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Old Feb 25, '12, 2:21 pm
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Default Forgiveness - what does this actually mean

I'll try to be as clear as I can be with this. Say a serial killer killed and tortured your child, and you forgave them. What are you forgiving, their sin? How can you forgive their sin, only God can. I know the Our Father states we are forgive those that trepass against us, however say this killer is on death row and states he's still glad he killed your child, he's a satanist and has not repented obviously the man has evil still within his heart, so we are forgiving an evil deed by an evil human - can we, as humans? What exactly and who exactly are we forgiving, their evil sinful act, their evil sinful person?

I always thought I understood forgiveness and can and have forgiven others, because I know the person is a child of God and we cannot judge. There are always other circumstances why people react the way they do, the way they were raised, etc.

However, if this person sides with the devil, say he states he is a satanist, hates God, how can we forgive his act or him? Obviously, it's a lot easier to forgive certain acts against us and to see beyond the perpetrator's sin. But if someone attacked you physically and left you severely incapacitated, why and how can we, as humans, forgive the sin? Possibly, the person that did it, much more so if they turned their life around, although you would still feel pretty aggrieved that you life may be ruined. I used to think I could understand this but now I am getting confused.

I mean did God forgive the devil, I don't think so and that was because the devil never asked or wanted forgiveness?

Any comments most welcome.
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Old Feb 25, '12, 5:38 pm
GEddie GEddie is offline
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Default Re: Forgiveness - what does this actually mean

We cannot forgive sins, only God can. Our LORD's hecklers got that right. They just didn't get HIM right! God gave that power to His representatives, the apostles, and by extension the priests.

But while we cannot forgive sins against God, not being God, we can and must forgive those who have harmed us, if we are to be like our LORD.

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Old Feb 25, '12, 6:26 pm
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Default Re: Forgiveness - what does this actually mean

Quote:
Originally Posted by pepipop View Post
I'll try to be as clear as I can be with this. Say a serial killer killed and tortured your child, and you forgave them. What are you forgiving, their sin? How can you forgive their sin, only God can. I know the Our Father states we are forgive those that trepass against us, however say this killer is on death row and states he's still glad he killed your child, he's a satanist and has not repented obviously the man has evil still within his heart, so we are forgiving an evil deed by an evil human - can we, as humans? What exactly and who exactly are we forgiving, their evil sinful act, their evil sinful person?

I always thought I understood forgiveness and can and have forgiven others, because I know the person is a child of God and we cannot judge. There are always other circumstances why people react the way they do, the way they were raised, etc.

However, if this person sides with the devil, say he states he is a satanist, hates God, how can we forgive his act or him? Obviously, it's a lot easier to forgive certain acts against us and to see beyond the perpetrator's sin. But if someone attacked you physically and left you severely incapacitated, why and how can we, as humans, forgive the sin? Possibly, the person that did it, much more so if they turned their life around, although you would still feel pretty aggrieved that you life may be ruined. I used to think I could understand this but now I am getting confused.

I mean did God forgive the devil, I don't think so and that was because the devil never asked or wanted forgiveness?

Any comments most welcome.
From the Jewish perspective, forgiveness in this case is not a moral issue, but rather an issue of the power entrusted by G-d to Man. Torah and Talmud teach us that G-d can forgive us sins directly against Him; but only we ourselves can forgive others sins directly against us. Thus the famous scenario posing the question of whether Jews can forgive the Nazis for the Holocaust is really a matter of whether we have the right to forgive them for the murder of others; and the Jewish answer is no, we do not have this right, even though we may wish to forgive. This is because G-d did not give us the right and power to speak in the name of others. The biblical tale of Noah exemplifies this G-d-given power in a different way, in which there was no forgiveness between neighbors for the terrible sins committed against one another. Therefore G-d chose not to save mankind, due not only to their lack of seeking forgiveness, but in addition to their lack of response toward those who sought forgiveness.
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Old Feb 25, '12, 8:28 pm
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EmeraldWings EmeraldWings is offline
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Default Re: Forgiveness - what does this actually mean

Forgiveness, like love, is an act of the will, when you forgive someone you refrain from any hateful actions or thoughts against them, you don't forgive their sin, as someone else already said, only God forgives sins, but you forgive what harm they have caused you personally,
but don't mistake ill feelings for being unforgiving, we can't always help how we feel, and so sometimes we may feel angry at someone for what they have done to us, and mistake that for being unforgiving, but if we are commanded to love our neighbor and forgive them, how could that be so if we cannot help how we feel all the time? but since forgiveness is in the will, so our feelings are not always a factor.

