Mailbag: Keep Praying Or Let Him Go?


Confused wrote,

In my case, no papers have been filed but we’re on our 3rd separation and this time my husband says that he knows 100% he wants a divorce. It’s clear that he’s had emotional affairs or at the very least has been having inappropriate friendships with other women. I’ve only known about these flirtations for about a year and I have repeatedly asked him to stop. Partly through accident and partly through snooping, i discovered that he was going to erotic massage parlors (he denies any sexual contact and says he really only got appropriate massages during his lunch breaks as this place is down the street from his work); he was going to lunches and dinners with groups of women at work, including the woman he told me had developed feelings for though he also denied they ever were together alone and that he never told her how he felt; and the straw that broke the camels back is that he told me he was working late and I found out that he went to a concert with another woman from work. In all cases he continues to deny ever having physical affairs and I’m not sure what to believe. Part of me wants to know if the infidelities were physical or if they stopped at just emotional. He’s lied so much even in the face of evidence about other things and I’m not sure what the truth is.

I went to church for counseling and guidance on several issues. I was told that I was looking for justifications to divorce my husband instead of praying for him. I’m a believer and he is not. I was willing to stay with him even though we are unevenly yoked as I was told repeatedly by church that this is what happens when a believer marries a non-believer. But he’s left our home and through a year of me asking him to break off all inappropriate friendships with other women, he still hasn’t and has no wish to. He says he just wants to be happy now and wants me to move on and heal. I get so confused as to whether I should be praying for my prodigal to return or if it’s okay for me consider letting go because he’s not shown any remorse. And with the extent of lying I’m not sure I could ever trust him again. Forgive him of course. But trust? I doubt it.


Dear Confused,

First, I want to thank you for sharing your story and writing into Divorce Minister. I am honored that you would want to read my perspective on your situation.

My heart goes out to you as what you described must be incredibly painful and lonely as an experience. By coming here, I hope you find some spiritual support and encouragement from all who visit sharing similar experiences.

Let me begin my response by laying out a pertinent Scripture:

But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. – I Corinthians 7:15, KJV

Your current husband is both an unbelieving spouse and has physically departed (for the third time!). The clear Biblical teaching here is to allow the ending of your marriage via divorce. And if that is not enough, you have solid evidence of an emotional, romantic affair, minimally, that strongly suggests a divorce is allowed under Jesus’ provision for such as that is a sexual violation of the marriage broadly speaking (see the exception for “porneia” in Mt. 5:32 and Mt 19:9).

Also, by the way, I would certainly consider visits to an erotic message parlor for services as engaging in sexual immorality–i.e. the translation of “porneia.”

How your church counseled you makes me angry! So, let me attempt to correct their pastoral epic fail:

I went to church for counseling and guidance on several issues. I was told that I was looking for justifications to divorce my husband instead of praying for him.

Talk about minimization of your pain and the violations of your marriage! This sort of response says to me that your church counselors takes divorce as more problematic than adultery or infidelity. That is not a Biblical stance

Shaming someone who has legitimate grounds for divorce is downright cruel. You came to them asking for spiritual counsel regarding your situation. They refused to offer what God offers in the Bible for infidelity victims like yourself. Instead of mercy, they offered heaping portions of guilt-tripping and shame!

And it only gets worse…

I’m a believer and he is not. I was willing to stay with him even though we are unevenly yoked as I was told repeatedly by church that this is what happens when a believer marries a non-believer.

This really makes me angry!

So, this church teaches that non-believers are inherently cheaters?! Apparently, so. What a lie! It is absolutely disgusting.

You do not have to be a Christian to be a person of integrity and character. Plenty of non-Christians remain faithful for life in their marriages. In fact, you can find non-Christians whose demonstration of character and integrity puts many Christians to shame.

Conversely, being an avowed Christian does not protect a marriage from infidelity. Plenty of professing Christians have cheated on their spouses because they lacked integrity and character. I am a living example of someone who married an avowed Christian yet was still a victim of her infidelity.

Infidelity is not a faith problem. It is a character deficiency problem.

All faiths have people in that camp, I am convinced.

If that is not bad enough, it seems your church counselors are treating your trauma as your “due punishment” for marrying a non-believer. I find that disgusting as well. Once again, they tend blame as oppose to extend mercy to you.

