The Ask Affaircare Series started because our readers have questions. About Affairs. Reconciling. Marriage. Divorce. Christianity. The Bible. And God. Initially, we tried to answer each question through e-mail, but we quickly realized that there were many people asking many similar questions, so we started this weekly series!
It’s not our goal to make you agree with us, but rather to explore what the Bible says in thoughtful, and clear manner. Additionally, we try to write our answers in a loving but truthful manner (Ephesians 4:15) because we know there is a real person – with real struggles and dreams – behind every single question. Thank for you visiting Affaircare. Keep those questions coming!
Our email question today comes from a devastated wife, who writes:
I just heard a message from another married woman specifically meant for my spouse’s ears only telling him how much she enjoyed their <intimate moment>. I told him that because of his infidelity that I am divorcing him. He has had continual affairs in our 30+ years of marriage. Never did I get any form of confirmation; but this time I have proof. I really despise the thought of my husband sleeping with other women and with me too. He’s the only one that I have ever had sex with. It hurts so bad knowing that he’s <putting my health in harm’s way> by sleeping with me and others at the same time.
I love the LORD and I want to do his will.
PLEASE HELP ME!
Dear Devastated Wife,
I am so sorry that we are meeting under circumstances like this. A marriage of 30+ years is a long time and I’m sure you have been through the “better, worse, richer, poorer, sickness and health” that life over 30+ years gives. Please do know that you are in our prayers. Discovering an affair is so painful, and after such a long marriage, I’m sure it’s even worse.
So in your email you pretty much cry out for us to help you, and you do let us know that you love the Lord. Devastated wife, I want to remind you that we can maybe give you some tips and suggestions, but that your HOPE is in the LORD… not in us. HE can save you. All we do is point you to Him.
So what does the Lord say in instances like this? Well we know that God considers marriage a covenant and He takes covenants VERY seriously. The bible verse we use here at Affaircare as our foundation verse addresses covenants: “You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised.” ~Deuteronomy 23:23. And we’ve all heard that famous verse about God hating divorce (Malachi 2:16) but listen to the whole paragraph that verse is in! It’s all about breaking covenant through divorce–listen to Malachi 2:10-16:
“Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another? … Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. ‘The man who hates and divorces his wife,’ says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘does violence to the one he should protect,’ says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.“
So I think we can agree that God does take the marriage covenant very seriously, even if we do not. And He HATES IT when one of the marriage partners is unfaithful and does violence to the ones s/he should protect! WOW!
God’s purpose for marriage is to mirror His relationship with us, for spouses to complete each other and offer companionship (Gen. 2:18), and to create a godly legacy (Deut. 6:6)…a place where children could grow up to learn values, character and integrity. Since we are sinners, we pervert EVERYTHING, and we perverted marriage too. Rather than our relationships with each other mirroring His perfect love for His Bride (us), our relationships are broken and we are not intimately known by our spouses and instead we desire others. Rather than our marriages completing each other and offering companionship, our marriages are broken and we hide ourselves from each other and choose spouses based on “what’s in it for me?” Rather than creating a godly legacy, our families are broken and our children see us living with self-centered values, no morals, and dishonesty. Clearly we are not meeting God’s purpose for marriage!
It would be nice if we could just end this blog right here and say “There is no reason for divorce ever. Husbands are to love their wives–Wives are to respect their husbands” The End. Wouldn’t it? But in real life husbands are sometimes unloving, and wives are disrespectful. In Matthew 19, Jesus was asked about this and here’s what He said (Matthew 19:1-8):
“When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They (the Pharisses) asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” he (Jesus) replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” “Why then,” they (the Pharissees) asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
What can we learn from this passage? To make it easier to understand, I made the Pharisees’ comments blue, and I made Jesus’ answers red. The Pharisees were asking Jesus if a married man could divorce his wife for “any and every reason.” In other words, “He’s having a cranky day and she’s not pleasing him–can he divorce her? She’s talking back. She lost her looks. She’s critical. Can he divorce her over that?” What did Jesus say? He says that the Creator put them together and intended for them to become ONE (very intimate with each other physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually)…so how can you separate what God has put together? But then the Pharisees asked a pretty good question! They said “Well why did Moses tell us we could get divorced then?” And look at Jesus’ reply!! He says that Moses PERMITTED (not demanded, not commanded, not required) divorce because the people’s HEARTS WERE HARD! In other words, Moses “allowed” it because the people were sinful and determined to do what displeased God!! And then Jesus really makes it clear: “Anyone who divorces EXCEPT FOR SEXUAL IMMORALITY commits adultery.”
So from this passage we can see that if you divorce because your spouse didn’t make you happy–you are committing adultery. If you divorce because “the two of you grew apart” that’s infidelity. If you divorce because “sometimes mommies and daddies just stop loving each other” you are unfaithful. But look closely: the one and only righteous exception is divorcing due to sexual immorality. Now it does not say that if your spouse is sexually immoral that you MUST divorce them, but rather that you are permitted. It is allowed. Make sense?
Further, let’s look at what the Apostle Paul says. In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t look at just one verse, but rather at the whole paragraph surrounding a verse to make sure to get context. Okay let’s look at I Corinthians 7: 10-16 (really you could start at verse 1):
“To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?”
What can we learn from this passage? Well, do you know of a couple where one lives in “the city” and the other lives somewhere else, and they are perpetually separated and live as if they are single–dating and sleeping with anyone? Paul makes it pretty clear that married people are not supposed to separate, unless it’s for a short time of prayer and spiritual growth, and then we are to come back together and be reconciled! He also makes it clear that a husband isn’t supposed to destroy his marriage and family by divorcing his wife! Then he goes into this question: “Well what if my spouse isn’t a Christian?” and he says if the non-believer wants to stay married–coolness show them God’s love through witnessing how you live! But if the non-believer wants to divorce, what does the Apostle Paul say? “Let it be so. The Christian brother or sister is not bound in that circumstance; God calls us to live in peace.”
So there are two instances where a divorce is “allowed” but not required: sexual immorality and if your spouse is a non-believer and wants to leave.
Now Devastated wife, you have mentioned that YOU love the Lord and want to do His will, but you do not mention if your husband claims to be a Christian, if he says he loves the Lord, or if he wants to do God’s will. I would posit that if your husband has committed adultery multiple times, it doesn’t seem like he is repentant or acting in a way that is pleasing to God. So if your husband IS a Christian and you are convinced that he is depending upon Jesus Christ to pay the penalty of his sin, then the first thing you would have to do is to encourage your brother in Christ to do the right thing and stop the adultery. If he has hardened his heart and will not stop doing what he knows is sin, you can use Matthew 18:15-17 for instructions on how to proceed. We also have two resources for you: the Affaircare “Just Found Out” page and our article “Seven Steps You Can Take to End an Affair.” You’ve already done Step 1 (Gather Evidence) and you already have proof…so start on Step 2, which matches with the verses in Matthew 18.
If you are considering divorce, I suggest that you seek God, pray about it, and take your time reaching your decision. Read God’s word and be sure to look for what GOD wants and not what you want. I pray that my reply here has been a blessing to you.