It really doesn't matter if the person doesn't want forgiveness, because the fact of the matter is, we have no right to hold a grudge in the first place, and God has forgiven us greater trespasses, not by the degree of the sin itself necessarily, but because of Who we have offended, there is no harm that can be done to any man, that can amount to a greater injustice than the injustices we have committed against God, and yet God forgives us, and even longs to forgive us, although we are not deserving of it.
but the reason we can forgive even if someone doesn't want forgiveness, is simply because we want to will good to them, that is how you love them,
but of course forgiveness doesn't mean you tolerate the harm they cause you, you still must defend yourself(in one way or another) forgiveness is not passiveness, it just means you don't hold a grudge, you don't hold the offense against them.

also keep in mind, Gods place and ours are entirely different, there is no circumstance where we have the right to withhold forgiveness, since first of all what we get we deserve(we deserve hell for our sins after all) and secondly, a sin is committed against God more than us, so when we forgive, we forgive the smaller matter, and God forgives the greater, and yet there is no sin which God will not forgive us, so what circumstance or sin can you possibly imagine that does not deserve your forgiveness, when there is not one sin that God will not forgive? the problem here lies in self-love, thinking ourselves more worthy or more deserving than we are, which is pride, someone may kill your child, or even you, and would you not forgive them? although God would forgive those who Killed His son, and Jesus forgave them as well? Saint Maria Goretti forgave her murderer before she died from the 14 knife wounds he inflicted on her because she would not consent to the sin he wanted to commit, and he did not want her forgiveness even years after the incident, but several more years later he did accept her forgiveness and repented, and even the Saints mother forgave him...but what is it that she had that made her so forgiving? it was love and hope, when you love someone you only want what is best for them, and if they are not on the right path, you love them with hope, and in this case, forgive with the hope of their conversion, forgive so that you are, at the least, not an impediment to their salvation,
and at the very least, forgive simply for the love of God.
i think it would be a good idea to read Matthew 18:21( http://www.drbo.org/chapter/47018.htm ) i'm sure you're familiar with the story, but read it again and just meditate on it for awhile, because often times when we sit in quiet contemplation with God, He answers our questions.

also read these, i think they will help too -
http://www.gaiaonline.com/guilds/vie...php?t=18175319
http://www.gaiaonline.com/guilds/vie...php?t=18087275

alright, hope this helps, take care.
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Old Feb 26, '12, 4:33 am
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Default Re: Forgiveness - what does this actually mean

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Originally Posted by EmeraldWings View Post
Forgiveness, like love, is an act of the will, when you forgive someone you refrain from any hateful actions or thoughts against them, you don't forgive their sin, as someone else already said, only God forgives sins, but you forgive what harm they have caused you personally,
but don't mistake ill feelings for being unforgiving, we can't always help how we feel, and so sometimes we may feel angry at someone for what they have done to us, and mistake that for being unforgiving, but if we are commanded to love our neighbor and forgive them, how could that be so if we cannot help how we feel all the time? but since forgiveness is in the will, so our feelings are not always a factor.

It really doesn't matter if the person doesn't want forgiveness, because the fact of the matter is, we have no right to hold a grudge in the first place, and God has forgiven us greater trespasses, not by the degree of the sin itself necessarily, but because of Who we have offended, there is no harm that can be done to any man, that can amount to a greater injustice than the injustices we have committed against God, and yet God forgives us, and even longs to forgive us, although we are not deserving of it.
but the reason we can forgive even if someone doesn't want forgiveness, is simply because we want to will good to them, that is how you love them,
but of course forgiveness doesn't mean you tolerate the harm they cause you, you still must defend yourself(in one way or another) forgiveness is not passiveness, it just means you don't hold a grudge, you don't hold the offense against them.

