Mailbag: Lost Permission to Divorce Biblically?

Hello! I am SO grateful for your blog, as I am yet another infidelity victim being treated horribly by church leaders.
The latest is that they’ve taken the position that I’ve lost my right to divorce my husband, for a variety of reasons. I “took too long” to decide (a year+…after a HORRIBLE case of infidelity – multiple cases, actually – that took many months to even process); I continued living with him for almost 10 months; I had sex with him after finding out.
Have you written anything specifically on having sexual relations with the unfaithful spouse after finding out, and whether that constitutes reconciliation and negates the scriptural right to divorce?
What are your thoughts?
Thank you.
~Christian Sister
~~~
Dear Christian Sister,
For starters, I am not a lawyer. So, this is not legal advice. This is just my personal and views as an ordained minister.
To begin, I do not see time limitations placed upon Jesus’ teaching regarding divorce being permitted in the case of sexual sin (see Matthew 19:9). So, my impulse is to reject your church leaders advice that the permission to divorce is voided because you have taken too long to exercise your permission.
They are adding requirements to Jesus’ words that are not there. Doing that is spiritually dangerous!
Furthermore, I fail to see how having sex with an unfaithful spouse after the fact negates the reality that this person committed adultery–or was otherwise unfaithful multiple times–prior.
Why I say that is to point out that whether or not a spouse has committed adultery–i.e. been unfaithful sexually–is the only pertinent fact here.
A cheater–or even Christian leaders–who try to obscure this fact with other considerations are failing to respect Jesus’ teaching on this matter. You either have permission to divorce, or you do not.

Your spouse cheated…Jesus’ teaching is that you have permission to divorce.

-Having sex with your spouse after the infidelity discovery does not negate the fact that he gave you Biblical grounds for divorce by cheating.

-And time does not negate the fact that your spouse cheated and gave you said permission to divorce by doing so.

This sort of thinking and teaching from church leaders is very unhelpful to put it mildly.  It aids cheaters in facing the real consequences of their actions, which includes a spouse who ultimately decides the pain from their treacherous, adulterous betrayals is too great to stay with them.
I am sorry to hear, Christian Sister, that this church leaders are adding to an already confusing and painful time for you. It is totally unnecessary. 
Hold fast to the clear word about God taking adultery and infidelity seriously. Remember that God divorced over such things (see Jeremiah 3:8).
And God does not shame faithful spouses who decide to divorce their cheating abuser–as cheating is abuse, in my opinion–even if that happens after some time and sex with the cheater.
With Sincere Care,
-DM

1 thought on “Mailbag: Lost Permission to Divorce Biblically?”

  1. Christian Sister,
    I am so glad that you are looking beyond your church network for help and support.
    Forgiveness does not mean that you agree to continue being a victim of an adulterer’s abuse (or anyone else)!

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