Quote of the Day: Does Forgiving Always Mean Forgetting?

 

Over the last couple of years, I’ve followed the Twitter account of Jennifer Michelle Greenberg. She’s a Christian woman who grew up in an abusive home. Her father claimed to be a Christian but abused Jennifer physically, sexually, and emotionally. She experienced churches that would ignore or minimize abuse. She now works to help survivors of abuse and help churches to deal with such issues Biblically.

I just finished her book Not Forsaken: A Story of Life After Abuse. I found these definitions helpful. She has dealt with people who demand that abusers must be forgiven (7 x 70) and allowed to remain in one’s life. I found her distinction between two kinds of forgiveness helpful:

I’ve found it helpful to define two modes of forgiveness: Boundaried Forgiveness and Reconciled Forgiveness.

Boundaried Forgiveness is when we let go of our anger, resentment, and desire for revenge; yet we maintain boundaries and pursue justice. We don’t not bear a grudge, but we may file a police report or get a restraining order…

Reconciled Forgiveness is only the ideal when our abuser is genuinely repentant.

I hope others find this helpful as well.

(September Quote of the Day)

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 17 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    It’s a very good distinction.  

    (The meaning of “boundaried” is perfectly clear.  Still, I wish her editor had suggested the common word in English for “having a boundary”: “bounded”.  “Boundaried” has a distracting, ditzy effect.)

    • #1
  2. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Forgetting history, doomed to repeat, etc. 

    Letting people abuse you makes you part of the abuse and that’s not a good thing in any biblio. 

    If you are actually Jesus, the dynamic is different. 

    • #2
  3. Mad Gerald Coolidge
    Mad Gerald
    @Jose

    Eustace C. Scrubb: Reconciled Forgiveness is only the ideal when our abuser is genuinely repentant.

    Jesus says in Luke 17:

    3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,

    4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

    Eustace C. Scrubb: I’ve found it helpful to define two modes of forgiveness: Boundaried Forgiveness and Reconciled Forgiveness.

    Yes, it is helpful.  Thanks.

    • #3
  4. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B
    @LillyB

    Definitely a helpful distinction that I hope I never really need to put into practice.

    *****

    This post is part of the Quote of the Day (QOTD) Group Writing project on Ricochet. We welcome regular contributors and newbies who want to share a quote from the past or present and start a conversation! The October QOTD Signup Sheet is here.

    • #4
  5. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    I’m not hip to the references, but I suppose each one of us has confronted this in ways small or large.

    To me, “Forgive and forget” is imprecise and usefully so.  Pith and the desired effect drive the phrasing.  I think the point is to genuinely forgive (when appropriate) and then proceed as if forgotten.  We would want neither the trespasser nor the trespassed to actually forget, assuming that this is the surest way to get a repeat. 

    No doubt there is a philosophical point to be made about a truly forgotten thing being truly repeatable (did you actually suffer twice if you forgot the first one?), but then this conceit of rationality is not the only thing that remembers — the body remembers an injury, and witnesses remember an insult.  So without a time machine, I think we can say that forgetting is not truly possible.

    If “forgetting” means only wiping the slate clean, this too is not quite desirable.  Specifically, should the need come to record that demerit again, that’s a very good time to notice that the paper bears marks of erasure.

    So “Try to forgive and pretend to forget” is how I would expand our pithy guidance.

    • #5
  6. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    To forgive is to forget is a nice sentiment, but it’s not authoritative.  It literally means one thing, but I think it actually means, Don’t hold a grudge.  Grudges are bad and to be eschewed.

    To remember sin, or any wrong-doing, is to keep it listed as a wrong, or as a debt to be repaid or to have some form of justice served or punishment rendered.

    God says: “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”  But again, this is not keeping them under account, on a list.  But it’s not forgetting.

    God says: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our wrongdoings from us.”  This is taken to mean infinitely far, but I don’t think so; it just means He’s not holding it against you.

    But God has to remember your sins in order to tailor your corrections.  And He has to remember them every time someone says, “Why did that person do that to me, he didn’t have to!”  If God’s already forgiven that person’s sin what’s He going to say?  “Gee! I don’t remember that!”

    No, God remembers, but when He forgives, He doesn’t hold it to account against you.

    When a person says to God, “I repented and asked for forgiveness, but they still don’t trust me!”  What’s God supposed to say? “Gee! I don’t know why they’re like that!”  No, God remembers.

    When a person says, “He beat the crap out of me!”  God may have forgiven that person’s sin, but God remembers.  And He knows exactly what you went through.

    When the person cries out. “WHY God?!”  God knows why. He knows everything.  And He forgets nothing.

    Don’t hold grudges when a person is forgiven, you can even release your resentments, but you’ll remember until it’s fully resolved.  And usually takes a change of mind on the sinner’s part.  Then you can say, “I still feel the loss, but I’m okay with you.”

    • #6
  7. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    The common phrase is “to forgive and forget”.  Separate and independent actions.  We have duty to preserve our earthly lives, as the vessel given to us by God, and that duty constrains our freedom to completely forget certain kinds of sin against us.  Independent of forgiveness.

