Do You Throw The First Stone? [Video]

A wife wrote to me saying, "I'm trusting God to heal and restore my marriage and my family. I hurt them deeply. I've known my husband for over 32 years, been married nearly 24 years…

“I cheated and lied about my adultery…My husband sought after counseling for us in the clinical world and then through our church. I was consumed with guilt and shame during counseling and I didn't trust God to help us. I knew he would be devastated, so I lied.  

“Six months after counseling my husband couldn't live with me anymore because I was cold and unresponsive to him, so he moved in with a woman. I finally confessed my lies to him, but he said the damage was done. One year after living with this woman he moved back home, but has maintained his relationship with this woman to this day. It's been such heartache to see my husband come and go to the other woman the way he does.

“He says it's hard for him to let me go. He no longer hates me, but he doesn't trust me… I understand that there's no excuse or reason for what I did to my best friend, our marriage and our family that would make me cheat and lie to them."

Let me paint this scenario for you: A husband and wife believe in Christ. However, the wife commits adultery and lies about it for months. She lies because her husband senses she is up to no good, so she must continue misleading him to think that nothing is happening.

When exposed, her unfaithfulness devastates her husband. Even so, he has already moved out to live with another woman! He ends up doing, in fact, what he supposed she was doing!

I find this to be so very odd.

How can a man be righteously indignant over his wife’s possible unfaithfulness and then turn around and do the very thing that appalled him?

How can a husband be unfaithful to God when he judged his wife as possibly being unfaithful to God?

As horrible as it was, how could the husband proceed headlong into the very sin he felt his wife was committing against him and God?

Though this husband had no hard proof his wife was committing adultery, she refused to confess because she knew he would totally reject her for her wrongdoing. But without proof of her adultery, he commits adultery! How can this be?

Jeremiah 17:9 states,

"The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?"

There is something peculiar about our fallen nature. We tend to judge others where we ourselves are guilty, either because we have committed the same transgression (or would if we could). It really makes no rational sense, but it proves to be the case over and over.

We judge others in the areas of our own present or future guilt.

Recall when the religious leaders came to Jesus and saying, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act” (John 8:4). We read how Jesus replied in John 8:7 saying,

“When they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, 'He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.'"

Whether they themselves had actually committed adultery or had lusted in their hearts after women, which Jesus raises to the level of adultery, they back away from their self-righteous, angry judgment. They throw no stones.

Throughout the years I have said to a righteously indignant person judging their spouse for adultery, “One of the ways Jesus intends for us to work through the pain of this betrayal is by turning inward and asking, ‘Am I guilty of the same or worse? Am I really in a position to pick up a stone and throw it at my spouse? Am I without such sin? Though I have not committed the same sin, have I committed comparable sins?' I am not minimizing the wickedness of what your spouse has done, but I’m asking for your honest consideration if there are equal sins within that nobody knows about."

I sometimes share 1 Timothy 5:24, which says,

“The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after.”

In other words, when we judge another person, but have secret sins we need to recognize in ourselves, it is only a matter of time before the Lord reveals the truth about us.

But there is good news!

When we are honest with ourselves and God, we find our bitterness toward a spouse evaporate and discover a desire to forgive.

As we seek and receive God’s forgiveness, we find it easier to forgive our spouse. We forgive as we have been forgiven. We realize the difference between us and our spouse is that our spouse got caught in the act, whereas we did not. We have no interest in throwing a stone, since that would be the pot calling the kettle black.

This is not to minimize the sin of a spouse, but to maximize our own sin.

This is not putting our spouse’s sin under the table, but putting our sin on the table right next to theirs.

This is getting real before God and experiencing the power and joy of Him moving in the marriage because of it.

Do we really judge others where we ourselves are guilty?

What is the context of Romans 2:22, which says,

"You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?”

In Romans 2:1-3, the apostle Paul penned,

"Therefore you have no excuse, every one of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?"

I wish I could say there is no such thing as the judgment of God, but the pages of Scripture clearly reveal that our loving, heavenly Father cares so much about us that He will discipline hypocrisy.

Let me repeat, He cares too much to allow us to remain self-deluded and deceptive.

We do not experience fellowship with Him. We do not have true peace from His presence. Our conscience is not clear and we know it. He won’t use us as His vessel in the lives of those we care about, and it is only a matter of time before we must give an account to Him.

In many cases, the Lord brings His judgment against us sooner than later so we can enjoy our relationship with Him and bear fruit for Him.

I can tell you that the husband who moved out of his home to get away from his wife without proof that she had committed adultery, but then moved in with another woman, will encounter the loving discipline of his heavenly Father. His prayer life will dry up, being used of God will essentially end, the inner guilt will eat him away, and worship will be hollow.

Time and again such folks have told me, “I would try to go to church and participate in my small group Bible study, but I was empty and miserable." We read in Jeremiah 7:9,10 (CEV),

"You...are unfaithful in marriage...and then you come into my temple and worship me! Do you think I will protect you so that you can go on sinning?”

When we get honest with ourselves, we know we cannot have our cake and eat it, too. We cannot commit adultery and expect God to make an exception in our case.

God will not excuse us and protect us so we can go on sinning.

Each of us will--or perhaps already has--come to a crossroad when a spouse fails us morally.

I know of a situation where the wife gave into the romantic and sexual advances of her boss while on the road with him. She came to me and confessed, and then we told her husband who himself had been seriously engaged in pornography. At the time, he immediately forgave her because of his equal sin in the eyes of God. He grasped what I shared and embraced and comforted his wife in my office.

However, he did not stay there. Later he developed a judgmental attitude and essentially tortured his wife by guilt-tripping her for years. She was a tender, gentle gal who was deceived by a wicked boss and now had a husband who had jumped up on his self-righteous high horse and emotionally beat her down for over a decade.

A verse that challenges me is 1 Corinthians 10:12, which says,

"Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”  

In other words, we can see ourselves as the righteous and good one and one of two things can happen:

  1. We can end up committing the same sin that we found to be so disgusting in our spouse. We fall right where we thought we’d always stand. We can forgive our spouse because we are not any better.

  2. We stand as a forgiving person, but then we fall. We default to bitterness because we change our minds. We are the better person and don’t deserve such mistreatment, so we decide to mistreat them. We see our spouse as the bad person for being so unloving and disrespectful, but surely God lets us off the hook for being unloving and disrespectful in reaction.

We are not hypocrites who God will judge, but in a special class allowed to throw the first stone.

On which side of the aisle do you stand?

Will you be the spouse who throws the first stone or choose another way of responding?

-Dr. E