If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both must die. Purge that evil from Israel.
-Deuteronomy 22:22, The Message (emphasis mine)
One of the most difficult lessons I learned from discovering my first wife’s adultery and going through divorce is that it is okay–in fact, good–to have deal-breakers in friendships. This was a hard lesson for me to learn due to the Christian culture in which I was raised.
Somehow, I internalized a message that a “good Christian” seeks to be everyone’s friend. It was unthinkable to deliberately exclude someone regardless of the rationale. That would be so “unchristian.”
The truth is that even Jesus was not friends with everyone including fellow Jews! Ask the Pharisees.
And it is biblical (e.g. 1 Corinthians 5:11, 2 Corinthians 6:14, etc). It is wise to have deal-breakers in friendships, and this is doubly-so when sorting through relationships following an adulterous betrayal.
I quoted the verse from Deuteronomy 22 for its clear depiction of adultery as an evil touching the whole community.
Too often, modern people look at it as merely a marriage issue. Adultery impacts a whole web of relationships. “Friendships” included (and maybe especially).
Part of the grief process following adultery and divorce is grieving lost “friendships.”
This happens when we identify our friendship deal-breakers–e.g. I will not be friends with someone insisting on blaming me for my ex-wife’s adultery and abandonment of me–and enforce these boundaries. It is painful, and part of learning who are true friends.
Those “friends” are the sort that you may have had genuine good times with in the past, but–for whatever reasons–have decided to support the cheater and his/her narrative of blame-shifting.
My general opinion on such matters is to rebuke once–assuming you are still in significant contact–then walk away if the “friend” refuses to repent a la Luke 17:3 guidelines.
Just as you are not obligated to stay and sort out why a cheater refuses to choose godliness and repent, you are not obligated to stick around to figure out why the “friend” is okay with being an ancillary agent of evil.
They are not your friend.
You are under no moral, Christian obligation to stick around to take further blame-shifting or gas-lighting abuse. There are better people out there more worthy of your time and heart.
*A version of this post ran previously.