FORGIVENESS BROCHURE AVAILABLE FROM COMPASSIONATE CUP MINISTRIES
(PLEASE, FREELY CUT AND PASTE)
Let me state from the outset that I believe that for healing to take place in our lives, it is absolutely essential that forgiveness take place.
The Scriptures instruct us to forgive for the sake of our own well-being, but it is such an unbelievably difficult act to do when we have experienced abuse or when our loved ones have been the victim of an abusive perpetrator.
TRUE STORY of a woman coming to her pastor from “Understanding and Healing Abuse: Mending the Soul”
“Knowing she was coming to talk about the biblical doctrine of marriage and divorce, I began by asking about her marriage. But this woman’s situation had a decidedly ugly twist. As I probed deeper, she impassively acknowledged that her abusive husband had given her numerous sexually transmitted diseases over the course of several years, and he had continued his profligate behaviour up to the present moment. Her husband’s infidelity was a matter of public record. In fact, he openly flaunted his present mistress, but amazingly, he also wanted to stay married to his wife. Though he refused to give up his illicit lover, he battled fiercely for his wife not to divorce him. Repeatedly he hurled what he knew to be the ultimate barb at her; if she was really a Christian, she was obligated to forgive him and take him back, since Jesus said we must forgive seventy times seven Matthew 18:21-22…This woman’s own family and church friends sided with the immoral husband in rejecting divorce as a moral option. They admonished her that she was obligated to forgive and reconcile.”
- What does Christian love and forgiveness really demand of us?
- Is she simply to pray for her husband and overlook his immorality?
- What of the risk of life threatening STDs on
children that are born into this family.
- Is this wife to ignore this risk?
How difficult it must be for the children to pray to a Heavenly Father when their own father is such a bad example of what ‘father’ is. What is it teaching the children about church, that the pastor and church members can be so easily manipulated by such an immoral man? Even if the children and their mother did as the congregation asked, they would still be full of fear and confusion by staying in a disrespectful situation. Does forgiving mean we HAVE to reconcile? God’s Word is supposed to GIVE life in abundance, John 10:10. Clearly, there is more to the Doctrine of forgiveness than this. They are following a very LAZY theology that completely ignores three quarters of the Biblical teaching on Forgiveness.
There is widespread confusion in the Christian community when it comes to applying forgiveness to abusive situations or ANY situations come to that! This husband was certainly used to being in control, so much so that he even had the church under his control if they only but realized it. This kind of control is called “Manipulation” and is a VERY commonly known tactic of abusers.
Forgiveness, as it is being used in this scenario, ensures continued freedom to openly sin, to the one being forgiven, and continued oppression for the one being asked to forgive. The key word here is the word ‘freedom.’ To WHAT are we freeing the person being forgiven? Until he is held accountable and suffers consequences for his actions he will be robbed of his possibly last chance opportunity to get himself right with God as he continues to GRIEVE the Holy Spirit by his knowing, misapplication of the Scriptures in order to be able to perpetuate selfish and destructive lifestyle.
REAL forgiveness ALWAYS brings freedom to the one doing the forgiving, whether the offender is repentant or not. But forgiveness HAS to be separate from reconciliation, even though, in many circumstances, reconciliation DOES result. And forgiveness is for someone to GIVE as a gift, not for a person to TAKE. As God’s people, we need to be REALLY sure about our Biblical knowledge before we impose it on the lives of others. After all, THEY are the ones living it. WE are not. God hold’s us responsible for how we use his Word James 3:1. And forgiveness is so very difficult when the other person is unrepentant. God understands this and gives us Biblical Wisdom to deal with this.
So let’s start looking into the full Biblical concept of Forgiveness. The primary Greek verb in the New Testament used to indicate “to forgive”, in general terms, conveys the idea of “letting go.”Sadly this is the limits of knowledge of many Christians on what forgiveness is.
