“‘If a man divorces a woman
and she goes and marries someone else,
he will not take her back again,
for that would surely corrupt the land.
But you have prostituted yourself with many lovers,
so why are you trying to come back to me?’
says the Lord.”
-Jeremiah 3:1, NLT
“If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive.”
-Luke 17:3b, NLT
It is subtle….
The narrative used to talk and teach on dealing with adultery.
Subtle in how it places the emphasis on forgiving adulterous partners as foremost.
The pastor preaches about how God forgives adulterers and adulteresses. He talks about how even such sins are not too great for forgiveness and mercy. Practically, it sends the message to those in the pews that forgiving adultery is the heart of solving the spiritual marriage issues that adultery causes.
The Christian counselor talks or focuses on the faithful spouse forgiving his/her spouse for cheating. They may even do this to exclusion of even talking about the adultery or further revelations of lies and infidelities. Once again, these counselors have bought into a concept of “forgiveness” that they believe will solve the marriage ills following infidelity discovery.
Both the pastor and Christian counselor are wrong.
That is not the sort of forgiveness Jesus taught His followers to exhibit. His forgiveness requires repentance from the adulterous partner.
It is hard as a faithful spouse not to become jaded over how poorly both pastors and “Christian” counselors understand and apply godly forgiveness to situations involving adultery. This reality angers me to a considerable degree!
Even God sounds unforgiving and angry when dealing with an adulterous partner!
He divorces Israel over such behavior (see Jeremiah 3:8). And you see from Jeremiah 3:1 how downright revolting God finds those who try to come back to Him after living a life of infidelity (and I would add without repenting of their adultery and purifying themselves as that is the context of this verse).
Another part of the subtle narrative is how adulterous spouse focused it is.
What I mean by “adulterous spouse focused” is in the sense of how they get mercy and forgiveness, whereas faithful spouses either get judgment and condemnation for not “forgiving” well enough or silence as nobody wants to deal with the awkward reality that adultery victims actually exist.
Forgiveness is a wonderful gift. Do not get me wrong! I am thankful my God forgives me.
However, it is premature to talk forgiveness without talking about repentance first.
Has the adultery finally stopped? Are all the lies exposed?
In other words, is this person really repenting?
Or is the adulterous spouse taking false comfort in the erroneous idea that God forgives them and that means they do not have to end their lying, cheating ways?
These days, I am cautious about trusting fellow pastors and especially “Christian” therapists with the details of my story and my views on such matters.
I am cautious as common sense does not seem to rule on these matters. Both pastors and “Christian” therapists run too quickly to “forgiveness” without pausing to see if repentance was taking place in the adulterous spouse. And they often miss the basic reality that the faithful spouse is grieving that which the adulterous spouse violently stole from him or her.
Further, they fail to see how righteous anger–the sort of anger God demonstrated towards unfaithful Israel–is appropriate in situations where the sin continues without repentance. I will be angry with you if you sucker-punch me. How much more so will an adultery victim feel angry towards the one who has raped his/her soul (and keeps doing it)?!
These pastors and counselors are so focused on “The Redemption and Reconciliation Story” that they fail to grasp that God does not reconcile with the unrepentant and neither ought any of His true followers.
How about changing the narrative to include courageous faithful spouses?
True, God forgives adulterers.
God stands by and upholds their victims who refuse to tolerate such sin demanding righteousness and repentance. Let’s talk about God’s solidarity with those brave souls as well.