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
Before 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!