Archive for February, 2022

Don’t you think that forgiving other people is inappropriate in some circumstances?  For example, when family members put pressure on a person to forgive, this places an excessive burden on the victim, especially when this person is not at all ready to forgive. I charge forgiveness with the crime of too much pressure when the person is not ready.

Forgiveness is not the culprit in your example.  When people put pressure on another person to forgive, then the problem lies with those so pressuring.  Forgiveness itself has nothing to do with such pressure. Forgiveness never ever should be forced onto anyone. Forgiveness is innocent of the charges.

Can a person “fake himself out” into thinking that there was an injustice when there was no injustice?

To help you ascertain whether or not a person acted unfairly toward you, consider asking yourself these questions:

  1. What was the action? Do you usually consider this action to be wrong?  For example, murder in any culture is wrong.
  2. What is the person’s intention? Did the person mean to do wrong?  Even if the person had no intention to do wrong, might the action itself lead to bad consequences at times?  An example is texting on one’s cellphone while driving a car.  The one who is texting is not intending to hurt others, but the action itself of inattention could lead to dire consequences.  Therefore, the action without intention to harm still is wrong.
  3. What are the circumstances for the other whom you are considering? For example, was the person sick that day and so was impatient, which typically is not the case for this person?  Were there pressures on the person that you did not see?  Again, as with our point 2 above, having a good excuse still does not exonerate the person from the conclusion that there was an injustice that did occur.

As you take into account the action, the intention, and the circumstance of the other person’s behavior, this may help you in determining whether or not there was a genuine injustice.

Do you think that forgiving is fuller when the other apologizes?

I do think that the other’s apology can aid the one forgiving to actually forgive more quickly.  Yet, there is much more to the practice of forgiving than the other person’s apology.  This idea of “fullness” depends on many issues such as these: a) how deeply the forgiver understands what forgiveness is and is not; b) how much practice the forgiver has had in forgiving those who have been unjust; c) how deeply angry or sad the forgiver is right now (in other words, the forgiver may need more time); and, d) how sincere the apology seems to be from the forgiver’s viewpoint.  There is more to forgiving than these four issues, but my point is to say that apologies by themselves do not always lead to “fuller” forgiveness.

What if a person has no intention to hurt anyone and then by mistake hurts others.  An example is someone who is intoxicated, drives home (with no other way to get home), and then in the process of driving, hits another car and injures the driver of that other car.  If this action was not deliberately unjust (chosen as something unfair), can I still forgive?

Even unintended actions can be unjust. Let us take your example of the drunk driver causing injury or death. Although the accident was unintended, it is still unjust because the person knew that he or she would be driving. Starting to drink that evening was not wise. Surely, before the person became drunk, he or she had the rational faculties to know that the amount of alcohol consumption was not good. So, prior bad judgements before the accident show that the unintended consequences had bad choices connected with it. Those choices were unjust choices and so those injured or those who lost loved ones can forgive if they so choose.

Is there a difference between forgiving and wishing someone well? I wish my ex-husband well, but I am still very angry with him because he broke the marriage covenant.

The late Lewis Smedes in his book, Forgive and Forget, made the point that people are starting to forgive when they wish the other person well. Thus, you likely are at the beginning of forgiveness and this is a positive step. Now you need to press onward toward deeper forgiveness. Try to see your ex-husband’s worth; try to see his emotional wounds which might have contributed to the break-up; try to be aware of any compassion that may be growing in you as you do this work. The result, based on our research, likely will be reduced anger.