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Diary of a Ghetto Priest | Adultery and forgiveness: to sin is human, to forgive is divine

Published:Friday | July 13, 2018 | 12:00 AMFr Richard Ho Lung
What would we do without the forgiveness of others, have we forgiven others who have sinned against us?

"To sin is human, to forgive is divine." All of us have experienced that in different ways - with one another, between strangers, and between friends who have had difficulties between them.

What would we do without the forgiveness of others? Have we forgiven others who have sinned against us?

Let me tell you a story about two friends who came to see me.

Kathleen was in her early 40s, and Jerry was in his late 40s.

"I must speak to you father. I know you are a holy man," said Jerry.

"Well, I am a sinner like you, just trying to be holy," I replied.

"I think my wife is a hypocrite. She has had this relationship with a man for two years. She finally confessed to me."

"Tell me, Jerry."

"It's been three children between us in our 12 years of marriage. We are happy, or so I thought. I have done well in my profession as a doctor. I have private practice, and I also give free service to two clinics. My wife, Kathy, doesn't have to work. My two girls and one boy have done well in high school, and one, Damien, is attending medical school overseas," he went on.


'She disgraced me'


"Then everything came crashing down on me. Kathleen, for no reason, has been having this affair with this man. She goes to church. She has these friends. They play bridge together. You could call them upper middle-class women. They also do charitable works at your centres. But she lied to me! She disgraced me! Other friends of mine in the medical profession talked about her and snickered, 'Watch her, Jerry boy! Watch her! Other men have eyes on her!'

"I never paid it any attention. Kathy is a churchwoman who says her prayers. She is a hypocrite! She lies, she lies, she is a street woman! She is a slut!"

Kathy was sitting together with us.

They had come together to see me. She stood up stung and indignant.

"Father! Jerry had his own woman and even women. He goes to the bar often and then goes to sleep with some of them. Sometimes he comes home at night and says he was working late. I believed him. I believed him! He is the hypocrite!" she hit back.

"Well, I am a man. I can do those things. Moreover, it's only now and then. But she is a woman. You know how it is, Father. Men are just men. But it's nothing serious. But women! When they do these things, they humiliate us!" Jerry responded.

"You have weaknesses, Jerry. Women likewise! Whether men or women, adultery is sin. Right is right, and wrong is wrong. You are man and wife. You must stop and move forward together without this evil continuing," I charged them both.

They remained quiet for a while, then tears began to flow from both.

"Does God want you to continue affairs with others outside your marriage? Answer me. Have you not hurt each other? Have you not hurt God?" I continued for quite a while.

Then I spoke about the kids, the family, and the call to repentance.

"Forgive one another! Forgive one another! Forgive one another! I ask you, do you love one another, and does God want you to be man and wife? Or does God want you to divorce one another? Have you developed hardness of heart towards one another?" I asked of them.

Adultery is a serious sin. But man is weak, and there is concupiscence of the flesh. You who are without sin, cast the first stone.

Truly, to sin is human, to forgive is divine.

Jerry and Kathy modified their lives and guarded one another more carefully. After a few years, they fell in love again, forgave each other, and carried the cross of one another. Up to this day, they have remained married in the Lord.