It’s hard to read your blog, because you seem to be very bitter still, about everything to do with your marriage and it’s ending.
My husband is training to be a minister and we had been married for 9 years and in September 2014 I started to have an affair for just under 5 months (3 whilst living with my husband, 2 whilst separated), with our mutual best friend. I take full responsibility for the sin, and the fact that my decision and choice was wrong. It should not have happened in a million years. The devil had a field day but the choice was mine. I also became pregnant. (I am now 26 weeks)
I first told my husband 3 weeks after it started but was so consumed by it that it continued.
Then, just over 10 weeks ago, God moved hugely in my life. I felt conviction of the Holy Spirit like you wouldn’t believe. I realised the devil’s lies had convinced me that I didn’t love my husband when in fact that was so far from the truth. I had still been doing his washing, tidying the house etc, buying him bits and Bobs that he needed – all signs of still caring for and loving someone. I couldn’t ever fully abandon him. I cut off all contact with the other person and placed myself under the discipline and spiritual authority of the church leadership under a repentance process.
My husband, who had originally said that he would fight for our marriage and that he would never give up on me, had given up 8 weeks after I left him. Genuine repentance meant nothing to him. He had made his decision to divorce me before I repented. He has filed for divorce and only spoken to me twice about anything to do with ‘us’ – once to tell me he was divorcing me, and once to tell me he had filed the papers.
We have three children who are 8,3 and 1 and they are stuck in the middle knowing that mummy is truly sorry (they know I did wrong and that God has forgiven me for it – I don’t think there is anything wrong with them knowing that adults make mistakes too!) The main thing is that daddy told them he would have mummy back if she didn’t see the other person, and they can’t understand why that hasn’t meant our family can be together again because they know I’m not seeing or contacting him.
I love my husband so incredibly much, in a new way. God has taught me so much the past couple of months and I am a new person, a new creation and have been cleansed and redeemed by the blood of Jesus.
Is divorce really the first option? Reconciliation was not even tried I completely understand his hurt, anger and betrayal but am worried that he has rushed into a decision about a divorce when he is (in his own words), ‘close to the edge’ our family will be torn apart as a consequence of my sin, yet I do not feel God telling me to give up on our marriage. We are one.
If he has read your blog, and I’m sure he must have, he is following your seemingly embittered advice about spouses who are unrepentant and applied it to myself. The church leadership have no reason to doubt the sincerity of my repentance because it is genuine – the fruits are evident. There is nothing still hidden in my life – I do not want to devil to have any kind of foothold!
I just wonder if you have ever considered the other side… Is divorce with no attempt at reconciliation the right thing to do? Are marriages really decimated by one person? Is one spouse always perfect and the other horrendous? I have no doubt that your ex wife hurt and betrayed you deeply, but had you really never ever hurt her? (I’m really not condoning what she did I am more questioning you!)
Forgiveness bears fruit, just as repentance does. I wonder if you have been able to forgive your ex wife, because setting up a blog called divorce minister implies that you feel that is your identity. Actually, we are all sinners and God loves each and every one of us. He has forgiven your sins all the ones which are past and the ones in the future (and mine) ! He loves you so much and does not want your identity to be found in your divorce but in the life he has planned for you….
To say I am bitter and suggest I am unforgiving (among other things) is to attempt to discredit my voice and suggest what I say is not worth heeding because it is just too twisted and distorted by the author’s–i.e. my–alleged pain.
I suppose that is one way to handle disagreement:
Attack the person and not his/her arguments or reasoning. In philosophical circles, we call that a fallacy–or error in reasoning–the ad hominem (translated as “to the man”). That is to say this is not a healthy or wise way to deal with disagreement or discord.
As to why I write this blog, I write this blog because God has uniquely equipped and called me to do so. Part of the writing this blog is sharing my personal experiences with others so that they can learn as well as feel less alone. It has nothing to do with bitterness or where I am at on my forgiveness journey concerning my ex-wife. Sometimes it sounds bad because what happened was bad. And sometimes I sound angry because I have a righteous anger about adultery and lies. This is healthy. God is angry with the unrighteous as well (see Psalm 7:11, KJV).
