Dealing with infidelity in a marriage requires a lot of forgiveness. Many people struggle with forgiving, and cause their families unnecessary heartache because of their hard-hearted attitude. We all have to deal with forgiveness at some time in our marriages, and need to remain open-minded about the impact of it on our relationships, even when adultery is involved.
Matthew 18:21 talks about Peter coming to Jesus and asking Him, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Paul was looking for a legalistic answer to forgiveness. Surely he shouldn't have to forgive more than seven times.
I recently found some notes from a sermon our pastor, David Garcia, preached a number of years ago. I want to look at some very important points he discussed. We as humans naturally find it difficult to forgive. Pastor Garcia talks about four basic reasons why.
1. Man’s selfishness - Man is basically selfish and forgiveness is unselfish.
Ah, this seems to be a recurring theme in our marriage struggles and our walk with God. When we dwell on our selves, no wonder we find it almost impossible to forgive someone else. We are so busy looking at our hurt that we do not take the time to think about what the other person is going through.
2. Man’s self-righteousness - Often we don’t forgive or ask forgiveness because we are too consumed by the excuses, “I did not do anything wrong”, and “How could you have done such a thing?”
As I’ve said before, infidelity is usually a symptom of problems in a marriage. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen numerous times in counseling, once one partner takes the forbidden step into adultery, the other partner immediately considers himself or herself exempt from being part of the problem that led to the adultery.
Without forgiveness, the hurt spouse will continue to say, “Well they’re the one that committed adultery,” even while they’re signing divorce papers and dividing their earthly belongings and children. If they would learn to forgive and look at the real problems in the relationship, they could avoid the devastation of divorce.
3. Man’s pride - Pride is the opposite of mercy and forgiveness is an act of mercy.
God continues to pour out mercy on us, mercy we don’t deserve. We need to hold true to our vows, “For better or for worse” and realize there WILL be “worse” times. We owe it to our spouses to be merciful in those times. We can’t let our pride get in the way. Pride goes hand-in-hand with selfishness. The dictionary describes pride as “Satisfaction with self.”
4. Emotional pain - Many can never get over the hurt inflicted upon them by another.
If we build a monument to the pain inflicted on us in our lives, we will never be free to love and forgive as God intends us to for a healthy marriage.