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    Andrew Manwarren

    Hello: Today I became aware that another woman in our church has been unfaithful to her husband. To what extent she has been unfaithful I am unsure only that it started out as an “emotional” affair but did become physical. I found out through my wife. My wife was visiting with another lady in our church who was seeking her wisdom for a situation. For clarity’s sake moving forward I will call this lady my wife talked to as lady1 and the lady who has been unfaithful as lady2.

    Lady1 told my wife that a few weeks or so ago lady2 confided in her that she has been having an emotional affair with another man in our church and that it had become physical. This affair had been going on for 6-8 months. It only stopped because the man called it off. Lady1 was so surprised by this she didn’t know what to say. Much to her credit, lady1 started seeking out wisdom from the Bible. She also asked some other lady friends for advice without giving any details. She was very cautious. I am very thankful for lady1 as she has sought to do what is right, she is concerned for lady2 heart if she has truly repented, she is also concerned about the church body citing 1 Cor. 5 and how a little leaven leavens the entire church. So after much counsel and praying lady1 went back to lady2 and read MAtthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 5 with her and told her she thinks she needs to tell her husband and start going to counseling. Lady2 disagreed about telling her husband. She believes because she confessed it to the Lord she is ok and doesn’t need to tell her husband. In fact, Lady2 called a local radio personality to seek advice and he told her because she confessed it to God she doesn’t need to tell her husband! Lady2 did however agree to go to counseling. She has already reached out to one of our lady counselors and I believe they are going to start meeting next week or possibly the one following. Lady1 is very concerned that Lady2 is not truly repentant. She believes she only quit because the man in our church broke it off. She believes lady2 is very angry at God because her son Joseph committed suicide 6 years ago and angry at her husband because he doesn’t pay as much attention to her as she desires. Lady2 is very lonely and depressed also and lady1 believes possibly suicidal herself. Lady2 did have an emotional affair with another man roughly 6 years ago also after her son committed suicide. The man she had an affair with this second time is also very lonely and depressed. Lady1 offered to go to counseling with lady2 but lady2 said she didn’t want her to go at all.

    As their pastor, my desire is to shepherd this family that their relationship with the Lord and with each other might be stronger through this. There are obviously some deep heart issues in the wife. I also need to discover if the husband is being a godly husband caring for his wife physically and spiritually. I know he is extremely busy as a missionary but for sure his wife must come first. I also want to shepherd the man who cut off the sinful relationship. My current plan in shepherding them is the following:

    – Help my counselor to wisely and compassionately untangle the deep heart issues in Lady2’s heart, explain biblical repentance, give lady2 Biblical counsel on the importance of confessing to her husband and allow time to go to her husband and confess how she has sinned against him.
    – Once lady2 confesses to her husband to have both of them go into counseling together to work through marriages issues
    – Lady2 needs to discontinue being on our worship team and working in our children’s ministry until she and her husband has restored the marriage. The husband may very well need to temporarily discontinue work as a missionary also until the marriage is restored. They should both be willing to do whatever it takes to make things right.
    – Once lady2 confesses sin to her husband to go talk with the man she was having an affair with and seek to counsel his heart issues. He of course needs to confess his sin to the husband.
    – Saturate the whole process with prayer

    What I am looking for is if you think this is the right process Biblically. What am I missing? Everything in me wants to go straight to the husband and tell him but I think this approach gives the wife time to be challenged with God’s Word, adjust her thinking, and make things right with her husband of her own accord. However, I am concerned she may not even go to counseling to begin with as she seems to be very worried about what people will think about her instead of what God thinks is right. If she won’t tell her husband, what do you think is the best course of action?

    Thanks in advance for any and all feedback!

    John Gates


    Thanks for reaching out on this most difficult multifaceted situation. However, from God’s view, this can be solved. With his help and wisdom, we can best serve lady 2.

    When I read that “Lady2 disagreed about telling her husband“, I was saddened that she is unwilling to own her sin and confess to those she has directly sinned against. Fear of man is huge with her in terms that she is more concerned with what others think than the sin against God, her husband, and all of the other members of your flock. As you know, not owning her sin is super problematic. If she does not confess to her husband, you’ll need to step in and start the biblical restoration process of Mat. 18. Until then, she needs to step down from service in the church.

    Overall, I like and agree with your well-thought plan outlined. You bring up excellent issues that may be present with her husband’s heart and possible treatment toward her. Also, your thinking regarding the man she was having an affair with needs to also be addressed. That is a whole other matter – is he married, children, does he serve in the church, etc. Careful action and of course wisdom from above.

    Andrew, we are to also see council from other Christians. I applaud your reaching out to us – it shows humility and care along with a desire to honor and glorify God while shepherding his flock.

    I will remain in prayer and be expectant to see updates as progression is made and repentance and reconciliation are granted.



    Rick Thomas

    I have nothing to add to John’s advice other than to affirm it. The sphere of offense, confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation should be the same. I assume the adulterer man is not married, but if he is, his wife needs to know. Their marriage is as broken as her marriage.

    There cannot be a hairline crack in a one-flesh union, and covering such a massive sin would create a fissure that could spilt the marriage wide open in the future. (In fact, the crack from six years ago was not properly dealt with, which is part of why she is where she is today.)

    I also applaud you for removing her from leadership. Leading is about character first, as you know, and not ability. She is also an example to the flock, so by having her in front of the folks, you’re placing your stamp of approval on her character and ability, which you can’t do, of course.

    I’d recommend you address the “sphere of awareness” within the congregation, regarding this leader’s sin. There may be some shepherding to do if this is a public sin. A leader in adultery is different from a non-leader in adultery. Of course, her repentance will do a lot to keep from the furthest extent of Matthew 18—going to the church. But you may have to answer some questions about why she is not leading in her various ministries.

    Also, there is a concern about her suicidal tendencies. Be sure to have the proper care providers for her as you intensify the accountability and her need for full repentance.

    I assume you have explored the “affair” from six years ago, and there was a full confession, repentance, and reconciliation. If there is something to work through there, I’d recommend it. She seems like the person who wants to cover up stuff, which creates and perpetuates a “crack” that turns into a “canyon.”

    One of the things I convey to folks in situations like this is that this is about as low and exposed as you can be. Thus, there is no better time to be totally honest and vulnerable about what went on. Since the person is exposed in the most painful of ways, she needs to come completely clean with her life, including six years ago. She needs to get it all out on the table. She does not want this to linger like cancer. Only repentance can bring healing. This is not the time to hold on to her reputation. She needs to let it all out.

    She does not want to “get through this” without being totally honest, and then six months down the road her husband finds out, and she has to dredge it all up then. Today is the day to hear His voice and repent fully.

    Peace to you, Andrew.

    Andrew Manwarren

    Thank you John and Rick. To clarify a couple of things: First, the other man involved in the affair is a single man. Second, to the best of my knowledge no one knows anything about this other than myself, my wife, lady1, lady2, lady2 husband, and her soon to be counselor. Third, I have not personally spoken to lady2 about any of this. It was all relayed to my wife by lady1 and who then relayed it to me. At this point I have done nothing but pray and give her counselor some direction. Lady2 starts meeting with one of our counselor’s next week (who she of her own accord reached out to – which is promising!). I am praying and trusting that through Biblical counsel lady2 will realize her need to make things right with her husband and be willing to do whatever that takes.

    Rick Thomas

    You’re welcome, Andrew. I did assume your clarifications but did not want to assume, hence my comments to you. So thank you for clarifying. Please let us know any further questions.

    We would love to serve you!

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