Furthermore, few divorced pastors who were faithful spouses are brave enough to speak on these matters because to speak on them opens them up to such false charges as you level against me–i.e. you are bitter and unforgiving. The safer route for such a divorced, evangelical pastor is to crawl back into the shame cave and never speak of the whole affair again. Too many have done that and left the sheep shepherdless on these matters. I am unwilling to add to that number as many need to hear the message God has given me to share. And the shame is not mine to bear.
With those pieces clarified, let me tackle your questions:
Is divorce really the first option?
No, I do not consider divorce the first option in dealing with marital problems including infidelity. However, I am not afraid to counsel divorce when full repentance from adultery is not evident. Also, I do consider it permissible for your husband–as Christ gave your husband permission–to divorce you, an admitted adulteress (see Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9). It is completely up to your husband whether or not he wants to exercise this permission as granted by God. I am not going to try and take away that God-given option by saying shaming things about your husband for choosing it.
Some pastors might.
Permission is permission.
And let’s not miss that his choice to divorce you is very far from a “first option” response. You wrote that you had told your husband of your infidelity three weeks into your adulterous affair that lasted nearly five months. He did not actually file for divorce until eight weeks after your abandonment of him (three months later?). That is minimally eight weeks where he did not file in the face of your admittedly unrepentant adulterous ways. And if I understand what you wrote correctly, it is likely actually several months he held off from filing the papers while knowing of your treachery. That is not a first choice response to adultery. And calling it a first choice minimizes your betrayals of him over that extended period of time.
To be clear: a first response to your infidelity would have meant he filed the very day you told him you were having an affair with his (former?) best friend. He did not do that but held on to the marriage through your numerous betrayals of him during a significant period of time. You would do well to try and empathize with what you put him through during that long period of time.
….Is divorce with no attempt at reconciliation the right thing to do?
You abandoned your husband for months cheating on him with his (former?) best friend! It is hard to reconcile with someone who is running away and giving you the proverbial middle finger. That is what you did to your husband leaving him and sleeping with his (former?) best friend. Even so, I would not be surprised if your husband would have reconciled with you during the period prior to your abandonment or even in that eight week window if you had come back truly sorry. But that window is now closed. It does not mean it was always closed as your first question suggests.
And I will challenge you further on this point.
Remember, you chose numerous times to reject your husband and God over an extended period of time. You said, “No” to them. Your husband really is simply accepting your own poor choices here by filing for divorce. Yes, he is choosing divorce, but you chose to reject the marriage over and over again. I suspect Israel regretted their repeated adulterous choices to reject God and their covenant with Him when the Assyrians decimated them (see Jeremiah 3:8). But they chose against God and their choices had consequences.
Sometimes we regret the choices we make. However, our regret does not erase the consequences of those choices even if we are repentant and forgiven. King David still lost his first child by Bathsheba even though he was genuinely repentant and forgiven.
Are marriages really decimated by one person?
Marriages are decimated by one spouse all the time. One spouse can choose to walk away for whatever reason they want. In other words, if one party chooses to end the marriage filing for divorce, here in the USA that means the marriage is over legally (after a period of time determined by the local state). Absolutely, I would call that decimating the marriage by one party. This happens regularly.
And one spouse can choose to have sex with a third party raping the soul of his/her spouse. That does decimate the marriage unilaterally. God called adultery evil (see Deut. 22:22) and proscribed the death penalty for such behavior in the Old Testament. That is how seriously God considers adultery. Clearly, God sees this sin above all other sins in marriage as worthy of ending the union.
Thankfully, we do not put people to death these days over such behavior. But the principle remains that God did not put both parties–adulterous spouse and faithful spouse–to death for the adultery of one.* No shared responsibility there. And no sin inquest took place about the faithful spouse either in this decision or even when Jesus pardoned the woman at the well (see John 8).
Is one spouse always perfect and the other horrendous?
This question sets up a false dichotomy, which is another fallacy of reasoning. It is not a matter of either being perfect or either being horrendous. No one is perfect (Romans 3:23). So every spouse is sinful including the ones who remain faithful and married to their deaths.
