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Question about forgiveness in the Christian religion(s).

Discussion in 'Religion and Spirituality' started by Fin D, May 27, 2015.

  1. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

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    This whole mess with the Duggar family has got me wondering about how Christians believe in Jesus forgiving someone.

    Does Jesus just forgive wholesale or does the person who committed wrong/sin need to show remorse? If there does need to be some display of true remorse, what human is qualified to say Jesus accepts that given display of remorse as suitable to Jesus?

    I mean, the son molested children, and faced no worldly punishment but we're told by them that Jesus forgave him and we should just move on now. How do they know Jesus forgave him and why is that enough for us to move on?
     
  2. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

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    No one?

    I'm not looking for a fight, I really want to know what people's answers are to this.
     
  3. finsfandan

    finsfandan Well-Known Member

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    Supposedly as long as you believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, all sins are forgiven. It's that simple.

    Since I'm agnostic, I don't care what anybody's religion says, especially if they're trying to defend themselves from crimes against humanity they've committed.

    How long ago did this crime supposedly happen and does the statue of limitations apply here?
     
  4. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    Sorry D, I did not see your post otherwise I would have responded earlier.

    There are actually two pieces to your question, forgiveness and repentance. They are related but not the same. The basic call of in the New Testament is "Repent the Kingdom of God is at Hand". Now most folks understand "repentance" as simply being sorry for what you have done but it is far more. To repent is to "turn around" or to "reorient" your direction towards the will and way of God. A Christian's whole life is to be one of repentance.

    Forgiveness is simply wiping the slate clean and yes God will accept the request for forgiveness from anyone for anything. In that sense one is then able to again be in relationship with God since sin is what blocks that relationship. One of the insights Martin Luther came to in the 16th century was however, we are always sinners even while being made saints by the action of God. (Saint here is a forgiven sinner.) We are always saint AND sinner. Thus we are always in need of repentance, we are perpetually in need of asking God for forgiveness.

    But all of that calls us into living a life in which our needs, wants, and desires become secondary to doing the will of God which is our purpose for life. Not in order to make God love us but as a thank you for Him already loving us. The classic example is obeying your parents not to make them love you but because they love you and making them happy is your highest ideal as a child. It often breaks down in real life but that is the example.

    No where in repentance or forgiveness however is escape from the earthly ramifications of your actions. We are still responsible to civil authority for what we do.

    Think of it this way. If God loves all of us and you are going to harm someone then the most loving thing to do is to either prevent you or simply put you away some where so you may not harm another whom God also loves. There is nothing in Christian theology that would forbid prisons, in fact prisons can be seen as extensions of God's love for society itself in segregating out those who would harm others. The whole question then of justice comes into play but that is further afield than you asked.

    Has God forgiven Duggar? I don't know. I know God is willing to do so. God also expects Duggar to take responsibility for his crimes and not hide behind some statute of limitations or submission to God's love. God loves those Duggar molested before and those he might still just as much. If he is a danger, he needs to be separated from those he might harm for their sake and indeed for his as well.

    I hope this answers some of your questions and I would be happy to continue this if you wish. I am quite busy the next couple of days so I may not be immediate in my responses but I will get to them as soon as I am able.

    Blessings
     
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  5. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

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    Thank you.

    I'm not really sure if I asked my question correctly or I'm not reading your explanation correctly, so let me try again....and then you can tell me if you answered that or not.

    If a person commits a sin, and is told to ask for forgiveness and they do, but they don't really care or mean it....does your God forgive that person or must they truly mean it?

    The follow up to that question is this one:
    If your God does require that the sinner truly be repentant, then what human is qualified to confirm if the sinner's repentance was enough for your God?
     
  6. McLovin

    McLovin Resident Pats fan.

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    North Cacalaka
    God knows if you mean it.




















    he knows.
     
  7. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    OK, you are correct, I did not specifically answer those aspects of your question. Let me try.

    As to the person's sincerity... forgiveness is an effort to restore your relationship with God. If you are faking or insincere or flat out lying then the relationship is not being restored because the individual doesn't want it restored. Yet, God is always the principal actor in forgiveness so I do not want to make it sound like the human being is somehow manipulating God. And at the same time, none of us are ever able to stop being sinners at our basest nature.

    The second part of your question is easier. There is no one who can tell what is actually in another person's heart. I can say that I "know" God forgives a repentant sinner because we can trust God's promises of forgiveness. But there is no way I could ever know if the other person truly wishes to restore their relationship with God and thus is forgiven. These folks who are going around saying they "know" what God is doing should speak with a LOT more humility!
     
