Thursday, September 4, 2008

Another Mistake About Forgiveness

Once when several of us in my family were touring an art gallery, peering through one artist's studio window at some of the most grotesque "art" we had ever seen, my brother-in-law remarked, "There's someone whose mind I don't think I'd care to get to know very well at all." I've always remembered that. There are some people it is best to avoid. (See Proverbs 24:1, Romans 16:17, 1 Corinthians 5:11, I Corinthians 15;33, 2 Timothy 3:5) Jesus loved Pilate as much as ever He loved St. John, but the relationship was very different.

Forgiveness does not always mean seeking to restore a relationship to what it was before. You have to love as much as you did before. No, you have to love much, much better than you did before. But that does not necessarily mean being as close as you were before. Sometimes that not only cannot be done, but should not. There are times when it is far healthier for all concerned to love from some greater or lesser distance.


Fr. Jon M. Ellingworth said...

"There are times when it is far healthier for all concerned to love from some greater or lesser distance."

I'm assuming that you would not apply the above to marriages that are breaking apart? A woman I know has stated the commonplace "I love him (her husband), but I'm not in love with him anymore." It's so very complicated and sad. Just wondering (honestly) what your thoughts might be. I'm not trying to trap you.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Marriage, certainly, is the sort of commitment we should try to heal and restore.

But what is a husband to do if he finds out, for example, that his wife has had three abortions behind his back? How close does he want to be to somebody like that? How close should he even be?

Or, to turn the tables, what is a wife supposed to do when, like one of those women you see on TV dramas, she finds out her husband has taken out a very large insurance policy on her life and has forged her name to it as the buyer of the policy, and he is the beneficiary? How close should she be after that to her husband?

The applicable principle, it seems to me, is "The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath." Every rule God has given us was made for us, and not vice-versa. Thus, when its strict application would be inhumane, an exception should be made. The exception will be the lesser of two (or more) evils. It still is an evil, though, and should be acknowledged as such.

The breakup of a marriage is always a tragedy.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

P.S.) The business of "I love him but I'm not in love with him anymore" is so shallow, isn't it? Whoever says that has entered into marriage with misguided expectations. Marriage isn't a narcissistic adventure that's all about how deliciously starry-eyed we feel. It's about how much we are willing to give.