Question: Doesn’t teaching reconciliation after adultery encourage the offender to commit the act?
“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).
Some fear that the idea of reconciliation and forgiveness encourages the offender to play with sin instead of fearing its dreadful consequences (divorce). Though God hates sin, yet in His long-suffering He does not punish sin the moment it is committed. Rather, He waits on men day by day to give them opportunity to repent and be saved (2 Peter 3:9).
It is true that Jesus made plain that, only in the case of adultery, divorce can be allowed “I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 5:32). But the Lord says in Malachi 2:16, “‘I hate divorce,’ says the Lord God of Israel.” Christ pointed out, divorce was not a part of God’s original plan, but came under the provisional approval of the law of Moses because of the “hardness” of men’s hearts (Matthew 19:7, 8).
In the book of Hosea the Lord teaches a story of forgiveness and reconciliation to an unfaithful wife “Then the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans” (Hosea 3:1). Through this story, the Lord wanted to show His readiness to accept, forgive, and cleanse Israel of their sins.
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14,15). Christians who seek forgiveness should forgive others as well.
True “love is patient and kind,” it “does not insist on its own way,” it “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:4–7, RSV). When Christians enter into the marriage relationship they should accept the responsibility of applying the principles here stated. Husbands and wives who apply these principles, and who are willing for the grace of Christ to operate in their lives, will find that there is no difficulty, however serious it may appear to be, that cannot be solved. The Lord will give the ability to forgive and also forget “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Romans 5:20).
In His service,