Forgiveness vs. Justice
Does forgiveness mean there can be no earthly justice?
Definition of forgive:
: to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong) : to stop blaming (someone)
: to stop feeling anger about (something) : to forgive someone for (something wrong)
: to stop requiring payment of (money that is owed)
to give up resentment of or claim to requital for <forgive an insult>
to grant relief from payment of <forgive a debt>
to cease to feel resentment against (an offender)
What Is Forgiveness?
Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.
Just as important as defining what forgiveness is, though, is understanding what forgiveness is not.
Experts who study or teach forgiveness make clear that when you forgive, you do not gloss over or deny the seriousness of an offense against you.
Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses.
Though forgiveness can help repair a damaged relationship, it doesn’t obligate you to reconcile with the person who harmed you, or release them from legal accountability.
Instead, forgiveness brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees him or her from corrosive anger.
While there is some debate over whether true forgiveness requires positive feelings toward the offender, experts agree that it at least involves letting go of deeply held negative feelings.
In that way, it empowers you to recognize the pain you suffered without letting that pain define you, enabling you to heal and move on with your life.
Forgiveness is for those who ask for it, or for those who want it, but do not know how to ask.
1. the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral
rightness: to uphold the justice of a cause.
2. rightfulness or lawfulness, as of a claim or title; justness of ground
or reason: to complain with justice.
3. the moral principle determining just conduct.
4. conformity to this principle, as manifested in conduct; just conduct,
dealing, or treatment.
5. the administering of deserved punishment or reward.
Forgiveness releases the debt due to the offence
Justice administers deserved punishment.
So, does this mean when we forgive someone, they do not have to be punished for what they did?
In mild cases, where someone bumped into you, or insulted you, this may seem easy.
But what about more serious cases?
Do killers get forgiven, and not go to jail?
Do child molesters get forgiven, and continue in the neighborhoods?
While it may seem logical for religious people to leave everything to God, who will execute divine justice in the long run,
Do we forgive those who hurt others, and then look the other way, waiting for eternity so God can finally do something?
When we pray, can we ask God to punish evil people, after we have forgiven them?
If we ask for punishment of the wicked, is this un-forgiveness?
Yes, we can pray that the wicked repent and be saved, but what about in the meantime?
While they are unrepentant, they are doing a lot of damage, and it seems a moral imperative to stop them.
If we do nothing, or ask that nothing be done, then aren’t we supporting the evil by our inaction?
Is there a time when forgiveness equals submission to evil, and permission to continue? When forgiveness becomes avoidance behavior?
There are many martyrs who did not resist evil, and submitted to it. So they died.
Does this glorify God, or testify of His goodness?
The Bible instructs us to forgive as the Lord forgave us:
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (NIV)
Notice that believers are instructed to forgive other believers.
It is not describing blood thirsty killers who want to destroy your life, or sex molesters that want to take your child away from you, and have the child for themselves.
Bible verses about forgiveness refer to those repentant in heart:
The classic example Jesus used was the prodigal son. The son returned to the father and asked for forgiveness.
The world we live in
It does not want forgiveness, only permission to hurt you.
It does not repent.
Christianity in an increasingly godless world
How far should forgiveness go?
Paul recognizes this when, in writing about our attitude to those who wrong us, he says,
"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Romans 12:18).
This is the point.
If it IS possible to live in peace with someone, then work toward reconciliation.
If it is NOT possible, then there will be no reconciliation, so either do not submit to the abuse, fight it (resist the devil), or both.
Bible example of godly intolerance:
Jesus discussed those who harm children
In Matthew 18:1-10, Jesus teaches a familiar lesson that contrasts unbridled ambition with undefiled faith. It includes a dire list of consequences for those who harm the undefiled.
"Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me," he says. "But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea."
That’s strong language. Jesus continues by admonishing the guilty to mutilate body parts that cause them to sin rather than have their bodies and souls thrown into hell. "See that you do not look down on one of these little ones," the gentle Savior warns.
Luke the Evangelist adds something in his telling (17:1-6). Jesus ends his lesson with a far different warning:
"Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and seven times a day returns to you, saying ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him."
Fairness, and tolerance toward others in godly love, to show them the love of God, is one thing.
This is good.
This is equal treatment in spite of natural, God given differences.
But Tolerance toward evil is a lie!
Many Christians will tolerate evil, saying they have to forgive.
Satan is saying he will do what he wants, and we will submit.
So the destruction continues, because people are afraid “not to be fair” to the evil one.
Tolerance and diversity are both modern tools of Satan to get what he wants from submissive, ignorant Christians.
Liberal society, which is based on “Do what thou wilt,” naturally accepts everything and anything contrary to God.
So, liberal society is an asset to Satan , in his “tolerance and diversity” campaign.
Of course, tolerance and diversity is not tolerant of Christians, Jews, the truth, or normal lifestyles.
It demands submission to its twisted view of what is acceptable.
I just read that the Archbishop of Canterbury has advised children that they should submit to sodomy.
He is clearly an agent from hell.
Evil tolerates nothing that disagrees with it.
So back to forgiveness.
When do we forgive, and when do we not forgive?
In another post….
Forgiveness is given when the offender is sorry for what they have done, or would like to re-establish a relationship.
The desire to reconcile is there.
They may or may not know how to show it, or may be hampered by their own pride, or erroneous mindset.
It is not extended to those who have no remorse, at least in the physical sense.
We still have to deal with our own feelings, and put the situation in God’s hands.
For the victim:
It is my view that we may establish peace within ourselves about an offense, and make the decision that we will not act in like fashion as the evil doer.
It is also my view that we forgive those who are sorry, and do not bother with those who aren’t.
This is what the Father God does.
Here, I feel like it is appropriate to seek just punishment for anyone who is unrepentant, for the evil done, and for the safety of self and others, especially for true evil acts.
If someone cheats me, I want my money back.
If someone kills my child, I want them in jail.
I can decide to ”forgive,” in the sense that I will leave the vengeance to the Lord, and may use the justice system to seek some earthly justice in the meantime, to defend righteousness.