Does this mean that abused children and their supportive parents should just “let it go” and not contact the authorities? I have read of and have received counselling clients who came from churches where this was the case. And in every one of these communities, I was told that the result of this inept style of intervention resulted in generations of children being abused.
Does this mean that a family must “let go” of their anger toward an unrepentant perpetrator? Yes, but in time and with help. Churches too often rebuke the victim for expressing anger. But there should be no shame in this because righteous ANGER, is Scriptural.
HARMFUL APPLICATION OF FORGIVENESS
For survivors of abuse, the most damaging definitions of forgiveness, but the most commonly followed in churches today, are those that are put together in a package of: –
1. Forgiveness for the oppressor,
2. Trust that the repentance is sincere,
3. Reconciliation of the oppressor and oppressed at the foot of the cross,
Is this what the Bible really teaches? NO! This is NOT Biblical. When applied appropriately, there is no doubt that in forgiving our offender, we are released to heal. But who does this package of Forgiveness, Trust, and Reconciliation bring release to? This package demands EVERYTHING from the person doing the forgiving and demands NOTHING from the offender. It also eliminates ALL negative consequences for the OFFENDER.
God loves and forgives all humankind, before they even ask for it. We hear Jesus saying on the cross, “Forgive them father for they know not what they do,” but until each person recognizes their sin and claims this forgiveness, then we cannot be reconciled with God. So it follows that reconciliation with earthly relationships shouldn’t be automatically expected either.
Abuse victims have every reason in the world to fear and mistrust their unrepentant abusers. Fear and mistrust tell us that we are not safe. We are to listen to these feelings. But as Christians, don’t we keep telling each other that if we don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive us? This is true, but there is so much more to the doctrine of forgiveness in the Scriptures than just telling someone they HAVE to forgive, and NOW, otherwise they are damned. This is cruel and shows lack of Godly WISDOM. A person can stay in a state of perpetual prayer as they communicate with God their desire for Him to help them towards forgiveness. I believe our God understands this and holds this dear, hurting person in the palm of his hand, knowing how much they have been violated by evil. It behooves the church to be this sensitive too.
If a church community only blames the abused person for not being able to forgive and trust again, and only requires that the abuser say he or she is sorry, without the implementation of any other accountability, then by this logic, virtually all abuse victims are damned by their inability to forgive and trust on their pastor’s command. And besides that, to trust or not to trust is a God-given instinct for our own protection in difficult circumstances.
Once lost, trust has to be re-earned.
While the Bible does describe forgiveness as the removal or letting go of a debt Matthew 6:12,forgiveness does not necessarily remove negative consequences for the one forgiven, nor does it need to automatically grant trust and reconciliation.
One of the clearest examples is found in Numbers 14:20-23, where God declares that he will forgive the Israelites for their rebellion, but that not one of the adults will enter the land he had promised them.
King David’s sexual violation of Bathsheba and murder of her husband caused God to say, “I will raise up evil against you from your own household” 2 Samuel 12:11, 14. Trust is earned. Forgiving evil does NOT eliminate all negative consequences.
In classical Greek, αφίημι (“ah-FEE-ay-mee”), was used widely and consistently to mean “to release.” This meaning is carried over into the New Testament, where αφίημι is used over 125 times and has different nuances of meaning. It can mean: –
- · ‘to let go, to send away’ Matthew 13:36;
- · ‘to cancel, to remit’ Matthew 18:27; Mark 2:5
- · ‘to leave’ Matthew 4:11; John 10:12
- · ‘to give up, to abandon’ Romans1:27;
- · ‘to tolerate, to permit’ Acts 5:38; Revelation 2:20
Forgiveness is a complex doctrinal belief. In Colossians 3:13 and Mark 11:25, believers are seemingly commanded to forgive others without qualification, whereas in Luke 17:3, forgiveness is entirely contingent on the repentance of the offender.