  8. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

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    See that's how I understood forgiveness relative to Christianity. That's what makes the family and their supporters stance all the more appalling.

    If I were a Christian, I'd be livid that this family is above the law but also that they and their supporters are speaking for your God on top of it all. Its the epitome of arrogance.
     
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  9. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    There are lots of things folks from the religious right do and say that offend me. I am particularly offended when folks like Gov. Huckabee tells me that if I do not understand Christianity the way he does, then I am not a Christian! Of course he is not the only one and I don't intend to make this a political discussion.

    One of my most fervent prayers is "God save me from the people 'on my side'".
     
  10. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

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    Amen. Most religions have beauty to offer, but they are often bogged down with false believers repurposing their faith for their own gain.

    I have to wonder though, if a person isn't willing to suffer the worldly consequences of their actions, then I don't think they can truly be repentant.
     
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  11. MikeHoncho

    MikeHoncho -=| Censored |=- Club Member

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    Interesting observation.

    On a serious note, I still find it silly that you should bring about someone's death, and then be allowed to move on from it by confessing to either an appointed individual who is a complete stranger to the situation or to an amorphous being that may or may not exist; completely bypassing those directly affected.
     
  12. MikeHoncho

    MikeHoncho -=| Censored |=- Club Member

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    Some people are bat**** crazy. That's the scary part of religion. Any bat**** crazy can claim to be acting under divine command.
     
  13. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    Inherent in your questions because it is indeed inherent in the claims made by the Duggars, etc. is the assumption that forgiveness by God mitigates all temporal responsibilities. Nothing could be further from the truth. Justice (and God is just) demands people be responsible for their actions. God may well forgive the sinner and restore them to a right relationship with God but here in the temporal realm justice can still demand consequences for an action.

    In the account of the crucifixion of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, we hear one of the thieves being crucified with Jesus say that the two thieves are getting the "just rewards of their actions". He then asks Jesus to forgive him. Jesus indeed does forgive the thief. The relationship with God is restored. Jesus does not release the thief from the cross only promises to receive him in paradise.

    The two forgivenesses, divine and temporal, are related but not interchangeable.
     
  14. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

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    Right. I just think that if one is truly repentant in their heart, they'd willingly suffer the punishment of their crime. I don't think a person can truly be considered repentant AND skirt punishment/consequences. So, if one doesn't serve the time, then one is not repentant enough, else one would accept their fate.

    And if one is not repentant in their heart, then the Christian God, is probably not forgiving them yet.
     
  15. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity Staff Member

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    Just found this thread and apart from the basics of the story about the Duggars I'm not familiar with any details that sound relevant to this discussion. Have the Duggars somehow evaded the law on this?
     
  16. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    This discussion is not about civil law. Has that been evaded? Most likely through cover-up, complicity, and appeal to religion.

    The question here was how does Christian forgiveness work and what, if anything, is its relationship to civil authority. If you wish to discuss this further I will try and answer as I am sure will others.
     
  17. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity Staff Member

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    Understood.

    It's just that having read...



    I'm wondering how/why the Duggars are considered to have skirted punishment/consequences.
     
  18. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    I am hesitant to answer for others but my answer would be that Josh Duggar has avoided prosecution for any alleged offenses by the passing of the statute of limitations if I have read the case correctly. I believe the comments were also directed towards the cover-up which caused not only the statute to lapse but also retained the Duggar's influence in their circles while shielding their story. Certainly there have been temporal consequences now as the stories have arisen but where is the justice for the victims? I would consider the adage "justice delayed is justice denied" to perhaps be in play here.

    I honestly do not follow the Duggar story very closely. They operate within a portion of the Christian family where I rarely venture. My part in this conversation is primarily as an apologist/advocate for the Christian Faith as I understand, teach, and practice it. It is by no means the only way adherants of the Faith would answer some of these issues but it is mine. The legal issues, that is the temporal law, I comment on as a citizen and one who has supported folks through a variety of legal challenges. My opinions there are much more those of a lay person.
     
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  19. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

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    The Duggars, in conjunction with the local sheriff at the time (who is now in prison for child porn himself, btw) covered this up and kept the courts and law away from Josh. We were essentially told by the family and their supporters, that this is ok, because god has forgiven him. He's even supported by GOP Presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee.

    Also, during the time between the molestations and now, Josh and the Duggars have made it their mission to promote traditional family values and even have gone as far as Josh being the head of a powerful conservative political organization based on family values.
     
