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Views on forgiveness

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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03 January 2019 12:31
 

I’m looking for people’s different takes on forgiveness.  I know this is a huge topic in Christianity.  But I’m more interested in how choosing to forgive or not forgive has impacted people’s lives. 

To begin, forgiveness seems like a term that can be interpreted in several ways.  Does it imply absolution from blame?  Does it require repentance of the wrong-doer?  Or simply the end of bitterness in the heart of someone who was wronged?

 
burt
 
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burt
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03 January 2019 15:52
 

I think you need to include self-forgiveness in this, too.

 
EN
 
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EN
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03 January 2019 19:12
 

It’s more the end of bitterness in one’s own heart. You release the bitterness of whatever evil was done to you so that it no longer enslaves you or holds you back.

 
GAD
 
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GAD
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03 January 2019 19:57
 

Contrary to popular belief there is nothing special, great or noble about forgiveness. That is a social construct made to make you feel better about bad things and empathize with those who did them least you be one who did them and need forgiveness. Given that everyone does things that need forgiven and that everyone hopes for forgiveness, preaching it as a virtue makes social sense. But really it comes down to what value you get out of it, if it benefits you to forgive, self-righteousness or credit for future forgiveness etc then you forgive, if there is no value then why forgive. Personally there are many things that I don’t forgive, and there is no value in me forgiving them as society is large enough that I’m not dependent on those I don’t forgive or those that don’t forgive me.

 
 
nonverbal
 
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nonverbal
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04 January 2019 06:22
 
hannahtoo - 03 January 2019 12:31 PM

I’m looking for people’s different takes on forgiveness.  I know this is a huge topic in Christianity.  But I’m more interested in how choosing to forgive or not forgive has impacted people’s lives. 

To begin, forgiveness seems like a term that can be interpreted in several ways.  Does it imply absolution from blame?  Does it require repentance of the wrong-doer?  Or simply the end of bitterness in the heart of someone who was wronged?

I think it can be therapeutic for some people—not everyone, perhaps—to temporarily hold on to feelings of hatred. For instance, how many individuals find themselves being abused by their significant other? Obviously, plenty. Out of those plenty of people, how many find it difficult to let go of their positive feelings once they realize their SO has become toxic for them? Also plenty, I’d say, especially if they’re in the habit of forgiving everyone under the sun, no matter what.

I completely agree with the view that forgiveness, generally speaking, serves the best interests of everyone. So I’m referring to a specific context in which temporary hatred can be beneficial. It comes so naturally for most people, they don’t even think of it as hatred, but there it is at times, assisting them in subduing their otherwise positive feelings about a person who’s proven to be toxic for them to continue spending significant time with. Feelings of forgiveness can wisely be put on hold during certain specific contexts, in my opinion.

We have a certain amount of control over even our strongest emotions, if we’re willing to take them over by way of our ability to plan and think about our lives. Emotionally intelligent people understand that they are not necessarily sister Carries, destined to drift like lone figures in a tossing, thoughtless sea. Hatred need not be all-encompassing or permanent.

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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04 January 2019 07:36
 
hannahtoo - 03 January 2019 12:31 PM

I’m looking for people’s different takes on forgiveness.  I know this is a huge topic in Christianity.  But I’m more interested in how choosing to forgive or not forgive has impacted people’s lives. 

To begin, forgiveness seems like a term that can be interpreted in several ways.  Does it imply absolution from blame?  Does it require repentance of the wrong-doer?  Or simply the end of bitterness in the heart of someone who was wronged?

Forgiveness is often the recognition that we are all human and make mistakes.  As GAD says, “Given that everyone does things that need forgiving and that everyone hopes for forgiveness, preaching it as a virtue makes social sense”.  To be able to forgive those close to us, to not hold a grudge, is often necessary to maintain relationships.  However, that forgiveness must be deserved in the form of some kind of repentance or acknowledgement so that one is not continually harmed (as in nonverbal’s example of spousal abuse), i.e. self-preservation and self-respect cannot be set aside.

To let go of anger can be a release and could be called forgiveness even when not absolving another of blame.  All sane people are responsible for their actions and the slate cannot be wiped clean entirely, but forgiveness can alleviate the weight of another’s guilt and be healing for the forgiver.

However, in my opinion there are things that are unforgiveable and for which there can be no absolution.  The injured party has no choice but to learn to control anger and hate as much as is possible, to try to make sure it doesn’t negatively change who one is.  However, even when forgiveness is not possible, plans or thoughts of retribution (excepting justice) serve no purpose.

