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March 14, 2008

Stand by Your Man?

Spitzers So I was just reading this article on Newsweek called "The Wronged Wives Club" about the wives on the other side of the notorious political scandals and it led me to a question.

The Bible stands against divorce except in the case of adultery. I'm curious what our readers think about "standing by your man" when it comes to cases of grave misconduct and adultery like this Spitzer case. Would it ever be a more moral choice to condemn a husband by divorcing him than to condone his actions by staying by his side? Or does it depend on the heart of the sinner? I guess there's always Hosea to cite as an example for staying.

Tell me your thoughts.

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I'm not qualified to comment on being a wife :-) , but I believe it's a brilliantly cruel strategy of the husbands to unload the news and then swiftly drag her in front of the cameras where she's been conditioned by the campaign trail to be professional. It's certainly a respite for him from her tears and fury.

As to the main issue, I think the question is whether or not the husband, like all of us, is instantaneously irredeemable. (And to be honest, I just wanted to use that combination of 5- and 6-syllable words in a post before any of my more intelligent colleagues did.)

Funny you should bring that up, Catherine. This question has circulating through several different circles since the Spitzer case came out. While I've heard quite a few arguments for both sides, I would say either decision for the wife in this situation is a win-win (or lose-lose)situation.

If she stands by her man, she could be honored for walking out her promise to stand by him. And if she chooses to leave him, she would be justified for it, as well. At a fist glance, I tend to side on the side of fighting it out. However, I can remember most distinctly, my parents (who have been marriage counselors for years with dozens of successful marriages comebacks) counsel a wife of a man who was repeatedly caught in adultery to leave him. I remember my mother being rather convicted about this, which seemed strange since my parents are outspokenly against divorce. However, my parents realized that in sticking it out, this women was not helping her husband. She was allowing him to remain in his sin year after year after year with no consequences. It was unhealthy for her to stick it out and keep forgiving him. He was getting away with murder and she was paying for it.

So I'd say the wife has freedom in the case of adultery. I'm all for forgiveness, but when it comes to repeated sin, I think the wife has a right to leave and maybe even a responsibility. I'd be interested to hear others thoughts, as well.


I'd think it'd have to be on a case by case basis. Certainly the wife would be justified in demanding a divorce in all cases. Whether she does so or not is up to her.


Only one comment: if children are involved, it is almost always better for their sakes that the marriage remain intact. Any exceptions to that principle would be exceedingly rare, like if the mom is the adulterer and is bringing partners into the home. Then the children are truly being endangered. (to preempt an anticipated retort - morally it would be just as bad for dad to bring women home, but statistically women are much less likely to prey upon children).


Have we created a false decision here? Why is the only choice between staying married-and-together and divorce? Isn't an option of staying married and the wife choosing to live separately an option as well, until such time as her husband proves himself trustworthy? This would seem to be the action most closely adhering to the Bible's teachings, right?

...or ... does that feel unfair? Westerners tend to think: "Why, after all, shouldn't the woman be allowed to be happy by remarrying?"

As much sympathies as I have for that perspective, I'm not sure it's particularly biblical.

And we're talking *biblical* worldview here, right?

Jason Taylor

I would agree with Steve. I would think the decision would rest on the effect on outsiders. If no one else is hurt, the victim should forgive their erring husband or wife(stand by goes both ways).
Part of the reason for permitting divorce in the case of adultery in Jesus' time might be that a tribe's honor was affected by it's members chastity and a scandal could hurt people who had nothing to do with it. If they were anything like the Arabs, business agreements, politics, the employment of family members and all such things could be affected by a families reputation. It might be that at times it would be a way of keeping the damage caused to family to a minimum. Then too
Jesus did not say divorce in the case of
adultery was merciful. He just said it was not adultery. And by implication was not perjury either. Mercy must transcend justice and Jesus was saying what was merely just.


I think her forgiving her husband or deciding to divorce him is between her and God. Jesus drew the line in the sand and said, Go and sin no more. I personally forgave the first time, but the marriage had been damaged beyond repair.

Jason Taylor

That is probably true, and I would not presume to rebuke her strongly if she did divorce him. I was discussing the issue in abstract terms.
In the army, people who talk to much who have no experience are called "garrittroopers"(as far as I know the word is not a profanity though it is an insult). I have no wish to be a garrittrooper. Which is why, when I talk about forgiveness toward extreme wrongs which have never been done to me, I must make it clear that I am talking in theory.


She should definitely not divorce him until after the start of her second term as President.

Name purpousely omitted

As a former wife who contacted Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and infertility from my former spouses’ child producing affair (He didn’t waste his time on merely cheating on me), I have a particularly painful story. I thought I was supposed to forgive and that my sexually transmitted disease and his lust child weren’t my spouses’ intention. I was wrong. His intention wasn’t faithfulness (regardless of the extra marital affair) nor was it accepting responsibility, repenting and redressing me (as if it were possible to unmaim me.) He demonstrated his true intentions with a secondary external relationship which ended our marriage. Looking back at the situation 25 years later, I wish a wise person had told me to ignore the monetary mess my spouse created and to keep myself away from him until he accepted responsibility, repented and redressed me. Then if he didn't demonstrate repentance, I could have divorced him then rather than wasting another eight years on the relationship.
Adulterous politicians drag their spouses to the press conferences to demonstrate that their wife is standing behind them and show that all is forgiven, as in so you the public can follow suit and forgive me too. The average wife, being a decent human being, is hurt and confused, and wouldn’t want to throw him out publicly. The politicians exploit their spouses’ decency for political benefit.
As for adultery being the only reason for divorce, sorry, don’t think so. My husband just broke my heart and fallopian tubes. Common sense tells us to protect women and chlidren who are being emotionally, physically and sexually hurt. I sure hope that all who call themselves Christians tell women to stay away from abusers until they have demonstrated repentance.
(Thanks for leaving my name off)


Leaving an unfaithful husband depends on many circumstances that has existed during the course of a marriage. Both infidelity and absuive behavior takes a strong willed woman to remain, or a woman who is destitute. In cases such as Spitzer who had a secret behavior of immorality, but otherwise wealth that sustained the marriage, a wife may choose to remain. Unfaithfulness eventually will break a marriage in many cases. True repentance and a loving and caring relationship always helps to have a sweet marriage.


We might consider that these wives are Carmella Sopranos, women who are well aware of their husband's adultery and put up with it so long as he can provide her with the luxeries befitting a woman of her station. Maybe she stands by her husband because he is condoning her adultery. We are generally quick to condemn such women, but we do not know what benefits they may be reaping from such arangements; we only see the humiliation that they have to suffer.
Political wives are seasoned professionals, just as much as their husbands are. They know what their job is, and that is to appear supportive. Now, what occurs behind closed doors. I've known politicians personally who live rather modest family lives, where there is a genuine bond between husband and wife. I've known the children of politicians who are happy and well-adjusted. Undoubtedly too there are many unhappy political couples. Every couple reaches its own equilibrium but politicians have been known to divorce (John Kerry was once divorced, former Ontario premier Mike Harris is twice divorced). Why would any women, especially a politician's wife who usually has the clout and resources to leave her husband if she wished it, stay with an adulterous husband. The answer is because she is getting something out of it

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