The question is not over who is perfect and who is horrendous. It is over who was faithful or who wasn’t. In other words, it is a question over who committed marriage ending sin and who did not. All sins are not equal in their consequences and the devastation they cause. Our legal system understands this treating a murderer different than a motorist who speeds five miles above the speed limit. It is important we do not collapse such distinctions in dealing with adultery and say, an errant harsh word. Both are sins needing forgiveness, but both do not work the same level of relationship devastation.
I have no doubt that your ex wife hurt and betrayed you deeply, but had you really never ever hurt her? (I’m really not condoning what she did I am more questioning you!)
How your question is written implies that I deserved to have my ex-wife cheat on me. Nothing justifies it. I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt this time and chalk it up to your misunderstanding of me. See above for my comments regarding this ad hominem attack and the unforgiveness accusation.
Now, for some more general remarks:
Redeemed, I am very skeptical about the genuineness of your repentance. Your post suggests that you are acting from a place of entitlement by insisting or insinuating your husband owes it to you to not divorce. That is not humility. While your husband is called to forgive you, he is not required to stay married to you after what you have done in committing adultery for over four months (e.g. Deut. 22:22, Jer 3:8, Mt. 1:19, 5:32, and Mt 19:9). A repentant adulteress recognizes she deserves to be divorced by her husband that she contemptuously violated. That is just. She does not demand mercy and accepts it if she does not get mercy.
The language that you used erroneously suggesting divorce was “the first option” says to me that you don’t “get it.” The level of devastation and damage you did to your husband has not fully registered as I read your post. You are minimizing your own sin by suggesting your husband acted rashly and impulsively by choosing divorce eight weeks after you left him for his (former?) best friend! A truly repentant (read: humble and not-entitled) adulteress would recognize she deserved to be divorced the moment she chose adultery over her marriage vows. Any day divorce was not enacted by the faithful spouse is a gift of mercy to the adulterous spouse. Your husband gave you many of those days before he finally accepted your choice to abandon and reject him choosing adultery. I don’t hear any gratitude about that. What I hear is that he owed that to you and more. That’s entitlement.
Crying over him choosing divorce at this point is like foolish young man complaining about the consequences that befell him for choosing to sleep with an adulteress (see Proverbs 5:11-14). And it is like an embezzler crying over former clients refusing to trust him with their money after they learned he stole millions from them.
In other words, saying you are sorry does not erase the catastrophic damage you have already done. You are reaping what you sowed for nearly five months. It is tragic–I agree–but the real tragedy is that you selfishly and repeatedly chose adulterous sin over serving your community, your children, your husband, and your God.
Dragging the kids into this is especially awful. Were you thinking about them while cheating on their father and leaving him (and possibly them as well)? If you had, you might have chosen otherwise. Likely, you would not be in this situation of facing divorce if you had not cheated on your husband (their father!) for months and abandoned him.
You suggest your children are confused about why dad isn’t taking you back. It really is simple: You destroyed your marriage by choosing another man as a “boyfriend” and abandoning the husband of your youth. A repentant adulteress owns her choices and their effects even with the kids. She does not blame-shift the end of the marriage onto her faithful husband as if she had no direct hand in the sad state of affairs before her children. A humble and repentant adulteress lets the children know that she does not blame their father for not taking her back after what she did to him.
Finally, I understand you find my blog hard to read. Good. It ought to make someone like you uncomfortable. This blog’s tagline is “Taking Adultery Seriously,” and I mean it. You can find plenty of platforms out there–online, radio, and in print–that will turn a blind eye to incomplete repentance because they are more terrified of divorce than the damage done to faithful spouses and the damnation of the unrepentant’s soul. This is not one of those places.
I care too much to minimize adultery or its consequences.
But I understand if the truth is too much for you, this blog isn’t for everyone.
Servant of Christ,
PS Stay tuned for Mrs. DM’s response to Redeemed….
*Derek and Ruth Prince make this point in their book, God Is A Matchmaker on page 150. By the way, I don’t endorse all in this book, which has some rather unhelpful and rigid gender stereotypes in it. Here’s the full citation:
Prince, Derek and Ruth Prince. God Is A Matchmaker: Seven Biblical Principles for Finding Your Mate. Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen, 2011.