Together We Heal

Together We Heal is for any who suffer from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. We provide a safe forum for survivors of abuse to share, learn and heal. We work to expose sexual predators and their methods of getting into our lives.

Is Forgiveness Necessary?


Forgiveness. What an amazing word. What an honorable act. What an indescribable sensation when once we receive it and too, when we dispense it.

I’ve struggled a long time with these words. The reason is simple but tragic. When the very organization that is supposed to teach you the meanings behind these words refuses to protect you. When they even go so far as to take aim and target you as being the person at fault. When in truth, you are not only NOT to blame, but you are the victim of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a minister.

When this is the reality, it becomes increasingly difficult to find any forgiveness for those who allow it to happen, for those who cover it up, for those who choose to protect the predator rather than an innocent child. When they make this choice repeatedly, they victimize and re-victimize those who are most vulnerable. For them, forgiveness seems not only fruitless, but counterproductive in the protection of children.

I give lectures and presentations to civic and religious groups, even to small groups of couples wanting to know how to better protect their children from sexual predators. And you want to know the question I am most often asked? I don’t mean it’s asked occasionally, I’m telling you I get this question more than all other questions combined. They ask, “have you forgiven your abuser?”

At first, I have to admit, I didn’t really know how to respond. I was taken aback. Shocked actually. Of all the questions I expected, this was not one of them. Initially I deflected. Because in truth, I had not even given it consideration. I was so focused on keeping my abuser away from more children, so intent on preventing more children from going through what I did, and so preoccupied with helping support fellow survivors that it never entered my thought process.

Until now.

Now I was forced to face a daunting challenge. You see, my dilemma is this. My spiritual background is Protestant. Specifically, I was raised Southern Baptist. And within that faith was a teaching that we were to forgive as we are forgiven. So it says right in The Lord’s Prayer. On the flip side was my heart. Having been torn apart by a man who has molested, raped and sexually abused an untold number of little boys. How do I forgive that?

So I did something it took me a long time to do after having felt betrayed by the very God that my abuser claimed to represent. I spent a lot of time in prayer and study. I went to the doctrines of every faith and religious text I could find having to do with forgiveness. Time and time again I saw, forgive as you are forgiven. Jesus, Gandhi, no matter the reference, if you don’t forgive, how can you expect to be forgiven? Were these folks right? Was I supposed to forgive this most heinous of crimes perpetrated against myself and all those other little boys?

In all the passages from people of faith, when they spoke of forgiveness they did so when addressing those who had faith. People who held in their hearts a belief in repentance for transgressions. Even those that had done them wrong. It was while having a bible study with my wife Linda that we came across the scripture that opened my eyes. My spiritual eyes, and my heart.

In Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus talks about forgiveness. And most of this chapter has to do with Him explaining to his followers how to do certain things. How to pray, fast, etc. As Linda and I read, we began to understand. Jesus was talking about Christians forgiving other Christians, not about forgiving the unrepentant.

This led me to a question.

Is it within my ability to forgive someone who does not have faith or who has no regret or repentance? This led me to an even deeper question from a trusted friend and man who has spent his entire adult life in study and prayer. He posed the following query, “Is a person without faith or repentance even capable of receiving my forgiveness?”

I was blown away.

Rather than paraphrasing, I will simply let him explain in his own words.

“Until someone has first been forgiven by God unto salvation through Christ, we do not have the ability to forgive them. I will take it a step further.. Until a person has become forgiven by God unto salvation they are incapable of receiving human forgiveness. Only God can forgive a non-Christian. That is not to say that we should not pray for their forgiveness. By praying that the non-Christian be forgiven by God, it can help us with the wrong done to us. I hope this brings to light what was meant. Most of us who identify as Christians and have been abused, have this text misapplied and/or misinterpreted for the purposes of keeping us silent. Certainly, you may offer forgiveness to a non-Christian, but until that person is forgiven by God for his original sin, forgiveness can’t be received by the non-Christian.”

This led me to another insight. To those who demanded of me, “you must forgive to be forgiven”, if that were the case, it would mean there are stipulations to my faith. A work or act I must do. And any Protestant who knows their faith, knows we do not come to our faith through works or acts. It is by faith alone.

So not only am I not responsible for forgiving my abuser; until he is repentant, he is incapable of receiving human forgiveness for any transgressions.

I can’t even begin to describe the weight that was lifted from my spiritual heart.

That doesn’t mean we, or rather I, am recused from praying for the faith of this person. But at least now I have the understanding that it’s not my job to forgive him. That’s between God and him. And frankly, I don’t believe someone capable of such things wants redemption. Not when he’s looked me in the eye, cried crocodile tears saying he “didn’t do that anymore”, only to find out he was molesting at least two boys when he told me that. What that tells me is he is not someone seeking redemption, but rather, he’s a pathological liar, pedophile and God only knows what else.

Ultimately, I believe that forgiveness, with regard to the abused, is the most individual of decisions. I believe there is more than one way to skin the “forgiveness” cat. For some, they find it helpful. For me, it’s not necessary. I have no need of it for my healing. And that’s what it’s all about. No matter which way a survivor goes, if they find healing and not vengeance or bitterness in it, it’s a positive.

The bottom line is this: My focus is on my own recovery, healing and that of others that have been through a similar trauma. I know now my calling is to do all I can to educate parents on how to better protect their children and help survivors heal.

And I don’t need a burning bush or talking mule to figure that out.


P.S. August 21st 2019:

Since I first wrote this article I have had the good fortune to work with some amazing people at GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). People like Boz Tchividjian and Mike Sloan who have taught me much. I will be sharing much of what I have learned from them both in the words that follow. Please take time to consider these words and the people whose lives have been decimated by sexual abuse…


Forgiveness seems to be the “third rail” of sexual abuse and The Church…but it
shouldn’t be.

Forcing a victim to forgive can/and most usually will have more adverse effects on them.

Beware of anyone who tells you that God requires you to “reconcile” with your abuser. What they are typically trying to do is manipulate, shame and silence you.

We should never push forgiveness, nor forbid anger. There are reasons for this.

Healing from sexual abuse is a slow process and should only progress at a rate that benefits the victim, NOT the offender, NOT the church as an institution.


Imagine there’s a serious car wreck that takes years to recover.

Imagine they’ve lost a limb and are still trying to heal and learn to move again and someone comes along and tells them…

“Get over it already! Jesus says we must serve, and you are just sitting there!”

“You are just holding on to a victim mentality.” “You aren’t trusting God.”

You aren’t forgiving as God says we are to be.”


Do we really believe this is the right approach?


When we jump to forgiveness without seeking justice, we are mocking God and minimizing the devastation and the impact of the abuse.


Then there are predators and those that enable them, who use forgiveness as a tactic.

I said this before, but it bears repeating, We’re called to care about Justice
not only forgiveness.

“Forgiveness” and “Grace” are too often used to manipulate others in the church to avoid consequences and accountability.


Most often used is Matthew 18.

It still breaks my heart that so many church leaders will use this text in this way.

