Is It OK To Forgive This?

Q. I have been married to my husband for almost 5 years. He was not a Christian and far from a perfect husband, but we were very much in love. I recently found out that he was sexually abusing my daughter. We separated and I filed for divorce, but now he is sorry and wants to stay with me, become a Christian, go to church with me, and get the help he obviously needs. I still love him very much but I don’t know if it’s even possible to make this relationship work, especially for my daughter’s sake. I want him to be saved and I want to help him. I promised to love him in sickness and in health. Is this something that’s even okay for me to forgive? Is it okay to try to stay together?

A. I can only imagine how difficult this situation must be for you. But even though becoming a Christian can change a person in powerful ways, your husband’s decision to do so can’t be part of any reconciliation package with you. Becoming a believer is something a person does regardless of the consequences, and you need time to observe the change in him before deciding whether reconciliation is the right thing.

Jesus commanded us to forgive one another just as He forgave us (Matt. 18:23-35), so for a believer forgiveness is not an option. We’re to forgive others out of gratitude for the way He forgave us, whether we feel like doing it or not. The other person’s reaction is irrelevant as well.

But forgiveness and reconciliation are two separate issues. Forgiving someone doesn’t require us to put ourselves back in the same situation again. You also have your daughter to think of. How would she react to being forced to live in the same house with the man who abused her?

I pray you both have the strength to forgive your husband, and I know reconciliation is always the Lord’s preferred solution to relationship issues. But I caution you to take one step at a time. Forgive him as the Lord commands, see if he follows through on his commitment to become a believer and get the help he needs, and then if you see the changes you’re looking for, you can explore the possibility of reconciliation.

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