I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.
-Philippians 3:12, NLT
Faithful spouses are not without their moral or relational flaws. I know I was and am not perfect. We all sin, and that “all” encompasses currently married people, too (Romans 3:23).
So, it is not a matter of whether or not a spouse has sinned or sins.
It is a matter of whether or not God considers such sin a marriage-killer.
Adultery is a marriage killer (e.g. Deut. 22:22, Jer. 3:8, Mt. 19:9).
Abandonment by an unbelieving spouse is as well (see I Corinthians 7:15).
I want to be clear that I am not saying faithful spouses are necessarily paragons of virtue. While on one hand, some of us might be. Yet on the other hand, some of us might have been difficult people with which to live. I get that.
Regardless of our skills as spouses, we are still worthy of fidelity.
It is not unreasonable to expect a spouse to keep their marriage vow of “forsaking all others until death do us part.”
One thing I do not get is how pastors and Christians leaders jump from imperfection to saying we caused our abandonment via divorce or soul rape–i.e. the adultery committed against us.
It does not follow.
Let me illustrate the disconnect via analogy:
“She called me a name” does not give someone permission to punch a woman in the face or stab her with a knife.
It is wrong to call people names. Sure. However, the choice to respond with violence remains fully the assailant’s responsibility.
We do not put people in jail here in the USA for name-calling. However, we do put people in jail for attempted murder regularly.
This basic understanding of justice and responsibility seems to go out the door when considering marriage issues and divorce.
A wife may have said things that were disrespectful about her husband. That still does not give him permission to cheat.
Likewise, a husband may have withdrawn from his wife emotionally in fights. That still does not give her permission to bang another dude.
I am a firm believer that we all can grow in our relationship skills. Also, I believe God is not done with our sanctification process until we die. Faithful spouses can learn better relationship skills, of course.
But do not make a category error treating all marital sin as equal as far as its consequences regarding a marriage. God does not. Nor ought we.