The “MONSTER” (The Perversion of Forgiveness)

All things God creates and institutes are beautiful – human sexuality and marriage, the Church and brotherhood, forgiveness, and redemption. These and more are tokens of His love to His creatures. Yet such very blessings are what Satan perverts, and with mankind’s permission, he turns them into curses. It is urgent that we focus on one of these diabolic deviations and the terrible damage that it is inflicting.

Forgiveness and redemption and how they were accomplished are the ultimate expression of God’s love for us. Likewise, only as we forgive one another as Christ forgave us can we live together in joy and harmony. However, I am discovering that the principle of forgiveness has been so distorted that it has become a frightful monster, wreaking havoc and destruction in the church.

The perversion of forgiveness prevents the wounded from healing. It makes the brotherhood an unsafe place for the vulnerable. Life-destroying crimes are committed in the very place that should be a safe haven for souls. Predators who learn to speak the vernacular of the church and follow its outward practices find it an easy place to procure victims. Even after being caught, the heretical concept of forgiveness which the church has embraced enables them to soon continue their former behaviour and more victims follow. After a “confession” of sorts, the offenders are unconditionally welcomed back into fellowship.

The problem most frequently shows its head in cases of immorality or sexual abuse. Sexual abuse would fall under the most serious of crimes as mentioned by Jesus in Matthew, 18:6: “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” It is no less serious than rape which was punishable by death under the Mosaic law. It is also a civil crime in most countries today and merits punishment in the courts. It is no wonder – the harm it does in violating a sacred part of a child’s identity is horrific. It has been labeled as “soul murder”. It is highly likely that the scars will last a lifetime. In lieu of all this, the response of the church has been despicable.

I am aware of several cases and have had first-hand experience regarding the issue. When allegations come forward, the initial reaction is one of denial. Anybody who attempts to properly address or investigate the matter becomes the object of persecution from within the culture. If possible, he will be silenced and a narrative created to destroy his credibility. When finally the evidence becomes too strong to ignore, the MONSTER takes the cue that it is time to dominate the scene.

No longer able to hide, the perpetrator makes a “confession”, quite likely accompanied by a display of emotion and tears. There may be some ritual church discipline that follows.

Next will be the call to “forgive” and go on from there. That is where the MONSTER begins his work. “Forgiveness” means that all investigation of the past must end. No more discussion of the matter is to take place. The victims must no longer speak of their experience. Any reference to what was done must be met with firm resistance and discipline because it means that whoever speaks has not “forgiven as the Bible says we must do”. Since the Bible says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us,” we must minimize the restrictions placed on the offenders. (This will vary dramatically, depending on their status within the culture.) Thus, the MONSTER has completed his job!

Over and over in the church, the scene is replayed. By twisting the meaning of forgiveness, the steps for healing and restoration are bypassed. The breaches in the wall are never repaired. Wide gaps are left for the enemy to break through. The wounds of the victims are not dressed and cared for, so they continue to fester. The offenders have not been held accountable, so they go on to leave another trail of victims behind them. The watchmen whom God has placed on the wall see what is happening and sound the alarm. Not only are they ignored – they are driven away and accused of being “unforgiving” or “trying to destroy the church”! This is the picture that I have seen before my eyes. As one of the watchmen, I am shouting my message from the mountaintop since I have already been pushed off the wall and out of the city!

The roar of the MONSTER has drowned out the voice of wisdom. Firstly, we ought to appreciate the fact that the law recognizes the devastation of child abuse and requires suspected cases to be reported. Usually, this process is either bypassed or else key known information is held from investigators. Victims fear reprisals from the religious culture if they dare to come to the law. Scripture is taken out of context to forbid getting the law involved. If the church building is sprayed with graffiti or broken into and robbed, we call the police. Somehow, a different rule is believed to apply in cases of crimes committed within the church. Recent history shows how poorly the church has dealt with its own offenders.

It is the responsibility of the church to lead the offender to take full ownership for the crimes he has committed. Does he care enough about his victims to say who they were without the names being presented to him? Does he acknowledge the grave damage he has done in the lives of those whom he has offended? Does he fully admit to what he has done without making excuses or vague, rambling statements? Has he been honest and forthright when questioned? All these are matters that need to be carefully addressed. This is to determine whether his repentance is real like that of King David or cosmetic like that of King Saul or Balaam. The process is for the redemption of the offender – only with true repentance can he have God’s forgiveness.

