Truth and Consequences

By Carmen Miller

A few months back, I started watching this show called "Unfaithful: Stories of Betrayal" where couples have dealt with infidelity in their marriages. The thing I like about this show, is that the each of them tells their story on how they reached to that fateful moment, that caused them to do the unimaginable to their spouse. And the spouse, that was cheated on, shares their story on how the affair affected them, their family, and marriage. Aside from the fact that some of the "reenactment" scenes can be a bit raunchy, the show displays the grace that is extended to begin the healing process and mending the marriage. Yesterday I watched an episode that took a different turn. This time the marriage could not be repaired!

“But I told the truth!” Through her sobs it was clear that she understood how wrong she was in what she’d done. She’d broken the trust of her husband yet again with another affair. This one she’d managed to keep hidden for the past 5 years. “I’ll never do it again!” she promised, pleading with him to not follow through with the separation. “I told the truth! Why won’t you believe me?” In spite of her pleading, her husband had had enough of her lies. She had violated his trust one too many times and this time she lost him for good.Unfortunately, this scenario is played out in numerous venues and relationships far too often. I know first hand! People who have done something wrong, finally get caught, “tell the truth” after a litany of lies and then are shocked that there are still consequences for their choices.

Some Christians will often respond with indignation, “Why won’t he just forgive her? He needs to show her grace! Jesus came to demonstrate truth and grace (John 1:14) and so should he.”

Somehow this distorted idea has crept into our present value system. What idea? That once I confess to the truth of what I’ve done, that all painful consequences should magically melt away like the dew in the morning sunlight because I “fessed up.” The rationale goes something like this:  “After all, we are to be gracious and forgiving of one another as Christians.” Sounds good. Right?

Sorry. While that may sound biblical, it’s not. A biblical understanding of Truth and Grace is that grace doesn’t exempt us from the consequences or our foolish choices. Grace means we don’t throw someone away and brand them as worthless.

Forgiveness can be offered to us when we finally confess to what we’ve done, but what we must also accept is that we may still lose our job, our marriage, our home, our children, our reputation and our friends because of our choices.

After my husband's affair I prayed for the Lord to help me to forgive my husband. I wasn't even sure if I would ever want him back, but I knew that I still loved him and more importantly Jesus loved him. So everyday I prayed faithfully for my husband. I remember sending him a short message one morning and simply saying "I forgive you and I pray for you daily." Less than 2 weeks later he decided it was only right to return home, but admitted that he wasn't sure we could ever get past this. Heck! I wasn't sure we could get past this. I remember finally getting on my knees and asking God, "If I forgive my husband for what He did, but not reconcile with Him, will my relationship with You be ok?" At that moment I realized that when I forgave my husband it did not mean I had to return to him, but I owed it to God to at least try and fix it. I remember the Lord telling me "How many times have I forgiven you, but cut you out of my life?" NEVER! But the Lord had a purpose for all of this and I wanted to find out. However, my husband knew that although we were back together, things would never be the same and he would have to deal with the repercussions of his affair.

So what I'm trying to say is that telling the truth doesn’t exempt us from the painful consequences of the truth being known.

It’s not Truth or Consequences. . . but Truth AND Consequences.