It tells us to go in private, and then if he/she won’t repent take a couple of brothers in Christ. (Your standard, In-House, In-Church investigation).

This scripture was never intended to be about a sheep and a wolf. It’s about
2 fellow Christians.

This is not, as some would have you to believe, the proper, scriptural way to handle cases of sexual abuse.

This, this is how people with bad motives use scripture to silence victims, period.


What makes forcing a victim to forgive before they are able or ready, is that churches and their leaders often justify this under the guise of “protecting the name of Christ.” Jesus doesn’t need our protection.

Jesus can handle himself just fine. But our children? They are the ones Jesus commanded us to protect.

This type of justification is nothing but a pious attempt at self-protection by an individual predator or their enablers.


Also, Forgiveness does not mean reconciliation or no accountability.

Where is the accountability or consequence for actions there?

I’ve said this before, saying “I’m sorry” is not a get out of jail free card. At least it sure shouldn’t be!

So what do we need to see from abusers?

  • Take Full Responsibility
  • No Excuses, minimization or rationalizations
  • No blaming the victims
  • Care more for the victims than their selves
  • Know that change will be difficult
  • Accept consequences and accountability
  • Actions NOT words
  • Time – true repentance does not occur overnight

When an abuser is caught and cries, that is not repentance.

Words are not repentance. They can be the beginning of repentance…at best.

But for an abuser who has deceived so many for years and years, these things are not going to be easy.

If things appear to be going smoothly, easily, or quickly; that is an almost sure sign of deception, manipulation and control on the part of the abuser/offender.

Author: Together We Heal

In 2006 David took the first step in a long and painful journey back from the abyss of addiction and self-destruction. He promised his dying father that he would get clean. And he did. But as he cleaned his body and soul, he began to confront the sexual abuse that his addiction had for so long obscured — abuse perpetrated by a church youth minister when David was 12 to 15 years old. Those three years of abuse destroyed the foundation of love and faith that had been built by his family. For 25 years, David kept the abuse secret and lost himself in a fog of drugs and alcohol. He was by turns destitute, at times incarcerated. The promise to his dying father was the catalyst. And the bedrock of his mother’s love and devotion was the foundation on which David rebuilt his life. Therapy, 12-step meetings, and soul-deep determination were the bricks and mortar. David founded Together We Heal to provide fellow survivors and their families, guidance through the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. In 2015 he was asked to become a part of the Child Safeguarding Initiative team with GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) to empower the Christian community through education and training to recognize, prevent, and respond to child abuse. David represents Together We Heal & GRACE across the country as a public speaker and instructor; teaching churches, schools, and families how to talk with their kids about sexual abuse, how to better identify predatory behavior, and how to properly respond to those harmed. "To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.” - Dr. Seuss

74 thoughts on “Is Forgiveness Necessary?

  1. Forgiveness was a tough path for me. AMEN It makes life better.


    • I’m always so thankful when others receive a message or meaning or help of any kind in the words I write. It means more to me than I can adequately express. Thank u for taking the time to let me know. Peace be with u always my friend.


  2. Brilliant article! Another perspective that will help many to find their own answers to the whole forgiveness dilemma! I am so tired of the judgments of so called religion… my thought on the matter is that “Christians are very capable and do very often, kill their own wounded”. I’m even tired of people telling me to have faith! I would not survive each and every day of my life if I did not have a great and strong faith to do so… to push through all the pain and suffering childhood abuse/rape placed in my adult life! Thank you for your courage to share what you have and for your immense faith in “Life”.


    • Bless you for your kind words and u r right, so-called “Christians” often do kick u while you’re down. I just had to stop paying attention to those types of folks, otherwise I’d never write a word! :o)

      It’s only with the help, love and support from real friends and folks like yourself that I’m able to move forward with my healing and help other survivors of CSA. Peace be with you always!


      • BIG LOVE coming your way from South Africa! Go well good man. Your little child within is so blessed to have you on his side, fighting for his rights and the rights of all the other little children out there… HUGS.


      • Dankie! My South African friend! Thank you so very much for the encouragement and sweet words. All I want to do is help other survivors of CSA and protect children from going through what myself and so many other survivors have been through. We must speak up for those who aren’t able to speak for themselves. Blessings to you always!


  3. David,

    This thing with molesting little boys, did you ever look into the possibility that this might be a male cultural thing. where all men (*gay and straight) molests little boys first, as part of some kind of doctrination into manhood in a kind of male survival induction or a way to control their testosterome or real male essesnce or where they may take a male child and try to teach them about bonding amongst other things …just a wild thought…………..


    • While that might be the case in some cultures, it doesn’t make it right or acceptable. Slavery was legal in the US for a long time, didn’t make that right either. Just because a person “can” do something doesn’t make it “right”.


    • Jannell, so another thought occurred to me. You mentioned the molestation of boys. What then when it happens to girls, either by a man or women? Are you aware a cultures that find it acceptable to rape them as part of becoming a woman? Is that part of the wild thought as well? Just curious because I don’t know of any parents within my circle of friends, or extended that would allow their male or female children to have any of this happen to them. Not sure if I answered your question or not, because I’m not sure exactly what you were trying to ask me. Could you clarify a little better. I’m sorry I didn’t understand the question well enough. I couldn’t figure out if you were just acknowledging what might happen in some cultures or whether you were saying it was acceptable behavior if part of that culture?


  4. Interesting. Enlightening. Thoughtful.
    I have no interest in forgiving those involved in my abuse. What happened to me should not have happened to any child. My abuse and the abuse of many other children could have been prevented by church officials and authorities who knew the priest abuser was abusing children.


    • Hey Tim! Great to hear from you! I agree with you which is why I wrote the article. After hearing over and over that I “must forgive” I did a LOT of study and spent as much time in prayer and meditation on this issue. And this is what I came to. That forgiveness is completely individual and no one has the right to tell another what they should or shouldn’t forgive. If it helps a survivor to heal, then great, do what helps you heal. But if not, they are under no obligation to do so. Its not required scripturally, morally or legally. It’s been fascinating the responses this article has gotten. Been about 60-40. 60% in agreement and 40% saying we must forgive. About what I expected. What I didn’t expect was the way in which some of those 40% have commented. Not all have been so kind. A little disappointing that some aren’t able to receive the message in the way it was intended. To help survivors, not to challenge what they believe. But if it gets folks thinking from a different viewpoint, i feel that’s a positive as well. Peace be with you my friend!


  5. It is precisely these fanatical religionists that are destroying the goodness of religion as it is meant to be. It takes suffering to rise above (transcend) what is generally believed and interpreted out there. I commend you on your strength to be beaten over and over by the verbal abuses of others who don’t have a clue. Actually… it’s easier to forgive these ones, because they genuinely don’t have a clue! I pity them!


    • You speak the truth my friend! Bless you!


      • Appreciated. Sorry I got a bit carried away, but this is a subject I am very passionate about, because I have been so affected by it! But I’ve said it all now and let it out… thank you for giving me that opportunity.


