“If anyone gives a neighbor silver or goods for safekeeping and they are stolen from the neighbor’s house, the thief, if caught, must pay back double.”
-Exodus 22:7, NIV
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
-Luke 19:8, NIV
An adulterous spouse has stolen far more than money or goods.
They have stolen trust and a sense of safety from their spouse. For some of us, our sanity and health were taken through the lies and cheating, at least temporarily. Making it worse, some cheaters have stolen literally from their spouse wasting great amounts of money on their adulterous and selfish ways.
Justice and godliness demands restitution in such situations.
The Old Testament lays out the principle of restitution. As can be seen in Exodus 22, the general rate of restitution is double what was taken. This idea is further support in the New Testament with Zacchaeus telling Jesus about how he would make things right with those he defrauded by doubling what was required–i.e. paying back fourfold as opposed to just double! Jesus responds favorably to such an offer by Zacchaeus in the next verse in Luke 19. He extols Zacchaeus claiming salvation has come to his home in response to Zacchaeus declaring his intent to make such generous restitution.
Therefore, restitution is part of the Biblical concept for true repentance in both the Old and New Testament.
It floors me how quickly this Biblical idea is lost when faithful spouses are getting “Christian” counsel following infidelity discovery.
Repentance is needed for godly forgiveness (see Luke 17:3).
One sign of true repentance is to see if the cheater is willing to make restitution.
1. Is she willing to tell all her mutual friends that she was cheating while slandering her husband? How about the church leaders or counselors she manipulated to her ends? Will she take full responsibility for her cheating with them now? This is about reputation restitution–i.e. faithful spouse’s.
2. Is he willing to pay back twice the amount or more that he spent on his hookups with the other woman? Will he make the divorce especially generous financially for his wife if that is what she chooses? This is about financial restitution.
3. Will she give him all the passwords to her email and social networking accounts? Will she always fill him in about her whereabouts and what she is doing? Will she allow him to ask her any question and not complain about it? Will she expose all the secrets she made with her illicit lover(s)? This is about restitution regarding stolen trust.
These are just three examples of restitution I would expect to see for me to even consider the cheater is even close to true repentance. Forgiveness without such restitution would be premature. And, therefore, ungodly.