After a Saturday football game, my college coaches would take the game “film” and grade how each of us–athletes–performed in that contest.
One category used in their film grading system was called “critical errors.” This label was reserved for mistakes so big that the mistake caused the play to fail.
For an offensive lineman, a critical error might mean completely forgetting a blocking assignment, which led to a defensive player’s free run to the quarterback resulting in a major loss yards.
Any given play, a player or coach could find slight errors in pretty much any player’s performance on the film. A dropped half step here, an angle slightly off, some illegal holding missed by the refs, etc.
It would have been utterly foolish for the player committing “critical errors” to point to these other errors.
The coach–and other players–would not have it!
Those errors were not why the play failed. The critical error was! And it is the critical errors that needed to be eliminated first and foremost.
What does critical errors in playing football have to do with inmarriagefidelity?
A cheater pointing to a faithful spouse’s “failures” is like the player who had committed a critical error trying to blame everyone else in the play for their mistakes.
Just as a player denying the severity of his error is not situated to get better, a cheater denying the severity of his errors is not positioned to get better, either.
A coach who allows the player to distract him from highlighting and dealing with the critical error is not a good coach.
Such a coach serves no one well.
A good pastor–or other Christian leader–needs to keep the critical sin of infidelity first and foremost under consideration until it is thoroughly corrected.
Getting distracted by other “issues” in infidelity ravaged marriage is like spending time exclusively on the slight errors made by other players.
Such is a complete waste of time while you have a player consistently making play-ending critical errors!
One final point from this analogy:
A player consistently making critical errors is not a player who ought to take the field. He is not ready. And he will never be ready unless he takes responsibility for those critical errors and makes changes!
Similarly, a divorce might be necessary to contain the damage.
The cheater needs to be “benched.”
Some people will never take responsibility and learn from their “critical errors.”
This does not mean you have to stick around to suffer for their stubborn refusal to repent.
Marriage is a team “sport.” And one “player” can certainly critically destroy the team by his or her own sinful actions.
God recognizes this, and that is why He offers the mercy to the victimized spouse to end the marriage following such a “critical error” (see Jeremiah 3:8, Matthew 1:19, 19:9, etc).
*A version of this post ran previously.
Republished with permission from www.divorceminister.com.