Friday, March 28, 2008

Staying Together after Adultery

There's a good article on staying together after adultery in The Age today:

It's great to see this in a secular forum! So often the secular response is something along the lines of "kick 'em to the curb".

Biblically the following is relevant:
  • Jesus said divorce in the case of adultery is acceptable, but does not say it is mandatory (Mt 5:31-32, 19:8-9; Mk 10:5-9).
  • Jesus said divorce was instituted because of the "hardness of people's hearts" (Mk 10:5) but this was never God's intention.
  • God hates divorce (Mal 2:16)
  • We have all sinned. As Christians God has forgiven us our unpayable debt, we should not be "unmerciful servants" who after being forgiven our unpayable debt, do not forgive others their smaller debt to us (Mt 18:21-35)
  • We should forgive as the Lord forgave us (Col 3:13)
  • If a non-believer wants to divorce a believer, the believer is not under any obligation (1 Cor 7:12-16)

I think a good rule of thumb is this, a marriage isn't over until God says so. There are clear scriptural guide lines that should cover the majority of cases (1 Cor 7 is good on this topic). Beyond that I think a good application of "...what God has joined together, let man not separate." (Mk 10:9) is to say that UNTIL God says to let go, hang on. If God joins together, only He has the right and the ability to seperate.

My understanding is that there may come a time when God says to let go. Only He knows the full outcome before it happens. Only He knows whether your spouse will repent or not. Only He knows the good that you may do in the meantime by hanging on and fighting (e.g. 1 Cor 7:16). But until such a time as He says to let go (and says so a few times, and this sits comfortably with a few wise counsellors) we should proceed from the conviction that God's ideal is the restoration of the marriage and we should work towards that end.

We do not lose anything by "putting all your eggs in God's basket" and trusting Him for marital reconciliation in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, even when it is excruiatingly painful. He is faithful and works "all things together for good for those who love Him" (Rm 8:28), whether that means persevering in loving and honouring our spouse in a broken marriage or whether it means being divorced. God is more than capable of healing whatever pain is sustained under either circumstance. We can absolutely trust Him to care for us and carry us through such times of trial when we are being obedient to His will.

God bless,

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