If someone hurt you but then says that they did nothing at all wrong, can you forgive? How can you forgive someone who looks you in the eye and denies any wrongdoing?

The question is important because of the confusion that might be engendered in the forgiver when the offending person claims innocence. A central issue here is this: The forgiver is the one exercising the virtue of forgiveness, which includes careful scrutiny regarding the other person’s right or wrong actions. It is part of the forgiveness process to determine this. Once the forgiver has determined wrongdoing on the other’s part, of course, this conclusion is open to revision based on new evidence. So, please try to think of the offending person’s challenge as an opportunity to further scrutinize his or her act to ascertain wrongdoing. The person could be correct, in which case there is nothing to forgive. If, however, you as forgiver once again examine the behavior and conclude that it is an injustice, then you should go ahead with forgiveness regardless of what the other person (or anyone else) says. Do not let a contrary opinion or consensus keep you from the truth of what is right and wrong. Do not let the opinion or consensus keep you from forgiving if you continue to conclude that there was injustice.

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Categories: Ask Dr. Forgiveness