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Switch to Forum Live View What incentive do I have to be a good person?
7 years ago  ::  Dec 29, 2010 - 5:52PM #1
Laurel
Posts: 2

I am separated from my hu sband of 22 years, soon to be divorced.  He has been cheating on me with a woman he found on a "married but looking" website.  She's a Lutheran, too and supposedly very religious and left her husband for mine.


My question is this: if we Lutherans believe that we are "saved by grace alone" and they will be forgiven and go to heaven anyway after breaking the sixth commandment, what incentive do I (or anyone else for that matter) have to be a good person? 

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7 years ago  ::  Dec 29, 2010 - 6:30PM #2
tawonda
Posts: 4,367

Because you love God and want to be God's hands and heart in the world.


Don't you?


Martin Luther noted that people who have a healthy, living, grace-based relationship with God can't help but do good works.


On the other hand -- we are also all sinners -- our m.o. may differ from individual to individual, but we're all born with that same tendency to run away from God and to not treat our neighbors as we want to be treated ourselves. As angry as you are at your ex and his lover...you are in the same boat as they are: a sinful human being dependent on God's grace and mercy and not on your being "good enough."


For me, that sounds like very good news.


 I am also going to ask you to expand your concept of salvation, as it should be, to something much bigger than a get-out-of-jail-free card for the afterlife. Salvation starts in the here and now. Now, your husband's and his GF's infidelity have hurt you, the GF's husband and I'm sure many others. But how do you think that their behavior is and is going to hurt them? Infidelity complicates the lives of the perpetrators as well, doesn't it? -- whether in terms of ugly fights and expensive settlements in divorce court; losing custody, and very often the respect, of one's children; losing friendships; losing the respect of coworkers and neighbors and others; the lowering of the bar for subsequent infidelities in the new relationship; etc. (As Sheryl Crow so eloquently puts it, "If it makes you happy...then why the hell are you so sad?") When we church folk talk about "temporal punishment," that means suffering the consequences of our bad behaviors in the here and now.  Your husband and his GF are "getting theirs," and will be, even if that's not immediately apparent to you, by what they've done.


No, it isn't fair that you and the other spouse are collateral damage of their sinful behavior; but both of you are actually in a stronger position -- you have your honor, and they do not. Now, if you become bitter and vindictive (which, BTW, is not the same as advocating strongly for your rights in court as wronged parties), that changes. But you have the opportunity to be the better person in this situation, as does the other wronged spouse, by refusing to let your anger and hurt eat away at your heart and soul.


Lest you think that I'm addressing this from a Polyannaish viewpoint: My partner got involved in an ill-considered early marriage (basically pressured by parents) with someone who was unfaithful and both physically and emotionally abusive. He also played dirty during their very nasty divorce and wound up with most of the household assets, leaving my partner and her then-young children with almost nothing. Despite all of this, my partner resolved never to speak ill of her ex within earshot of her children, and also was cooperative about issues like visitations. She tells me that at the time she had a conviction that, in the end, everything would turn out all right, and her kids would understand. And that's what happened. Her ex has made his bed, so to speak, so that his now adult sons do not respect him at all, don't communicate with him except under duress and generally don't consider him to be a parent in any way other than biologically. Son #2, who went through a stage in his adolescence when he started identifying with his dad and being angry at his mom, later apologized to her and said, "Looking back, I see where you were the one with strength of character, with values, and that you did what you had to do for our good."

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7 years ago  ::  Dec 30, 2010 - 5:28PM #3
Memiller
Posts: 16

There is not much I can, or need to, add to tawonda's good and very Lutheran reply.


I just want to think on one line in her reply: "That sounds like very good news to me."


Yet to many of my non-Christian friends, the Gospel does not sound like good news. As C.S. Lewis pointed out in his essay "God in the Dock", someone who thinks himself to be healthy will not experience the announcement that there is a cure for his terminal illness to be good news. And most people (well, many, at least) do not have a sense of sin. They would put God on trial, for the crime of creating this messed-up world.


Christians are those who, in the first place, have accepted this unpleasant diagnosis, that they are sinners and have rejected God. Only then is the Gospel good news. And even then, repentance can be hard work. I have very often found myself to be self-justifying, making excuses for my sin rather than repenting of it. What is needed is what Luther spoke of as 'putting the old Adam to death every day'. And it cannot be done finally, or completely.


We are not to judge the repentance of others. Your ex-husband may have sincerely repented of his sin, the effects of which, of course, cannot be undone. Ideally, as a part of repentance, he should ask for your forgiveness, as well as God's. In any case, I would say you need to forgive him for your own sake, even if this does not lead to reconciliation (as two human beings, I mean; I understand the marriage is over).

