I don’t want YOU to work it out…


“I don’t want you to work it out…

…if your adulterous spouse is unrepentant.

I simply do not.”

I wish more pastors would take this stance and verbalize it to their congregants. It is very Biblical (e.g. Jeremiah 3:8, Ezekiel 18:20, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Matthew 19:9, Hebrews 13:4, etc.). However, I am aware that for some pastors divorce always the greater “evil” and must be avoided at all costs.

Here at Divorce Minister: Taking Adultery Seriously I strongly encourage people not to stay in marriages where adultery is left unaddressed. To do so harms all parties.

It harms the cheating party as he or she must repent or face damnation as I see Scripture teach (e.g. 1 Cor 6:9-10).

It certainly does not help the faithful spouse.  He or she is put in an impossible position of trying to forgive and heal while someone continues to actively wound them through deception and–possibly–ongoing infidelity. Telling such individuals to forgive is like giving someone a sand bucket and telling them to dig a hole in the Pacific Ocean or be condemned.

It hurts the Church as it teaches toleration or minimization of evil plus ungodly reconciliation. Repentance is needed for godly restoration of a relationship (see post here). Without such repentance, the sin has to either be minimize or tolerated as “not that bad”–i.e. as to warrant divorce.

That is not how God views adultery! God neither tolerates or minimizes adultery. He labels it “evil” (see Deuteronomy 22:22) and divorces Israel over metaphorical adulteries (Jeremiah 3:8). Any teaching that does not take adultery this seriously is not aligned with God’s heart in the matter; ergo, it is a false teaching.

I would much rather faithful spouses defaulted to biblically divorce after adultery discovery than for them to experience more adultery discovery days later down the road–because repentance on the part of the unfaithful spouse was never really addressed.

What I hate seeing are faithful spouses accepting partial blame for their spouses’ infidelity–i.e. sin–and working hard to keep it all together while adulterous spouses simply continues down the road of destruction dragging their families with them.

I do not want a faithful spouse to work “it” out.

What I want to see is an adulterous spouse repent…then and only then is there a possibility of godly restoration in the marriage.

Even that restoration is not a given as Jesus is clear that a faithful spouse has permission–from God!–to divorce over sexual immorality (see Mt 5:32 and Mt 19:9). Regardless, we do no one a favor by encouraging a faithful spouse to work “it” out while the marriage killing sin of adultery is actively at work in both the adulterous spouse’s heart and in their marriage.

No, I do not want a faithful spouse to work “it” out.

I want a marriage healed miraculously only on God’s terms, and those put the burden squarely on the adulterous spouse’s shoulders to repent first. 

5 thoughts on “I don’t want YOU to work it out…”

  1. I’m in a strange position DM, because my Ex and I were never married in the eyes of the Church. We got married in a courthouse and the big Church wedding was always going to happen “Later”.
    My priests and my family never really encouraged me to reconcile and even though I did try, my Ex was completely unrepentant. It is a bit strange because most of my family sees my marriage as something that never happened. Now, I get to find myself a nice Catholic Boy and do it all right -that’s their point of view.
    For me, though, it is still very much real and my pain is quite large, but I feel like maybe God doesn’t care. Maybe he agrees with my family.

    1. divorceat25,

      I’m an ordained Protestant Minister; so, take that for what it is worth.

      However, I would definitely say that God cares about your pain and would support you in your grief over a marriage destroyed by your ex’s infidelity. Whether or not the Catholic church recognizes your marriage as valid sacramentally does not mean the marriage never took place. You were married before a judge. God gives judges power on this earth including to marry (and divorce). It took place, and so, you had every right to expect your ex keep his vows to you spoken before an earthly judge.

      I guess I just want you to know–from my perspective–that you have every right to grieve the losses and feel the pain. Further, I want you to know as a Christian leader that God is right there with you in your tears. He is ever close to the broken-hearted. God does care! At least, my God cares…and I suspect we serve the same God even if we are in different branches of His Church.

      Pastor David

  2. Thank you for taking the time to reply, I really appreciate your kindness.

    Maybe, I misrepresented my family’s views a bit. I have been told that “we were never really married” but I think that this comes mostly out of their relief. As Catholics don’t divorce, if my Ex and I had received the sacrament, I would have remained married to him forever (or tried to get an annulment, which would have been unlikely). It is just that when my relatives address me like that, and when I talked to my priest, it did sound like they were belittling my pain. They probably meant for that thought to be comforting to me, and in some ways it is.

    I don’t think that God doesn’t care about my pain, for I know He cares about all of His children. I’m just confused sometimes. It feels like I only grieve my marriage because I lack faith. Like if only I had more faith and completely abandoned myself to God’s will, then I wouldn’t have anything to mourn and I wouldn’t be afraid of anything.

    I’m most grateful in this process because I have strengthened by relationship with God and the Church, but it has been very difficult for me. I often don’t feel worthy. I feel like I have too many doubts and not enough passion and faith.

    1. We grieve what we value and in what we’ve been invested. Faith has nothing to do with such matters. You cared about your marriage–clearly–and you NEED to grieve its ending. That is a healthy response to loss. It is a heart matter and not a head matter. There’s no shame in grieving its ending, IMO.

      A Catholic Priest from my old workplace would say: “Don’t ‘should’ on yourself.” “I SHOULD have more faith” so that I wouldn’t feel this bad, etc. That is “should”-ing on yourself.

      Be kind to yourself. Mourning the end of your marriage is completely healthy and normal. “Should”-ing on yourself is simply shutting down that process and taking away permission to go through it. You have every right to mourn its ending.

    2. @25, grief is not an indicator of lack of faith. I’ve had that voice in my head before. I’ve felt like I missed some important memo that everyone else got. I’ve been mad at God. Having faith in God doesn’t mean we won’t have anything to grieve or struggles to overcome. God is there with us through it, sometimes we feel his presence strongly, other times not. Doubt is okay. Use it to help you find your peace, whatever that looks like. I think you might find some pieces of Micah’s blog helpful.

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