      • Panny, you need not apologize for anything! Your comments are welcomed and appreciated. Don’t ever apologize for being passionate when it comes to helping others or for anything that helps you! You are always welcome here to share your thoughts, your passion and anything else that might be on your mind or heart!


      • 🙂 Thank you so much… and also for all you do to help others. May you be Heaven Blessed always.


  6. p.s. I had a therapist who during the most vulnerable time of my therapy decided that I needed to convert to her religion or be doomed to hell! She trapped me in the therapy room over and over doing her best to convert me to HER way! She failed and an even greater suffering was forced upon me in the process. This is where I learned the greatest lesson of all. That it is NOT about the religion, but about the HEART! There are so many heartless “so called – people of religion” out there. It’s so sad what damage they are causing to those that need their LOVE! If religion cannot be about loving one’s fellow human, then how on earth can it be called religion at all? And, if religion is not personalised between a unique individual and his Maker then it cannot be true in the heart of that individual… ok – ENOUGH! God bless and love to all.


    • David I am not in agreeance with this barbarity becasue it it barbaric to touch a child boy or girl in places so delicate and sacred to say the least. I just want you to look outside the box in your quest at things and see if this is a male cultural thing across religions, cultures and borders where men take little boys forget about little girls for a minute but our male children and literally rape them to see who is real men and who are outward gay…………… and after or during the act, (*bruta as it is) the child likes it and leans towards that behavior in life in other words this brutal act wakes up in the male child a tendancy that was always there …………………..I don’t know I just think it is a very barbaric way to endoctrinate a child into so call group………………..Remember it all starts with education ……


      • Thank you for the clarification. As I mentioned in the LinkedIn post I will do some research and let you know what I find.


      • Enough, Jannell. This thought is way too ugly to even give it the time of day. Granted, it may happen, somewhere and someplace, but lots of evil things happen all over the world, and we’re getting real close to wallowing in this and letting these thoughts into our minds.


    • Thank you for all the inspiration here…

      Since writing on here last, I have started my own blog where I’m sharing my life story in the hopes of helping other adult survivors of child abuse by being very open about my “self”, and have also written a book which I hope to have published someday soon. I may need to make an appeal for sponsorship on my blog at the time, because I would never be able to afford the publishing fees… but the way I see it, is that if “Life” brought me to a place where I could write the book, then the publishing will happen one way or another… I must just keep moving forward.

      May you and all be blessed as you keep moving forward also – Onwards and Upwards! ~ Pana (


  7. You make a number of valid points and I won’t minimize the depth of depravity or the depth of hurt inflicted in order to ‘defend’ the need to forgive. In fact I would tend to assume that absent Divine intervention/empowerment it isn’t likely that you could forgive as long as you are focused on the depravity of the offender and on the intensity of the pain it has caused you. I just want to say, as another person affected by childhood abuse, that there’s another perspective on forgiveness. it is in a way much more self-serving. Forgiveness in this view is seen not as something that will impact the offender. You and your friend may well be correct that the offender doesn’t want and isn’t capable of benefiting from forgiveness. However in my own experience there is significant benefit to the OFFENDED person (victim). Forgiveness, when one is ready to extend it and when one fully understands that it won’t change anything that happened in the past nor is it likely to change the offender’s behavior in the future, can BEGIN the process of releasing the victim from carrying with him the pain inflicted by the offender. As long as the victim continues to think about the hurt and the one who hurt, it is very difficult to heal from the pain. Physically, bodies heal themselves from a variety of injuries from cuts to more serious injuries such as broken bones. On an emotional and spiritual level, that kind of healing begins to happen when the victim forgives-read: let’s go-of the hurt inflicted. I do not believe that God will refuse to forgive us when we refuse to forgive, for to believe that is, as you said, introducing performance criteria for salvation. God knows we are perfect as regards forgiveness any more than we are perfect as regards never lusting, never lying, or always acting in complete and full allegiance to His commands. Forgiveness properly understood is a balm for the victim, not the perpetrator.


    • Hey Paul, thank you so much for your insightful and compassionate comments. Being a survivor of abuse, you know all to well the hurt and challenges faced by each of us. And I agree with you completely. For those that find healing in forgiving, there is significant benefit. And to those that it’s part of their healing, it’s essential. I was simply bringing forth another perspective, they way in which I was able to find healing without the process of forgiving my abuser. In no way do i believe its the only way to healing. As I said later in the article, for each survivor it’s the most individual of decisions and whichever allows for healing and positive mental/spiritual health, that is surely the route they should take. Thanks so much for your perspective and input into the conversation! May we all find the peace we so dearly deserve.


  8. I very much appreciate your work in reaching out to those who are not (yet) at a point of forgiving but who very much need to be told that not forgiving another doesn’t somehow invalidate their efforts to heal themselves. Forgiveness is rarely the first step in what is often a long and tortuous journey.
    To your point about Jesus’ instructions concerning forgiving those who repent I would point out that some of the last words He uttered while being tortured to death were, ‘Father forgive them (His executioners), for they know not what they’re doing. He was clearly extending forgiveness to those who were not repenting. The first recorded martyr of Christianity, Stephen, also in his final words made a similar request,’Father, do not hold this against them’. We are not all either Jesus nor Stephen but it is unwise to ignore the fact that in extremis both saw great value-even necessity-in forgiving those who were murdering them in a furious rage. Something to ponder.


    • Hey Paul, thank you so much for adding to this most lively of discussions! And you are right, Jesus did say, “Father forgive them” (being the unrepentant). But if you will recall for a moment what I said in drawing from someone much wiser and with decades more time researching and studying the Bible, he said, God is the only one capable of forgiving the unrepentant or unsaved. Only after they have repented are they even capable of receiving our forgiveness. At least that’s mine and his interpretation. While I do not presume to know its the only correct interpretation, what I do know, is that it’s part of what enables me to have my own healing from CSA. And, as I believe I took away from your words, however we get to that place of peace and healing is both right and good. Thank you again for your insight and perspective. It’s how we learn and grow. To listen and be receptive to one another and I have learned from you and all who have spoken on this topic over the last couple of days. May we both find the peace we need.



