There are times when a sin might not be excused, but it is very understood. Proverbs 6:30 says
Men do not despise a thief if he steals
to satisfy his hunger when he is starving. (NIV)
Stealing is wrong. End of story. But when the theft occurs because of extreme circumstances that can mean life or death, we should in no way condemn them for it. We should not stop loving them because of the acts they were forced into. But….
Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold,
though it costs him all the wealth of his house. (6:31 NIV)
A sin is a sin and the sinner must pay the consequences. These verses (which can be found in more detail in Exodus 22:1-14) clarify that there is no sin that will go unpunished. When you steal, you pay the price. So if you notice your pantry has been raided and you suspect the homeless guy that eats out of the garbage, don’t be angry at him. (Personally, I would make sure he wasn’t caught – don’t know if that is wrong or not.) He is being driven to steal. But upon being caught by the police, the law cannot find exception there.
Solomon then ties this back to the theme that is close to his heart: adultery.
But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment;
whoever does so destroys himself.
Blows and disgrace are his lot,
and his shame will never be wiped away;
for jealousy arouses a husband’s fury,
and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge.
He will not accept any compensation;
he will refuse the bribe, however great it is. (6:32-35 NIV)
Ouch! I think Solomon starts out with the obvious (especially after our last few visits to Proverbs). If you commit adultery, you have no judgment. You are determined to destroy yourself. You have a death wish.
I have to admit that when I first read “his shame will never be wiped away” I disagreed. In today’s world we almost pat the guy on the back. For example, there is a certain professional basketball player that was caught with someone other than his wife, then accused of rape, and now after buying his wife a huge ring and various other gifts all is forgiven and everyone just throws themselves at him. He might have truly repented. We cannot really know that. But it bothers me so much that here he is continuing to make millions and even get more popular after committing adultery in the headlines that I’m sick to my stomach (as you can tell I cannot even mention his name). Our society today almost applauds them and accepts it as part of being famous.
But what if a husband had been involved? What if the gun was fired or the knife was drawn? Though we would punish him like the starving man, we would also deeply understand. A crime of passion can be felt by everyone. Why would the adulterer be so surprised when the victim husband (yes, victim) came for revenge? You took something that belonged to him. You stole something precious. You invaded another man’s treasure. You expect to be exonerated?
Are you guilty of stealing from another? Are you guilty of not caring? Are you guilty of adultery of the body or the heart? You might be. Think about it carefully. It is something very serious.