Posts tagged ‘forgiveness’
Matt 5:23,24 – “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”
There’s a nice principle. If you have a problem with someone else, you go and reconcile with them FIRST: THEN you come talk to your god. But honestly is this how it really works? No, we know it isn’t.
The church has this set of teachings that say, “God is the one most offended by your sins…. He’s the one you really must apologize to… Get right with him.” And along with those maxims goes the teaching that if you just confess to god, then you’ll be forgiven, shriven, cleansed. You’ll be back in good graces with your imaginary friend and all will be right. ….. or will it?
Haven’t you forgotten someone? What about the real, flesh and bone person who was truly offended and hurt by what you did? He/She is still there. Did you confess to him/her? How’s that relationship?
It’s so easy, so cheap to confess to the air and imagine that everything’s OK. You imagine your deity smiles on you. You may hear your priest pronounce forgiveness for you. But try going to that person you really hurt. Will he/she smile and forgive so readily? Or will you have to actually DO SOMETHING to earn your forgiveness? Might you actually have to change your ways? (That’s another actual bible concept called repentance.)
Yeah, confession is easy. Pronounced and imagined forgiveness from an imaginary being is cheap. But real repentance is hard, and real forgiveness is earned, and confessing to a real person you’ve actually harmed is scary.
But hey, religion is there to comfort folks, not challenge or change them. Not to make them better, just to make them happy.
So go to your altars; and if you have any real issues with real people, don’t worry; tell it to the air, then imagine all is well.
When I was a fundie Christian the hardest thing that was required of me was to forgive people for being perverts and assholes. A Christian is told repeatedly that if we don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive us. We are also taught that we had to forgive people EVEN when these people were not repentant or did not ask for your forgiveness. If we didn’t, we could not expect forgiveness form the Almighty. In other words, if my step-father beat, tortured, and raped me repeatedly from the ages of 9 through 14, I had the duty to forgive him even though he was an unrepentant asshole even on his deathbed.
For some reason, that never sat well with me. I was furious, but taught myself to ignore the fury to be a good Christian. Nowadays there are numerous stories of child abusers, killers, rapists, and evil Christians of the Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist variety and evil Muslims such as the 9/11 hijackers and those who kill their wives, daughters, and sisters for their own “honor.” We are told again and again that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. We are supposed to realize that these people are also God’s creatures and to think evilly of them and wish them harm is not a good thing to do. Yet, when the likes of Fred Phelps and his band of psychotic cult followers picketed a fallen soldier’s funeral in my small Midwestern town, I was furious. Forgive them? Are you crazy? I couldn’t do it. I cheered when the Iron Sleds, a Harley-riding motorcycle group who supports military veterans, decided to step in and guard the family from whackos like Phelps at the funeral. I secretly hoped there would be an “incident” and that Phelps would get his face smashed in, that violence would ensue…