      • David yes I wholeheartedly desire that you and everyone else find the peace that we need. Your studious friend’s comment about an individual’s capacity to accept forgiveness from mortals if they haven’t repented and accepted forgiveness from God is an interesting one-more on that a little later-but it seems focused on the impact of an act of forgiveness on the offender. My focus isn’t really on whether or not extending forgiveness when none is sought has any impact whatsoever on the offender. My focus is on the impact extending forgiveness to the unrepentant has on the offended. Ultimately I have zero control over how my forgiving or not forgiving impacts the offender. During crucifixion God’s grace was available equally to the two criminals who died alongside Him. One asked that this grace be applied to him, and was assured by Jesus that he would join Jesus in His kingdom. The other criminal clearly did not believe he could be forgiven and continued to curse the only One who could save him.
        To your point about humans accepting forgiveness from humans prior to repenting and accepting His forgiveness, I’m reminded of Les Miserables. (I’m not elevating a novel to the same plane as Scripture, but secular wisdom is still oftentimes wisdom.) The prisoner, (Jean, I think but I’m not good with names) endures years of abuse and unfair treatment as a prisoner. Nothing from that traumatic experience would led him to believe in mercy or grace. It also seems pretty clear that when he steals the silver candelabra from the kindly priest who took him in after he was discharged from prison that he hasn’t exactly repented from stealing. When caught, there’s no indication that he asks for mercy. How could he ask for something he’s never experienced? Yet when forgiveness is unilaterally extended by the priest-who presumably understands what it is to experience God’s grace-the effect is transformative. Although this is a novel, not real life, I think it is a powerful story about how forgiveness has power even when the offender isn’t expecting any, much less asking for it.
        I’m very impressed with your sincerity and candor, and with your determination to transform personal trauma into a journey towards healing not just for yourself but for others. I would encourage you to read, if you haven’t already, the novel by Phillip Yancy, What’s so Amazing about Grace? Phillip, like Hugo, is an excellent writer and storyteller. Ironically enough the story Phillip tells at the beginning of his novel also has a French connection/context. One of the ‘lessons learned’ for me from this and from Scripture has been that one of the redeemed’s major purposes on this earth is to become grace-bearers-to extend the grace we’ve received to others who like us, need, but may not know about, the grace available to them.



  9. Hi David,

    I, like you, tend to rely on my friend Webster to find the answers to problems that assail me. The Webster I looked up, which is on my computer desktop has a bit of a different take on forgive than yours does. It says:

    “To give up resentment of or claim to, to grant relief from payment of, to cease to feel resentment against.”

    Since I, like you, had a tough time with forgiving my perpetrator who was my father, I found that this description helped me a lot. I know that destructive emotion is one of the primary causes of disease, and I wanted no part of any negative energy. Thus, I had to find a way to forgive my father. For the first 13 years of my life he was my hero, the primary person in my life, someone I loved deeply. After he entered my bedroom in the middle of the night and raped me I became terrified of him. The terror never left me until he died. Twice he tried to talk to me about the “incest relationship” we had, leading me to believe that he had done this more than the one time I remembered so vividly. At that time, he had no remorse, saying that a lot of fathers and daughters have this kind of relationship and that they did it in the Appalachians all the time. The second time he had asked me to come up and see him (he lived with my stepmother who was paralyzed from a stroke) as he said he needed to talk to me about something. I drove up and the first evening I was there he asked me if I remembered the time he had talked to me about our “incest relationship”. I nodded my head but began feeling that terror. My stepmother, at this point, began screaming, “no, no, I’ve had to listen to you talk about this for 25 years. I don’t want to hear it anymore.” My father changed the subject and didn’t bring it up again. A few months later I wrote him a letter and sent a card for his birthday. In it, I told him that he must talk to me about what he had on his mind. That if he didn’t one of us would be left behind when the other one died, with questions unanswered and pain unhealed. I told him I loved him very much. He read the letter and died of a massive heart attack a few days later. I went to his grave when I was in recovery and spent 3 hours crying and screaming. At the end I told him that if he would help me start a movement to help others who had been sexually abused – if he would help me sell books that helped others to heal, I could forgive him. When I started the Lamplighter Movement the first town that contacted me to say they wanted to start a chapter was International Falls, MN. It was in that town that my father had delivered me when I was born, although they were not aware of that until I told them. I forgave him.

    I have been unable to forgive my mother. She found out what my father was doing and had him beat me until I confessed to the wrong doing, saying it was my fault. The last beating was so severe it almost killed me. A week later I ran away from home. I found out decades later that she told everyone that I was no good, that I was evil. The pain that caused has never healed.

    Thank you for writing about this subject. I apologize for the length of my comment. Once I started writing it seemed I wanted the entire story to come out.

    As the song says, “you’ve got to walk this lonesome valley, you’ve got to walk it by yourself………”

    Take care, Margie


    • Margie,

      I’m not sure what happened, I wrote u a response and it disappeared. Love technology!

      What I said was, I hope you know me well enough by now that you need not ever apologize to me for anything regarding CSA, especially when it comes to your story. I have found the need to re-tell my story from time to time. Whether it be with a friend, a parent in need of education on CSA, or simply in front of a computer screen and keyboard.

      I consider it an honor to call you my friend, even though we’ve never met face to face. I believe we share the same bond that all survivors do. And it’s because of what we went through that you started The Lamplighters and I started Together We Heal.

      We saw a need and knew we were two of millions that can and will do something about it. And as I told another survivor earlier this week…may we both find the peace and continued healing we deserve.

      God bless you my friend.



  10. I respectfully – and I repeat the word, respectfully as this is such a hard thing – disagree. But I disagree because of what I believe forgiveness is. Forgiveness doesn’t make what they did ok. It doesn’t say it’s ok. It simply releases me. I come from a Protestant background as well and I had to wrestle through this immensely. I came to realize that forgiveness is between God and me, not me and the person. God asks me to forgive so He can forgive me and also so I will be out of the way and He can deal with my offender as my Defender. God is just and all sin WILL be dealt with. He forgives me when I repent. I forgive others and He deals with them now, not me. “Vengeance is Mine,” says the Lord. I take that very literally. He is my Father and my Defender. He will take care of it…and much better than I could.

    The other thing I learned about forgiveness is that it doesn’t mean trust. Trust is a wholly different thing. I do not trust my abuser and have no reason to trust him despite having forgiven him. I do not allow my children around people I don’t trust. Doesn’t mean I’m unforgiving, just means I’m smart.

    We are to continue to speak and act on the behalf of the defenseless and those being harmed and abused. That is our duty as humans, as Christians and as survivors. I can forgive and still say, “you need to account for your sin.” I see no contradiction in that. I believe God sees no contradiction in that either.

    So, that is why I disagree. However, I understand the hurdle. All I can say is when I forgave, my relationship with God got immensely deeper. And my abuser is still at large but God is on it now so I don’t have to worry about him. And I will fight for the safety and deliverance of every child and every survivor until I die. It is my duty – one I take willingly. I think God is pleased with that.

    Blessings in your journey,


    • Hi Julie, I appreciate your perspective and it’s ok of we disagree. And as u can see I don’t withhold a different opinion or belief from the website. 🙂

      Just as you found release and freedom through forgiving, I found it, as well as peace and healing by no longer having it necessary for me to do so. As a survivor of CSA, I did nothing wrong, so I feel no need of or to forgive what happened.

      As I said at the end, the bottom line is that we, as survivors, come to a place of peace and continued healing through His grace. No matter which way we get there, as long as we do. Blessings and joy to you.



  11. It is difficult to forgive, but it is vital for one’s peace of mind. When we remember that God forgives, then we should forgive, though very difficult as I said. To forget, only time heals.


    • Thank u for your comments Josephine. While I agree it’s vital for those that need to for their own healing, I think u may have missed a part of what I found scripturally. When it was talking about us forgiving as He forgave us, it was referring to the repentant, not the unrepentant or “unsaved”. More to the point, an unrepentant person isn’t even capable of receiving our forgiveness, only God’s. So the responsibility of forgiveness lies only between them, not with those they have wronged prior to salvation. I hope this cleared up any misunderstanding there may have been.


