Truth as Punishment

But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”-Matthew 12:36-37, NIV

When reconstructing one’s narrative, truth can be both freeing and punishing. It is punishing for those whose actions were far from righteous. And it is freeing for the innocent.

Truth helps give me peace about my tormentors. It helps me to forgive them and entrust them to God.

Ultimately, these individuals will never escape. The truth will find them. And then they will have to find a way to integrate it into their lives or live a fantasy disconnected from reality (or put another way–disconnect from life itself).

When challenged about my deeds or decisions regarding my first marriage, I can stand on the truth–as many of you can as faithful spouses. I know what happened–at least, what I need to know.

Adultery and abandonment destroyed my first marriage. I chose neither. My ex chose both.

Those counselors who supported my ex and attacked my character enabled her sinful deceptions, adultery, and abandonment. They participated in abuse as far as I am concerned. That is the truth.

  • I do not envy my former in-laws who now must live with the truth of helping their daughter commit adultery and destroy her own marriage.
  • I do not envy my religious former “friends” who slandered my character, attacked my calling, and sided with an adulteress enabling her adultery and abandonment.
  • I do not envy my former denomination’s official(s) who used their spiritual authority to judge and further injure a brother minister instead of protecting and truly caring for him.

That is the truth.

And I have peace releasing all of these people to God in forgiveness. What they did to me or failed to do for me is no longer my concern. I don’t need my pound of flesh from any of them. The truth is punishment enough. And one day, God tells us in Scripture that they will have to answer about these things.

Truth is punishing.

But for me, it is freeing.

I am a faithful spouse. And I have nothing to fear walking in the light of truth and in the sight of my God.



7 thoughts on “Truth as Punishment”

  1. This spoke to me in so many ways. I felt so ashamed about my cheaters adultery and I rarely left the house. But I know now that I am not to blame nor do I worry much about what others think or say. I am not responsible for his poor choices and I will not have to answer to a higher power for him. I now hold my head up high! I don’t bear his shame any longer. I will leave it up to God to handle this! It has set me free to live a happy life and freed me! It feels great!

  2. Thank you for this post. God knows the have to leave things to natural consequences and God.

  3. Wow. This post was moving for me. Everything you said is what I have been saying to my “friends” too. Just yesterday my sister-in-law smirked at me when I said to her that my husband could have chosen a different ending to our marriage than a second affair and sexual integrity issues that lead to the demise of our marriage. I didn’t choose this. Why on earth would ANY SANE person choose this? This is awful! Why do people think I WANT a divorce?

    Thank you for this post.

  4. You mention the people who enabled your ex-wife’s adultery and abandonment. From other posts, I gather you’re not thinking of the divorce as the abandonment. And, assuming that I’m right about that, I agree. In fact, it would have been a right and godly thing to do if *you* had initiated the divorce. I do *not* think that would have meant that you were the one who abandoned your ex-wife or your marriage. (Personally, I think it’s a subtle distortion to think of the marriage as an entity. Marriage is the state of being joined to, and dedicated to the blessing of, the other spouse.)

    So I’m curious about a couple things…

    First: At what point would you say that your ex-wife abandoned you? It seems that this would nearly always happen before physical adultery. I think the abandonment is actual point when the unfaithful spouse has violated the vows and the other person. When God calls Israel and Judah “adulteresses”, he is talking metaphorically about the unfaithfulness of his brides. They abandoned Him and His ways, and He described the truth of what that sinfulness is. It isn’t just an unfortunate precursor or sign of future unfaithfulness.

    Of course, the love of a faithful husband (or faithful wife) always entails good-will, a desire for reconciliation, and some degree of patience. The problem is that a wife abandoning her husband will often take advantage of those good characteristics in her husband. In fact, it can get really ugly and drawn out as she accuses him and he tries to work out what he did wrong. (Why would she lie, after all?)