  20. unluckyluciano

    unluckyluciano For My Hero JetsSuck

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    a lot of people "miss the point". It all becomes ritual. I liken it to people who go to church consistently, but then treat it as a chore.
     
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  21. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity Staff Member

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    The second part seems like it belongs separate to the first. It's possible for people with troubled pasts to change and even promote a way of life contrary to their past. Unless, I suppose, they, or others, are doing it with a sense of they're being or having been perfect, which I'm not sure is the case, but I don't follow the Duggar family shows at all.

    It would also be prudent to check the exact details of what happened with that police officer. He may be in prison now, but is it known that he was of 'low moral fibre' then, by the Duggars? The fact that the Duggars spoke to him seems to suggest at least something positive. How that office then acted wouldn't be the Duggars' fault unless they were aiming at evasion. I myself once had a situation (not legal) where I approached an authority figure with full disclosure of something, and expecting serious consequences, but which was treated with a lot of mercy.

    Do we know the details?
     
  22. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    I don't "have" to go to worship, I "get" to go to worship.
     
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  23. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    I certainly do not know the details. And perhaps with your history and with having received "mercy" first hand, you have a different visceral reaction to the events than other people do. That's fine. For others the stench of hypocrisy is too strong in their nostrils. I understand that reaction as well. Pedophilia elicits very strong reactions in folks.

    The history of recent, American, Evangelical figures is replete with hypocrisy and scandal. As such the Duggars are being painted with a broad brush. That is probably unfair. But then when you put yourself into the public eye by choice you need to be prepared for those consequences.

    I am going to repeat that part of my concerns with that wing of American Protestantism is the distinction between saint and sinner. There is a strain of that wing of the Faith that sees people as one OR the other. I follow the understanding that we are always BOTH. It doesn't prevent trouble but encourages us to maintain a greater level of humility, something sadly lacking in general today.
     
  24. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

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    The parts belong together, because:

    1. It shows they have no remorse.
    If they are going to traverse the country and dictate what is proper family values all while hiding the dark secret of their family it shows they are with remorse. People who learn from their mistakes and try to prevent others from making those mistakes are open about their past.

    2. It shows they are hypocrites.
    Again, trying to be proactive in what should and shouldn't be law based on their beliefs all while hiding something truly heinous that they saw fit to hide from the very laws they are trying to dictate.

    3. It shows they are arrogant and lack humility.
    They claim to know the mind of their god by not only decreeing Josh was forgiven, but by also preaching what is and isn't proper family values.

    The details are available. Essentially, the Duggar patriarch was a pillar of the community. The sheriff decided to go easy on Josh and not get the courts and actual law involved. Nothing was done for his victims. He got no professional counciling. He was basically shepherded by his father who has no formal nor spiritual training in these matters. Bringing up what happened to the sheriff as an aside was for irony's sake.

    Again, we have these people espousing family values and responsibility shirking responsibility over a lack of values all while using the Christian religion to justify their very non Christian values of hypocrisy, arrogance, pride and lack of repentance all while claiming to know the mind of their Christian god.
     
  25. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity Staff Member

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    Well you might be right, but then again, I don't know that you can simply state that they have no remorse or that they are hypocrites.

    One might ask, how open is open? The fact they even went to the Sheriff suggests they did something they didn't necessarily have to. Openness doesn't mean you have to tell everyone everything that has ever happened, especially when you consider that everyone involved were minors at the time. Additionally, good morals and a good way of handling one's family doesn't mean being perfect. I can fully understand how a parent might want to not throw their child under the legal bus, so to speak. Having entered into this discussion I've done a little Googling and the NY Daily Times had a piece by Emily Horowitz about how sex offender laws have plenty of problems - article. Goodness knows there's enough horror stories out there about the government wanting to raise everyone's children for them.

    Additionally, there's also a lot of vehemence directed at the family in general because of their values but that's actually entirely irrelevant to any question of justice.

    As far as I can tell I see little evidence of anyone trying to evade the law or despising authority. The family had a child who engaged in some very wrong actions. For me the age of Josh at the time is significant. He was a minor too. That means he should be treated like a minor and not like an adult and yet people are screaming for him to be denounced as a pedophile, something which, as far as I know, is not true when it's talking about two minors.

    FinD - what would you have had the family do instead of what they did?
     
  26. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

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    I don't know what a family should do in that situation. I do know that based on the actions they did take, they have no business dictating what is and is not family values let alone Christian values.