  12. I believe there is more than one way to skin the “forgiveness” cat.


  13. I am so relieved to find you and I feel more hope today than I have felt in longer than I can recall. I could bear to read the “god-word” and not instantly click away. I overlooked your references to your protestant beliefs (I forgive you!~ :))
    You explain what I could not put into words about this thing we call Pedophile Forgiveness, which requires the victim of sexual abuse to forgive their rapist, especially their religious leader, to live a healthy, decent, or righteous life! The idea is so bassackward.

    Your logic and common sense about the single most challenging issue I have dealt with as a PK, raped by another baptist preacher man, “You must forgive your rapist to live a “normal” life.”

    As an adult, I told my father, who was also my pastor, and he required a polygraph. I was scared and young. Many of the questions were worded with words I did not know the meaning of and the results were inconclusive. With what I know now, the polygraph was not administered correctly. Polygraphers must verify an understanding of the worded questions before administering the polygraph, ….that was around 1982, when I was 22.

    Imagine my shock when in 2002-3, when I received an email inviting me to join, Survivors of New Bethany, the same place where the pedophile baptist preacher forced himself on me, when I returned from college over the Christmas holidays in 1977; shortly before my 18th birthday in Feb. of 1978. He started molesting me in 1976, when I was 16 years old.

    In 1976, I was 16 years old, having lived my whole life with my father as pastor.
    The “trip-girls” were in Tarboro NC, singing to raise money from churches, and Ford’s wife got mad at me, calling me a whippersnapper and accusing me of what I now understand to be flirtatious behavior. I did not understand the concept of what a sexual relationship would look like, or what sex meant. My mother said, “It’s what the horses do.” I knew I was okay because … well, I’m a farm girl and horses are horrible, like rape is horrible.

    There are so many of us that we do not know exact numbers. Recently, as in early 2000’s, with social media, the adults, who as children lived in the care of the New Bethany Homes are flooding to the different Survivors of New Bethany groups and finding one another.

    As adults, we have a common rapist, the director of New Bethany, Mack W. Ford. No one can do a thing about what happened to us, because no one will. Baptist churches continue to support New Bethany and no one lives there except the Ford. Specifically identified people, knew and did nothing to stop or report to law enforcement, the physical and sexual abuse of young girls at NB. Mack Ford had a penchant for hiring child sex abusers. People think that pedophiles look like someone they have never seen!

    Girls have been filing affidavits with the law enforcement in Arcadia, Louisiana, since 1985. We have so much information that we do not know what to do with. The state of Louisiana, (at least) has a hand in what Mack Ford and his staff were allowed to do to children. TX, CA, and MO state agents (foster care and juvenile detention) sent children to New Bethany in LA.

    The officials give us the runaround and say they do not know anything. Last week, an FBI agent told me that the Statute of Limitations was 5 years. The DA said the SOL’s is four years… maybe it was the opposite who said 4 and five. These men and women were tortured, denied medical care, beaten, bones broken, raped, forced labor, because the pastor made people believe that he was a good man who loved to take care of kids that no one wanted, or were in trouble with the law; a myth on both account. I was a preacher’s kid and graduated Valedictorian, finishing two years in one (because the education was pathetic).

    Many of us have been to hell and a lot of us came back to life.

    I recently discovered that the Statute of Limitations in Louisiana changed in 2012, by HB 49.

    This New Bethany group is open on Facebook..

    Please take a look and I am going to recommend this blog to some of the groups that are closed to the public. We fight like siblings, even worse, and we hurt together, bury our friends who cannot deal with the fact that Mack Ford and his chosen staff and board members walk free, and continue to receive money from other churches. Mack Ford was a prolific rapist of children from the early 70’s through early 2000’s. – Board of Directors agree to close it down, but there have been numerous accounts of girls living on the property after NB in Arcadia and the Boy’s Home in Longstreet, LA were permanently closed. – A group working to end institutional abuse, and to help kids freed from institutions.


    • Hey Jo! I appreciate and understand you willingness to “forgive” my Protestant upbringing. 🙂

      But most importantly I want you to know how much it means to me to hear your words of relief. It’s for people like you, and me, that I wrote this article. I had grown weary of so many well-intentioned folks telling us, we “must” do this or we “need” that.

      So unlike the majority of those folks, I actually did the required research and found they were both scripturally in error and, in my opinion, morally wrong. But like I said, that’s what my research uncovered.

      I’m just thankful you received what you needed from it! Thank you again for the encouragement and kind words. And as I so often say here, may we all find the peace we deserve.


  14. Beautifully written! I am a sexual abuse survivor and forgiveness has played a very big role in my healing process. I don’t believe it would have been possible to heal with out truly forgiving.


  15. Reblogged this on Sheva's Cross of Change Blog and commented:
    forgiveness can be a very loaded word, and one of the worst things you can say to alot of victims, survivors is ‘you must forgive’, for any reason, but especially with the added, ‘so that you can heal’, tho i now have a different understanding of what that means, i would still not say it, instead i advocate letting go from within, the for me ugly hatred, fear, and darkness within me, added to my guilt, and letting go of it, firstly for my own sake, and healing, did ultimately mean that i know longer planned my fathers’ murder……..but until i had expressed the anger, and pain, enough to begin to full myself with light, when people said you must forgive to me, i would nearly burst into flames, and hate myself some more and that person, and that was also because of how and why they said it, which was relayed with looks, attitude, and body language, distancing, avoiding eye contact, shifting, and this kind of conversation is breaking the taboo of talking about incest, child rape, molestation, wherever it has occurred, the taboo is squarely that none should steal the innocence and purity of our children. NONE, and the light is now firmly and increasingy shining on to them, may they find forgiveness, for themselves, but they wil as my good friend Tammy said yesterday, feel the fear and dread of ‘times up’, I take no pleasure in that, we don,t need to revert to barbaric acts, that will ony feed darkness, abuse cannot heal abuse, nor hatred , hate, which abuse is borne of, since mine released, i cannot tolerate it……and can only focus on my love of children and the dream of their true protection from evil acts, as my guiding force…..i don,t have the answers to this and am delighted to be witnessing new connections and sharing of info, support and collaborating. Thanks for this blog, sharing…:)


  16. forgiveness is such a loaded word and slows down the healing process for so many, when survivors and victims are told this, especially early on, in the process, i would not say it, and find the term letting go, easier to work with, tho it may ultimately mean the same thing. and for me, letting go of the dark feeling,s suppressed for so long they were damaging me on every level, expressing and letting those go, allowed, my light to then shine, and then, well i didn,t hate my father or plan his murder anymore, and thought about it all less and less, but along the way it was a dark, lonely and very painful journney, at times, and this is often like a whip cracked, and said with hidden meanings,, denial, blame and scorning the victim or survivor………we all have our light within, and when healing is allowed to occur, it wil naturally begin to grow, and it was by meeting enough people along the way who en lightened me further, and the hope inside me, that got me this far, tho too, i,ve met many who would snuff out my light or conspire to corrupt again, too………..i do not forgive them……….i let them go, and move on with others towards as much revealing and healing, feeling , the word forgiveness sends many reeling, and dealing with more uneccessary pain, just my experience and what i have witnessed………..peace


    • I think your term “letting go” is a great way to verbalize it. And I genuinely believe that whatever helps a survivor in the healing process in a positive way is a good thing. Peace be with us both as we continue on our healing paths.


