When I signed up for Facebook, I had a rule that I would not accept a friend request from someone I didn’t know in real life. Family got an automatic pass. In other words, if you’re family, you’re accepted on my friend list, no matter what. Over time my policy has changed so that now I only accept friend requests from people whom I feel I can trust. In other words, I’m not going to accept your friend request just because we’ve met or spent some time together, I would need to feel that we are actually friends to some extent.
In January of this year my sister called me and told me that she was having problems with her husband. They have been married for somewhere around 20 years (it’s complicated). She gave a few specifics regarding poor choices he had been making, and then she told me that the word “divorce” had come up. I told her that they both needed to go to counseling, and they needed it yesterday. She told me that they had an appointment with a counselor. I continued to pray for her, as they have had problems off and on over the years.
Fast forward to April. My sister sent me a message stating that her husband had moved out. I thought this was just a continuation of the problems they had been having. Then she informed me that he had moved in with a married woman with whom he has been committing adultery for the past several months. He has not just taken off his wedding ring, he has removed it from his finger, melted it, and thrown it into the fires of Mount Doom. It appears that he has irrevocably destroyed his marriage and his relationships with his kids.
More to the point of this post, he has destroyed his relationship with me. Don’t get me wrong: the importance of my relationship with him is insignificant when compared with the relationships that he should have preserved with his wife and children. I’m not his spouse or child, and yet his choices have still hurt me. I used to exchange texts with him about Cubs games. The first time I went to Wrigley Field, he was there with me. I used to talk to him about computers and sports and stuff. We used to joke around at family gatherings. All of that is gone forever.
I am not sure if he has truly trusted in Christ or not. While I understand that it is possible for believers to sin this badly, I still find it hard to believe that he would continually choose to sin against God in this way and destroy His family without any guilt or conviction from the indwelling Holy Spirit. And so I have been praying that he would either trust Christ or come back to Christ (whichever applies: only God knows). I have been praying that he would repent of his choices and do what is right.
While nothing is too hard for the Lord, I have advised my sister to protect herself in case he does not repent. Because of his choices, he is about to be divorced from his wife, he has hurt his family, and he continues to hurt them every day. Has my sister made mistakes? Sure she has. Everybody does. But nothing excuses abandoning your family. That’s why they say, “til death do us part.” Here is what they DON’T say:
“til one of us feels like he isn’t getting his needs met.”
“til one of us isn’t happy.”
“til we get tired of each other.”
“til one of us does something so bad it’s unforgivable.”
A variation of this vow is “…as long as we both shall live.” Certain people today have changed this to read, “…as long as we both shall love.” That invalidates the entire marriage and makes it the equivalent of a car lease (use each other for a while until something shinier comes along).
I hope my brother-in-law realizes what he has done, repents, and asks my sister for forgiveness. I hope that God convicts his heart so that he will either turn to God or return to God. No choice in his life is more important than his own personal salvation.
He has been living with this woman for over a month now. He has expressed no guilt, no remorse, and no desire to do what is right. Yesterday he posted something on Facebook that ripped open the wound he created a month ago. Here are three things he said:
- Some people are mad at him. Why is he surprised by this? If you willingly set my house on fire, destroying the foundation of my family’s living space, I would be mad at you. Certainly if you chose to destroy my family, anger is a natural reaction.
- He wonders if certain people were ever really his friends. Seriously? He is questioning people’s personal commitment to him while he is, by his daily choice to remain as he is, spitting on his own personal commitment to his wife and children? This is the definition of chutzpah.
- He has sacrificed a lot with the choice he made. Yes. He sacrificed his wife, his children, his future, his security, his relationship with God…. The list goes on. And what has he received for his “sacrifice”? Fulfillment of lust. The “happiness” gained from temporary attraction. was this sacrifice worth it? I hope he realizes soon that it isn’t worth it.
I know, some of you said “tl;dr” a long time ago, but I feel these are things that needed to be said. Since only five people read my blog anyway, I guess that’s ok. I didn’t write this post to offend anyone. This post is an open letter to my brother-in-law. He has stated in the past that he is a Christian If this is true, then I Corinthians 5:9-11 says that, because of his choices, I should not keep company with him. The goal here is that he repents and returns.
But until he does, we are no longer related in my eyes. This moves him from the “family” category to the “people I know” category. The question I now ask myself is, “Is he my friend?” When I consider his actions, I have to think, “no, he’s not. He has attacked my sister, my niece and nephews, and has caused pain to many others in my family. By this he has proven he is not my friend. And therefore I am removing him from my Facebook profile. I pray he repents and returns to his wife. However, that is up to him and God.
I really enjoyed this post. I struggle with the same decision to even speak to him because I’m afraid of what I might say that would make that bridge harder to rebuild if he happens to return where he belongs. Around me, he’s always said the right things and did the right things… even a couple days before he left. Now I’m so mad… with lack of better words… I could puke. As a brother in Christ, a mutual friend and I were going to go talk to him…. but again, I’m afraid of what I might say. Thanks for the post… and thanks for the lesson. I didn’t know what “tl;dr” meant 🙂
How do you know how many people read your blog? I like this post a lot. I don’t know your brother in law but as always it is heartfelt. BTW what does tl;dr mean? I was the wife who was cheat on in a situation back in the early 80’s and I filed for divorce within a week. My feelings went out the window and I felt all the things you are describing. I was mad, sad, and angry at the time but immediately moved on and all I could do was shrug my shoulders and be pragmatic about it. We can count on you to be pragmatic.
Linda, it stands for “too long; didn’t read.” It is what some people put in reply to a posting that is way too long to grab their interest. It means, “You know, if your post was shorter, I might have read it.”
hey uncle steve thanks for posting this, and i agree with Ben if I even think about talking to him i feel that what i say might inflect on my future with him because he did raise me from when I was a baby. But with me seeing my mom cry after he left just drove me mad. My animosity towards him just grew and grew and now i don’t even want to talk to him. Thanks again for this, at this point i know that all i can do is wait and pray that he may one day come back to his senses and get back on the right path.
Enjoyed, Steve. Thanks. Well written.
Good for you to stand up for your family and do it in a way that advocates your strong belief in God. Your family is very lucky to have you in their lives and that used to be guy? has no clue what he has lost……he is wallowing in a pity party for himself, which btw seems to be running rampid in this world we live in. You will, go far….in this life and walk plenty of miles smiling, one day with our creator, for he is, as your family is, so proud of you. God bless you for what you do and how you say it.
Jim, that passage is talking about a private sin that one Christian commits against another in a local church setting. If you had sinned against me only, I should try to work it out with you. If you won’t listen, I should bring witnesses to try and convince you of your sin. If that doesn’t work, I should tell our church, and if you don’t listen to our church, then you should be removed from church membership. That verse does not apply to this situation for several reasons.
I do not wish to argue with you. The focus here needs to stay on your sin, and your status before God. Are you truly trusting in Christ as Savior? Is Christ the Lord of your life? If so, how can you possibly continue to live in sin as you have acknowledged you are doing? You have no right answer but repentance. If you are not saved, then you have no relationship with God other than as your Judge. That is a terrible place to be, and I fear for you.