    I also know that a person doesn't get to tell me the law of the land isn't important because god forgave the party involved. Again, you can't make me believe someone is repentant enough for their god to forgive them if they aren't even willing to suffer the worldly consequences of their actions.

    They went to the sheriff because the sheriff was going to be lenient as they were acquaintances. Again, the Duggars were an important family. The father served in the Arkansas House of Representatives. Also, he only took Josh to the authorities AFTER the police were notified by the Oprah Winfrey Show.
     
  27. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity Staff Member

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    No offense, but you're assuming motive in their taking the case to that officer. They may have had no intention in attempting to get their son a free pass. Do they live in a small town? Maybe there wasn't even an officer they didn't know? Even if there were maybe they went to him because they knew and trusted him and his judgement. Don't we all go to people we feel we know? Maybe they trusted him to help advise them on what the right thing to do. Whatever was made discovered about hat man can't be held against anyone retroactively. The reality is that they did go to the authorities.

    If you can't answer what you think they should have done then how can you say they did the wrong thing?

    It seems rather an unfair or harsh judgement.

    As for their role in speaking about families, this seems to be more the upset than three actual offence.

    Still, all that is up in the air. In the end, with regards to God, only He knows the reality of everything that's gone on and the intentions of their hearts. It seems to me too much of a stretch for me to pass judgement on the eternal status of an individual based on what I perceive to be their attitude. That's up to God to decide.
     
  28. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

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    You're not understanding my stance.

    I started this thread with a simple question. That question was answered.

    You are telling me that only your god knows what's in their hearts but they are the ones telling you, me and everyone else they know what your god thinks. If only your god knows, then how do the Duggars know your god forgave them? That is the reason they are giving as to why it was ok for them to shirk the law. They only went to the police AFTER they were outed and the statute of limitations had expired.

    From there, my point, has been that they are hypocrites. I've never been in their situation, so I can't tell you what the right thing is or what I would have done. BUT I can tell you that it is wrong to diddle children then preach about family values. Not sure why that stance is controversial.

    The reason why its important to point out that they are hypocrites (among other things) is to illustrate how they are even less equipped to speak for your god then they purport to be.

    Then, lastly, of course I can't know 100% if he is repentant. But I do know his and his families actions aren't consistent with a repentant person. Which at this point in time, is considerably more evidence then they've provided to show he's sorry for this.
     
  29. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity Staff Member

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    It's my understanding that they went to the sheriff well before the statue of limitations expired. The issue came up later when someone found a letter about it and reported it to Oprah.

    As for them being able to say that God forgives them, it's a twofold issue.

    On the one hand only God can and will give the final say.

    On the other hand, He has given us enough teaching in Scripture that as individuals we can be confident in God's mercy and forgiveness and, essentially, rescue of us; enough even to proclaim it. With proviso that a repentant heart is a simple requirement of salvation. It's also helpful to remember that forgiveness and salvation bring with them joy, and that's something that is often hard to contain.

    Lastly, I would be hesitant to say that someone not acting in a certain way with respect to the laws or systems of a given country therefore lacks repentance.
     
  30. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    This has been an interesting exchange of views. My observations would key on two points that have been mentioned. The talk to the sheriff is a point of contention. Was that disclosure to a law enforcement officer or seeking advice from a family friend? I think Galant is assuming the former while D is believing the latter. Sadly I think D is correct here. I have lived in small towns and counties and have seen otherwise responsible people turn a blind eye to the actions of influential friends. I have no "facts" to support this view, it is simply my reading of the reports through the lens of my personal experience. None of us will likely ever know.

    One piece here though which has not been explored is the point that Josh did this as a minor. While this could have been a situation which started out harmless and went terribly wrong OR it could be the early manifestation of a very, very, very serious problem. No pastor in our tradition or within the professional ethical system we pastors operate within would have counseled an adolescent who did this without having serious, specialized training. This is a huge deal!!! While not every adolescent molester turns into a serial rapist or murderer, the percentage of deviants who first manifested their behavior in such ways is enormous.

    The priest pedophile scandal in America arose in part from untrained (in sexual behavior), religious professionals doing a cursory job of counseling and then pronouncing the offender "cured" because they had "repented". The problem is while the confession may well have be heartfelt and sincere, the compulsion to bad behavior can be so strong that recidivism rates are very high. I have seen no information on this possible complication. This issue saddens me greatly because ALL the parties, Josh and his victims should have gotten intense PROFESSIONAL counseling not pastoral conversations as good as they might be.
     
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