Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”
– I Corinthians 6:15-16, NIV
The horror of adultery seems not yet to register with many Christian leaders. In fact, they seem to be more horrified by divorce happening than even ongoing adultery in their churches and communities. This seems so backwards, yet is the case all too often (see here).
Adultery is evil (see Deuteronomy 22:22), and…
Adultery is soul rape (see 1 Corinthians 6:15-16).
The spiritual reality of adultery is a forceful violation of the oneness in marriage by a third party. Like the Corinthians uniting Christ with a prostitute, an adulterous spouse unites his/her faithful spouse with the Other Man/Other Woman without permission and against their vowed intentions of sexual exclusivity!
It is soul rape.
Forgiveness does not automatically make the marriage safe for a faithful spouse. In fact, it is beside the point when soul rape has occurred. Such religious demands for forgiveness from a Christian leader suggests that they really fail to grasp the gravity of what has happened.
Safety ought to be the primary point initially. Not forgiveness. Forgiveness issues are to be tackled only after safety issues are settled. Is the faithful spouse returning to a spouse who remains entangled in adulterous sin? Are you sending a spouse back to experience more infidelity discoveries and thereby more discoveries of soul rape? Worse things exist than divorce according to God. Remember that.
Understanding adultery as soul rape–the spiritual truth regarding this sin–helps us all understand how destructive and crazy some “Christian” responses are to it.
I would not send a family member back to her boyfriend after she was raped by him. My first impulse after hearing the horrifying news would not be to instruct her that she needs to forgive him. I hope I would respond with empathy and listen without condemnation.
After hearing that the boyfriend is not one bit remorseful and would do it again, I would not recommend their relationship continues. I would be concerned for the well-being of my family member. No way would I encourage her to go back if I thought he would rape her again. No way.
That’s obvious when framed through the lens of rape.
However, we miss that sort of commonsense when dealing with adultery. Pastors regularly counsel faithful spouses to return to their soul rapists even when it is clear that it will happen again.
It is sickening.
And it needs to change.