations! You’ve rightly identified the mushiness of popular mantras that are endlessly passed around as part of Christian and para-church counseling re: adultery and divorce.

    The episode you cited about Saul’s rejection of God (and I always notice that at this point Saul actually asks Samuel to go through the motions and make amends for his sin with “your God” – not “our God”) and the LORD’S reproof to Samuel concerning his prolonged grief over Saul hits a tender – and sometimes sore – spot with me.

    You are correct to clarify the difference between necessary sorrow over the broken vows, lost innocence, marred family relationships and – most profoundly – the reproach this brings to the name and household of our Savior AND this vague, unending sadness that keeps the stigma hanging over the faithful (now ex-) spouse.

    I was one who tried to “make it work” for years while the actions of my spouse clearly contradicted his words – to the point of blindly enabling adultery and permitting hypocrisy to become an element of our family’s life. (It’s delicate being the wife with children to protect/launch and not the husband in charge.). For my silence I was “rewarded” with opportunities to participate and lead in church ministries, included in the “in crowd,” and my opinions were given fair consideration.

    After I took my stand and actually filed for divorce, the shift in public/church opinion was palpable and doors were shut. Not that I was interested during the divorcing years in losing myself in ministry, but it would have been nice to find more support than prohibitions based on a legalistic “you filed for divorce, therefore you can’t … “. (I may be wrong, but my experience tells me that a woman divorcing her husband for legitimate reason bothers conservative Christians more than a man divorcing his wife for any reason.). It’s certainly made it more difficult to recover from my ex-husband’s foolishness and find a sense of security in the fellowship of believers.

    I “get” Samuel’s sorrow and I understand why it took a word from the Lord to conclude prolonged time in that valley. Maybe we shouldn’t be too regretful about the “down” times…deep wounds don’t heal overnight and the time it takes one to mourn is relative to the depth of loving care for the lost soul. It certainly represents a sincere heart that longed for God’s best. Thanks for sharing God’s “snap out of it!” insight! Very necessary. 🙂

    1. pjworld510,

      Whether the unbiblical divorce prejudice is worse for male filers or female files is an open question. I can say from a male’s perspective that I wasn’t treated very kindly either (yes, my ex-filed but she seemed to be protected and supported in all of this WHILE COMMITTING ADULTERY!). We are a long way from treating faithful spouses the way God wants faithful spouses to be treated in His Bride, the Church.

      Glad you found your way here! Thank you for your kind words.


      PS I agree too that the wounds do not heal overnight. Grief can be a lifelong process. I believe God is patient and kind with us while we grieve however long it may take. That’s the sort of Person God is.

Comments are closed.