In the multitude of words sin is not lacking,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.
-Proverbs 10:19, NKJV
People’s criticisms say a lot…
…but not necessarily anything about the one criticized.
This is a lesson impressed upon me during my formal training in clinical pastoral care. It is an important lesson to remember when dealing with the myriad of armchair Christian advisers who may be quick to judge a faithful spouse.
A questioner urging a faithful spouse to examine their “contributions to the marriage’s demise” reveals this questioner is a firm believer in “The Shared Responsibility Lie.“ They likely struggle with accepting the Biblical truth that adultery is all the cause needed to end a marriage in God’s eyes (e.g. Deuteronomy 22:22 and Jeremiah 3:8). Plus, they may struggle to see the cheating spouse as an agent fully responsible for his or her poor choices regardless of the marriage environment.
Wiser questioners–asking only if invited by the faithful spouse, mind you–might rephrase this line of inquisition as to what dysfunction the faithful spouse brought, if any, to the now defunct marriage. They would be careful never to make false equivalences in that inquest or make causal links between the cheater’s choices to commit adultery and the faithful spouse’s personal failings in the relationship. The cheater’s choices caused the adultery, not the faithful spouse’s personal failings in the marriage.
An emphatic declaration of “God hates divorce!” from someone confronted with a faithful spouse who is considering divorce or is already divorce is revealing as well. It says to me that this person is more comfortable living by a rule than by relationship. They prefer the Law than the difficult realities sin presents in this world and God’s merciful response to that sin, which includes provision for faithful spouses to divorce their unfaithful partners.
People who insist “There’s always two sides to a story” when confronted with clear evidence of infidelity (e.g. a written confession from the cheater) says a lot about themselves. It reveals an unwillingness to confront the difficult reality that the facts have presented. Either without reflection or willfully, this statement suggests the speaker is willing to grant some sort of justification–if only partial–for committing adultery. It is ungodly.
No justification exists for committing adultery. And this statement reveals this person is not a safe person with whom to remain friends as they are willing to shift blame onto the victim of adultery–i.e. the faithful spouse.
People’s criticisms say a lot…but not necessarily about you.
Remember that the next time you deal with a stinging remark from someone who thinks they are wise and know what is best for you!