      • i agree if someone uses the term forgiveness and are comfortable with it, neither would i dissuade them, i,ve also known people suggest forgiveness with loving intent, but i,ve just seen the fallout too often, letting go hasn,t that edge to get hooked up on…..i shared the blog because it is good to discuss this, and for others to get thinking, feeling and writing too, or empathising more. thanks


  17. I agree that ‘letting go’ is better than the F word which has so often been used to support sexual abuse. Only a supporter of sexual abuse would focus on what the victim should do instead of on what the perpetrator should do. And doing so in God’s name is very dangerous, very dangerous indeed.

    I don’t agree with your statements about God not being able to forgive sexual abusers because their sins stand in the way. The God I know loves all of us and mourns for those of us He has lost. He mourns because when their bodies die their personalities will be deleted by the Satan He created to keep the world in balance, and their reincarnated consciousnesses will suffer retribution in the personalities of some poor children who will know nothing of their crimes.

    I do agree that God is not able to contact sexual abusers because their sins stand in the way. When their bodies die He cannot take them, and they will never bask in His forgiveness and love. Their personalities will be scrapped by the Satan and will be rewritten in its attempts to achieve balance, and yet their punishment will remain the same – endured by innocent children. No wonder God mourns at His creation getting so terribly out of balance. It causes such terrible suffering among His children.

    However, the innocent children will probably be taken. That is God’s only consolation, that after the Satan has purged them He gets them, and that He has Eternity in which to make it up to them.

    Perhaps you do not agree with this scenario, although you may recall that reincarnation is mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Perhaps your scenario is worse – although Hell is never mentioned in the Bible, only eternal, irrevocable death. Deletion. But this will be your forgiveness, which will come in its own time – that one day your scenario will not be a comfort to you, that one day you will gasp in horror at your abuser’s fate.

    It is not right to want something God does not want. God mourns the abuser’s fate. And one day you also will mourn your abuser’s fate. As long as the abuser is having a good time, that day seems a long way off. But one day you will not be glad to know what happened to the abuser. Then you will want what God wants. There’s no rush, though. He’s got your number. After all, it has to be real.

    You may notice that nowhere here do I say you trust the perpetrator with any freedoms, or allow the perpetrator to continue with his crimes. That is definitely not what God wants.

    It’s really wonderful to want what God wants. Such a great person to agree with. I mean, He wins in the end. The Satan comes back into balance and becomes benign. You live forever. And He mourns forever for the ones He lost. Not because they were desirable people who would fit into His Kingdom, but because they totally missed out on it. And if you want what He wants, you’ll be sorry too, that they didn’t make it.

    No need to rush it. One day, this is how you’ll feel.


    • Hey Stephan, your input is appreciated. While I don’t agree with some of your assumptions, presumptions and presuppositions, as I told you, all are welcome here, as long as they are respectful of others. And just because I don’t agree with some of what you said, I do agree with other parts and my hope is that someone reading our words finds hope and healing. That is my ultimate goal for TWH, that survivors find the hope and healing they need and deserve.


      • I thank you for being so kind! One day we’ll know where I’m right and where I’m wrong. I’m sure the important part is being close to God and wanting what He wants. And I am very grateful to you for your generosity to me, since I stormed in on you and in return you gave me God’s love.


      • I’m sure from what you have said, you already know we are called to love. And that’s what I strive to do and the type of environment I work to provide here at TWH. It’s why we work so hard when vetting our therapists/counselors and even the people who do regular work like web design, etc. It’s important to me that I do my best to have all associated w TWH on the same page. No one is perfect and there will be mistakes, we just try to limit them by truly listening first before responding. Making sure we ask ourselves, what is our motivation for any action we take or words we speak. I believe when this step is taken a better outcome is more likely. Peace be with you always.


  18. A very interesting article on “forgiveness”, David! I believe that “forgiveness” is really a personal choice. For some survivors, it really does seem to help.

    For me, “forgiving” the perpetrator simply did not work, though I did try. He hid behind his faith, and tried to intimidate me, with it. (“You are going to burn in Hell, for your lack of forgiveness!”, he told me.)

    Having now taken further action, I feel that “forgiveness” is not absolutely necessary for “growth”. (or “healing”, if you prefer)

    My best wishes to you.



    • I could not agree more! I had a HUGE weight lifted off my shoulders when I realized that scripture had been taken out of context for so long and by so many. It was only when I KNEW I DIDNT have to forgive that sexual predator, that I made TREMENDOUS strides in my own healing. I wasn’t hanging on to hate or vengeance or anything like that, I just knew in my heart of hearts that something wasn’t right about me forgiving him. Once relieved, it’s been one blessing after another. 🙂

      That being said, I also agree with you that for some it’s what they need. And as I said in the article, whatever helps a survivor to heal in and healthy way, that’s what they should do.

      I just wish some of those “well-intentioned” folks would understand what you and I have come to realize. These days the only folks I get “mad” at are those folks for “telling a survivor what they need or MUST do”, when they have NO clue what we’ve been through.


  19. I just want to stop and say that I am glad someone else understands the issue surrounding forgiveness. Most of the people in my life tell me I should forgive my offender, even though the last I heard from him, he was in no way sorry for things he had done. Proud of them, as he saw it as his way of contributing to the person I have become.
    He died this past March, and just weeks before he did, my biological family contacted me to let me know. I struggled very hard with forgiving him, because in my eyes, forgiveness is something we should all strive for. I couldnt figure out how to forgive him. So I left it to this solution. I prayed.
    I prayed that if the Lord should find something in his soul worth redeeming, that he would, but in all my being, I couldnt find a way to forgive him myself. As soon as the prayer was said, my feelings of turmoil and struggle with this issue were done. I honestly feel like it was the best thing I could offer to the man who brought me into this world and destroyed me as a little boy.
    No second thought or regret has come to me since.


    • I’m so glad to hear u have found some measure of peace Donald. That’s why I decided to write about this most challenging of issues. I wanted others to know its ok, either way. No one has the right to tell ANY survivor of abuse what they should or shouldn’t do regarding forgiveness. However we come to peace is up to us. And may we all find the peace we deserve.


  20. For years I struggled with the concept of forgiving.
    Raised as a Christian I studied the Buddhism which opened my heart and for me a door to a future free of the past:

    Understanding how my parents had become abusers and also later the men who raped me was to see where they came from and how they could do what they did.
    To understand is not saying that it is okay but taking the responsibility, when you are able without putting yourself in danger, to confront them with what they have done.
    What they do with is not my responsibility but theirs because they can never say that they didn’t know.
    It is up to God or any Higher Power to judge them.

