So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.
-Genesis 25:33-34, NIV
My integrity is not for sale.
It is very precious to me. If I break my promise, this valuing of integrity drives me to make things right. Integrity is super-important to me. And I suspect many faithful spouses feel similarly.
This shared value with other faithful spouses is probably why we struggle to understand how a cheater could cheat and not even show a slight interest in making things right after being caught. It is a foreign thought to someone who values integrity.
A cheater did not keep the most solemn of their own vows–vows of matrimony–and thereby their integrity is now seriously compromised if not totally obliterated.
This is why I am emphatic that cheaters are not winners!
Even if they land on their feet in a worldly sense at work and even if they remarry their tawdry lover, they still have lost. Cheaters have lost because all those circumstances can never change the inner truth:
They are morally bankrupt lacking all integrity.
Real repentance is the only thing that changes that. And even repentance does not change the historical fact that the cheater both is capable of and actually did treacherously betray the person closest to him (or her) in the entire world–i.e. the faithful spouse.
It may be satisfying to watch a cheater get his or her “dues.” To watch them experience the sort of pain we experienced at their hands seems just. However, I would encourage you not to be like Jonah and build such a smiting shelter waiting upon that moment of God’s judgment on the cheater.
The reality is that the cheater is living his or her punishment:
They are living without integrity.
Who won in that scenario? Esau eating the soup or Jacob buying the birthright?
All Esau got out of the deal was a full belly for the moment.
Do not be deceived:
The one gorging on worldly pleasures at the cost of one’s integrity is no winner even if the soup looks and even is especially tasty.
Faithful spouse, you kept your birthright. You did not sell off your integrity.
You are the winner.
Not the cheater.