also keep in mind, Gods place and ours are entirely different, there is no circumstance where we have the right to withhold forgiveness, since first of all what we get we deserve(we deserve hell for our sins after all) and secondly, a sin is committed against God more than us, so when we forgive, we forgive the smaller matter, and God forgives the greater, and yet there is no sin which God will not forgive us, so what circumstance or sin can you possibly imagine that does not deserve your forgiveness, when there is not one sin that God will not forgive? the problem here lies in self-love, thinking ourselves more worthy or more deserving than we are, which is pride, someone may kill your child, or even you, and would you not forgive them? although God would forgive those who Killed His son, and Jesus forgave them as well? Saint Maria Goretti forgave her murderer before she died from the 14 knife wounds he inflicted on her because she would not consent to the sin he wanted to commit, and he did not want her forgiveness even years after the incident, but several more years later he did accept her forgiveness and repented, and even the Saints mother forgave him...but what is it that she had that made her so forgiving? it was love and hope, when you love someone you only want what is best for them, and if they are not on the right path, you love them with hope, and in this case, forgive with the hope of their conversion, forgive so that you are, at the least, not an impediment to their salvation,
and at the very least, forgive simply for the love of God.
i think it would be a good idea to read Matthew 18:21( http://www.drbo.org/chapter/47018.htm ) i'm sure you're familiar with the story, but read it again and just meditate on it for awhile, because often times when we sit in quiet contemplation with God, He answers our questions.

also read these, i think they will help too -
http://www.gaiaonline.com/guilds/vie...php?t=18175319
http://www.gaiaonline.com/guilds/vie...php?t=18087275

alright, hope this helps, take care.
Thankyou for your measured and very informative response.One point though that you quoted: -

the problem here lies in self-love, thinking ourselves more worthy or more deserving than we are, which is pride, someone may kill your child, or even you, and would you not forgive them? although God would forgive those who Killed His son, and Jesus forgave them as well?

I would totally disagree with this. I, personally, believe it is much easier for an individual to forgive another for personal grievances, but to hurt or kill one's child - cuts to the very heart of the person (and no doubt is why it is the example of the ultimate love/sacrifice used throughout the bible, i.e to sacrifice your child)- pride or self love have absolutely nothing to do with it the difficulty of forgiveness in this instance, it is the parent's complete and utter grief.

Also, Meltzerboy mentioned good points in his post reference the Jewish nation and forgiving the Nazis for the holocaust:

Thus the famous scenario posing the question of whether Jews can forgive the Nazis for the Holocaust is really a matter of whether we have the right to forgive them for the murder of others; and the Jewish answer is no, we do not have this right, even though we may wish to forgive. This is because G-d did not give us the right and power to speak in the name of others. The biblical tale of Noah exemplifies this G-d-given power in a different way, in which there was no forgiveness between neighbors for the terrible sins committed against one another.Therefore G-d chose not to save mankind, due not only to their lack of seeking forgiveness, but in addition to their lack of response toward those who sought forgiveness.
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Old Feb 26, '12, 12:50 pm
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Default Re: Forgiveness - what does this actually mean

it's certainly much more difficult to forgive someone for killing your own child, i'm not saying it should be easy, but if it takes a great deal of love and humility to forgive in such a circumstance, then what is it when we choose not to forgive?
grief, being an emotion, as i said, does not constitute unforgiveness, forgiveness is in the will, and so is it not pride when a parent willingly refuses forgiveness?
the grief is one thing, and if it takes time before one can forgive, that is understandable, but how can we expect to be forgiven ourselves for killing the son of God by our sins, if we cannot forgive likewise someone for killing our own child?
a parent can grieve for their child, but also grieve for the poor soul of the man on the road to hell, and wish for his conversion,
it's not just the difficulty of forgiveness that's pride, it's the knowing and willing decision that "i will not forgive"
and it's one thing to forgive someone for killing many others which had nothing to do with you, forgiveness is personal, you forgive someone for what they have caused you, you choose not to hold the wrongdoing against them(which does not mean they should not go to jail, it just means you do not harbor hate or ill will towards them)...when someone kills your child, they have taken something from you, and therefore it is very personal,
you can personally forgive someone for what harm or grief they have caused you, but forgiveness of a person who has killed many, or rather, forgiveness of their sins, is Gods domain, and has nothing to do with you, so that is entirely besides the point, we forgive for personal wrongdoings, not the sins of others.

