Does Forgiveness Victimize the Victim?
In the latest round of false criticism against the moral virtue of forgiveness, we find this: Forgiveness places an extra burden on victims because they already are burdened by injustice. Now asking them to forgive or even assisting them in forgiveness adds a new challenge, a new burden and this is unfair. Leave the victim alone, is the advice.
Let us examine this claim of a new unfair burden in forgiving. Suppose that Person A deliberately hits Person B’s knee with a baseball bat, breaking the knee. Person B has a burden: the broken knee and the resentment toward Person A.
If Person B now wishes to take seriously the responsibility for physical healing, should this person now go to the emergency room and endure the bright lights and the MRI and the surgery and the physical rehab? Or, would this be too much of an added burden for Person B. Perhaps it is unfair to encourage Person B to seek medical help……if we follow the logic of the forgiveness criticism.
Yet, this added burden of medical care, which can be a challenge, is hardly a burden relative to living with a broken knee that may not heal well with the resultant pain and limp that may last indefinitely. The “burden” of healing is not nearly as troublesome as the burden of neglect of the injury.
Now let us turn back to the argument against forgiveness. Let us even stay with the baseball bat incident. Person B not only has a broken knee, but now also a broken heart from the shocking and unexpected incident.
Is it a burden to assist this person in healing the broken heart? Should we just let the victim be? Should we just let the victim live with the broken heart…..perhaps for the rest of the person’s life?
Do you see how this latest criticism against forgiveness is false? Do you see how the major problem is the error in thinking by the critics and not in forgiveness itself?
When a person is morally injured, it seems to be charitable to offer healing. Yes, healing can be challenging, but ignoring healing can be much worse.