“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
-Matthew 7:5, NIV
Some in-laws are truly godly and wise people who would never dream of giving critical advice to the victim of their family member’s adulterous betrayal(s). However, my personal experience and the numerous emails/communications I receive via Divorce Minister tell me most in-laws are neither godly or wise on this account.
Far more common are family members of the cheater blaming the faithful spouse for the cheater’s treachery to varying degrees.
They have a serious case of “Plank-Eye.”
When someone from the cheater’s family offers critical comments about the faithful spouse (e.g. “Well, he shouldn’t have worked so many hours,” “Well, she did get rather fat after the babies” etc.), this person is engaging in adultery–victim blaming.
The facts may objectively be true: He may have worked too many hours to the detriment of the marriage. She may have gained weight after having his children.
However, these are all immaterial facts in discovering what caused the marriage’s destruction following adultery (e.g. Mt 1:19).
To bring them up–or similar critical matters–is to suggest those things “justify” adultery or in some way caused the cheater to defy God and commit adultery.
As a reminder:
Adultery is caused by the wicked overflow of the adulterous spouse’s heart alone (e.g. Mark 7:21-23).
This is not to say the faithful spouse is perfect. He or she likely did sinful things detrimental to the marriage relationship. I know I did.
However, I take zero responsibility for my former wife’s sin, which God’s Word says is marriage-ending sort of sin (e.g. Deuteronomy 22:22, Mt. 1:19).
The family of the cheater simply is in no position to make critical statements to the faithful spouse who happens to be a soul rape victim, by the way.
It would be like the family of a rapist telling off the victim for getting passed out drunk and then being sexually assaulted by their relative. Plenty of godly and good responses exist out there to such situations (e.g. call 911 for medical assistance for the passed out woman) with none of those including criminally exploiting the victim’s vulnerability.
Similarly, a marriage may be vulnerable due to actions committed by both or even just the faithful partner. Many godly and good options exist to address and heal those vulnerabilities (e.g. go to couples’ counseling, get a hobby, volunteer, etc.). Choosing to soul rape the vulnerable, faithful partner is not one of them.
Such apologists miss the important point. Adultery is never justifiable or excusable. Critical comments to the faithful spouse suggest otherwise and are thereby ungodly speech.
A better use of the cheater family member’s time would be to rebuke and exhort the cheater to repent.
While hard, that demonstrates true love as God tells us that a cheater without repentance will not enter His Kingdom but will face the fire of His wrath (e.g. I Corinthians 6:9-10, Hebrews 10:26-27). The easy path is to blame-shift on the victim who is not one’s blood as then one does not have to confront and accept the reality that a member of one’s own family did such treacherous things.