but i think to explain it better i will need to explain what pride is, and how bearing a grudge, under any circumstance, is rooted in pride.
first of all, we know pride is the root of all evil, meaning, all sin stems from pride, and pride itself is the vice of lies, it causes an inordinate esteem of oneself, making us think we are worthy of more or deserving of more than we get, or not deserving of what we do get, or it makes us think more highly of ourselves and glory in things as if they did not come from God...that is a basic explanation of pride, and it goes much more deep than that, since you can connect every sin with pride, but in regards to this particular sin, namely, the refusal to forgive, the pride lies in our thinking that the crime against us is to great to be forgiven, and the reason it is pride is because it's simply not true, if we are of the opinion that we cannot forgive someone for their wrongdoing against us, but we expect that God will forgive us for our sins which are worse than what anyone can do to us, then we are full of pride,

to grieve is not evil, and is not the cause of withholding forgiveness in any case. a parent will grieve over the loss of their child whether they died by the hands of a murderer or if it were by a sickness, but they withhold forgiveness, even without recognizing it, by pride,
since it is a sin not to forgive, and all sin is rooted in pride, so how can we say it is not pride? it may not seem like pride to those who do not know the vice more deeply, and i can understand how others would see it as absurd that anyone could call it pride when a parent refuses to forgive a murderer for killing their child if you see pride simply as an inordinate feeling of honour and self-respect, then i can see why you disagree, but i am not speaking of that kind of pride, i am speaking of the idea, as i already said, that somehow this crime is to great to be forgiven, which is not true, it is pride because it is a lie,
but remember i am speaking of the willing decision not to forgive, not simply ill feelings, but the actual choice.
grief does not stop someone from forgiving, you can forgive someone and still mourn the loss of your child, lack of forgiveness comes from a lack of virtue, or more specifically, the lack of charity(which is the love of God for His own sake, and the love of neighbor for the love of God) and the lack of humility(which, contrary to pride, is the virtue of truth)

the direct refusal to forgive is a sin, there is no question about that, but then the question remains, what sin does is fall under? or in other words, what vice is it rooted in? all sins are rooted in one vice or another, and all stem from pride, so while the refusal to forgive may be from another vice, such as anger, it is still from pride, since anger also stems from pride.
but perhaps it would be easier to understand if you look at it this way - it is not so much the degree of pride that causes one to refuse forgiveness, but the lack of humility and love...we are told that "one of the surest signs that men are children of God is in their willingness to forgive injuries and sincerely love their enemies, because in loving our enemies there shines forth in us some likeness to God our Father, who, by the death of His Son, ransomed from everlasting perdition and reconciled to Himself the human race, which before was most unfriendly and hostile to Him" - catechism of trent...
it takes alot of grace and virtue to forgive something as heartbreaking as the death of a child, but knowing that it is good and the will of God to forgive our enemies every wrongdoing, then we also need to ask for the grace to forgive, it's not something you can do on your own, it is hard, but it can be done, and to refuse to forgive so much that you would even refuse Gods grace, is most certainly pride,
it is a touchy subject yes, but very many parents have lost their children by the hands of another, and God has not given an exception for them, they are obliged just as anyone else to forgive, even if it's very difficult, they must ask for help...

well, sorry to make this so long, but i hope it helps, take care.
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Old Feb 26, '12, 12:57 pm
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Default Re: Forgiveness - what does this actually mean

For the example you gave - so that you do not carry hate in you heart which will destroy you and erode your faith - if you forgive it brings healing to the soul .God is the one who judges not us as Christ said in his Gospel.Gods desire is to save souls not condemn them.
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Old Feb 27, '12, 6:00 am
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Default Re: Forgiveness - what does this actually mean

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Originally Posted by pepipop View Post
I, personally, believe it is much easier for an individual to forgive another for personal grievances, but to hurt or kill one's child - cuts to the very heart of the person (and no doubt is why it is the example of the ultimate love/sacrifice used throughout the bible, i.e to sacrifice your child)- pride or self love have absolutely nothing to do with it the difficulty of forgiveness in this instance, it is the parent's complete and utter grief.
You are right that it would be very difficult to forgive someone who hurts or kills your child. I wonder if Mary forgave those who killed her son?

