See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral….

-Hebrews 12:15-16a, NIV

What bothers me is how the word “bitter” is used to discredit and silence victims of adultery. People who do this are failing to attend to the great grief inherent in these situations. It is another injustice of the whole experience.

Also, I notice how some faithful spouses run scared from this label.

They know that they do not want to be labelled “bitter.” So, they struggle with processing or owning their own experiences. This makes me sad. It troubles my heart.

Church and faith communities ought to be the safest places to unpack one’s hurting heart. We ought to be able to be real. The misuse of this label undermines this.

Also, I would note how the context of this verse is almost always ignored. People do not talk about the charge to live holy lives free from sexual immorality. That charge isn’t taken as seriously as being free from “bitter root.” Interesting.