No Investigation Required

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


As I was driving today, God brought to mind this verse from the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. It is the abandonment exception given in addition to the adultery/sexual infidelity exception for divorce found in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9. Something jumped out to me as I meditated on this verse.

It says NOTHING about asking the Christian spouse why the unbelieving spouse left!

All this verse instructs Christian spouses to do is to allow the unbelieving spouse to go. They are told that they are not in bondage in such cases of abandonment. They are to let the non-Christian spouse leave in peace. (Personally, I think it is ridiculous to argue that “not under bondage” means anything except free from the bonds of marriage and ergo, free to remarry a believing spouse.)

Back to the insight.

I love how consistent God is. He places the choice squarely upon the one making the decision–i.e. the abandoning, unbelieving spouse.

Let me explain: the Apostle Paul does not call for an investigation of the remaining, faithful spouse (i.e. to see if he was a “bad” husband or if she was a “bad” wife “causing” the abandonment) because God understands the remaining spouse did not make the decision to leave the marriage. A decision to leave a marriage, like a decision to commit adultery, is made by the one leaving (or cheating).* This is the consistent message found here:

We are only responsible for our own choices and actions.

Now, I believe we all can grow as better friends, family, and partners. Good therapy and spiritual counseling can help us in that regard. However, that is beside the point in this verse. It does not say that the believing spouse is free only if he/she has proven that they were not the cause of the abandonment through, say, their poor spousal skills.


All it says is that they are to let the unbelieving spouse depart in peace, and as such, they are free from their marital bonds.

It is an unqualified statement.

Perhaps, Christian leaders (we) ought to be more careful than to add our own “qualifications” to the freedom God gives to those who find themselves watching an unbelieving spouse walk away?

God has set them free.

Who are we to put them back in chains?



*I write this piece especially for those who have experienced abandonment on top of the trauma of adultery discovery. Sometimes, faithful spouse are not even given a choice about the divorce. They are just treated with contempt and dumped by the wicked, adulterous spouse. My point here is such a faithful spouse is certainly free to remarry as I read Scripture. They are not required to prove their worthiness to do so to anyone. It is good to heal up before making any major life decision–and I would always encourage that first–but the point is the faithful, abandoned spouse is truly free to marry (even if they choose not to do the healing work). Furthermore, to those making the choice to divorce after adultery, I think such a choice is empowering. You are making the choice, and it is for very sound, Biblical reasons–i.e. you will not tolerate adultery in your marriage. My point about it being your choice in that area stands: the divorcing spouse is making the choice (whether faithful or not). However, the faithful spouse has a sound, godly reason to explain why as opposed to an adulterous spouse who can only truthfully point to his/her own sinful heart in making such a choice.


5 thoughts on “No Investigation Required”

  1. My ex-husband was Mormon. I think Mormons can be Christians, and originally thought this one was when I married him, but within a year of our marriage, it became very clear to me that he wasn’t.

    Earlier this year, when he was cheating on me and it became very clear that he would not end the pursuit of his mistress, I took one of my favorite pictures of us and framed it on my bathroom wall over 1 Cor. 7:15-16. My inclination was to fight, to try and find some way of salvaging the marriage. Reminding myself of the biblical mandate to let him go and to not fight him has helped me to move on. When I hung the picture up, I felt release. “For God has called us to live in peace.”

  2. I really appreciate your blog and will be a regular reader!

    My husband, while on a 3- month long business trip decided to visit a former single female co-worker and spend the night at her house 3 times while I was pregnant with our 4th child. He lied to me about his whereabouts, leading me to think he was staying at a married couple’s house we both knew. He didn’t tell me that he had stayed at this woman’s house until I asked him if he stayed there. When I confronted him, he was angry, he denied anything physical and insisted that he didn’t do anything wrong, making me feel crazy and wrong for being upset over his choice. He then gave me the silent treatment for a week following D day. Meanwhile, I was having panic attacks, I couldn’t eat, and I couldn’t sleep and was having contractions. After that week, I left for my parents house with our other 3 kids and told him I needed to clear my head….which I did. That whole time, all I could get him to say was an apology to the effect of…”if I would have known you would be this upset, I wouldn’t have done it. I am sorry.” I ended up coming back because he came out for the baby’s birth and he took our two oldest kids back with him. These past 9 months have been really difficult because he still won’t acknowledge that he was unfaithful and is now saying that I am just jealous and has not made any effort to do marriage counseling. He just wants to sweep it under the rug and is angry that my parents know about it and that I also told his sister. I wasn’t telling my parents or his sister to be vengeful…I was really scared and in hindsight, I should probably not have mentioned anything to his sister. He now says he never plans to visit my family or his ever again. I feel so stuck and isolated because we are thousands of miles away from any of our families. He never confessed to adultery and the only evidence I have seen is text messages talking about his visits and how they both love sandalwood candles and baking cookies together. I feel stuck because being a christian and thinking divorce was wrong except for adultery or abandonment and I don’t know if my situation would constitute either. He says he wants to stay married but has not acknowledged his wrong or been repentant. I feel like I am being used because he is not sounding repentant and I don’t think he is trustworthy. He just wants me to not talk about it and says that a marriage counselor would agree with him that he didn’t do anything wrong and that I was wrong for telling people. I don’t want to be disobedient to God by leaving if this is a case where it would not be considered adultery. I want to believe nothing happened but logically it sure looks like something did happen based on his actions and his defensiveness. I am a good wife. I really tried hard to be pleasing but I guess that doesn’t matter. He is not a part of any church and I don’t think he is a believer.

