That Which Shall Never Be Mentioned Again–AKA The Affair


“This is what the Lord says: Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man before your very eyes, and he will go to bed with them in public view.”

Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

Nathan replied, “Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin.”

-2 Samuel 12:11, 13, NLT

The consequences for sin do not just magically disappear because we forgive someone. This includes forgiving an adulterous spouse. The mess does not clean up itself.

Soul rape has lasting effects like any sort of spiritual and emotional trauma.

I grow weary of hearing of cheaters complain when the faithful spouse is triggered and brings up their infidelity. It is the complaining that wearies me.

Like my four year old complaining about having to clean up the big mess she created herself, I think cheaters are just as childish (maybe more, actually). And they similarly lack awareness regarding the natural consequences of their poor, sinful choices and actions. 

God forgave King David for committing adultery with Bathsheba and murdering Uriah. But David still suffered stiff consequences for the rest of his life because of those sins. 

Sure, I understand the cheater does not want to be remind of such a shameful failure in their personal history. Who does?!

But think about the faithful spouses. The adultery victims.

Did we agree to be reminded of what they did to us every time the cheater is late to come home? Did we agree to be reminded of our soul’s violation every time the cheater breaks yet another promise or commitment? Did we agree to be reminded of this painful season of utter contempt and betrayal every time we have to write down our marital status or have to explain our past to other Christians? I could go on…but I think you get the point.

I agree that using moral failure–like adultery–to control the other spouse (or ex-spouse) is not right or godly. However, what I hear usually when such cheater objections–“How dare you bring the affair up again!”–arise is a response to a faithful spouse who has been triggered by the cheater in some way. Instead of choosing the path of empathy in such moments, the cheater chooses the path of blaming their victim of their own sins for daring to say, “OUCH!”

This sort of response tells me–as a pastor–that such a person has not made peace with what they have done as King David did. They are still trying to avoid the natural consequences of their sins, which include accepting that their victim will need time to heal and may need to bring up betrayals again in order to do so.

Healing is not a one confession and done thing.

Any deep wound–certainly a soul-rending one like adultery–takes considerable time for healing. Plus, even after the wound is healed, the scar remains and may forever be sensitive to certain things.

A sensitivity to reminders of the infidelity does not make the faithful spouse unforgiving necessarily. It is part of how God designed us that we remember how we were burned in the past so that we can learn to avoid such situations in the future. That is not being unforgiving but being wise.

So, I am not a fan of any counsel–pastoral or otherwise–that teaches banning all mention of the affair after a cheater says sorry.

Such counsel prioritizes the comfort of the cheater over the healing of his/her victim. I fail to see how any godly teaching regarding forgiveness would ever do such a thing. So, I reject such counsel, and I hope you will, too!


6 thoughts on “That Which Shall Never Be Mentioned Again–AKA The Affair”

  1. DM, you wrote: “Instead of choosing the path of empathy in such moments, the cheater chooses the path of blaming their victim of their own sins…”

    The lack of empathy is a narcissistic/sociopathic trait which extends to other kinds of cheating. I watched the ABC 2-night mini-series on Bernie Madoff this week and read a bit more afterwards about him. Madoff blames the victims. They were bright enough people and should have known better, he says. “People asked me all the time, how did I do it. And I refused to tell them, and they still invested”, he said.

    And as could be expected, Madoff was an adulterer too.

  2. Here is another variation I heard from my adulterous former wife, “I wanted to come back, but I knew you would always hold it over my head.” So the reason our marriage wasn’t reconciled wasn’t because of her adultery, but because of an imagined reaction on my part?

    1. Heard that one, almost verbatim, from my ex-father-in-law when I volunteered to forgive his daughter even if she had cheated on me (I was blind and ignorant on such matters at that time, which predated the confirmed OM). That was his IMMEDIATE response. Said a lot about him and/or what he knew.

  3. Yep….It isn’t what the cheater did that is the problem, it is our reaction / response that is the problem. Don’tcha know?!

    Like you said above, DM, ‘….tired. Very tired.’ Sick bunch, the cheaters & their advocates……and their very un-original lines.

    “If they want us to think well of them, then they should have behaved better.”

    Forge on, my friend…..

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