Question:

Good Day,

Please, can you help me? My husband had an affair and a child was conceived. He first lied to me, saying it was a one night standing due to issues he had with his mother. But that was a lie. He was in a full relationship with the lady. He has asked for forgiveness, which has been difficult and even worse now that the child is around.

He is constantly in the child's life, which makes me feel so betrayed. I even regret marrying him. Someday I wish I could just walk away from this marriage because of the misery he has caused.

We are both Christians, and I have been praying so hard for God to heal the pain. He has asked God for forgiveness, but our lives will never be the same with what he has done.

Please, can you help? The pain won't go away.

Answer:

There are two things to consider: your marriage and your salvation.

When a spouse commits adultery, God does allow the innocent spouse to divorce and remarry. "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). It is not a requirement. As Jesus explained earlier, divorce was only allowed because of the stubbornness of people. "He said to them, 'Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so'" (Matthew 19:8). In other words, this is not how God wants marriage to function.

The second consideration is the matter of forgiveness. "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions" (Matthew 6:14-15).  When someone sins against a Christian, he is required to forgive. Now, like God's forgiveness, that forgiveness is based on the sinner giving up his sin. "Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him" (Luke 17:3). We cannot read people's minds as God can, so we must rely on what a person says and on his actions. If a Christian refuses to forgive another who has repented of his sins, then the Christian's own salvation is at risk. That was the point of Jesus' parable:

"For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.' And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.

"But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, 'Pay back what you owe.' So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you.' But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.

"So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, 'You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?' And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart" (Matthew 18:23-35).

If adultery occurs in a marriage, I would urge the innocent party to try to get her spouse to give up his adultery because his salvation is in jeopardy. If he stubbornly clings to his sin, then the innocent party knows she has done all she could and if she decides to end the marriage, she won't carry any personal burdens. But if he does repent, then she must forgive him for her own salvation. Forgiveness means there is no personal debt. The forgiven person is treated as if the sin had not occurred (though it is true that the memory will be hard to set aside). That would mean that she chooses not to end her marriage.

Now, people are known to lie. It is possible that someone says they have repented, but their actions show they have not changed. Actions always speak louder than words.

In this case, the child is innocent. It wasn't his fault that he resulted from a sinful relationship (Ezekiel 18:20). Your husband is responsible for the child's well-being because the child is the result of his choices. It is a consequence of his sin. He can try to adopt the child if you approve. He can send financial support through the state. He can share joint custody with the adultress. However, he needs to minimize any contact with the adultress to show that he has changed and will not be tempted to return to his sin.

You and he need to sit down with someone, such as an elder, and work out a way to deal with the aftermath of his sin, both in regard to your forgiveness of him and his responsibility to the child. Life won't go back to the way it used to be. Sin always causes more damage than you would expect. However, you can move forward and become stronger servants of God as a result of this trial. Learn to let go of the pain for your sake and for those you love.

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