In Ephesians 4:32, believers are commanded to forgive without qualification based on God’s forgiveness, and yet Hosea 1:6 and Deuteronomy 29:20, Joshua 24:19; and 2Kings 24:4,God himself staunchly refuses to forgive.
Jesus and Stephen prayed that God would forgive their executioners Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60, yet Nehemiah and Isaiah specifically prayed that God would not forgive evil people Nehemiah 4:5; Isaiah 2:9.
In Matthew 18:21-35, the disciples are taught they must forgive those who sin against them in an unlimited fashion and thus manifest God’s mercy, and yet in the previous paragraph Matthew 18:15-20, Jesus says those who refuse to repent of their sin are to be excommunicated and treated as Gentiles and tax collectors.
We know that the Bible does NOT contradict itself so these different responses involving forgiveness, must all be to do with the specific situations that were being dealt with. LIFE is complex. FORGIVENESS is complex. We, as children of God, are expected to apply Scripture with WISDOM. The Bible’s teaching on forgiveness reveals three different categories, or types, of biblical forgiveness that must be distinguished. Now please read the second Brochure on Forgiveness called: – “The Three Biblical Aspects of Forgiveness.”
(This brochure Includes adaptations from Stephen Tracy’s book
“Understanding and Healing Abuse: Mending the Soul”)
THIS IS AVAILABLE IN BROCHURE FORM FROM COMPASSIONATE CUP MINISTRIES.
FIRST aspect of Forgiveness is
Judicial forgiveness involves the pardoning of sin by God. One’s guilt from sin is completely removed Psalm 51:1-9. It’s available to abusers and all sinners alike Psalm 32:1-5; 1Corinthians 6:10-11. The Judicial forgiveness of sin by God lies at the very heart of Christianity and the salvation experience. God’s desire is unequivocally to forgive and to heal those labelled by society as the worst, the most hopeless, and worthless sinners, even us Matthew 9:9-13. But Judicial forgiveness is contingent on the confession Psalm 32:5; 1John 1:9, the acknowledgment of one’s sin, and repentance Luke24:47; Acts 2:38; Acts 5:31. Families and churches CANNOT give Judicial forgiveness. Only God can.
HUMANS, however, can hinder abusers from finding God’s forgiveness when they fail to press offenders for full ownership of their behaviour, especially behaviour that attempts to misplace blame for the abuse. It is a common tactic of abusers NOT to take full ownership of their abuse.
CHURCHES hinder Judicial forgiveness when they press the victim for PREMATURE forgiveness and reconciliation. This not only re-abuses the victim, but often serves to validate and solidify the offender’s denial of wrongdoing, thus preventing him or her from experiencing the fullness of God’s forgiveness.
SECOND aspect of Forgiveness is
This is that which we work through in our own heart. We need to understand, as a church community that letting go of anger toward unrepentant abuser feels, to the victim, like letting go of justice; like letting the abuser WIN, and to
even appear to justify the evil.
Anger is a healthy and appropriate response to evil, for Jesus himself became very angry, particularly at those who defamed God and hurt humans made in God’s image Matthew 21:12-17; Mark 3:5. Many of the Psalms contain VIVID expressions of anger toward evildoers Psalm 5; Psalm 10; Psalm 69. Abuse victims can and should be angry at abusers, whose evil also angers God. So to put down a victim for being angry is to put down God. Sometimes victims who are applying to the church for help are silenced by the use of James 3:11, where we, as believers, are admonished to ‘not speak evil of one-another.” This is an abhorrent misapplication of this Scripture and only serves to perpetuate abuse.
The kind of anger that is prohibited in Bible verses such as Matthew 5:22 is the “deliberate harbouring of resentment” with a view toward personal revenge. This is different from righteous anger. It’s different also from the mixture of emotions that immobilises a person in CRISIS.
When anger, this deep, is released, tears of relief are likely to flow down the face. “Tears,” it is said, “Are God’s way of melting a heart that is frozen with grief.” And when a person has been abused, whether they realise it or not, they are grieving all that has been taken away from them without their permission. This is called ‘violation.’
