Forgiving Serious Marital Betrayals

Conflict between man and woman sitting on either side of a wall

Contributor: Ryan Moffat, BS in Bible and Theology from Multnomah University. Pastor of Vast Church.


“I’m not trying to avoid you, it’s just been a hard couple of weeks.”

Young woman sitting in ballThe text message from my friend Chris caught my eye because I actually hadn’t even thought once during the week; “Why is Chris avoiding me?”

With his random text it was a dead give away….”Chris is TOTALLY trying to avoid me” I thought to myself. I decided to reach out to figure out what was going on.

Turns out Chris was having serious marital problems with his 3rd wife Rachel, and they were secretly, behind the scenes, preparing for a divorce.

There had been trust broken, lots of shame and guilt, both had seriously betrayed the marriage covenant so they conceited to the inevitable…”The only way to move forward is to get out of this broken marriage.”

You know when divorce looks like the best option you’re in a seriously dangerous place.

Once I sat with Chris and Rachel and got caught up on the state of the union and started picking up the pieces, I realized that for them to stay together, for them to move beyond the hurt of the betrayal and change the trajectory of a broken, divided future that it was going to take a miracle from God to heal what had been so badly broken.

First Responder

Sometimes going into these kinds of pastoral appointments you feel more like an EMT driving to a head on collision than a “man of the cloth” driving up to someone’s living room. This situation felt much more “EMT/first-responder” than “Pastor/Counselor”

What I shared with them next was my best attempt at helping them think through how to move forward in their marriage commitment in a healthy way;

#1- You must both confess your need for grace

Due to the fact that we all have failed miserably at loving our spouse, serving our spouse and treasuring our spouse you must acknowledge this as “sin” and run to Jesus as the source of grace and forgiveness.

#2- You must commit to changing yourself before the marriage will ever change.

Upset couple not talking to each other after fightWe want guarantees and “quick fixes” in our “instant age” but what we need is different than what we want. We need longevity and a “long obedience in the same direction”.

We want promises from our spouse that they’ll change but what we need to do is look internally and commit to the things that we can change in ourselves.

#3- You must both admit your need for God and that you’re helpless to save anything without his help.

This last step I brought to my distraught friends is a reminder to them (and to me) that without God’s help to internally change our hearts, our values, and our rough edges that we are truly powerless to change.

I got done sharing these thought with Chris and Rachel and while not everything is perfect they are learning how to move forward and through grace, forgive serious marital betrayal.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

Have you or your loved one experienced forgiveness after serious marital betrayal? What steps were taken to ask for forgiveness? What impact has this had on your recovery?

Ryan Moffat FamilyAbout the Author: Ryan received his BS in Bible and Theology and a minor in counseling from Multnomah University. He has pastored students, families and is passionate about Christ-centered recovery and healing. He’s been married to his beautiful wife Michelle for 13 years and they enjoy raising four crazy, unique and special kids together. Ryan is the teaching pastor at Vast Church in Sisters, OR and is currently working on his Masters in Theology at Western Seminary in Portland, OR

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