 

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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04 January 2019 07:43
 

A couple of different circumstances triggered my pondering about forgiveness.  One was a friend’s fraught relationship with her father who abused her as a child and continued to belittle her as an adult.  The friend is Christian, and she felt compelled to work to “forgive” him.  However, she confused forgiveness with reconciliation and absolving from blame.  Due to her low self-image, she saw her inability to mend the situation as another personal failure.  What a mess!

As with a lot of Jesus’s teachings, forgiveness is not as clear-cut as it comes across in Bible verses.  Confusion is created by repeated preaching about amazing reconciliations (ie Carrie Tim Boom), leading to the expectation that enough faith and prayer can heal all rifts.  I completely agree that we all need to give each other more slack and not hold resentment over the majority of garden-variety offenses committed against us.  Even many large rifts can be bridged.  But I agree with other posters that temporary resentment and anger can be self-protective.  Some life-long distrust and wariness is realistic, even as bitterness fades. 

I see that my own struggle with forgiveness has been similar to my friend’s.  I have confused forgiveness with exculpation. 

The other side of the coin is also worth examining.  That is, as Burt mentioned, forgiveness for ourselves.  I see the usefulness of creating a God who forgives to personify the idea that “the universe forgives” us.  Those of us who do not believe in such a God, must reconcile in other ways.

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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04 January 2019 22:33
 

I think the word encompasses different concepts that need to be distinguished and not conflated or equivocated upon. It means at least three separate things to me. They can occur simultaneously but do not have to.

There is a purely practical sense where some material debt is erased. I think this includes things like debt forgiveness and also legal exoneration or pardon.

There is a moral forgiveness where blame for some wrong doing is absolved.

There an emotional connotation where one may still hold parties to moral or practical debts but they have made personal peace with a situation and no longer actively obsess or harbor a grudge or seek revenge.

These aren’t precise of course. Just my own usage.

 
Gone
 
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Gone
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04 January 2019 23:21
 
GAD - 03 January 2019 07:57 PM

Contrary to popular belief there is nothing special, great or noble about forgiveness. That is a social construct made to make you feel better about bad things and empathize with those who did them least you be one who did them and need forgiveness. Given that everyone does things that need forgiven and that everyone hopes for forgiveness, preaching it as a virtue makes social sense. But really it comes down to what value you get out of it, if it benefits you to forgive, self-righteousness or credit for future forgiveness etc then you forgive, if there is no value then why forgive. Personally there are many things that I don’t forgive, and there is no value in me forgiving them as society is large enough that I’m not dependent on those I don’t forgive or those that don’t forgive me.

I’ll try and ignore the question of free will in relation to blame. In the west we can be exposed unknowingly to Judeo-Christian doctrine on forgiveness, a doctrine that’s made an industy out of guilt through confession and selling Papal ‘indulgence’. Recent discoveries revealing a connection between, say , intestinal health, mood and mental states in general ( the free will question again) complicate the issue .
For me, in the end, the question often boils down to self preservation through a process of forgiveness without forgetting.
Then there’s the theological question I can’t ignore I experienced in my childhood. The anger and refusal to forgive a God I thought to be an immoral, capricous sadist, would probably still be with me if I was still a believer.

Hooray! Just discovered the hidden formatting facility.

 
 
MARTIN_UK
 
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MARTIN_UK
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05 January 2019 00:42
 

Interesting topic.

I find value in the ability to move on in my own thoughts from any actions or incidents in my life that have caused me a detriment i some way.
Especially when the memory causes me ongoing damage.

Is that forgiveness?

 
GAD
 
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GAD
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05 January 2019 06:05
 
Dissily Mordentroge - 04 January 2019 11:21 PM
GAD - 03 January 2019 07:57 PM

Contrary to popular belief there is nothing special, great or noble about forgiveness. That is a social construct made to make you feel better about bad things and empathize with those who did them least you be one who did them and need forgiveness. Given that everyone does things that need forgiven and that everyone hopes for forgiveness, preaching it as a virtue makes social sense. But really it comes down to what value you get out of it, if it benefits you to forgive, self-righteousness or credit for future forgiveness etc then you forgive, if there is no value then why forgive. Personally there are many things that I don’t forgive, and there is no value in me forgiving them as society is large enough that I’m not dependent on those I don’t forgive or those that don’t forgive me.

I’ll try and ignore the question of free will in relation to blame. In the west we can be exposed unknowingly to Judeo-Christian doctrine on forgiveness, a doctrine that’s made an industy out of guilt through confession and selling Papal ‘indulgence’. Recent discoveries revealing a connection between, say , intestinal health, mood and mental states in general ( the free will question again) complicate the issue .
For me, in the end, the question often boils down to self preservation through a process of forgiveness without forgetting.
Then there’s the theological question I can’t ignore I experienced in my childhood. The anger and refusal to forgive a God I thought to be an immoral, capricous sadist, would probably still be with me if I was still a believer.

