In the past few weeks, we've received a handful of comments and emails insisting that Hannah is wasting her time by giving me another chance, because of one such saying:
Once a cheater, always a cheater.
Well, this little mantra may sound wise at face value, but the response I always want to blurt out to our critics is this: If you think cheaters can't change and shouldn't be forgiven, I sincerely hope you don't think you're a Christian.
Now, it may seem audacious of me to assume that our naysayers are Christians, but an enormous percentage of the US population claims to believe in this faith. For many, religion is merely a social construct. It is the way you're raised and the values you inherited. Nonetheless, the masses overwhelmingly claim to believe in forgiveness in one breath and cast a stone of condemnation at the same time.
This doesn't mean that infidelity is not unbelievably painful or that a person should subject themselves to further wrongdoing. It also doesn't mean that forgiveness is owed to me -- it's not. Grace is a gift by definition, and it often comes at great cost to the one who dispenses it.
If you do not claim any ownership of the Christian faith (or a multitude of others that allow penitence), then by all means, let loose with your graceless catch phrases. But if you even call yourself a believer on a superficial level, you must realize the absurdity of placing hope in the cross while damning your fellow man. In fact, Jesus acknowledged the nonsensical nature of this contradiction Himself in Matthew 18:21-35. Read it for yourself.
Calling someone irredeemable is literally the opposite of Christ. Christ's love shows us that there is a path to absolution, and that He has paid the price of redemption for us despite how massive the debt may have been. To say that there is no forgiveness for cheating (which someone told me just last week) is to say that Christ's sacrifice wasn't enough to cover that. His suffering wasn't sufficient to truly restore us. Your emotional trauma supersedes His divinity. Now that is audacious.
Again, if you place no faith in the blood of Jesus, the popular phrase "once a cheater, always a cheater" is totally logical. Unfaithfulness is heinous and totally despicable. But if you believe in the gospel of love and yet find yourself repeating societal proverbs that preach the opposite of salvation, you are profoundly at odds with yourself.
It must be said that, although this post is boldly stated, I do not think I deserve forgiveness for my wretched actions. I cannot stress this enough, and I hope that my previous posts show you this as well. I deserve solitude, sorrow, and damnation. My boldness comes from my faith and understanding of scripture, which expects believers to forgive radically in the same way that God has done for us. The gospels are not about getting what you deserve. Without a doubt, forgiving someone for such a tremendous transgression must be unspeakably difficult, but God's word shows us that it is possible. In my state of absolute and soul-piercing guilt, this is where I find hope.
In conclusion, I have one simple reminder for every believer who feels conflicted about their ability to forgive. Let us not lose sight of Matthew 18's core message, because it is of vital importance: