Updated: Aug 13, 2019
By Dr. David Clarke, Ph.D
The Big Idea
When your sinning husband has not repented after the first three steps of the Matthew 18:15-17 confrontation process, it's time to shun him.
You confronted your husband about his choice to not schedule Couple Talk Times and learn how to communicate with you. He ignored you. Strike One. Your one or two witnesses confronted him. He ignored them. Strike Two. If your church leaders confronted him, he ignored them. Strike Three.
Clearly, he is in serious sin. He could care less about your need to emotionally connect as a couple. He is beyond stubborn. Here is the next step in the Matthew 18 process:
". . . and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector." (verse 17)
What does this mean? It means to shun him. To have nothing to do with him. To act as if he does not exist. So, start-right now-living your life as if you don't know him. Say nothing to him-not good morning, not pass the mustard. Far from begging him to talk to you, you say nothing to him. Unless it is an emergency, you are done communicating with him.
Do nothing for him. No laundry for him, no cooking meals for him, no physical touch of any kind, no chores for him. Don't ask him to do anything for you. If he sits down at the table with the family to eat, ignore him. Do not go anywhere in a car with him. Do not sit with him anywhere-at church, at the kids' events, in your living room.
Before you begin shunning, tell the kids what you are doing and why. Explain that dad is sinning, you have tried the other Matthew 18 steps with no success and so now you are following the last step. Don't ask them to shun dad; this is what you are doing.
You are obeying Scripture by shunning. You are protecting your heart from a man who does not love you and is emotionally abusive. And, you are giving him this final chance to repent and decide to be a real husband and meet your needs.
This final step will tell you if he has any desire to change-for God and for you. You have a choice: continue to live in misery and allow him to do real harm to you emotionally and physically, or make a stand and try to motivate him to change.
Shunning is not the first thing you do. It is what you do after a long time, perhaps years, of trying every other possible approach to get your husband to open up and communicate with you.
For the complete description of the Matthew 18 steps, get my book: I Don't Love You Anymore. it is available on my website. This approach can-and in my opinion, should-be used when a spouse is involved in any form of serous, ongoing sin he/she refuses to stop.
By the way, my new Parenting book has been released from Focus on the Family: Parenting is Hard and Then You Die. The two shows I did with Focus on this book will be aired July 25-26, 2019. The book is now available on my website.