And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
-Jeremiah 3:8, KJV
Oddly, pastors and Christian counselors have been known to make the faithful spouse compete to keep the cheater in the marriage. I say oddly as that is clearly not the response God had to brazen adultery as we see here in Jeremiah 3:8.
The competition ought to be flipped.
It is the cheater who ought to be competing to convince the faithful spouse that he or she has changed and truly repented.
And the only way that message will be sent is when pastors and Christian counselors are willing to accept the spiritual fact that God views adultery as godly grounds for divorce.
The cheater must be awakened to the reality that he or she is not entitled to the benefits of marriage to their faithful partner. They squandered such rights when they chose to lie and cheat!
As long as divorce is treated as a long shot option for a faithful spouse as opposed to a default in light of adultery, the cheating partner is further taught that adultery isn’t a big deal. Such is a false teaching.
But that is not the worse of it, sadly. By making or encouraging the faithful partner pursue the cheater, the pastor is counseling further humiliation for the faithful spouse while obscuring the real need in the matter–i.e. the cheater’s repentance. In other words, the pressure to change is on the wrong spouse, and it ought not to surprise that this results in bad outcomes for all.
In sum, divorce needs to be a real option, and not just a theoretical one when dealing with cheating spouses.
*A version of this post ran previously.
Republished with permission from www.divorceminister.com.