Letting go of personal retribution, however, doesn’t mean letting go of justice or the desire for it. Rather, justice is intensified. If we can learn to see that by letting go of our right to take personal revenge on our abuser, we are relinquishing the roles of judge, jury, and executioner over to God! His judgment toward unrepentant evil will be perfect and indomitable, making our feeble attempts at revenge appear quite puny. Peter encouraged Christians facing persecution with this same truth1Peter 2:23; also 2Timothy 4:14-15.
The words of Jesus in Matthew 18:6 leave us in no doubt about how God feels about those who choose to impose evil on another. It is important to note that all believers are little children to God.
Forgiveness is an act of faith. When one forgives, he or she trusts that God can and will bring judgment and create justice for all the wrongs committed against him or her.
Forgiveness is an extending of Grace. Psychological forgiveness involves the willingness to extend grace and goodness to those who have hurt us. One of the Greek terms used for human forgiveness in the New Testament is from a derivative of the Greek word “charis” charisma,charismatic kharizesthai, “to show favour to;” “to extend grace.”
This doesn’t mean victims give abusers free rein to hurt them again, for that would make a mockery of forgiveness. Rather, it means – based on the mercy and grace of God I have experienced – I’m willing to extend kindness even to my enemies Matthew 5:43 -47, with a view toward encouraging their own repentance and healing. It is quite understandable if this feels impossible to you at this time, but please read more on this in the third and last Brochure on Forgiveness.
THIRD aspect of Forgiveness is RELATIONAL FORGIVENESS.
Relational forgiveness is the restoration of relationship, which is synonymous with reconciliation.Though reconciliation is always the desired goal, most abusers refuse to accept full responsibility for their actions and therefore, even if they voice repentance, they are not complying with the Judicial requirements of forgiveness and cannot be trusted. Even full, Godly repentance on the part of the abuser, however, does not mean victims HAVE to reconcile. To not reconcile may be the necessary consequence of their previous abusive choices.
For example, it is not healthy to subject children to re-entering that ‘place’ again. God requires that we provide safety for our children and after trust has been broken, a child’s sense of safety is shattered, whether it is after a history of domestic violence, murder, sexual abuse or sexual assault of their parent. Can you imagine these dear children saying after they are taken back, “is this the night that Daddy is going to be bad again?” “Will my Mommy be angry tomorrow like she used to be?” “Will I have to listen to my Daddy hurt my Mommy again?”
The Family and Children’s Services Act is a Federal law that demands that the non-offending parent live separately with the children. The children are taken away if they are known to be taken back into an unsafe situation. The Church needs to be aware of this. If the abuser is truly repentant, he or she will accept continued separation and supervised visits as a consequence. The bigger point to remember here is that God does not REQUIRE that victims go back and risk being revictimised. It is those churches that only focus on the aspect of DIVORCE, and ignore the rest of Biblical teaching around respect and safety, that wrongly demand this of the vulnerable. This time of churches misapplying Scriptures to the detriment of the Saints was predicted in Isaiah 63:5. There is a mass of misapplication of Scriptures in the churches today; the kind of misapplication that puts the vulnerable in an even more disadvantaged position. It is across the interdenominational board. This shouldn’t surprise us, however, because we are told in 1Peter 5:8 that “our adversary is going around like a roaring lion.” Satan is driven to destroy God’s people in any way he can and especially delights in watching us destroy each other. And unless the churches more universally take proactive steps to avail ourselves of crisis intervention strategies and put preventive strategies in place, then churches’ credibility to receive the vulnerable with the compassion of Christ will have slidden down to zero. In some instances we are already there. We HAVE to stop being shocked when adversity strikes our church community, and instead, employ all the knowledge and compassion that God has gifted us with.
