Hi there, I'm interested in your views on forgiveness. You said in a posting that God forgave us freely, which He did, but didn't it require our repenting first, otherwise, everyone who is currently seperated from God has had their slate clean and will be going to heaven with the rest of us. I know this is a very basic way of putting it (it's late ;) but what I'm trying to say is, wasn't a part of our being forgiven by God, repenting of our old ways? How could He forgive us if we refused to see any wrong in our old way of sinful living? So what I'm saying is, in regards to forgiving other people, isn't it only a reality when they are repentant, how do you forgive someone who is not even acknowleding any wrong doing, I'm not saying to walk around with resentment in your heart, but how can 'true' forgiveness take place and a relationship be the same with someone if they think they have done nothing wrong. Is it not just exposing yourself to someone who continually treats you in hurtful manner. What i'm saying is, is it possible to forgive someone who is not sorry, but still be able to stay away from the person so to emotionally protect yourself. I'm asking this in particular to emotionally abusive family members who, if anyone has ever dealt with this, knows the havoc they can cause. Have you ever felt that God was saying it was ok to end a relationship with someone who was harming you. Is there an exception to that just because that person may be related to you? Let me know your thoughts. jatz
Hello jatz, thanks for writing. :)
I do know what you are describing here, for I know what it is to be abused by a family member. I also know that the Christian religion would have me feel guilty for not fulfilling my obligation to forgive. That's why it makes sense to us that certain requirements need to be met in order for forgiveness to be bestowed.
If forgiving another was to be based upon sorrow, it would become obvious after a while that such a basis is all too relative. I mean, what kind of sorrow is sufficient? And then, what kind of forgiveness comes, as well as leaves, dependent upon the actions or attitudes of the one being forgiven? What good is a sorrow that lasts long enough to persuade someone to let the other off the hook? I would venture to say you know this process all too well, and that you forgave this person before ... only to find yourself holding the same thing against him/her ... thereby wondering if you ever did forgive in the first place. I suspect you have beat yourself up over this whole situation for a long time because of what you think God expects of you, and of the possible consequences of your failure.
But forgiveness is not based upon the actions or attitude of the recipient but upon the one who does the forgiving. Forgiveness is based upon God. The reality of one person truly forgiving another is also based upon God. Most of what we have considered forgiveness is nothing more than short-lived trade-offs between one person and another. We have learned how to make tentative deals with one another. Forgiveness is not about making deals but is found in not holding one's sins and offenses against that person. There is only one place, one reality where this is a possibility, and that is where there is no law against the person. That reality is found in the doing away of the offender, which was brought about in Jesus Christ in his death.
For us, forgiveness toward others is part and parcel of the miraculous new life in Christ. It is not a trade-off based upon expectations of reciprocation. For it is God's life that we share through Christ. It is HIS mind by which we can truly view others according to reality and not according to appearance. It is only by holding to appearances that holding one's sins against him/her makes sense, and given enough time and opportunity we know doggoned well that we can find plenty to hold against even those we think could not offend us.
Now, according the the "forgiveness" we learned through fleshly reasoning we assume ourselves to be obligated to the deal we make with others. We assume we are obligated to remain in the place of abuse as if forgiveness established some kind of violation on the part of the forgiver not to do so. We have sense that to distance ourselves from the abuser would prove we had not actually performed our duty of forgiving. But forgiveness was never an assumption that the one forgiven would not continue abusing, but is a true recognition that Christ has done away with even the continued abuses against us. For in miraculously seeing all things according to Christ we know where true life is found, in him we cease becoming disappointed in the failures of the flesh.
Just because we recognize this reality we are not obligated to remain in an abusive situation ... even with a family member. It is only according to the fleshly basis taught you by the religious mind that causes you to feel guilty in considering ending an abusive relationship. You are not obligated to live according to the dictates and demands of the fleshly mind. Who knows, you may even end up salvaging the relationship (in one form or another) by severing it. :)