The Doormat Is NOT the High Ground

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.” -I Corinthians 5:9-13, NIV

wpid-img_20140912_150104.jpgWhen adultery is discovered in the life of a Christian, it is not the time to make the cheater feel comfortable in the church. This is a time to set boundaries and call them to repentance. The Apostle Paul is absolutely clear on this point in these verses from his first letter to the Corinthians. Certainly, adultery qualifies as sexual immorality after all.

Too often, I notice a push to get the faithful spouse to “forgive” and the church to ignore the elephant in the room–i.e. adultery has taken place (and possibly continues taking place in front of everyone). This is neither loving for the cheater nor the faithful spouse (and family). It minimizes the sin and encourages the cheater to continue down the road to the damnation of his/her soul!

I do not see the Apostle Paul advocating a doormat policy to such sexual sin in his letter. He does not tell the Corinthians to just “forgive and forget.” Nor does he tells the Corinthians to make the church a welcoming place for an unrepentant sinner.

Does this make the Apostle Paul unforgiving? Does it mean he is mean and lacks love for the sinner? Does it mean he is taking the “low ground” by instructing the church to expel the sinner?

Absolutely, not.

He makes a radical move to actually hold Christians (and only Christians) accountable to what they say they believe. In other words, he validates their choices and enforces consequences when they fail to live up their commitments. Does that sound familiar?

I do not see it as unbiblical to divorce a cheating spouse (Mt 19:9). And I consider that the case especially if adultery is ongoing in a professing Christian’s life. The faithful spouse did not hold a gun to the adulterous spouse’s head when they got married professing exclusivity until death. Faithfulness is the bedrock of such a relationship and God decided death was not too harsh of a penalty if a spouse exploded that bedrock (Deut 22:22).

Adultery is serious. It violates the freely chosen covenant between two people. The faithful spouse is enforcing a boundary if he or she chooses to divorce an adulterous spouse. You see, divorce seems to be a merciful alternative to the death penalty. And divorcing an adulterous spouse may be the sort of act that brings spiritual healing to this person as he or she is faced with the consequences of his/her sin.

Being a doormat is not taking the high ground.

Better to be divorce and in Heaven than married and still adulterous in Hell.

9 thoughts on “The Doormat Is NOT the High Ground”

  1. Pastor, so what is the deal with forgiveness? What is the basis for me to forgive a sinner? What is to happen before a spouce actually forgives the unfaithful spouce, or the abusive spouse, our the alcoholic spouce, or the chronically irresponsible spouse? Can/do we EVER forgive another who has not confessed or asked for forgiveness? Is forgiving “letting them off the hook” for their sin?

    1. Don,

      Is the Apostle Paul advocating to not forgive sinners by instructing the Corinthian church to address flagrant sin in their midst (I Cor 5)? I do not think so. But I do think the Apostle Paul is exhorting Christians NOT to enable sin by pretending it is okay. In fact, he is addressing a situation of incest where the church has made the incestuous man very, very comfortable. Scripture prohibits this in a godly church. Likewise, it prohibits it when it comes to adultery in a godly church.

      In general, my post is about the premature emphasis on forgiveness. The Apostle Paul gives us instructions in how to deal with serious sin among Christians. He does not focus on forgiveness first. Other Scriptures teach us to forgive without requiring confession from one’s abuser (that’s correct, but the confession is a first step towards reconciliation and restored trust as those are separate and different issues than forgiveness).

      We–Christians–are all called to forgive. However, forgiveness does not mean forgetting, excusing, minimizing, or otherwise lying about what was done to us. It is done in truth. And it acknowledges a wrong did happen. We can do this (with God’s grace) on our own without the help of our abuser. It is something we do by handing it over to God and thereby having our hearts set free of negative ties to our abuser. However, it is a process. And it will likely be a long process for a person deeply wronged.

      Confession from the abuser is not necessary for us to start this process; however, with unacknowledged sin between individuals, it is impossible–as I see it–for that relationship to be reconciled as the unaddressed sin keeps it broken. Confession is the first step to addressing the sin, which broke the trust and relationship.

      1. I understand. I guess what I’m asking is: When do I forgive? As time moves on, as it apparently has in your case, when do we forgive and move on? It seems the sin will never be acknowledged. Or, in other cases, it can not be … in the case of death of the offender, or legal restraints, or for safety’s sake. When do I forgive and move on?

        1. Don,

          I think your questions deserve a full post as opposed to just another comment. Others I think would benefit from seeing the answers since I suspect other are struggling with similar thoughts. Look for a post answering your questions soon!

        2. Don,

          I have gone through tremendous betrayal including fighting false charges of domestic violence…. Which two years, a trial and $60k later was dismissed. Now onto a “normal divorce” with a narcissistic personality disordered person who has his mistress living in the house while our teenaged son is still living there.

          I chose to forgive him a week after all this crap started. Because of The Lord s prayer…I don t think I am as wacky or … Evil as I see my husband… But if I wanted God to forgive me “forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us”….

          Have I gotten angry, screamed, been tired of all of the colossal bs, the idiot DA, the pompous fat butt actions of my husband n his….ick mistress parading around town. You betcha. And every time I would look at the crucifix sooner or later and say the truth… “Lord, you ve got to give the grace to forgive that slime… Because without Your help, I can t do it on my own.”

          You makes steps forward and have a set back. But one day you and I will be out of these nasty tunnels our weak splined spouses shoved us through… Because we were humble enough to ask God for help and we try our hardest every day not to listen to the incessant whispers of this world and the evil one.

          God Bless you. With Him at your side, you WILL prevail.

  2. I tossed my husband out of the house s soon as I found out about his emotional affair so I wasn’t a doormat at that time. However, I’ve been too much of a doormat since then- letting him come into the house whenever he wanted, having the kids at his convenience, etc. I just read David Clarke’s book that you recommended and now the doormat behavior is gone. That was such a great book on how not to be a doormat in any way. That book is a keeper!

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