We must not soften the conditional force of Jesus’ words in Luke 17:3 “If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.” Christians are to offer relational forgiveness ONLY when genuine repentance has occurred. There ARE ways abuse survivors can offer forgiveness to their perpetrators that don’t involve reconciliation. But if reconciliation is even to be considered then we need to look at the Greek word used in Luke 17:3 for “repents.” It is a combination of two Greek words meaning “change” and “mind.”
This means that the offender needs to change their life’s direction and to change their type of behaviour within that direction Acts 26:20;
2 Corinthians 12:21; Revelation 2:5, 21-22; Rev. 9:20-21. Luke’s perspective, in chapter17:3, means a “turning away from a sinful way of life.”
The New Testament usage of repentance demands that abuse must evidence a radical change of mind, take full responsibility for the abuse, learn the extent of destructive they have caused, and evidence a transformed personhood, as opposed to a superficial condescension.
Church leaders need to acquire knowledge of abuse dynamics, and recognise the difference between a manipulative confession/ apology and genuine repentance. Stephen Tracey, in the book,Understanding and healing abuse: Mending the Soul, refers to those abusers who only stop abusing when they have been discovered.
“Offenders are expert at manipulating people in order to justify their abuse to themselves and to others, as well as to maintain control and protect secret wishes and plans. Offenders often apologise in order to minimise the abuse, be forgiven, and assuage any guilt. Likewise, they may want to gain sympathy from other family members or to appear remorseful in the eyes of a court, and thereby get a lesser sentence. They may want to maintain power and set up a scenario that facilitates re-abuse.”
An unrepentant abuser’s ultimate victory is to get members of their church appearing in court as character witnesses for them. This happens often. And what also happens too often is that the perpetrator is supported at the EXPENSE of the victims, i.e. they are essentially abandoned by the church as the church rallies round the perpetrator.
Once their abuse has been made public, abusers will often ask their victims to forgive them. This can be problematic, because further exposure to the manipulations of the abuser can cause extreme secondary trauma to the abused person.
1 Corinthians 7:15 The Scriptures tell us that there are times when it is better to stay away from an unbelieving spouse. If the offender, however, wants Judicial forgiveness, he or she can take that up with God and leave the victim alone if to approach the victim will further harm them. In asking for forgiveness from the victim, offenders are typically seeking relational forgiveness (reconciliation), but the abuser’s mere request for this is often re-abusive to a victim from whom they have taken so much already. It is generally considered inappropriate for the offender to make an unsolicited request for forgiveness of his or her victim. A sign of true repentance is when an abuser takes full responsibility for the abuse (make a confession), is prepared to listen to and acknowledge the widespread and extensive damage done to the victim and demonstrates remorse for the harm done without expecting ANYTHING in return, not even forgiveness.
Also, the repentant abuser has to be prepared to accept the implementation of new, healthy boundaries to ensure that the abuse will never reoccur. He or she needs to take adequate, active steps to change the sinful pattern of their behaviour. One or two counselling session DOESN’T suffice and is a well known tactic by an abuser, to do just enough to get their family back and then stop. Counselling at the outset of recognition of the tendency to abuse would have been better, but it’s never too late for God.
Now please go to the third and final Brochure called,
“Five Practical Steps of Forgiveness”
THIS IS THE THIRD AND FINAL WRITE UP ON FORGIVENESS THAT IS AVAILABLE IN BROCHURE FORMAT FROM COMPASSIONATE CUP MINISTRIES: A VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS.
You may need to prayerfully go through all of these stages or only one or none at all depending on the person, the situation, if spiritual abuse was utilised and how old the person is. It is quite normal for a person to find that they have to “re-forgive” at the different milestones of life, as the impact of the abuse or other hurt comes out in different ways. These steps can then be used again & again
Name the offense and discover
the extent of harm done to the victim
Before a person can truly forgive, they need to know the extent of destruction the abuse or hurt has had on them in order to know exactly what it is they are forgiving. If it is abuse, there is almost certainly going to be a state of numbness that manifested itself in the person in order to be able to endure the abuse. It takes being in a place of safety for emotions to come flooding back.
