I wonder if Jesus would approve my getting divorced and how do you forgive a husband who is an unrepentant adulterer?


I am seriously considering divorcing my husband.  We are separated and I have reason to believe he has committed adultery.  I understand that if he has, and I divorce him, I am free to marry another.  However, I see it is an option given to us in scripture under such circumstances.  My dilemma is that while I feel it is an option, I wonder whether Jesus, under such circumstances would exercise such option. I love Jesus and I want to be like him. I feel that Jesus would not exercise the option, however, I really don't know whether I have much choice.

My husband has made it very clear that he has no desire to reconcile.  In the past, I have begged him for that.  Throughout our separation, he has given me mixed signals: sometimes he seems like the wonderful caring man I married and just when I begin to be hopeful about our marriage, he deliberately pushes me away by acting hostile and saying mean and hurtful things. I have wanted to believe it was because he may have been feeling hurt himself, but deep down I feel it may be his involvement with another woman, possibly women. He is very attractive, and has, throughout his life, sought self-validation through promiscuity.  He knows the Scriptures, and although he tries to fight it, he doesn't really know how, and refuses to listen or get help.

Very often, my husband very bluntly states that the only reason he hasn't divorced me is that he doesn't have the money to do so.  Most recently, he has told me to move on with my life because he has already moved on with his.  To a great extent, I have begun the process of moving on with my life, and find some happiness in the idea of starting fresh.  We have a child together, and for months I have been willing to overlook many things, for my child's sake.  Now, however, I have begun doing what is in the best interest of me and my child.  Sometimes that means making decisions that my husband may or may not like.  It bothers me to do anything he doesn't like, but I have grown to realize, that honestly, it seems there is nothing I can do to please him.  So my only aim is just to please God.  He blames me constantly, for everything, and fails to realize that the power to turn our situation around has laid with him, I have been willing.  I've tried for a long time to work things out with him, but all he seems to do is blame and want to bargain "If you do this, then I'll go to counseling", "If you do that then I'll do this." It gets tiresome when I know it's just an excuse for the fact that he has broken his vows and no longer desires to be married to me.

This last decision as to whether to file for the divorce is the final step in that process of me moving on.  I have satisfied myself that I have done everything I can possibly do to reconcile with him, to no avail.  I want to make sure that God will not be displeased with me for giving up on him. Many people have given up on him, and he expects that, but I, as his wife, wanted to be the one person in his life who never gave up on him.  I no longer have that desire after being treated the way he has treated me.  What I now desire is to make sure that God will not view my giving up on my husband and my marriage, as a lack of faith that he can fix things, "Is there anything too hard for God?"  The problem is, how do you forgive someone, who doesn't really care if you forgive them or not, and who doesn't want to reconcile?  How do I show God that I believe in his power to change people's hearts, yet do what is best for myself and my son, which appears to be moving on?  I really need some direction.  When I don't know what do, I usually do nothing, just wait on the Lord.  This is where I am now, but I'm not sure how long I can really stay here.  How do I know that the answer from God is to wait? The answer might be no -- move on?


I'm really saddened by your situation, but I also think you know the answer, though you don't want to face it.

It is Jesus who said, "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery" (Matthew 19:9). Your case falls directly in the exception clause that Jesus gave. Your husband is an unrepentant adulterer. Because of his choice, God gives you the right to leave him and leave you free to remarry another.

Yes, ideally when a person commits adultery effort should be made on the spouse's part to restore their erring spouse. It is important for the marriage, but it is even more important for that person's soul's sake. What is sad is that your husband rebuffed your efforts, but that was his choice, not yours. Too many people look at adultery as their ticket out of an unwanted marriage, but that doesn't appear to be true in your case. You made a sincere effort to restore your husband to truth and his marriage only to be rejected.

Jesus taught, "Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him" (Luke 7:3-4). You husband sinned, you rebuked him and encouraged him to change, but he has not repented of his sins. You stand ready and able to forgive him, but as you noted until he changes you can't forgive someone who remains in his sins. It is no different from God who also tells us to repent of our sins. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9). Yet, He cannot give forgiveness if a person refuses to turn from his sins.

So, yes, for both you and your son's sake, it is time to move on in life. If someday in the distant future your ex-husband does repent of his sins against you and God, then happily forgive him. But in the meantime, you have a child to raise to serve the Lord and not the flesh. You won't be successful if your unrepentant husband remains involved.

Don't be in a rush to find another spouse. There is a strong tendency to rebound after a break-up. Take your time, makes sure you don't accept just anyone as your next husband. You don't want to repeat the last mistake or make a worse mistake in selecting your next husband. And I think Paul's advice to the widows is one you ought to heed as well. "A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord" (I Corinthians 7:39).

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