Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

A Big Decision and A Family’s Support

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During the last few weeks, I’ve tried to help a few women carry the burden of grieving over their husbands’ infidelity. When a Christian woman discovers that the man with whom she has chosen to walk though life, is walking through the most intimate part of life with another woman, the devastation and trauma is greater than that incurred upon the death of a spouse. I believe the Lord knew that the innocent spouse would almost always be the person on the planet who would best be able to discern whether or not a wayward spouse was broken and penitent–whether or not there was a reasonable hope for future fidelity and faithfulness. I believe that’s the reason He grants that innocent one the option (the choice) of divorce and of, one day, marriage again (Matthew 19:9).

As I spoke with one sweet woman recently, she said, “It’s just so hard for me when people in the church think I should just be able to go on as if nothing has happened. They think he’s repented because he came before the church, so I should be able to just go on in our home and be happily married, when, in reality, my husband is unwilling to make substantive changes in the lifestyle that led him down a destructive path. I feel as if they think I am the one who is sinning when I consider divorce, at this point.”

Another woman I met a few months back, wrote this:  “The hardest part was the “advice” of other ministers and Christians that felt I was harsh and unforgiving. But sadly I had suffered in silence for many years and unintentionally covered his indiscretions and trusted his words. The biggest “piece” that people don’t understand is that one mistake is not ‘one mistake’ in an otherwise ‘beautiful marriage’ where infidelity is concerned. It means someone has been lying to you about the most integral and important part of your marriage for months or years and you did not see it. It’s almost like a serial killer who presents themselves as loving and kind to everyone else. That sounds harsh but that’s how it feels. You can’t be a great person but lie and deceive the one you owe the most honesty and respect to.”

Today’s post is not intended to encourage divorce after adultery has taken its toll. I know that, for children and even for spouses who have been subjected to the ultimate pain, there can often be the greatest healing inside the violated marriage. This is the case when there is an acute brokenness over sin and a strong desire to follow God’s plan for restoration; seeking accountability and being willing to pay any price to be holy and have a sanctified marriage.

But I am saying that we, as God’s people should recognize and honor the God-ordained prerogative given the innocent spouse to make that huge call about whether or not to reconcile. We can give counsel when asked. We should pray fervently for wisdom for the hurting spouse. But we should be careful not to subject the spouse who chooses divorce to our harsh judgment. That innocent party is likely experiencing life’s greatest pain as she reaches for her church family. She should be comforted and supported even more than ever before.

God, himself, gave us a picture, through Jeremiah, of the incredible hurt caused by adultery, when he used the physical unfaithfulness of Israel and Judah to allegorize spiritual adultery.  He even spoke of the “return” to God, the one with Whom she had a covenant. He said the return was not with the whole heart, but in pretense.

The Lord said to me in the days of King Josiah: “Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore? And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me,’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore. Because she took her whoredom lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree. Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but in pretense, declares the Lord.”  Jeremiah 3:6-10

Sometimes, the deceit is very deep and the penitence is very shallow. Whatever is the case, the spouse who has remained faithful is given the Biblical right to make a life and eternity decision. His or her family in the Lord should be as accepting of that as is the Lord, Himself.

And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”  Matthew 19:9.

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