And her husband Joseph, being a just man
and unwilling to put her to shame,
resolved to divorce her quietly.
(Matthew 1:19 ESV)
When Joseph found out Mary was pregnant with Jesus, he did not make the issue public which would have brought shame upon Mary. They were not technically married yet but betrothed, or promised to one another. They were still considered husband and wife and sexual activity during the betrothal was considered adultery.
Joseph and Mary were living under the Mosaic Law where adultery was punishable by stoning. Joseph was a just man – a man that observed and upheld the Law. However, he loved Mary and was still unwilling to make a public spectacle of her for what he thought to be sin at that point. Instead, he sought to divorce her privately. (He decided to handle this situation privately even before an angel of the Lord explained everything.)
How do Joseph’s actions speak to Christian husband’s today?
The simple answer is that Christian husbands should protect their wives public reputation regardless of how it affects their own reputation. If your wife commits adultery and you find yourself falling down the same path, do not out her. No matter how nice you may say it, do not reveal your wife’s sin in public. Protect her and deal with your own sin.
This principle displayed by Joseph can be applied to any sin. Maybe your wife slips into gossip, conceit, jealousy, or slander. Do not jump into a conversation about your wife’s sins in these areas. Instead, stand up for her, go to her privately, quietly, and lovingly work it out with much prayer.
Grace and peace,