Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. -Mt 19:21-22, ESV
Jesus was not afraid to give people choices. He did not wring his hands afraid people would walk away from him because he demanded too much of his followers. Jesus laid it out. And he respected the person’s choice.
I respect that about Jesus.
We need more courageous pastors and Christian leaders to follow Jesus’ lead on this when dealing with adultery. A choice between living in the Kingdom of Lies or the Kingdom of Light needs to be made. And the choice needs to be respected even if that means the adulterous spouse walks away from counseling and the marriage ends in divorce.
If the adulterous spouse is not willing to confess all his/her lies to the faithful spouse and completely cut off the adulterous relationship(s), then I think pastorally it is a waste of time to continue trying to work on the marriage. Worse, it signals to the adulterous spouse that adultery is acceptable. It says the pastor or Christian counselor is willing to tolerate ongoing, unaddressed soul rape.
This is why I say:
So what if the adulterous spouse does not come back to your office after facing the choice of full confession or no more pastoral marriage help?
If the adulterous spouse does not come back, that tells you all you need to know. They are not willing to submit to God and live in the Kingdom of Light. The adulterous spouse prefers darkness and sin. Their actions tell you that they are unrepentant.
And I would add, this choice ought not to be difficult one for someone who has the Holy Spirit indwelling him or her. It is a choice between darkness and light. It does not take a true son or daughter of the Light long to discern which way to go. Asking for more time to decide tells me that the adulterous spouse loves his/her sin more than his/her professed Lord. A delay is an answer on that front. They are resisting letting Jesus be the true Lord of their life.
Don’t help them.
Insist on an answer
Or let them know that their silence has spoken for them.
Jesus was not afraid of putting hard choices before people.
Neither should we fear doing the same as pastors and church leaders.