    My responsibility is to heal and I my case breaking the energy of abuse, molestation and alcohol addiction that is already going on for generations in my wealthy and highly educated but emotionally poor family (my father’s and mother’s family).

    My mother died two years ago at the age of 91.
    She has abused me so badly that I was never able to have children.
    My uncle and grandfather were both physicians so they could hide it from the outside world.
    I had broken with my mother seventeen years before she died and she didn’t allow anyone to keep in touch with me.
    I decided to go to the funeral. I have put a card with a rose in her coffin with the text:
    “Because of you I have become a better person. I love you.”
    My father was unexpectedly at her funeral, a human wreck in a wheelchair.
    Fifty years before he had left the family for another woman without taking any responsibility or wanting to have any contact with his children.
    I hadn’t seen him for 32 years after looking him up and confronting him with the abuse when I was very young.
    At my mother’s funeral I decided to go to him and to shake his hand.
    At first he didn’t recognize me so I said:
    “I am your daughter.”
    He turned his head away.

    Three weeks after the funeral I got a letter that I was disinherited by my mother.
    Someone told me that she had signed under the pressure of one my brothers a couple of years before she died.
    In the handling of the inheritance my brothers (4) have been lying and cheating in order not to give me the part that was legally mine.
    I had a good lawyer but I decided not to go to court but to let them know that I knew what they were doing.
    So I did and thanks to email I know that they received my message.
    They go on in the same pattern of my parents and possible doing to their children what was done to them. I was never allowed to see my nephews and niece.
    My youngest brother told me once that my other brothers were afraid of me.
    They are not afraid of me but they are afraid of the truth.
    Another brother told me many years ago to go away because otherwise they would break me.
    They don’t want any contact with me and are describing me as a psychiatric patient who should be put away for the rest of her life.

    January last year my father died of cancer after months in a nursing home.
    I never visited him because he didn’t want to see me and I didn’t want to take advantage of his vulnerability as he did when I was little child.
    I did not go to his funeral but that afternoon I threw a letter with the same words as I wrote to my mother with a white rose in the river.

    Last September after the handling of the heritance of my mother was finished I went to Egypt to find healing for my Self.
    When I came back it took me half a year to be happy and full of energy again.

    In my work and by my own website I can coach and reach others on the road of recovery in a way that I never could have done without my own experiences.
    I am blessed.


    • You are a giant!

      If I may give my opinion, God does not judge. God created a sort of world immune system which we call Satan (not a fallen angel) which became so out of balance that God had to engage in a project to fix it. But since the immune system is part of the world, the fixing has to be done by the system’s rules. The system deletes anyone who doesn’t break free of it. I’m glad you broke free. You are indeed blessed. That’s my take on it.


  21. i have been battling with this issue for a long time. I once asked my pastor if it was possible to forgive but not forget. Or if I cant forget, but think about the rape and my rapist negatively does that mean I have not truly forgiven him? Your see he raped me when I was twelve, but on my 21st birthday came to me and asked for my forgiveness. At the time I was very involved in church life and as a good christian I could not say no and so I did. But I can honestly say today, that although it happened some 30yrs ago, I hardly think about it now, it does not define me anymore more, but I still hate the man. I do not think I can ever truly forgive him. He altered the course of my life completely. Because I was not a virgin when I met my first boyfriend, I insisted on having sex with him, after all what’s the point in waiting, if you are no longer a virgin? and so I fell pregnant at 16 and got married. I am now divorced, and have so much insight into my life and how certain choices I have made that I can honestly say, what happened to me affected me greatly, but I am a strong woman and I am more than just a survivor.


    • I’m so encouraged by your story and that you are doing more than just surviving. That’s a testament to your spirit. And bless you for taking the time to share your story with others.

      All I can tell you is how I ended the post, I truly believe for each person it’s the most individual of choices. And whichever brings you peace is what you should do. As I also mentioned, for myself, it was not then or is it now necessary for my healing to forgive the man that raped/molested me as a little boy.

      I hold no resentments or anger…any longer…but when it comes to forgiveness, that’s up to someone MUCH greater than I to do. If the God I believe in decides to forgive Frankie, then so be it, but I have decided to direct my energies at keeping him away from little boys as best I can, helping educate parents on how to better protect their kids from sexual predators like him and help my fellow survivors and thrivers get to a better place of healing.

      May you continue to grow and find even more peace. And thank you so very much for sharing with us here.



      • I think we use the word ‘forgiveness’ differently. And it’s always silly to argue over definitions, so I won’t. But according to my definition, you forgive, since you say you don’t have resentments or anger. As for God, I’m sure God forgives everyone, but God can’t save Frankie if he doesn’t want salvation, with all it costs (and it will cost that one a lot).

        We just use the words ‘forgive’ and ‘save’ differently.

        PS: If you gave up on pursuing this predator, that would be giving in to Satan. I am glad to see that your forgiveness (by my definition) regarding what was done to you does not in any way lessen your virtuous resolve as you protect potential victims. What I see is you doing God’s will in every way, purging your own soul of evil and at the same time never giving in to it when you see it in the world.


    • The fact that your abuser asked for forgiveness means he was not sorry. He just wanted another favour. He wanted your body when you were 12, he wanted your forgiveness when you were 21. That’s because abusers think forgiveness means they’ll get away with their crimes. They think it means you won’t go after them. When I say I’m sorry for anything I’ve done wrong, I make a point of not asking for forgiveness, because it’s just further abuse.

      I think forgiveness is not something we give to the abuser, it’s something (letting go of resentment) that we give to ourselves, and we can forgive the abuser when we know Satan’s plan for the poor fool (since his sins keep him from God’s salvation, whether you forgive him or not) but at the same time we can pursue the abuser relentlessly to have him convicted, incarcerated and registered for the sake of potential future victims. It makes perfect sense to me.


  22. I would like to talk about a disturbing trend that I find in survivor groups. Since forgiveness is praised as a virtue, people sometimes brag about forgiving. I am glad to say that I do not find this trend here. (I do find it in a lot of churches.)

    I think I understand now that by forgiveness, you mean being at peace with the abuser. (Please tell me if I’m wrong.) Being at peace with the abuser is only enabling his next abuse. Being part of a crime is no virtue, and bragging about it is even worse. Some people even say it’s easy. This sounds suspiciously like bragging. It’s also a bad sign because giving in to Satan is always easy.

    I personally see forgiveness as being at peace with oneself, being able to see the truth that the abuser is owned by Satan and actually feeling sorry for him. But too often bragging comes into this too, because being at peace with oneself brings happiness, and in a commercial society we often confuse ‘happy’ with ‘superior’. We’re always being made to feel lacking if we’re not happy, as an extra incentive to buy a product ‘fix’.

