Is Telling Unforgiving?


A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”

-John 21:17, NIV

Is it unforgiving to tell people that your marriage ended because of your ex’s adultery?

Some people would say, “Yes.”

“Forgive and forget” seem to be this crowd’s motto.

However, I do not agree.

Was God unforgiving towards the Apostle Peter because He allowed the above verse to be included forever in Scripture? 

Peter denied Christ. And here in the verse quoted above, we see Jesus restoring Peter. Just because Peter is forgiven and restored does not mean Scripture is silent about his original failure. His sinful failure in denying Christ is forever etched in our Bible. Clearly, forgiving does not mean forgetting or pretending something did not happen.

Now, one can tell in a way that is unforgiving. This is the sort of oversharing designed to punish the cheating spouse. The purpose is not simply to be honest about the situation but to inflict pain. That is unforgiving.

Revenge is the Lord’s to dish out and not ours (see Romans 12:19).

However, I believe sharing the basic historical facts is far from unforgiving. In fact, I think it is cruel to treat faithful spouses as if they must remain silent about the fact of their adulterous victimization as if it is their shame to bear.

This is important to keep in mind when negotiating Christian community. This community seems especially squeamish about accepting that adultery victims exist and not to blame for it. Stating facts has nothing to do about forgiveness–or the lack thereof–and everything to do with recounting an accurate history.

It is hard, though.

Even writing this post, I feel the tug not to say my ex-wife committed adultery (even though, I have a written admission from her confirming the fact of her sexual infidelity). It is an uncomfortable truth. Yet it is a historical truth even if it is an ugly one.

I am not interested, at this point, in punishing my ex-wife. That is not why I speak this truth. I have forgiven her. I share my story to help others. And I share my story because it is just that my story.

Also, I am not interested in taking the moral hit for a marriage she destroyed by her adulterous choices and willful abandonment. The shame of my first marriage ending is not mine to bear. God does not blame faithful spouses at all for such divorces.

So, I see no problem in being honest about the historical facts regarding a marriage’s end. It is not unforgiving. It is a historical accurate recounting of what happened in the eyes of God. Adultery (and lies) destroyed the marriage.

Besides, it is past time the Church stopped shaming adultery victims for sharing their stories of survival.


2 thoughts on “Is Telling Unforgiving?”

  1. Thank you for this, pastor. As I move into the realm of my new “normal” world, many old and new friends are curious about my singleness. How can I state who I truly am… Newly divorced after a 36 year marriage that wasn’t my desire at the time. I am now at peace with it, but many of those who I meet are curious. I am in a new community of mostly married people and I do not want to trash my ex, but want my new friends to understand a little bit where I come from.

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