Before any of this happens, victims need to be sought out and heard. Then alone can an assessment be made of what has been taking place. If they are not believed or if there is any fear of persecution from the religious culture when they come forward, the whole process is hijacked. This has usually been the case in the past. While the victim has been cruelly ignored, the supposed “restoration” of the offender has taken priority. In addition to being ignored, the abused are re-victimized when their stories are discredited and they are threatened into silence. Thus, with the MONSTER’S help, the church has created a silently weeping group of wounded, bleeding souls.

If an abuser does appear to honestly desire to change his course, it must be recognized that his deeds did not spring from a normal mind. Nor were they the result of a random impulse. It is important for a competent counselor to help him find the root of his actions and deal with them properly. A counselor can further determine his sincerity. He need not be surprised if one who has groomed both the victims as well as the community for years will try the same tactic of deception on a counselor. The counselor plays a major role in the future safety of the community. It is likely that the perpetrator needs to be accountable to someone for a lifetime. Also, restrictions need to be put into place to prevent future abuse from occurring. This has been disastrously neglected in the past.

The idea that forgiveness means that the offense may never be mentioned again in any way is not from the Bible. If this were the case, we would not know the story of David and Bathsheba. David was forgiven. Yet the story is recorded so that we can learn from it. Peter, who denied Christ, was forgiven. Still, the Gospel writers record the story. It is a wonderful example of redeeming grace relevant to all of us. In Galatians 2, Paul references Peter and some other mens’ error in not eating with Gentile believers . I am sure these men were long forgiven. Much of the Bible would be missing were our idea of forgiveness valid.

In the past, it has been made to appear as though the church holds the responsibility of forgiving the abuser. Does not God alone have the power to forgive? Should we not rather be leading the abuser to realize the seriousness of the crime? When he sincerely acknowledges this and repents, God can forgive and restore him.

The sin has primarily been against the victim rather than against the church. However, to attempt to force the victim to forgive is a serious error that prevents healing. It is a process that must be worked out by each individual at their own pace. Forced, it is an illusion.

Redemption, healing and the safety of the community ought to be our end objective. The MONSTER has effectively prevented all these from being realized. It needs to be recognized for what it is and driven away!

6 thoughts on “The “MONSTER” (The Perversion of Forgiveness)

  1. Awesome article. May these monsters be completely dealt with and may the body of Christ come together in such a manner that they have no cloak for their darkness.


    1. This false perception of forgiveness is deeply ingrained in the evangelical culture in my community. When I was met with extreme anger and opposition after I disclosed the fact that a respected leader needed to be investigated regarding sexual abuse, I discovered firsthand how we have created a religious culture that invites wolves into the flock. Although everything I warned about turned out to be true about the leader, many people are still in denial, or else responding in a most bizarre manner. Through it all our family had very distinct direction from God as to how to navigate in our circumstances. We now meet with a tiny group of believers who were similarly “exiled”, but God is directing me to reach out to good people who simply do not realize the depth to which many institutions have fallen. I do not tell them what to do – I simply seek to lead them to a real Jesus Who will then lead them.


  2. My applaud to you brother! You have named the monster that is devouring conservative churches , whole congregations at a time. I have seen what you have seen, and it makes me angry, disappointed, and yet motivates me to do something. Thank you for stepping out!


  3. You said it well – devouring whole congregations at a time. That is what I see here in Ontario. I am made to wonder if God is allowing religious institutions that fail to honour Him to perish, and instead, simply have believers encourage one another in little loosely organized groups.


  4. Reblogged this on Ordinary People Extraordinary God and commented:
    I have been working on my book and am deep in the midst of my main character’s struggle. This article speaks to me. Forgiveness is often for the sake of the victim’s peace of mind, but it is never so that the perpetrator can escape the consequences of the harm he has done. The church needs to start helping victims to recover from their trauma. Let the healing begin and then eventually, forgiveness may come.


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