Grace and Accountability for Perpetrators/Betrayers

Here’s a question I’ve been considering that has come out of my work in restoring marriages at risk and the question is more about the offender in that marriage and not the offended. It’s a question I think/believe has to be dealt with or the marriage doesn’t experience reconciliation or restoration when unconscionable sin or habitually irresponsible behavior on the part of the perpetrator has destroyed the marriage. But I’ve seen and been a part of counseling marriages that have been miraculously restored when the perpetrator genuinely struggles to understand how twisting the issue of grace can ruin any chance for reconciliation, restoration and renewal.

Allow me to ask the question:

For people who misuse or redefine GRACE when they are actively being irresponsible, is it grace for them to say they deserve something they don’t deserve while refusing to change, and then demand others bleed for them or else they bolt from being held accountable?

Here’s another way to ask the question.

When someone has been actively irresponsible and hurt others – maybe even those closes to them and are being held accountable by the person closes to them – I have heard the offender say, “There’s no grace in or with this accountability, so I won’t or don’t have to be held accountable.”

So is it grace to agree with them and then let them define how they will be held accountable? If so, how does that help the offender or does it help the non-repentant offender?

In order for Grace to be Grace, doesn’t a core reality or ingredient of grace present a boundary/accountability issue? We see the grace of God in Christ on the Cross don’t we? But the Cross is an invitation from God that says it is God’s way or no way on the road to forgiveness.

That means if a perpetrator/sinner told Jesus he didn’t think it was right for God to reject others because the perpetrator didn’t think there was enough grace extended to them to do it their way, it didn’t matter. Why? As far as God is concerned, Calvary was the Grace boundary and God holds it as a line of accountability for all of us to deal with our sin or it wouldn’t be grace.

My premise is that accountability and grace are part of the same although I do agree that when we talk about relational styles, that might not resonate because the style of holding someone accountable can block the way. Hard call but with perpetrators of destroying their marriage, it would seem to me they are not in the place to define Grace because motivations are untested and suspect.

I’m putting thought and questions out there but really am interested in your thoughts and questions as well, whether it agrees or pushes back. Let me invite you to do so.

2 thoughts on “Grace and Accountability for Perpetrators/Betrayers

  1. I think of the marriage relationship God had with Israel. Israel was held accountable for betrayal, and God gives her a divorce. Yet, before the divorce, she was given by the grace of God, chance after chance to repent and change her ways. Punishment abounded in the exchange between God and Israel to teach her, she is accountable to God. Famine, sword, pestilence, and noisome beast cut off man from the land. God told Ezekiel, “ye shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, saith the Lord God.” (Ezk.14:23) Grace saves but does not license us to sin or behave badly. God told the lame man at the pool, “you have been made whole, Go and sin no more.” Why? “lest a worse thing come unto thee.” (John 5:14) What is “a worse thing?” That’s accountability whatever the consequences it will bring.