    • #7
  8. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    In all the Bible are we ever commanded to fuggedaboutit?*

    __________
    *Fuggedaboutit is obviously Latin in origin, but I don’t believe it has a Hebraic precedent. 

    • #8
  9. hoowitts Coolidge
    hoowitts
    @hoowitts

    Eustace C. Scrubb:

    She has dealt with people who demand that abusers must be forgiven (7 x 70) and allowed to remain in one’s life. I found her distinction between two kinds of forgiveness helpful:

    I’ve found it helpful to define two modes of forgiveness: Boundaried Forgiveness and Reconciled Forgiveness.

    Boundaried Forgiveness is when we let go of our anger, resentment, and desire for revenge; yet we maintain boundaries and pursue justice. We don’t not bear a grudge, but we may file a police report or get a restraining order…

    Reconciled Forgiveness is only the ideal when our abuser is genuinely repentant.

    This is an interesting dichotomy. I’m not sure human beings are capable of “reconciled forgiveness” (new phrase for me). For clarity: I am considering reconciled forgiveness to be absolute, not on some spectrum of forgiveness. How so?

    Similar to using unique. There is no scale for unique. Something is either unique or it isn’t. There is no meaning to “somewhat unique” (one of my pet-peeves). Likewise, reconciled presents an absolute distinction – either it is reconciled or it isn’t. There isn’t a partial reconciliation.

    Firstly, there is no room for forgiveness in a materialistic, relativistic or Darwinian view of human nature. It runs contrary to those viewpoints. There is a sense of self-sacrifice inherent to forgiveness that is incompatible with those philosophies, which essentially promotes self-preservation as a primary motivator.

    So, does the concept of forgiveness exist outside of the Judeo-Christian faith or its influence? I struggle to find any human connection to forgiveness without it. I am curious if I might be missing something? Jung? Freud? Pascal? Voltaire? Dawkins? Harris? Buddha? Muhammad? Must they ‘borrow from G-d’ in order to express forgiveness?

    IF that is correct, why is it so? As someone intentionally engaged as a struggling, failing, questioning yet committed evangelical Christian it may be the hardest virtue to actualize: forgiveness. Does it have a moment of completion? Does not forgetting mean not forgiving? I don’t think so. Only  G-d sits on the throne of justice and the only expression of truth in the universe.

    Forgiveness certainly requires an element of introspection, of self-reflection, that realizes our own shortcomings and need for forgiveness. Forgiveness seems an ongoing, continual process. Moving on does not necessarily mean including offending party. The OP, as well as @Flicker, touched on many of the dilemmas faced with what forgiveness means.

    It seems forgiveness requires justice. If I am to refrain from exacting my failed concept of justice, what then do I depend on for justice? Authentic justice requires an authentic truth; and an authentic truth-giver. Justice to the Tutsi or the Hutu are incompatible. The Hatfields or McCoys; the Nazi or Jew; the slave-owner or slave. Someone being wronged either requires righting that wrong themselves or knowing that ultimately justice will be served by some fundamental truth.

    • #9
  10. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    hoowitts (View Comment):
    Firstly, there is no room for forgiveness in a materialistic, relativistic or Darwinian view of human nature. It runs contrary to those viewpoints. There is a sense of self-sacrifice inherent to forgiveness that is incompatible with those philosophies, which essentially promotes self-preservation as a primary motivator.

    Stick to what you know.  Your perception of empirical pursuits is like castigating Christianity solely for the contents of Leviticus.

    • #10
  11. hoowitts Coolidge
    hoowitts
    @hoowitts

    BDB (View Comment):

    hoowitts (View Comment):
    Firstly, there is no room for forgiveness in a materialistic, relativistic or Darwinian view of human nature. It runs contrary to those viewpoints. There is a sense of self-sacrifice inherent to forgiveness that is incompatible with those philosophies, which essentially promotes self-preservation as a primary motivator.

    Stick to what you know. Your perception of empirical pursuits is like castigating Christianity solely for the contents of Leviticus.

    Uuum, I’m willing to be informed here…but I’m not sure I follow your syllogism.

    I’m genuinely curious if there is another philosophy or world view that embraces the concept of forgiveness. If so, how does it arrive at that conclusion.

     Or maybe we have a different definition if forgiveness?

    • #11
  12. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    hoowitts (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    hoowitts (View Comment):
    Firstly, there is no room for forgiveness in a materialistic, relativistic or Darwinian view of human nature. It runs contrary to those viewpoints. There is a sense of self-sacrifice inherent to forgiveness that is incompatible with those philosophies, which essentially promotes self-preservation as a primary motivator.

    Stick to what you know. Your perception of empirical pursuits is like castigating Christianity solely for the contents of Leviticus.

    Uuum, I’m willing to be informed here…but I’m not sure I follow your syllogism.

    I’m genuinely curious if there is another philosophy or world view that embraces the concept of forgiveness. If so, how does it arrive at that conclusion.

