Question:

My wife has been inconsistently living at home. It's been one excuse after the other. We have been divorced once before because she committed adultery.

I fear God's judgement on my head and know that I am no perfect person myself. Although I have never physically committed adultery, I have in my heart. I have repented and ask God to forgive me of those sins. I know, because of those sins, it has hurt her in the past and she has held on to that. I've been doing my best to follow God, study the Word, and do as He needs me to, so I can try and become the man of God He has called me to be.

We were remarried several years ago. The first year was very good and we did things as a family. But I recently found out that she spent a night with a guy. She claims that she's innocent of having any sexual relations with him. Through the holidays I caught her coming out of another man's house. Again claiming her innocence, she tells me she wants to stay married to me but again always has an excuse why she can't stay home. I should mention that my wife and I not living in the same house during this time. She's been battling a heroin addiction.

Now I clearly know what the Scriptures state about adultery and divorce and how God hates divorce, but this should give you some clarity if there's adultery. I'm really not looking to move on and remarry. I'm not looking to divorce her or argue who did what in the marriage; I'm trying to work it out. I'm trying to get her to go to counseling. Now some might not understand this insanity but it's due to the fact that I truly love the Lord, and I fear His judgment on both of us. It is a double-edged sword because I worry about the emotional state of my children, but I do not want this in our household either.

Your prayers and insight would be much appreciated.


Answer:

There is no requirement that you must get a divorce. Jesus gave an allowance that if it is chosen because of ongoing fornication, then there is also an option of marrying another person. "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). If you prefer to continue working on your marriage, then that is a commendable choice to make. Too many people give up on their marriages too easily.

However, since you are living separate lives, you really have divorced her in everything but the paperwork. You realize that while she is having issues it is better not to have it in your house and expose your children to it. I'm glad you are not blind to the dangers ongoing sin can have on you and your children. Even if you do decide that you need to have a formal divorce, nothing requires you to get married to someone else. You can continue to work on trying to repair the damage your wife has been causing.

In some ways, you are not looking at the situation clearly. You have been involved in private lust, and I'll assume that pornography was involved. Such is sinful and I'm glad you repented of it, but these sins have nothing to do with your wife's adultery or her drug use. "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself" (Ezekiel 18:20). Even if you lusted for adultery in your thoughts, lust and adultery are two different sins. This doesn't mean you are better than your wife, but it does mean that in no way did you cause your wife's behavior.

Another thing you need to consider is that you may be enabling your wife to sin. "Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Ecclesiastes 8:11). When a person does evil and little or nothing results because of it, the tendency is to repeat the sin and go further into sin. You've caught your wife in adultery twice and she's lied about it. I know she claims no sex took place, but Jesus taught us to look at a person's actions over what a person says (Matthew 7:16-20). Her behavior is that of an adulteress. When you offer forgiveness when she doesn't ask for it and she doesn't change, then you are encouraging to continue to sin. Forgiveness cannot be automatic. Christians are commanded to forgive (Matthew 6:14-15), but like God's forgiveness of us, it is based on the person's change and his request for forgiveness. "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 17:3-4).