I think that we are challenged to do things that are very difficult because to do so requires us to admit that we can't do it on our own and we need God to help us. Our surrender to His will (and yes, it is His will that we forgive a satanic serial killer who killed our child) is our path to salvation. It isn't easy, but then neither was carrying a cross to one's own execution.

Peace

Tim
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Old Feb 27, '12, 7:42 am
GEddie GEddie is offline
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Default Re: Forgiveness - what does this actually mean

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You are right that it would be very difficult to forgive someone who hurts or kills your child. I wonder if Mary forgave those who killed her son?

I think that we are challenged to do things that are very difficult because to do so requires us to admit that we can't do it on our own and we need God to help us. Our surrender to His will (and yes, it is His will that we forgive a satanic serial killer who killed our child) is our path to salvation. It isn't easy, but then neither was carrying a cross to one's own execution.

Peace

Tim
I'm sure though, that getting HIM back alive made all the difference for her, forgiveness wise. Nobody elsE who lost someone to violence ever got them back.

As far as walking to your own death is concerned, I'm sure thatcif you knew you coils get yourself back out of it, you'd find that walk much, much easier.

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Old Feb 27, '12, 7:53 am
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Default Re: Forgiveness - what does this actually mean

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I'm sure though, that getting HIM back alive made all the difference for her, forgiveness wise. Nobody elsE who lost someone to violence ever got them back.
Well, she didn't have him back for very long and I doubt that it was easy for her at the foot of the cross. Anyway, the question just popped into my head as I began that reply. I see it as something to contemplate when approaching a scenario such as the one the OP presented.
Quote:
As far as walking to your own death is concerned, I'm sure thatcif you knew you coils get yourself back out of it, you'd find that walk much, much easier.
I doubt that it was any easier at all. In fact, that idea would take away from the sacrifice that Christ made for us. He was fully human and felt the pain and fear we all would feel.

The point is is that forgiveness of an act described by the OP is not easy and is, in my opinion, impossible without relying on God. You may have a different take.

Peace

Tim
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Old Feb 27, '12, 7:55 am
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Default Re: Forgiveness - what does this actually mean

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Originally Posted by pepipop View Post
I'll try to be as clear as I can be with this. Say a serial killer killed and tortured your child, and you forgave them. What are you forgiving, their sin? How can you forgive their sin, only God can. I know the Our Father states we are forgive those that trepass against us, however say this killer is on death row and states he's still glad he killed your child, he's a satanist and has not repented obviously the man has evil still within his heart, so we are forgiving an evil deed by an evil human - can we, as humans? What exactly and who exactly are we forgiving, their evil sinful act, their evil sinful person?

I always thought I understood forgiveness and can and have forgiven others, because I know the person is a child of God and we cannot judge. There are always other circumstances why people react the way they do, the way they were raised, etc.

However, if this person sides with the devil, say he states he is a satanist, hates God, how can we forgive his act or him? Obviously, it's a lot easier to forgive certain acts against us and to see beyond the perpetrator's sin. But if someone attacked you physically and left you severely incapacitated, why and how can we, as humans, forgive the sin? Possibly, the person that did it, much more so if they turned their life around, although you would still feel pretty aggrieved that you life may be ruined. I used to think I could understand this but now I am getting confused.

I mean did God forgive the devil, I don't think so and that was because the devil never asked or wanted forgiveness?

Any comments most welcome.
Forgiveness is a very simple thing and there is no need to complicate it by dwelling on the gravity of another's sin. This is it:
  • Your offender has left a deep scar inside you
  • It is a perennial source of suffering
  • Do you want to be healed?
  • Then shed all bitterness and hatred and leave everything to God
  • Know this: you can heal your hurts by shedding all bitterness, anger and hatred for those who hurt you
  • Remember this: you too might have hurt many others and if God has to cancel your penalty, there is only one way out.
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