    Second: What would help a husband recognize abandonment? It’s easy to recognize getting hurt, or when there is distance. This is part of being vulnerable and intimate. Jesus told us that everyone who gets married will have troubles. The challenge isn’t really about knowing when we’ve been wronged. Rather, it’s about distinguishing the difficulties of two sinners who are learning to love better, repent, and forgive, from the pain of being abandoned by a wife who is lacking good-will.

    I’ve been in a marriage for over 25 years with a wife who withholds love, truth, affection, encouragement, praise, affirmation, and all types of intimacy. She admitted briefly to having a one-sided emotional affair (she was blaming me). I’ve pursued her faithfully until a matter of months ago when she insinuated that I was abusive to people at church and elsewhere. The control and manipulation over the years have been subtle and soul-crushing. I have been entirely isolated from everyone and have been diagnosed with PTSD. If it is tough to get spiritual support when a wife has physically and repeatedly committed adultery, it is *much* harder to get support when she has not physically violated the vows.

    Part of the reason for asking those two particular questions is to be able to describe to other men how to detect actual abandonment and abuse. The other part is about having a well-formed answer to give to the others who want to understand. Sometimes I’m just too depressed and emotional to do this well. I’m not divorced yet. Kids. Broke. Hurting. Lots of reasons for that. I don’t think I’d be sinning by doing so. I used to think Solomon was using hyperbole when he said it’s better to live on the roof or in the wilderness than in the house with a contentious wife. I don’t anymore.

    1. It is a both/and situation. Physical abandonment leading to her divorcing me. I hesitate using language of abandonment over emotional distancing as that can enter into HIGHLY subjective realms best left alone. The physical abandonment is pretty obvious, though. I consider the divorce an abandonment on her part because she did not have Biblical grounds, IMO, to divorce me. That said, I am VERY thankful that she is my EX-wife now!

      1. I sincerely hope you won’t take offense at my frustration.

        I don’t understand why you responded like this. I’ve read in other posts where you seem to understand the evil of emotional abuse, gaslighting, emotional affairs, contempt, etc.. Saying that emotional issues are subjective isn’t really a candid response. Those emotional abuse issues are manifested by actions. If a wife manipulates church elders to rip you a new one because they have been lead to believe a lie about you, that isn’t subjective. It’s bearing false witness. It’s cruel, and only one of many sinful, manipulative, contemptuous things that have been done. I’m not describing a sin, but a real, long-term pattern of behavior.

        When I read Deut. 24, I am always surprised that it excludes any kind of list as to what is an acceptable cause for divorce. He specifically says the wife has shame/disgrace/indecency. God isn’t forgetful. He already gave laws and consequences regarding adultery. Maybe God is compassionate towards everyone but husbands with abusive wives, but I think He provided a merciful means to find relief.

        If it *were* subjective, would that really mean we should just leave it alone? People don’t generally need to seek deep wisdom for the well-defined problems. It’s easy enough to say “murder=evil”, but then we still need to know what to do about execution, war, self-defense… Those aren’t always so cut and dry issues. I honestly feel like a guy drowning while people walk by and say, “we don’t deal with water; it’s not solid enough.” Or, “your wife isn’t drowning. You’re obviously the one with the problem. Just pray! Ask God what *you* are doing wrong.” (I did that for many years) Regardless, the dire life-or-death nature of my situation is glossed over.

        I’m not looking for silly reasons to ditch my wife. She didn’t burn my toast. I’ve pursued her for over 25 years until I’ve been crushed. If you understand the destructive nature of a wife’s contempt, and of those who stand on the side and blame the faithful spouse…. I don’t know. It’s not that you are required to do anything for me. I just thought that I might find some understanding and validation — maybe even wisdom. Instead I was brushed off, and it hurts.

        1. I never intended to minimize your pain. And I DO believe emotional abuse is real.

          That said, I am aware of at least one cheater that used such a broad concept as emotional abuse/distancing to “justify” abandonment and cheating. This is why I hesitate to go down that road full-throttle.

          Caution is warranted. And caution does not mean denying real abuse; it just means being clear on what is and what is not.

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