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Question:
In a widely recommended Christian “pre-marital handbook” a question is asked…”If a spouse were to be unfaithful, should they “come clean” to their partner?” The answer given caught me off guard, but I can see some validity to it. The answer was that if the adulterous spouse were to cut off all contact with the extra-marital affair, and ask forgiveness, then there was no reason to hurt the offended spouse by telling them the truth. I can understand that to a point, but should we not be held accountable? Does the spouse have a “right” to know?

Answer:

This is going to be an answer strictly based on my personal opinion because it is very subjective in nature.

If we are talking about adultery, assuming the physical act has occurred (versus something less like just a kiss), I would disagree with the conclusion you stated.

Even if the offending party has “cut off all contact and asked forgiveness” for the adultery, they cannot deny the spouse the right to know it has occurred, and exercise their right to respond emotionally and Biblically.

Adultery severely disrupts, if not destroys the “oneness” of a marriage. To hold that in secret out of some sort of “I’ll save them from the pain” is TOO LITTLE TOO LATE in my opinion.

Even though technically and spiritually it can be argued to be the same thing, I would more agree with the possibility of sparing your spouse the pain if the “unfaithfulness” were in the form of flirting, intimate conversation or even kissing (though that is a VERY subjective and personal decision to be carefully made with a clear, Holy Spirit led conscience).

I think at some time in most people’s life they had an inappropriate thought, communication or contact with the opposite sex. As Christians we are not immune to those temptations. To run home and say “honey, I saw this beautiful woman today and for a few minutes I lusted after her” is both counter productive to the marriage and needlessly cruel. Those are the types of sin that we can ask God’s forgiveness for, make the necessary emotional and physical changes to keep it from happening again, and move on. In typical circumstances, it would be more something you would confess to a mentor, pastor, or accountability partner, not burden your spouse with.

If the physical act has occurred (you know what I’m talking about; don’t want to be graphic in this family-friendly environment) then I don’t think the offender has the RIGHT to deny that knowledge to the victimized spouse. It’s too serious, too life changing, too damaging… and they deserve the right to know, respond and make decisions based on the truth.

To hide it from them by some misguided effort to save them from “the pain”…. that concern should have been present BEFORE the adultery.

The only exception I could see to this POSSIBLY, is in the event that the adultery occurred many years ago, and the couple have now become Christians, or have grown in their faith. With much counsel from other mature Christians, I could see the POSSIBLE benefit to leaving that in the past for the sake of the future.

But a current situation? I would have to say from my experience with many situations like this, that it IS THE RIGHT of the offended spouse to get to know about any adultery that has occurred. It represents the ultimate betrayal and destruction of the marriage covenant and the victimized partner should be able to consider all their Biblical options.

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