    1. Pigtails,

      Innocent people do not lie and gaslight their spouses. You know he slept over at another woman’s house. And you know he lied about this. Furthermore, you know he acts defensive about it when confronted. If a Private Investigator watched all of this seeing them stay the evening (three times!), that would be enough to assume adultery in a court of law here in the USA. I write all that to say it is more likely he committed adultery than not. His word is worthless on this matter. He has already proven that he is willing to lie. Not telling you the full truth keeps you stuck, and he may already know this. It is power.

      A good marriage counselor would see through his manipulations and lies. However, they are hard to find in my experience (some do exist, though). But that is not the point. He fails to see this is a problem. If you have a problem with it as his wife, he ought to have a problem with it. You see it as cheating–whether or not he slept with the OW. That’s infidelity.

      It’s on him to fix this. And it is NOT on you to keep it quiet. His reaction has all the hallmarks of an abusive cheater who does not want the inconvenience of dealing with the truth and its consequences. Don’t lose sleep over telling your parents and his sister. It’s the truth. And you didn’t do it maliciously. Might be best not to tell his family unless directly asked going forward, though. (Your family is your family, and whomever of your friends that you need for support is fair game to know.)

      As to your concern about being stuck. I see your circumstances as qualifying under the provision for divorce translated as sexual immorality (see Mt 19:9). It is a broader term Jesus uses than just adultery. It’s an option for you based on this in my opinion. If he does not want to deal with his clear infidelity (even broadly speaking), you can divorce him based on such sin. There’s not much to work with if he does not care how he hurt you.

      Blessings and hugs from us!

    2. Pigtails-I highly, highly, highly doubt they only baked cookies together. If that were indeed the case there was no reason for him to hide a) that he was sleeping at her house in the first place and b) get defensive over it. He probably won’t confess to it either, sadly. Very few do and if they do, they give trickle truth. Many, DMs ex included, still deny it even when faced with their own writing, phone records, emails, photos from PIs etc.

      You did absolutely nothing wrong by telling your family or his sister. He’s doing the classic “I have to protect my image!” dance by trying to make you feel like you did something wrong, and he’s trying to play the “poor me” act by saying he won’t ever see his or your family again. It’s quite the pathetic pity play. You can be assertive and call him on it. He doesn’t want to see his or your family again? Fine. He wants to be his on boss? Fine. He’ll dig his own hole. You’re not his publicist. His image is not your responsibility, it’s his and he’s doing a lousy job indeed. If his image is truly one of integrity, morals and other good things then it speaks for itself. There isn’t a need to protect anything when integrity is who you are. Of course he wants to sweep it under the rug. Not doing that would mean he’d actually have to look in a mirror and not do any heavy lifting. It’s much easier to pretend it didn’t happen or blame it on you if it won’t go under the rug.

      Unfortunately depending on the marriage counselor you get they sadly may agree with him. Make sure you get a good counselor, someone who takes David Clarke’s approach to adultery an approach that puts the blame solely on the adulterer. He probably won’t go to counseling that actually holds him accountable. Counseling won’t make him hold himself accountable either, he’s not approaching it as a way of looking in the mirror. You can choose to do counseling but know that if you’re pulling him by the ear, you don’t have chance for reconciliation. It has to be voluntary for him and he has to actually do the heavy lifting, which takes time. Depending on the state/country you live in the steps you have to take may be different, i.e. you may be required to wait a year before filing for divorce if that’s what you choose. Make sure you know what your options are, what it means and what courses of action you can take in the meantime.

      More evidence could help you with proving adultery, if you want the hard core proof. Watch the phone records, check online dating sites for profiles, check credit cards etc. I doubt she’s the only one. It may be worth hiring a PI or having a friend of a friend follow him and take pictures to save on cost. You can decide. If he’s not a believer that one wouldn’t take as much evidence to prove and might be the easier route in the meantime. Keep us posted. His actions are unacceptable.

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