I do not care what someone did. No one deserves to be treated with such contempt as your husband has treated you by being unfaithful. 

Finally, it sounds to me like you have already made your decision about the fate of your marriage:

And with the extent of lying I’m not sure I could ever trust him again. Forgive him of course. But trust? I doubt it.

What you seem to be asking in the message is whether or not it is okay to let go of the marriage. The answer to that is an emphatic “Yes!” as the Apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 7:15.

In fact, I would add that staying in a marriage relationship with any remorseless cheater puts you at further risk down the road–financially, emotionally, and even physically. Have you tested yourself for STDs? I suggest you do so considering your husband’s word is worthless regarding his extracurricular activities.

Ultimately, the decision is yours to make, Confused. You are the one who has to live with the direct consequences either way. While your church leaders are unwilling to give you permission to divorce, God’s word rightly applied in your circumstances–as I see it–does. The choice is up to you–for now–whether you act on that permission or not. No shame for you either way.

Your brother in Christ,


2 thoughts on “Mailbag: Keep Praying Or Let Him Go?”

  1. Amen DM! That blame-shifting by the church struck a nerve with me too.

    Confused, my heart weeps for you as what your are describing is very similar to what I went through when I went to marital counseling at my church with my then cheating spouse. I suspect that your church may have a policy that they cannot recommend divorce as mine does. I was told to wait for my wife, even though she openly declared that she will continue her adultery, and will take off with her affair partner right after our meeting for the weekend. And even though she said this shamelessly in front of me and the counselor, I was advised to pray and watch what God will do. But at that point God was already telling me to separate from her. The church only served to confused me. While I have forgiven my church as well as my ex-wife, it still stands that such advised only serves to further abuse the faithful spouse. The correct course of action would have been for my counselor to recommend divorce in front of us both.

    DM has helped me tremendously with my ordeal and Biblical truths. And God has purposed to let my unfortunate relationship serve to further my knowing of Him. I already know much more about adultery, forgiveness, repentance, among other things. In fact I had a deep conversation with my counselor just last week where I was able to minister to him about forgiveness and repentance. It deepened our relationship as brothers in Christ and we love each other more for it and he has become a friend. In the end he told me I did the right thing by divorcing her.

    Like Dm said, ultimately it’s up to you and I am sorry, there’s no easy way out. But I think like me, God has already put it in your heart what to do. You’ll have to take that leap now. God will not fault you either way.

    DM has written several blog entries in response to my mail. I think they might be helpful to you since there are such similarities between our situations. If you want I can find them for you and post links.

  2. Confused- I’m so, so sorry you are going through this and know you are in deep pain. Just a little over a year ago I was in the same place you are now. My husband had a very inappropriate friendship with his Sunday School teaching partner. I asked him to cut all ties with her but he wouldn’t do it. Then the severe emotional and verbal abuse started and I asked him to move out. I knew the two things were related but he denied it and I had no proof of a physical affair. I was so confused and kept reading the “stand for your marriage” junk but it just didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t know what to do, so I didn’t file for divorce. I found DM and Chumplady and read Dr. David Clarke’s book (referenced on this website). For whatever reason, I felt strongly I could not be the one to file so I followed Dr. Clarke’s recommendations exactly and felt I got my answer when my husband filed. Even though my husband professed to be a Christian for 20 years, was an elder at our church and taught Sunday School, I now know better. Christians don’t cheat, lie, and blow up their kids’ family for a “friendship”. It’s that simple to me. I felt once he filed for divorce I was free to let him go as an unbeliever departing (Corinthians). It took me a while to figure all of this out but that is OK. During our separation I found out he had racked up almost $100,000 in secret debt, I learned about numerous lies he had told me, and discovered some very questionable actions done by him. I never did get proof of a physical affair but I decided it didn’t matter because he definitely had adultery and evil in his heart. At this point, we still are not divorced. I have fought for primary custody of my children and won it and pray the divorce will be final very soon. In my case, once I started standing up to my husband he became an angry, scary, abusive man. I am now convinced that nice guy I once knew was not real- just an actor with a mask but it took me a while to really accept that. I grew up in a family of very little divorce and felt I had really failed. I now think I didn’t fail at all, my stbxh failed and I can’t control him. I hope and pray that you can find the truth in your situation. Be kind to yourself and lean on your friends and family as much as possible.

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