Monday, October 30, 2006

A comment from a reader put me onto Lewis Smedes, Forgive and Forget. The topic is interesting because it is so difficult. Should a child molested by her father forgive and forget--without his acknowledgement of wrongdoing? Should I forgive and forget the wrong the CTS administration has committed against me--with no acknowledgement or appology--even though my life is much better now than before?

Take the case of the lumber yard owner whose business is destroyed by an arsonist. Insurance money pays for a new building that offers better business opportunities. The owner is pleased with the outcome, but should she forgive and forget or should she be involved in seeking justice for the one who is guilty?


  1. I think there's a difference between forgiving and seeking to right a situation. You can forgive - something that is necessary for your own piece of mind. (Although I don't see any point or possibility of forgetting it. That's just amnesia, which is a medical condition. And we would be stupid not to learn from the situation.)

    I believe forgiving is realising that we don't fight against people, but against the evil things that drive people, and it's the evil we hate, not the people. Maybe the best we can do is pity them and hope they come round some day. I think that is what love is, wanting the best for someone. I think we can pray against the bad things and prejudices that are binding them, hoping that the person will be released from whatever is causing them to act in a certain way.

    We are probably more effective in bringing about change once we have forgiven someone, since the issue becomes less personal and we're seeking to bring about positive change instead of personal vengeance. But I also think forgiveness doesn't happen all at once, but has to be done over and over again.

  2. Just to add to that, I think most people act badly because they are motivated by fear. It doesn't seem that way on the surface, but deep-rooted fear (possibly even from childhood) manifests itself in all sorts of horrible ways, and we can't always second-guess what the person is actually afraid of: Fear of failure, fear of letting down expectations of a parental figure (even one long dead), fear of rejection, fear of intimacy, fear of one's desires, the list is long. It may be nothing to do with us, even if we're the brunt of the bad behaviour. People cower behind all sorts of strange mental fortresses to hide from what they fear.

    It's somewhat easier to pity (and possibly forgive) someone who is afraid, instead of someone who is wicked.