Hi Rev David. My ex-wife said she didn’t know how to forgive herself but at the same time would not stop her adultery. What is your take on this?
Two possible options come to mind as to what is happening here with your ex-wife:
1) She is lying for image or damage control.
A cheater lies. You cannot commit adultery and avoid lying. These sins come in packages. That is to say that a lot of sin comes with adultery. It is more than “just” one act.
To say she does not know how she can forgive herself might be a nod towards saying she is not that bad of a person. A really bad person would not even care is the thinking. See? She does. She cannot forgive herself.
It is a way to distance herself from shame–i.e. an unwanted identity. She knows adultery is bad. So, it looks better for her to acknowledge that badness herself. That’s what saying she cannot forgive herself does. But this “sorry” is skin deep, obviously.
2) She is telling the truth but is enthralled or addicted to the sin.
She might be addicted to the thrill of cheating. The sin may have taken over for her. That said, this does not excuse her sinful behavior. She still has choices even if they are limited by an addiction. With the knowledge that she cannot forgive herself, she ought to reach out to people who will help her detox and deal with her addiction. That is one choice within her reach even if she is addicted.
The fact that she does not make the choice to get help suggests to me that she is not really sorry. She prefers living in her addiction than dealing with the mess she has created. That tells us spiritually her expression is not godly sorrow leading to repentance (see 2 Corinthians 7:10). No life exists in this sorrow, only death, for we know that sin–e.g. adultery–leads to death according to Scripture (see James 1:15).
That’s my take on her expression that she cannot forgive herself but keeps on committing adultery. A truly repentant adulteress would seek help under such circumstances, which comes with helping her cut off the supply to such sinfully destructive behavior. Barring that, I see more lies or worldly sorrow at work. A truly sad state to see.