While still in this state of emotional numbness, victims may minimise or deny sin against them out of fear of the abuser and/or fear of facing the extent of violation. As this ‘melts,’ sheer disgust at what has been inflicted on them becomes an unfaceable reality. There is a sense of low self-worth and intense shame. There will also be an element of self-blame, for “allowing” the abuse or hurt, until the person is brought to the realisation that they didn’t invite the other person to hurt them, but, instead, the other person chose to inflict pain, or take advantage of an imbalance of power. There may also be some dissociation.
If the emotional results of the abuse are not clarified, the victim risks offering a trivial forgiveness that is superficial, inappropriate, and unhealthy – unhealthy both for the abuse victim and the perpetrator.
When God is asked for Judicial forgiveness, He knows precisely what he is forgiving, including the heinousness of the behaviour and its destructive results Psalm 32:1-5; Psalm 51:4; Isaiah 1:18; Isaiah 40:27-28; Revelation 20:12. Too often Pastors are found to choose to believe the abuser’s minimised version of the abuse, largely because good and decent people find it hard to believe that there are those in the human race who choose to perpetuate evil.
The denial of the reality of evil is Satan’s most successful deceit, especially in the churches. Ironically, an abused person will sense this and tend not to fully disclose to someone who he or she thinks will not believe them. This is why many pastors can truthfully say that in all their years of being a pastor they haven’t had a disclosure of abuse. Many good and decent pastors live in denial of the extent to which the devil is working in the churches.
They forget the words of Revelation 12:17; and 1 Peter 5:8, that tells us that “our adversary is going around like a roaring lion.” When the churches are now the ONLY public institution in North America and parts of Europe and the U.K. that does NOT have mandated Child Abuse Prevention strategies in place, we should NOT be surprised to find that pedophiles and other deviants are literally flocking to faith communities that contain easy prey for their evil acts. This is a statement of fact. You only have to talk to ANY secular helping agency to know the frustration they feel that so many church communities neglect to follow safety and accountability protocol when it comes to criminal activities from within their flocks.
Alternatively, a church may choose not to hear the extent of the abuse and insist on forgiveness and reconciliation with the abuser straight away. It takes time to discover the full extent of the impact of abuse on a family. One cannot forgive another until a person knows fully WHAT they are forgiving. It is incredibly insensitive and destructive to the victims to urge forgiveness before the person is ready. It can only hinder their healing and more importantly, is often found to strengthen unforgiveness. Then they have to learn to forgive the church’s insensitivity too. Dan Allender and Tremper Longman said,
“Premature forgiveness may seem to smooth things over temporarily, and it appeals to most of us who were brought up to believe that being nice was a primary Christian virtue. But it has the effect of driving anger and pain underground where they then fester like a poisonous stream, under our houses and our churches and our communities. And it has the effect of relieving the abuser of a true responsibility to examine his behaviour and to change. Because premature forgiveness (too often) bypasses consequences and rehabilitation for the offender, it is, in fact, tacit permission – perhaps even an invitation – to continue the violence.”
Determine Appropriate Boundaries that will stop the risk of further evil
One cannot truly forgive unless one canFREELY forgive. This cannot happen until the cycle of victimisation and powerlessness has been broken. When churches or families press abuse victims to forgive before protective boundaries are in place, they in essence mock the victim.
Church leaders, counsellors and families must instead take seriously the Biblical mandate to protect the vulnerable Proverbs 24:11-12;
Isaiah 1:16-17; Isaiah 58:6; James 1:27.
Boundary setting, even if the offender is unrepentant, checks the offender’s evil and may stimulate their repentance.
If the abuser remains unrepentant and persists in their abusive behaviour, then they should be given the “gift of excommunication” in light of the teaching we have just read from the Scriptures around protecting the vulnerable.
