This is the fourth lesson in this series and it asks the question, “What happens if you do face infidelity?” Does finding that your spouse was unfaithful mean that you must get a divorce? NO! It means you have a problem to deal with.

There was a Nazarene congregation that came to me to find out if the wife of a man who had been unfaithful would be deemed the “innocent party” and thus allowed, by their rules and understanding of scripture, to remarry.  Her husband had certainly made a mess of their lives by his promiscuous behavior and was guilty of infidelity beyond any doubt. I asked the group one question, “Can you think of any way that a wife who is miserable in her marriage could behave in any way that might encourage her husband to eventually be unfaithful and therefore take the blame for their failure?”  They looked at me and then at each other in utter amazement at the thought. No one could come up with an answer. I laughed at their reluctance to be creative and within minutes we had developed a long list of things that we have all done to each other in our marriages at one time or another. Were any of those things grounds to go out and find a mistress? NO. And neither were they grounds for divorce because all they did was make everyone miserable!  “If momma isn’t happy, there ain’t nobody happy.”  You understand?

The church leaders still wanted to grant this very nice lady a second chance to be happily married. They gave her the status of “innocent party” and she married a second time with the church’s blessing. In just a very short time her new husband was so frustrated they were considering divorce again.

If you are searching for “innocence” you have to look somewhere other than inside a marriage. We know our spouses too well. We allow our emotions and feelings to lash out at those who seem to have let us down and have not loved us like we imagined they should. We punish each other. We make it a challenge for our spouse to walk in the door sometimes! We even convince ourselves that we are “justified” to act and feel this way. We may even get so “high and mighty” that we feel that punishing them is just what they deserve!

It is much more about your future than about your past

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 in the Message translation, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – Watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely.”

What I ask people who have come to me is this; “Are you ready to learn a new way to live? Are you willing to let me show you how God intended you to behave? Are you ready to start living a grace-filled life of love?” I know there are churches that believe that once a person is divorced, they can never be allowed to be remarried in the church. The scripture records Jesus telling his followers that a divorced wife is forced “to commit adultery with the man she remarries” Matthew 5:32. I read that in context and it teaches me that his words were a warning to husbands to not divorce their wives for even the most serious reasons because it places the woman he committed to love for his entire life under a death sentence!  Now how loving is it to take a lifetime partner and “throw her under the bus”? I hear more warning in those words for the divorcing husband.…who has now committed MURDER….than even for the wife who remarries. In the culture of that day, every woman was forced to marry or become worse than a beggar in the street.

We can talk more about this issue in the discussion of divorce but for right now we will work with the idea that Jesus did not throw people away like a used tissue tossed into the gutter. He loved them and restored them to health. That is what I see my calling to be.

Come and learn a better way

If you have been betrayed, come and learn a new way to live. If you have broken your vows and hurt those who trusted you, come and find out how to love and not fail again.  If you have been fighting the battle and can’t trust each other once they are out of sight, stop living that way any longer. Why keep doing the same things that damage and destroy?

Forgiveness and Grace instead of anger and rage

No one comes to the Pastor’s office and asks if he will perform a wedding service for them, while they are thinking of when they will divorce from each other. At this point, they are completely thrilled that life will always be wonderful with this perfect person! But, we talk about what happens when failures take place and sorrow falls.  Am I trying to take the edge off of their joy and happiness?  No, but each couple needs to know how to live with an attitude of grace toward their spouse. They need to understand the concept of forgiveness and forgetfulness.

If you did not get those lessons before there were problems, learn them now.  You may be facing the greatest test of your married lives, you need the lessons and you need them NOW!

You may just feel like there are chronic tensions that are weakening the trust and joy in your relationship. Don’t live “half a life” instead of a life “full and running over”.  Search our website for other lessons that will help you learn new ways to improve your marriage relationship.

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