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7 years ago  ::  Dec 31, 2010 - 6:40PM #4
teilhard
Posts: 53,304

In order to avoid harming others ...


Dec 29, 2010 -- 5:52PM, Laurel wrote:


I am separated from my hu sband of 22 years, soon to be divorced.  He has been cheating on me with a woman he found on a "married but looking" website.  She's a Lutheran, too and supposedly very religious and left her husband for mine.


My question is this: if we Lutherans believe that we are "saved by grace alone" and they will be forgiven and go to heaven anyway after breaking the sixth commandment, what incentive do I (or anyone else for that matter) have to be a good person? 





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7 years ago  ::  Jan 09, 2011 - 12:40AM #5
DragoonEnNoir
Posts: 354

Dec 29, 2010 -- 5:52PM, Laurel wrote:


I am separated from my hu sband of 22 years, soon to be divorced.  He has been cheating on me with a woman he found on a "married but looking" website.  She's a Lutheran, too and supposedly very religious and left her husband for mine.


My question is this: if we Lutherans believe that we are "saved by grace alone" and they will be forgiven and go to heaven anyway after breaking the sixth commandment, what incentive do I (or anyone else for that matter) have to be a good person? 





Let's be blunt. While we are saved by grace, this does not give licence to sin.


What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Ro 6:1-2)


What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Ro 6:15-16)


What your husband and the other woman have done is simply wrong and in rebellion against God. Their friends and churches should be calling them back to obedience to Christ. Remember the parable of the sower (Mt 13).


For those that say there is a 'carnal' Christian... quite simply they are lying to themselves and others.


If we are to call ourselves 'Christian', we carry the name of Christ. If we blindly allow our brethren to foul Christ's name through acts such as these, how can we really say we follow Christ?


If they repent, then will they continue to live in the state of their sinfulness? If they maintain their sinful actions, is any verbal proclamation of repentance really true?


 


Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Mt 7:21-23)


Pray for your husband and this 'religious' woman. The road they are on is a wide one...


 


I'm afraid the Gospel is equally clear on your action though. You need to find forgiveness in your heart for both your husband and this woman. Not just forgiveness but love.  
 


What incentive? None.


Except that you love the Lord your God.

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7 years ago  ::  Jan 12, 2011 - 12:33PM #6
tawonda
Posts: 4,367

Hello, Dragoon.


I just wanted to remind you that this is the Lutheran forum -- intended for Lutherans, and for non-Lutherans interested in learning about Lutheranism.


When someone posts here asking a question regarding Lutheran theology/practice, it is appropriate for Lutherans with the requisite knowledge of Lutheran theology/practice to respond. It is not appropriate for persons with other faith backgrounds/lack of requisite theological knowledge to respond. That would be like my crashing the Eastern Orthodoxy forum to answer some visiting seeker's question about Eastern Orthodoxy based my admittedly limited understanding of that tradition.


If you are looking for general Christian discussion, I'd direct you to Christian Faith and Life or Christian-Christian Debate.


If you yourself have real, specific questions about Lutheran theology/practice, there are many people here who would be happy to respond to them. Otherwise, again, I would direct you to other, more appropriate forums.

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7 years ago  ::  Mar 18, 2011 - 9:46AM #7
G_Erdner
Posts: 172

Dec 29, 2010 -- 5:52PM, Laurel wrote:


I am separated from my hu sband of 22 years, soon to be divorced.  He has been cheating on me with a woman he found on a "married but looking" website.  She's a Lutheran, too and supposedly very religious and left her husband for mine.


My question is this: if we Lutherans believe that we are "saved by grace alone" and they will be forgiven and go to heaven anyway after breaking the sixth commandment, what incentive do I (or anyone else for that matter) have to be a good person? 





I'm a little curious about why you expressed your question as "be a good person" instead of as "do the right thing"? As Lutherans, we know that "we are by nature sinful and unclean", which is why those words were in the Order for Public Confession until the revisionist faction changed them. We live our lives in a state of tension, simultaneously sinner and saint, secure in the knowledge that God's gift of Grace redeems us.


That means that the incentive to do the right thing is our gratitude to God, and our love for Him, and our desire to please Him. That should be a powerful incentive. What we do not have is a disincentive to refrain from doing the wrong thing. One motivates a mule by the incentive of the carrot and the disincentive of the stick. If the mule does what he should do, he gets the carrot. If not, he gets the stick.


God doesn't use the stick on us. The new Covenant He made with us only uses the carrot.


That doesn't mean that we can ignore God's Law, or change it to suit the whims of modern society. God gave us the Law as more than just a tool to condemn us. God's Law is also a gift of Love, because following God's Law to the best of our ability will make our lives here on earth more pleasant as we deal with each other. The concept that God gave us the Law for our own good is a valid concept, one that we shouldn't ignore.

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