    Superior to whom? Not to God, I’m sure. I see God’s Kingdom as a place where there is no status, where everyone’s just glad to be there. I think we have to stop thinking that peace of mind is a virtue. Some of the most selfish people have wonderful peace of mind. And while disturbed people often cause trouble, that’s because they have to be disturbed in order to cause trouble, which means they’re trying to break free from Satan. God has a plan for them and being disturbed is part of it. They’re on the rocky road to salvation.

    There’s no superiority to being saved, either – they’re just more fortunate. They are blessed enough to want God’s help, and as soon as God gets a chance to save them they’ll be in. God wants this for the selfish ones also, but they have to want it and their sin obscures their vision. The worse it gets the worse it gets.

    Someone who forgives is not superior to someone who does not. After all, the one who does not may have far more to forgive. This brings me to your discussion on perspective, which I do understand now – sorry! Too often, people who suffer fall into comparing their suffering, each one claiming to have the most. If people brag that they forgive, others will counter by saying that they suffered more. It’s a really bad trend, not constructive at all.

    I guess the bottom line is that there’s no competition. I do not see it happening here, but I mention it because I know how easily it can be implied in any discussion of forgiveness, since forgiveness is praised as a virtue. Praising and blaming are not our job anyway.


    • A little clarification here: ‘Superior to whom’ means ‘superior in whose eyes’ (not God’s) because there always has to be an observer in status issues.

      I think there’s always a danger of status issues coming into survivor discussions because of self esteem damage. I’m glad it seems to be absent here.


  23. Very very good article. Thank you.


  24. Reblogged this on Victimized… No More! and commented:
    “To those who said, you must forgive to be forgiven, if that were the case, it would mean there are stipulations to my faith. A “work or act” I must do. And any Protestant who knows their faith, knows we do not come to our faith through works or acts. It is by faith alone.
    So not only am I not responsible for forgiving my abuser; until he is repentant, he is incapable of receiving human forgiveness for any transgressions.”


  25. Yes. There are other thoughtful protestant responses about forgiveness too, like from RBC and Keller, but they still don’t address some issues. Along with what you’re saying here, to say “forgive as you’re forgiven” in a blanket sense implies everyone has been forgiven by God, which is obviously not Christian belief (there is a hell, a second death, so Christianity is not universalist) – people are forgiven after they accept Jesus as their savior. Also, Jesus says that if anyone has something against YOU, you are responsible for getting together with them and making things right before you give your gifts to God (Matthew 5:23-26). The church seems to ignore this and thus it empowers those folks who don’t want to seek reconciliation and forgiveness, and make things right; they empower the bully, basically. NOT what God wants for us in either of the testaments. I think if God gives us the strength or whatever to forgive someone who did something heinous, then great, but I don’t see it as our responsibility to forgive someone that God has not even forgiven yet. Just as a note, though, the other protestants that I refer to will say that forgiveness in the sense of “letting that person off the hook” is not what is meant, but only that you don’t stew and wish them harm, but pray for them. Guard your own hearts in the situation.


    • I think you must have misread or not read the entire article. Nowhere did I say or have I ever said that anyone should “forgive as they are forgiven.” To the contrary, my ENTIRE point to the article was that forgiveness is a personal decision made by each individual and no one should be told they have to forgive their abusers.


      • I didn’t mean that at all . . . I was agreeing with you and just making and additional comment about it. Sorry if I Ieft out a word or something; I read it over before I posted it, but sometimes I miss something. I liked your article and was agreeing with you. I thought the rest of what I said made that clear.


      • Thanks so much for the clarification. That’s why I was so confused because the first part of your comment sounded nothing like the second part. Gotta love auto-correct right? 🙂

        Thanks for understanding my confusion and helping straighten it out.


      • Sure. I keep putting off going to the eye doctor to get new glasses, just because I just keep getting distracted. But I do have a problem with the font in these windows a lot – I can see the words and all better when it’s on the “page.” It’s even worse from the post composing window compared to the actual blog post. Anyway, yeah, I’ve looked into the forgiveness issue off and on because it IS difficult to reconcile what so many Christians say we should do compared to not only the whole word of God, but our innate sense of dealing correctly with the situation.


      • That’s why I did so much study myself, so I could back up what I believed and give the Christians who’ve told me what I “had to do” validation of my viewpoint using text they were basically “using against me”. Isn’t it ironic that a group supposed to be full of compassion can be, at times, lacking it altogether?

        Don’t get me wrong, I am a person of faith, just not of the same belief as the fundamentalists who tell survivors what they should do and believe, when they have NO concept of which they speak. Obviously I’m not speaking about all Christians, just those who claim to know the mind of God.


      • Yes. Lately I’ve seen more posts and articles that promote a certain political view point from “Christians,” that claim that if you’re not the way they think, you’re not a Christian or not following God or whatever. They are incredibly annoying (lol). The things I read in the NT that Jesus wants us to do (and despite the many critics, what God also says in the OT) don’t have to do with politics or how you think the government should be run, but how we are to treat others, and how we are to deny ourselves (think of others and not be so selfish). There are other issues, too, along the lines of what I think you mean, yes. Both my husband and I have problems with many “church people.” Honestly, if I didn’t have experience with Christ Himself, I don’t know that I could’ve become a “Christian.” Better to say “follower of Christ,” I guess.


      • I hear you and am with you 🙂


  26. I have realized that I cannot give forgiveness without my abusers taking personal accountability and even then, I’m not guaranteed to give it then. I am not religious, but frankly, I don’t feel it’s my responsibility to dole out forgiveness. It’s my responsibility to continue healing and focus on my passion; the solution to ending child sexual and physical abuse.

    I asked my brother, who was brutally abused on the cult and still quite angry, “If Frank Argento sat before you, in tears, a broken man because of the terror he wrought on children, how would you feel?”

    My brother paused and said “You know, I’d probably be more apt to have an open dialogue with him.”

    In my studies and journeys I find that the one repeating factor I hear from survivors is that while they do not need it to heal, abuser accountability seems to make a major difference in the way they would view their abuser.

    I don’t know what this means, per say, but I’m extremely interested in this.

    My brother asked me the same question. What would I do? I feel a bit differently. I think I would feel somewhat “you’re not getting off this easy, buddy.” Yet at the same time somehow this has to get to a place of healing on all levels if this evil cycle of child sexual abuse is ever going to end.

    A deep topic – touching on so many things.


  27. After reading your article, I still believe forgiveness is necessary as a part of healing. And please know I totally respect your article, definitely not trying to condemn. But you mentioned that we should pray that God forgives our abusers. If you’re able to pray for them, that in itself is an act of forgiveness. I was abused at the age of 3, and I too struggled with forgiveness. I didn’t understand why I had to be the one to forgive, but I have recently accepted the fact that God loves my abuser. He wants my abuser to repent and turn from his evil ways. And if the God that created me can send His son Jesus to die a cruel and violent death on the cross just to clean me of my sins, I can forgive my abuser. This was for me, I can’t speak for anyone else. But forgiveness and trust are two totally different things. I forgive but that doesn’t mean I trust him. I do want my abuser to repent and turn his life around. And I pray that no other child will experience what I have. But by me even praying for him shows that I have a heart to forgive.


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