“And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.”
-Mark 9:42, KJV
Spiritual abuse is all too common in Christian circles regarding situations involving infidelity. And it breaks my heart as a pastor!
I call any counsel from a pastor or Christian leader that reinforces “The Shared Responsibility Lie“–i.e. the lie that teaches a faithful spouse is in some way responsible for the cheater’s sin–“spiritual abuse.” It is spiritual abuse because the pastor is operating from a place of spiritual authority while teaching something to the faithful spouse that is a damaging lie. This lie is manipulative in the sense that it utilizes the faithful spouse’s devotion to God to manipulate him or her into accepting false responsibility for being victimized.
Such teaching is a miss-use of spiritual authority.
Instead of setting captives free as the true Gospel bearers do (see Luke 4:18), the pastor serves to bind up faithful spouses with a demonic lie teaching them that they are responsible for something over which they never had control–i.e. the behavior of their spouse.
And what a lost Gospel-opportunity!
In this moment, the pastor could have responded differently. He or she could have offered truth to set the faithful spouse free from the chains of self-blame and a self-condemning conscience. The pastor could have offered God’s clear teaching on the matter of sin–e.g. adultery–that tells us we alone are responsible and answerable for our actions and not another–even a spouse (see 2 Corinthians 5:10).
It is my hope that such opportunities are seized more often and the spiritual abuse of faithful spouses becomes less frequent. But until that day comes, I continue here on Divorce Minister as a voice in a desert crying out for the victims of infidelity reminding them that God loves them and in no way blames them for being victimized.