by Kenneth Justice
~A while back one of my coffee house friends told me that his wife had cheated on him a couple years ago. They’ve been in a serious relationship for close to a decade and the wife admitted to having had an affair….he said the guilt was getting to her and she broke down one night and told him the truth.
The guy she cheated on him with was a co-worker she used to work with but hasn’t seen in more than a year (since the affair ended)
“At first my heart was broken, I was really mad, but I love her and I’ve decided to stay with her because I realized we all make mistakes”
Sound like an unusual response?
In the church culture I grew up in a lot of things were ignored by my fellow Christians; gossip, overeating, talking bad about other churches and other denominations, greed, selfishness, etc……
I’ve been frustrated many times in my church life because I’ve had to sit next to fellow Christians who were spending $35,000 to take fun summer trips around the world, while sitting behind me were other parishioners who were working two jobs merely to make their rent payment or pay for health insurance.
A lot of injustice seemed to go unnoticed by my fellow Christians….
BUT, cheating on your spouse was considered the unpardonable sin.
Each of the churches I attended while I was growing up always made it very clear; cheat on your spouse and your a douche bag….and when my coffee house friend told me that he had forgiven his wife and they had moved on in their marriage; I was impressed.
“Once a cheater always a cheater” is what many people say. But why don’t we use this moniker for other behaviors;
—) Once an over eater always an over eater
—) Once a gossip always a gossip
—) Once an alcoholic always an alcoholic
—) Once a lazy person always a lazy person
Why do we treat cheaters more severely than people who are guilty of other negative behaviors? Why is cheating so often treated like the unpardonable sin?
I’ve heard many people say that ‘cheating is more serious than other behaviors because it is a violation of trust’ ….but does that make it a worse ‘sin’ or worse ‘behavior’ than being a liar, gossip, or slanderer?
Look, I’m not about to defend the perpetual cheater; the man or woman who refuses to apologize, refuses to stop cheating, and refuses to reform their lifestyle……such a person probably shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place; right?
But if we all agree that Western Society is one of the most sex saturated cultures that exists….shouldn’t we begin demonstrating a little bit more grace when it comes to cheaters? Shouldn’t we be surprised when people don’t cheat? I mean, it seems to me that everywhere I go sexuality is thrown in our faces. Even walking through the checkout aisle of the grocery store, the magazines are overflowing with gratuitous sexuality.
Jesus said of the woman who was sleeping with numerous men, “He who is without sin cast the first stone”…..Isn’t that the attitude we should demonstrate as our guiding principle?
I realize there are a lot of details that usually have to be ironed out;
—) Is the cheater remorseful?
—) has the affair ended?
—) do both people want to stay together?
But ultimately I’m asking one simple question; is cheating somehow worse than other behaviors?
Perhaps I’m too simplistic. Perhaps I get too annoyed by people who gossip and slander…..but since I have been gossiped against and slandered against numerous times throughout my life those two things bother me a lot.
Yet even with people who have gossiped or slandered me…..I’m still willing to forgive them. If they apologize, if they stop slandering me….I’m willing to move on….even though it will be very hard for me to forget what they’ve done. Isn’t that the guiding principle we are supposed to demonstrate; to forgive when people repent?
I recently heard of a groom who cheated on his bride the day of the wedding. Okay, so that is something that might be a bit tough to get past. I mean, if you’re cheating on your spouse on the first day…..what the hell are you doing getting married in the first place?
I’ve written about grace in the past because I believe that demonstrating grace to others is one of the hardest things to do; there is something in our nature that wants to hold grudges, never forgive, and live in the past. But if we are moving towards maturity then don’t we need to learn how to show a little grace to others….even when it is tough for us to do so?
The simple fact of the matter is that we live in a culture that is filled with a lot of negatives; there are lot of things in Western Society which seem to be designed to tear-us-apart. Forgiveness and grace are not popular traits in our culture…..
just a few thoughts with my morning coffee,