Forgiveness Is Not a Requirement


Forgiving and Forgetting

Religion has long been at the forefront of preaching the concept of broad-stroked forgiveness. Some of my youth was begrudgingly spent listening to sermons in church about the importance and “necessity” of forgiving. “We must forgive.” No matter who has wronged us and what they have done. Christianity constantly talks about how people must forgive because Jesus was about forgiving. The Quran has multiple references to Allah being merciful and forgiving. Within the texts of the Baha’i faith, Abdu’l-Bahá, son of founder Bahá’u’lláh is quoted as having said “If some one commits an error and wrong toward you, you must instantly forgive him.” 

Forgiving may help some people as part of their healing process. Forgiving can be letting go of the past in order to make things good for the future. Everyone has probably forgiven someone at least once in their lifetime.

Even so, it is not an absolute requirement. 

Ask any victim of crime. I’ve been one. A great many will never forgive those who wronged them. I sure wouldn’t. It disturbs me that there are people who are so insistent on the forgiveness idea that they expect victims of sex offences to forgive their assailants. The idea that loved ones of someone who was murdered should forgive the person who took away someones life, is so outrageous to me. It is something I will perhaps never understand.

A person also does not have to forgive someone for wronging them just because they are family. Those people lose the right to be referred to as family. Especially when it is crystal clear you have been hurt by people you are supposedly placing maybe the greatest trust in.

Friends and colleagues have shared some of these stories with me. Some have said “I will have to forgive eventually”. There is no hesitation when I tell them forgiveness is a choice. Forgiveness never is, and never should be, an absolute requirement.




8 thoughts on “Forgiveness Is Not a Requirement

  1. In the New Testament, the Greek word for forgive means literally “let go.” Interestingly enough, it is the same word the NT uses for divorce. (They don’t tell you that in church.) For me, to forgive is to let go of, or divorce myself from, anything I need to to stop having negative feelings. To forgive, to me, means doing whatever I have to do to have inner peace. A relationship may be cut off, or it may be restored depending upon my need.

    1. I can appreciate where you are coming from. I don’t necessarily see it the same way. Without getting into the whole story right now, I’ll mention that I will never forgive certain people who lost the right to be in my life 3 years ago. That is a choice I am at peace with having made.

  2. For Christians, we are told you be Christ like, Jesus forgave and asked God the Father to forgive his abusers . We should forgive all so they won’t have any power over us but it’s not a stipulation for Salvation. You don’t have to forgive but only forgiven by God. I somewhat agree with a lot of your post but you should try to forgive those people who abused you for your sake. A lack of forgiveness can lead to bitterness and an increase of negativity.

    1. I am an Ex-Christian who spent Sunday school learning about forgiveness. Then I would see/hear the same people be betrayed, and not forgive those who hurt them.
      I almost found it hypocritical even though I understood.

      With this situation I experienced, forgiving them would be to condone their actions. I refuse to do this. I don’t see this as bitterness. If anything, I would see it as standing up for what I know is truly right. It is difficult to explain without telling the story. That may one day come.

      1. I unders and I respect your opinion. Although I do disagree. I don’t believe anyone can become an ex christian, once you’re saved, you’ve been engrafted, sealed, and placed in the hands of God and satan can’t pluck you out. I dare not criticize or become insensitive to your situation but forgiving isn’t condoning but simply allowing God’s wrath to take care of the situation. I pray you understand that just because you profess Christianity doesn’t mean you do all the things commanded by Jesus, it’s simply believing, following, and striving toward the mark of our high priest.

      2. I equally disagree with your point of view, but will respect it. It has been easy to walk away from religion and my life is much happier because of it. Thank you for reading and for your comments. Subscribe and spread the word if you can. There will be much more work ahead.

  3. It does not feel your life is necessarily more happy. Just a feeling. Forgiveness is according to the capacity of the giver, not to the capacity of the sinner. You mentioned a teaching of Abdul-Baha’s. It should be noted in the Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah, it is said God does not forgive tyranny and in the Kitab-i-Iqan he says we should not seek forgiveness from anyone but God. Then the question remains, why would Baha’u’llah instruct us to forgive those who are commanded not to seek forgiveness?

  4. I understand exactly where you are coming from. I could not forgive my father for never being a part of my life. and the psychological affects it had on me were great. What my father did to me will never be okay, but that doesn’t mean I cannot let go of it. Forgiving is not just to let go, but also to wish happiness on the person who hurt you. That is why you cannot forgive someone on your own. It takes the power of Christ inside you to forgive others, even when they do not deserve it, just as he did for us. It was hard to forgive my father; it took years. Letting go of it and not letting it hurt my brain anymore was the part I could do by myself over time, but wishing happiness upon my father was the part that Christ had to do with me. You can’t forgive on your own, and God doesn’t expect you to.

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