Hooray! Just discovered the hidden formatting facility.

No need to ignore freewill, it doesn’t exist but we live as through it does, because we have no choice.

On god, I love the line from the fantastic movie God On Trial where the Jews in Auschwitz are debating god and one says “god was never good just powerful and on our side”.

 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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05 January 2019 06:07
 
MARTIN_UK - 05 January 2019 12:42 AM

Interesting topic.

I find value in the ability to move on in my own thoughts from any actions or incidents in my life that have caused me a detriment i some way.
Especially when the memory causes me ongoing damage.

Is that forgiveness?

Sounds more like rationalization.

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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05 January 2019 07:01
 
Dissily Mordentroge - 04 January 2019 11:21 PM

I’ll try and ignore the question of free will in relation to blame. In the west we can be exposed unknowingly to Judeo-Christian doctrine on forgiveness, a doctrine that’s made an industy out of guilt through confession and selling Papal ‘indulgence’. Recent discoveries revealing a connection between, say , intestinal health, mood and mental states in general ( the free will question again) complicate the issue .
For me, in the end, the question often boils down to self preservation through a process of forgiveness without forgetting.
Then there’s the theological question I can’t ignore I experienced in my childhood. The anger and refusal to forgive a God I thought to be an immoral, capricous sadist, would probably still be with me if I was still a believer.

Hooray! Just discovered the hidden formatting facility.

I agree.  Self-preservation must play a part in forgiveness by not forgetting, as if it is really possible to forget anyway.

When religion puts the burden or too much pressure on the injured party to forgive, it can actually harm the ‘victim’ even further (as described by hannahtoo, post #6.)

When I was in the transition from believer-agnostic-atheist, there was a time I was angry at God too.  For me, the only resolution was to realize that the state of the world we live in only made sense if there was no god, at least not the type of god described by our human-created religions.

Welcome to the SH forum, Dissily.

Jan

 

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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05 January 2019 12:51
 

A word about ‘moving on’:

I’ve never felt that people move on. At least not fully. We are formed by our experiences and memories. I agree that grudges and revenge and festering anger are bad but I don’t forget about grievous wrongs. Especially when no contrition has been offered. Time does have a way, sometimes of softening the significance of some traumatic event but I don’t think it should change the way we regard them in concept. I think we need our norms and we need the the things that provide context and leverage for those norms. We need for certain behaviors to be taboo and for there to be extraordinary and persistent consequences for doing them.

A lot of times when talking about forgiveness we are talking about generational issues within families. I’ve heard people say that it’s necessary to make peace with ones family (just as a for instance) I disagree. I think its good to make peace if that peace isn’t a fatal compromise of principle. I’ve experienced situations where I could not make peace. Not without tacit approval of something that should not be approved. Not without a loss of personal dignity and compass. I did ‘move on’ but moving on entailed a geographic and inter personal separation rather than a reconciliation. I would say that forgiveness of a kind did occur because I ceased to hold certain people to any expectation but it did not occur in the sense of moral absolution.

 
Gone
 
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Gone
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05 January 2019 14:52
 
GAD - 05 January 2019 06:05 AM

On god, I love the line from the fantastic movie God On Trial where the Jews in Auschwitz are debating god and one says “god was never good just powerful and on our side”.

Or as Bernard Shaw wrote in his shortest poem.
”How odd of God,
To choose the Jews”

 
 
Gone
 
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Gone
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05 January 2019 15:03
 
Jan_CAN - 05 January 2019 07:01 AM
Dissily Mordentroge - 04 January 2019 11:21 PM

When I was in the transition from believer-agnostic-atheist, there was a time I was angry at God too.  For me, the only resolution was to realize that the state of the world we live in only made sense if there was no god, at least not the type of god described by our human-created religions.

Thanks for the welcome Jan. I’m somewhat apprehensive at the level of debate here when it takes on the cloak of academic philosophy. My Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy will probably need to be consulted frequently just to assertain what’s being said and even then the task of providing anything like valid responses may be duanting.
There’s another contentious topic within your ‘the world we live in only made sense if there was no God’ in that most of us at some time or other have assumed God necessarily had to make sense. If we take the God of the Old Testament as any indication he seldom did. In fact for a period in my youth when I believed in a God I wasn’t willing to forgive him for his creation always imagining the day I got to confront the deity as an opportunity to tell him off and ask for an explanation for his sadistic, unpredictable actions, especially the torturing of his own son who (if we swallow trinitarian theology whole) is actually himself. Mad, bad and crazy really.

[ Edited: 05 January 2019 15:07 by Gone]
 
 
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