Wednesday, April 29, 2015
BJU is fundamentalist to be sure, but their demonstrated approach to “forgiveness” is very common – perhaps even pervasive – in broader evangelical culture. And when abusive and harmful people are part of the equation, the results are especially egregious. I’ve experienced abuse from family/church authority. I’ve been counseled repeatedly by the church to “forgive” and “reconcile.” The results have always been disastrous, causing even greater destruction and harm.I am tempted to quibble with his continuing representation that forgiveness is a one-way experience, but in the end my quibble is purely semantic, there are two steps, one letting go of bitterness and two fixing the relationship, the rest of it is just what label you attach to what step. However, I really like his point that forgiveness does not eliminate justice but rather is a function of it.
A threat that often came from the church – and still painfully rings in my ears at times – is that to not “forgive” and “reconcile” with my abuser would mean the lifting of God’s blessing from my life. My calling would become invalid. My life would become worldly and meaningless.
And this kind of “forgiveness” has to end.
Because it’s not real forgiveness at all.
Forgiveness is a function of love and justice – it does not stand in opposition to these things. Forgiveness works in concert with therapeutic processing and healing – not in opposition to those things. Forgiveness validates anger, fear, depression, and any other emotions/conditions the victim may experience on her path to wholeness – it does not oppose these experiences and demand denial.
Lately, I keep running into praise chorus lyrics that imply there is no guilt in life with Christ:
No guilt in life, no fear in deathWhat nonsense, we are quite guilty - Christ simply pays the price that we owe for our sin. When you are forgiven you are STILL guilty of the offense, you are just not liable for the consequence. This is not a minor distinction. This lack of guilt is a natural consequence of the misunderstanding of forgiveness that the author derides.
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
Somehow I think the world would be a much better place with a proper understanding of forgiveness and quite a bit more guilt floating around.