WHEN A HUSBAND IS UNFAITHFUL
The New Testament picture of the Bride and the Bridegroom representing the
Church and Jesus Christ (John 3:29) should tip us off to the importance God
places on the "oneness" between a man and a woman in marriage (Matthew
19:4-6). It isn't just a verbal agreement or a bodily joining. It's a
union of body, soul, and mind. When sexual infidelity arises in the
marriage, damage is done to both parties at all three levels. It doesn't
matter if it was only once. (I Corinthians 6:15-17, Hebrews 13:4).
Let's look at some of the things that are going to help restore health (or
establish it for the first time!) in a relationship that has been broken by
unfaithfulness by the husband due to homosexual behaviour.
Confession of Sin
Secrets hurt a marriage. Many wives already know something is wrong even
if they haven't put their finger on it. Many assume heterosexual problems
and wonder about "the other woman." Her tension and anger should be dealt
with, allowed to be talked about, "before the sun goes down," (Ephesians
4:26-27), before she is incapable of dealing with her hurt in a Christ-like
way and it becomes impacted and turns to bitterness.
Of course it's risky. Husbands often say they are concerned that their
wives will leave them if they know the truth. The fact is, very few
conservative Christian women are just going to up and walk away. They love
their husbands and take their marriage vows very seriously.
A woman should have the ability to choose whether she stays or goes. If
she doesn't know about the infidelity, the husband is keeping her on false
pretences. It will be a test of the marriage commitment for her, but in
the long run it will benefit the husband to know that she has willingly
stayed to help him face his issues.
Silence compounds the break in the relationship. Covering up or denying
sexual sin is lying. (Ephesians 4:25). Saving the bad news for a more
opportune time, or when she is in a "good" mood, really only spares the
husband's feelings. It doesn't spare hers in the long run. Admittance to
sin probably will be easier on her if it doesn't occur on a holiday or
Men who are homosexually active, even if only involved in mutual
masturbation, are capable of bringing home to the wife a variety of
sexually-transmitted diseases, many of which can go undetected in a woman
and cause immense bodily harm, even death. This includes syphilis,
gonorrhea, herpes and AIDS, not to mention the humiliation of pubic lice
and scabies. Kids are at risk, too.
A woman needs to know if she is in danger so that she can go to an STD
clinic for an exam to protect her health. At the clinic all she needs to
say is that her husband is homosexually-active. She need not list the
specific behaviours he engages in, so he doesn't have to tell her
specifically what he does. Most clinicians will take cultures from the
throat, vagina, and anus. It's important that the wife understand that
many general practitioners aren't educated to detect a variety of STD's, so
she must insist on cultures from all parts of her body.
How To Confess
Many unfaithful husbands ask for forgiveness at the same time as admitting
or confessing to sin. Theologically this may be correct, but all to often,
the shocked woman is incapable of registering and expressing all her
reactions. She may offer "forgiveness" somewhat automatically, but it's
not a true forgiveness because she has not had the time to assimilate the
This is not a one-time-only discussion, and then it's forgotten. This will
have to be an on-going discussion for some days or weeks. It may take a
third party, a professional counsellor for instance, to really make sure
both parties are "coming clean" with all of their feelings. True
forgiveness can only be extended when hurt has been brought to the surface
and disappointment, grief, and anger dealt with appropriately according to
Ephesians chapter 4 principles.
Saying "I'm sorry" unfortunately can be just a surface reaction in hopes of
avoiding conflict. Accepting such an apology can be done for the same
The husband need not share the identity of those he is involved with
sexually. The conversation should be a serious one, not rushed in the last
minutes before going off to work. The wife shouldn't be the only person
confessed to either. She cannot bear the spiritual responsibility of
bringing objective correction and counsel. He needs to make moves toward
sharing his problems with a friend, a counsellor, or a pastor, bearing in
mind the fact that repentance must move him in the direction of getting
real help. Many friends are not capable of giving directions where
homosexuality is concerned.
Hearing the Confession
Grief, beginning with shock, denial, and disbelief, is a pretty common
reaction to hearing that the man she's loved and lived with is
homosexually-active. It will often cause a woman to question her husband's
intentions when he married her (to cover his activities, for instance) and
it will attack who she is as a woman (why wasn't I enough for him?). This
is why she needs plenty of time to talk about her feelings. If things are
too quickly swept under the carpet, these strong emotions will poison her
spirit and mind, and ultimately kill her love and commitment.
Repeated sexual sin will be greeted by numbness on her part. What can she
say that she hasn't said, cried, screamed already? The marriage may remain
intact, but she is gone from it -- a course that happens all too often for
conservative Christian women for whom separation or divorce is no option.
To remain in the marriage, the woman must come to understand that she is
not the cause of her man's homosexuality. His problems pre-date their
wedding, and go back to childhood issues which are now coupled with
reinforcement gained from adult decisions to pursue sin. To escape his own
issues, a husband may relapse into accusations that if she were less of a
nag, a better housekeeper, slimmer, etc, things would be fine. It's all a
subterfuge, however, designed to throw her into a panic and begin taking
responsibility again for his sin.
The wife should be under no obligation to engage in sexual relations until
the husband has been given a clean bill of health from an STD clinic. It
might feel like punishment, but in the long run, it's only good sense.
Making a point of going each time he falls will help the man reckon with
the consequences of his behaviour and be a factor in his decision to
Communication breakdown typifies what goes on in a relationship broken by
infidelity. The woman who has been unaware of sexual unfaithfulness will
be less impressed by a husband's abstinence than a revitalization in his
communication with her. That can be very frustrating to a man, who has
"turned his face like flint" to sexual sin, but is not getting much in the
way of acknowledgement from the woman on his successes.
He has to realise that she puts a premium on intimacy in conversation, good
stewardship of finances, time spent with the family, and a commitment to
growth in Christ. When sexual abstinence is attained, but there is no
change in these other areas which are nearly always in trouble where
there's sexual infidelity, then she's going to conclude, and rightfully,
that things aren't changing much.
If a believer doesn't experience transformation from the inside out, and
only brings outward behaviour under control, then that person is only
becoming a non-practicing sinner (or a non-practicing homosexual, as the
gay community would say). God doesn't think that's change either.
It's entirely possible that a woman might choose to leave her man just when
it seems like he's making real headway in gaining freedom from
homosexuality because he has become impossible to live with: withdrawn,
self-centred, only talking about his problems, being with "ex-gay" friends
rather than family and church friends, or even possibly acting out in other
ways, like excessive spending, to compensate for lack of self-esteem in
Homosexuality is a long time in the forming and it won't be dealt with in a
few counseling sessions or a prayer session or two. The wife needs to pass
through normal stages like trying to "rescue" her husband herself, but,
finally settling down to 2 to 3 years of personal discovery and growth in
Jesus. In the same time, it's possible that her husband, with diligent
surrender in all emotional/sexual areas of his life, will find himself
truly becoming a new creation in Christ. Patience, love, and forgiveness,
on both sides will facilitate that growth.
-- Robbi Kenney
For further information about homosexuality or about other areas of sexual
brokenness, please contact:
LOVE IN ACTION
G.P.O. Box 1115
ADELAIDE SA 5001
Phone (08) 371 0446
This article is reprinted by permission from
P O Box 33039
Seattle WA 98133-0039
MINISTRY TO HOMOSEXUALS
Database Listing - Ministry To
Christian Resources on Homosexuality on the web
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