You, Lord God Almighty,
you who are the God of Israel,
rouse yourself to punish all the nations;
show no mercy to wicked traitors.
-Psalm 59:5, NIV
The most intimate of human trust is violated when a spouse chooses to commit adultery. When two Christians enter a marriage, they publicly confess to forsake all others and thereby protect the sacred and mysterious oneness of their marriage union. It is an act of a traitor to betray this sacred trust allowing others to steal intimacy–emotional and physical–that is not theirs to take.
This is one reason why the “win them back” response to infidelity so prevalent in Christian circles strikes me as backwards. It says:
Take them on dates. Never mention the hurt they caused you through their sin. Warn off the OM/OW by saying you’ll win the adulterous spouse’s heart back (a la the movie “Fireproof,” which I hate), but never confront the adulterous spouse over their sin.
My response to that deep bucket of sewer-sludge advice:
We don’t fight over traitors.
The adulterous spouse has chosen to betray the faithful spouse, the marriage, and ultimately God as God is part of the marriage covenant (see Malachi 2:14). It is upon the one who dealt treacherously to prove himself or herself worthy of re-entering the relationship they violated. It is certainly not on the faithful and violated spouse to convince the adulterous spouse to do so.
Part of the problem of adultery is how the adulterous spouse devalued and dehumanized their covenant mate. They failed to fully grasp the horror and depths of betrayal adultery is for the faithful spouse (and the kids). Such empathetic work might have prevented their premeditated acts of deception and adultery. It may have at least given them pause. Also, if they truly valued and cherished their spouse as human made in the Image of God, they may have thought twice about raping that person’s soul and thereby destroying his/her opinion of their character. Instead, the adulterous spouse arrogantly decided his or her wants were more important than the pain indulging those desires would cause their spouse. And they thereby treated their spouse as less than human–i.e. a disposable person to be used and thrown away.*
If anyone ought to be fighting to win someone, it is the adulterous spouse who ought to fight to win back the faithful spouse. NOT THE FAITHFUL SPOUSE TRYING TO WIN BACK THE CHEATER!
The faithful spouse is the prize–e.g. they remained faithful where the adulterous spouse did not. Furthermore, the faithful spouse has every Biblical justification to end the marriage with God’s blessing (e.g. Mt 5:32 or Mt 19:9). If we realized and taught this Biblically, we may have avoided such foolishness as calling the already devalued to engage in further humiliating acts in an attempt to fluff up an already arrogant adulterous spouse’s ego.
* Years ago, I remember a female Christian leader in the Vineyard denomination share her testimony of how she was raped. She described feeling like tissue paper the next morning–i.e. used and discarded in the trash. This really does capture the gut-level feelings of how I felt with the discovery of the sexual infidelity and the forced divorce. However, God gets the last laugh in this story. My ex-wife threw away gold. And that is what each of you are–faithful spouses–gold. Never forget that even when Satan wants to make you believe you are just used tissue paper.