Also, this may be the last push that brings an unrepentant abuser closer to the act of repentance. A person who chooses not to repent, chooses not to own his or her behaviour, chooses and to continue to cause harm to others, cannot be allowed to desecrate the sanctity and safety of the church community. We are admonished in
Isaiah 61 to provide a place of refuge for God’s people and “To give a garland instead of ashes; the oil of gladness instead of mourning.” Verse 3b
Let Go of the Right to Hurt an Abuser
for the Hurts they’ve Inflicted on Others
This is an act of faith in which the hurting person prayerfully turns over the need for justice and redress to God, who is the just Judge, even if justice is not seen to be done in this lifetime.
With help, the abused person can be brought to the realisation that they didn’t CAUSE the abuse; that the abuse was something that happened TO them by someone who took advantage of a differentiation of power. When this is realised then the blame can be shifted from themselves and onto the abuser. NOW they have something to forgive the abuser for. What really helps the abused person at this time is for them to realise that to forgive the other person means that the other person is DEFINITELY to blame. It is an acknowledgment of wrongdoing. Instead of seeing the act of forgiveness as a ‘giving in,’ it can be seen as a confirmation of who was REALLY to blame.
Parents of children who have been abused have DOUBLE the pain to deal with; of forgiving the abuser, and to forgive themselves for not realising that their child was being abused.
Re-evaluate the one who caused the hurt by Discovering His or Her Humanity
Ø Forgiveness is a mental “reframing process.”
Ø We are to be helped to reinterpret experiences and conclusions by means of Biblical truth.
Ø Victims, understandably, tend to reduce those who wounded them to the sum total of their hurtful acts.
Ø While the acts are the most significant for the victim and must in no way, shape, or form be minimised, it’s helpful for victims to begin to look at the offender in the context of his or her life experience.
Ø This is not to excuse the crime. Heaven forbid, but what it does is to help the victim understand the facets that led the abuser to abuse or the offender to ofeend, so that they, the victim, can stop blaming themselves! This is HUGE.
Ø Abusers may, or may not have experienced evil against them when they were young, because most people who have been abused do not grow up to abuse others. They may have, instead, indulged in unwise, pastime practices like pornography or violent video games that proffer disrespect of others.
Ø Those who abuse have CHOSEN to abuse. Their life may not have been rosy, but it is still a big step to choose to abuse. The choice to NOT abuse is always there.
Ø As the victim reflects on the mixture of hurts, fears, and bad choices that led to the abuser’s evil responses in life, this can help a victim to loosen the grip of hatred in his or her own heart, and change it to tragic pity for the destructive end that the abuser is headed unless he or she repents.
Ø In this way the victim can start to move toward being able to extend psychological forgiveness and to free themselves once and for all from the grip of the abuser and become a survivor.
To Extend Appropriate Grace
In this step, the survivor moves from inner hatred toward the abuser, to an inner desire for one’s abuser to experience God’s healing and blessing.
Christians are called to extend grace even to evil, destructive people, desiring that this grace will transform them by God’s power. This may be easier if we view the desire for the perpetrator’s transformation as a desire to free the world of his or her evil acts.
When it comes to unrepentant abusers, a final step for many abuse survivors is to find the ability to pray for their abusers; that they find God’s forgiveness and healing for the sake of the offender and the sake of society. In many cases, it may be all the grace a survivor can extend, Dan Allender and Tremper Longman emphasise “bold love” as an act of grace toward evildoers.
It is God’s desire to create a community of forgiven sinners who are living within healthy boundaries. We can merely avoid hindering the process by pressing abusers to own their behaviour and by NEVER encouraging premature relational forgiveness or inappropriate relational reconciliation.
The survivor cannot fail to win, however, when they choose, in faith, psychological forgiveness to abusers, (an unloading of pain, self-blame and resentment) to let go and let God, – even to unrepentant abusers. The act of Forgiveness provides the final step of healing for abuse survivors and survivors of the meanness of others and a call to repentance for the perpetrators.
May God Bless you as you continue to study His Word.