Mailbag: Is NOT divorcing my unrepentant cheater a sin?


“Not filing to divorce an unrepentant cheating spouse is also enabling but do you think it’s dishonoring Christ by not filing? Also, if that is the case (enabling and dishonoring Christ) wouldn’t not filing actually be a sin and against Gods will?”



That’s a good set of questions. Let me boil them down to one basic question:

Is NOT divorcing an unrepentant cheater a sin?

Personally, I would not go to such an extreme to say not divorcing an unrepentant cheater is a sin. God sticks with us when we are unfaithful to Him; so, I do not think the staying or not filing per se is sin. God is not sinning by staying with us while we are still in our sins. He is being merciful and patient with us.

That said, it seems that even God does not tolerate blatant and ongoing habitual sin forever (see Hebrews 10:26-27). That timing piece is what is tricky on matters of unrepentant infidelity. How long is too long? Is it enabling or being merciful?

Such timing is a matter of discernment.

God has given us each the Holy Spirit (see I Corinthians 2:14-16). We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit on this number as far as timing is concerned. A good question to ask is whether or not one has peace about going forward with a divorce:

Can I sleep at night knowing I filed for divorce? Does the Bible permit me to divorce? What are the wise counselor(s) in my life telling me? Am I tolerating being abused?  

If Holy Spirit is telling you to pull the trigger and file for divorce, then it would be sin to refuse to do this as you would be disobeying God.

But be careful. God is not into condemnation of His children (see Romans 8:1). He is gentle in His leading. Satan is the one into condemnation. And Holy Spirit will not contradict the Bible on these matters of permission.

Clear as mud, right?!

Like many difficult decisions, this one regarding divorce needs to be taken informed by relationship with wise counselors and God. The Bible clearly teaches that God permits us to divorce an unrepentant cheater (e.g. Jeremiah 3:8, Mt. 5:32, etc). That said, it is a permission and not a command.

That distinction suggests to me that God may have different plans for different people regarding timing on filing for divorce or not.

This website is all about encouraging and empowering faithful spouses to hear from God and be freed from ungodly shame.

Now, I lean towards it being highly unwise to stay in a contempt-filled relationship with a cheater just as I would say that about any abusive relationship, which that is. But I am not going to guilt or shame a faithful spouse into divorcing. 

A faithful spouse is free to divorce a cheater without any biblical shame. I would encourage faithful spouses dealing with an unrepentant cheater to exercise that permission and file. However, it is a freedom. And ultimately, the faithful spouse is the one who must live with his or her choice to file or not.

Hope that helps!



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