In my article yesterday, I talked about learning to trust again after forgiveness and reconciliation. I argued that this was possible by choosing to remember the good things about a person as well as God’s grace to them and us and to choose to not remember their weakness, sin and the pain caused.
In a footnote, I explained that I was not dealing with issues where there was abuse and also that I was assuming that genuine repentance had happened. There are a few reasons why I wanted to deal with abuse type situations separately and here they are:
- Firstly, I believe that whilst forgiveness and restoration are possible, I think there are still potential ongoing issues. If we have seen that someone struggles in a particular area of sin then throwing them back in the deep end where they are likely to face the same temptation repeated again and again is a significant risk.
- Secondly, I believe that it is for the injured person to accept repentance and offer forgiveness, not to be forced or manipulated into it.
- Thirdly, I believe that this remains about a willed decision not to remember certain things. This is different from forgetting and being absent. It is about my will or chose to remember certain things and thus act on them.
- Fourthly, because in cases like this, the offender may still be accountable to other authorities – the police and the courts – because the person’s behaviour may put others at risk Therefore legal action whether criminal or civil may well be taken.
- Fifthly because we need to be alert to ability of abusers not only to deceive others but even deceive themselves and believe that their actions should been excused, forgiven or even rewarded. So it is important that we consider questions like this carefully and ensure that those at risk remain protected.
I believe that it is possible for victims of abuse to show mercy and forgiveness to the perpetrators, there have been may examples of unexpected compassion over the years. However, that decision should not be forced by anyone else and one responsibility we have to them is to seek their protection and safety.