    Or maybe we have a different definition if forgiveness?

    I’ll just ask you to lay aside the philosophical requirement — instead, please consider that it may be an emergent property — Maslow’s hierarchy is a good (enough) model for the idea that there are layers of needs and behaviors which satisfy those needs.  All creatures need the lowest layer, not all need the top.  If our top layer (strictly as survival machines) includes things like the ability to strengthen one’s own band, and if society/culture/good manners are a development which furthers that survival, then forgiveness could be an “adaptive” behavior in evo-bio terms.

    If we insist upon an underlying philosophy or intent to explain ourselves, then surely we will only find religious explanations.  An analogy would be teleology in historiography.

    • #12
  13. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    BDB (View Comment):
    If our top layer (strictly as survival machines) includes things like the ability to strengthen one’s own band, and if society/culture/good manners are a development which furthers that survival, then forgiveness could be an “adaptive” behavior in evo-bio terms.

    At least you did not bring up evolutionary psychology, which is purely speculation and, frankly, intellectual fantasizing.

    • #13
  14. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Flicker (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):
    If our top layer (strictly as survival machines) includes things like the ability to strengthen one’s own band, and if society/culture/good manners are a development which furthers that survival, then forgiveness could be an “adaptive” behavior in evo-bio terms.

    At least you did not bring up evolutionary psychology, which is purely speculation and, frankly, intellectual fantasizing.

    Actually, I just described evo psych.  So we will certainly disagree about that.  Assuming we’re talking about the same thing.

    • #14
  15. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    BDB (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):
    If our top layer (strictly as survival machines) includes things like the ability to strengthen one’s own band, and if society/culture/good manners are a development which furthers that survival, then forgiveness could be an “adaptive” behavior in evo-bio terms.

    At least you did not bring up evolutionary psychology, which is purely speculation and, frankly, intellectual fantasizing.

    Actually, I just described evo psych. So we will certainly disagree about that. Assuming we’re talking about the same thing.

    I think we are.  The development of hardwired psychological processes and how and why they developed, and what purposes they served then and serve today.  As far as I can tell, it’s a lot like saying we know the sun is cool because the closer you get to the sun the cooler it gets, and the evidence of this is that there is snow on mountaintops which are closer to the sun and which would be warmer if the sun were hot.  This actually used to be scientific thought a century ago, but it was just extrapolating out into space instead of backwards in time.  I call this all Evolutionary Psychology and it’s not a science, and is pretty much a religion for agnostics.

    • #15
  16. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Flicker (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):
    If our top layer (strictly as survival machines) includes things like the ability to strengthen one’s own band, and if society/culture/good manners are a development which furthers that survival, then forgiveness could be an “adaptive” behavior in evo-bio terms.

    At least you did not bring up evolutionary psychology, which is purely speculation and, frankly, intellectual fantasizing.

    Actually, I just described evo psych. So we will certainly disagree about that. Assuming we’re talking about the same thing.

    I think we are. The development of hardwired psychological processes and how and why they developed, and what purposes they served then and serve today. As far as I can tell, it a lot like saying we know the sun is cool because the closer you get to the sun the cooler it gets, and the evidence of this is that there is snow on mountaintops which are closer to the sun and which would be warmer if the sun were hot. This actually used to be scientific thought a century ago, but it was just extrapolating out into space instead of backwards in time. I call this all Evolutionary Psychology and it’s not a science, and is pretty much a religion for agnostics.

    Except that there is an area called Evo Psych.  And yes it does describe how we came to think the way we do.  And it is a science, or a discipline of science, or whatever the right term is.

    From our different mountaintops, we will never agree on what the landscape looks like, which is fair enough.

    • #16
  17. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    BDB (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):
    If our top layer (strictly as survival machines) includes things like the ability to strengthen one’s own band, and if society/culture/good manners are a development which furthers that survival, then forgiveness could be an “adaptive” behavior in evo-bio terms.

    At least you did not bring up evolutionary psychology, which is purely speculation and, frankly, intellectual fantasizing.

    Actually, I just described evo psych. So we will certainly disagree about that. Assuming we’re talking about the same thing.

    I think we are. The development of hardwired psychological processes and how and why they developed, and what purposes they served then and serve today. As far as I can tell, it a lot like saying we know the sun is cool because the closer you get to the sun the cooler it gets, and the evidence of this is that there is snow on mountaintops which are closer to the sun and which would be warmer if the sun were hot. This actually used to be scientific thought a century ago, but it was just extrapolating out into space instead of backwards in time. I call this all Evolutionary Psychology and it’s not a science, and is pretty much a religion for agnostics.

    Except that there is an area called Evo Psych. And yes it does describe how we came to think the way we do. And it is a science, or a discipline of science, or whatever the right term is.

    From our different mountaintops, we will never agree on what the landscape looks like, which is fair enough.

    My mountaintop-derived landscape truth is more cogent than your mountaintop-derived landscape truth. :P

    • #17
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.