We can still be friends, right? Wrong.

You are my friends if you do what I command.” -Jesus speaking in John 15:14, NIV


Friendship is a selective relationship. It is a relationship built on trust and mutual admiration. Not everyone I know is my friend. They need to pass the cut.

As we read from this quoted Scripture, Jesus did not call everyone friend. He let them know what would make them His friends or not. Jesus looked for actions and obedience. In other words, He did not just give people a free pass into the status of friendship without actually living like it.

This Biblical lesson is extremely applicable to dealing with adulterous spouses and the Christian community following a divorce. I am horrified by the seeming assumption that divorced partners ought to be friends after a divorce regardless of the circumstances. This seems to be held up as a Christian ideal.

I do not see it as truly Christian.

Actions matter.

And they matter when it comes to friendship. Jesus clearly thought so as well (e.g. John 15:14).

We cannot be friends with everyone even if we do seek to be at peace with them (Hebrews 12:14). Sometimes we need to remove ourselves from their toxic presence. We are called to live in the light (John 3:21). Sometimes that means we cannot continue a relationship with someone determined to stay in the darkness of lies and hate.

Another part of this assumption concerning friendship following divorce that bothers me is how it minimizes the trauma of adultery. We do not expect rape victims to befriend their rapists as a litmus test to see if they are “good” Christians. Yet adultery is soul rape, and we seem to hold this expectation for the victims of this heinous sin. It is ridiculous.

Yes, we are called to forgive those who sin against us (Ephesians 4:32). This is true even of a rape victim. However, forgiveness does not mean the relationship is restored. And forgiving a deep wound will take time just as a natural deep wound takes time to heal.

To restore a relationship it takes two. True repentance as demonstrated by word and deed from the adulterous spouse is required. The burden is on them to rebuild the trust that they destroyed. And sometimes it is wiser to keep our distance from someone who chooses to continue the emotional and spiritual war with violent lies and hateful speech against us.

So, what do I say to the adulterous spouse pushing for friendship:

We can still be friends, right?

Wrong. “Still” implies we are currently friends, and your adulterous betrayal of me says we are not. How can I be friends with someone who has raped my soul and done nothing to heal the trauma she caused? I need more than words. My friends love me in action as well. Jesus expected his friends to love him in deed, and so do I.


6 thoughts on “We can still be friends, right? Wrong.”

  1. I can’t even be around my STBX husband let alone be friends with him. Thank you for the continued validation. I think another great verse to support this is 1 Corinthians 5:11- But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. NIV

  2. My STBX thinks we can be friends because “we’ll always be in each other’s lives because of the kids” — NOT! He has even gone so far as to tell people that in another 2-3 years he foresees me being good friends with the woman for whom he left me and is already introducing around town as his “fiance”! He is clueless and thank you for the validation that I am not!

    1. Oh yes Susan maybe you can all have a BBQ or go to the movies. I will never understand how they think! Evil.

  3. DM, this is so true, adultery is emotional and spiritual war, a war that our (ex) spouses waged upon us while we so unknowingly trusted. That is why we feel so violated after we learn the truth.

  4. What an excellent analogy–“We do not expect rape victims to befriend their rapists as a litmus test to see if they are “good” Christians.”

    THANK YOU. It is so very hard to get others to understand why the very sight of your betrayer(s) is so traumatic and that just because you have forgiven them it doesn’t mean you ever want to see them again.

    The thought that one day at my daughter’s wedding she may allow that woman to sit in the same church with me makes me want to rip that off that woman’s head and spit in her neck in Jesus’ name. That is NOT an unChristian response. THAT is the response we SHOULD have in the presence of one who slept with your spouse in your bed because that behavior was THAT wicked.

    Some in our old church (where my husband was pastor and the woman was my friend) think I am a poor Christian and have called me a *itch, because I will not embrace this new couple who are obviously ‘so very happy.’ This attitude is so far from the 1 Corinthians 5 response we should have and only serves to enable not only their continued adultery but encourages others who look at them and think they might want to do the same.

    Normalizing adulterous relationships does not honor the faithful spouse, but MOST importantly, it does not honor our Holy God. The church needs to understand that ‘good Christians’ do not numbly welcome everything that its members do, but holds “be holy” as a higher responsibility than “judge not.”

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