Monday, October 17, 2011


I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness.

It seems to me that the God of the Bible expects much more of people in this area than he expects of himself. We are supposed to forgive "seventy times seven" regardless if the offender takes accountability or not. But God only forgives if we apologize and repent. If we don't do these things and decide to "follow Jesus" the Biblical God banishes us to a lifetime in hell, which seems to me like the ultimate in holding a grudge.

I think forgiveness in Christianity can be used as a way to protect an abuser, or to keep others from having to experience intense or unpleasant emotions from someone who has been hurt.

I've been reading this book "Dance of the Dissident Daughter" by Sue Monk Kidd. There is a line in there that really resonates.

"You forgive what you can, when you can. That's all you can do".

What you can, when you can. On your timetable. Not under threat or manipulation.


  1. The word "forgiveness" can so easily be chalked up to being nothing but a buzz word when it comes to conduct within a church, particularly with leadership. More often than not, I have seen the concept of forgiveness used in ways that would not only keep certain people from being personally accountable for their actions, but also to keep people in leadership from actually acting like leaders with an interest in the spiritual health of *all* their members.

    However, I think the real problem with church leadership wielding around the concept of forgiveness, has more to do with the fact that churches as a whole, have no cotton-pickin' idea how to deal with abuse amongst their congregation in real and effective ways that do not place any responsibility on the victims. If they can compel a victim to 'forgive' their transgressor, or worse, recognize what they may have contributed to their own abuse, then bam....their job just got easier and they can embrace the transgressor and help him/her 'repent.'

    Any form of abuse is complicated and waaaaay beyond most people in church leadership positions. A church that recognizes this and makes referrals to actual counselors who specialize in abuse and who encourage victims to file police reports, have much respect from me.

  2. I'm not sure I understand forgiveness with an abuser. on the one hand, there is a protective anger but on the other hand how does one not let that anger gain control? can one truly forgive & still be angry & guarded?

  3. I'm discovering your blog through Elizabeth Esther's and I'm excited to dig around on here a little when I have more time later. I am reading The Dissident Daughter. Very thought provoking. You're blog title alone had me relating :) to you already now I may send you flowers. ha! Look forward to getting to know the blog/you. Rushia

  4. I think you you need to take account of justice. Without that, forgiveness is hollow. If you trash my car, I can forgive you, but you still have to fix it. If you won't I have the right to see that you do. I see that "reset button" approach a lot in abusive families. You should have peace with forgiveness, not pretend nothing happened, or you don't have a legitimate grievance.

  5. I'm not sure that not forgiving someone means you are consumed by unforgiveness. There are plenty of things that I don't forgive my ex-husband for, yet have for the most part, let go of. The letting go allows me to get on with things and yet seek justice for the results of his actions.

    The other thing I have seen in church leadership in the area of forgiveness, is the idea of forgiveness allowing for a "new beginning." At least in my experience, there are only so many times a marriage can have a "new beginning" in it's 18 year history, for example.

  6. I have a problem with forgiveness without accountability, although I know there are people who do it.

    I'm certainly not living my life enraged at anyone, but have I forgiven? I don't think so. It was demanded of me so often that doing it now feels like a violation of a boundary, somehow.

  7. I have said to God more than once:

    It was one apple, it's been 6,000 years (likely more), LET IT GO already!