Forgiveness: Insiders and Outsiders Part II

Let's break down this insider and outsider talk a little further.

There are different kinds of outsiders. There are: a. people who once were part of our community who are now on the outside and b. people who simply have never entered into an "in community" type of relationship with us (for whatever reason). In the case of a., there is relational baggage. There is history. In the case of b., there is no moral reason why we're not in community, we're just not, and there could be a number of reasons for this. It may be because of different faith beliefs, or a lack of time spent together, or because you don't "click," or just because you've never tried even though the relationship has great potential. There may be relational history, but it isn't negative or traumatic. There are many reasons for outsiders falling into the "b." category.

So far, I've gotten the most questions about the "a." category. In fact, multiple people have asked me specifically about relationships with abusive fathers. Family relationships begin as in-community relationships by default, it's only over time that we gain the ability to "choose," as it were. Multiple people have asked me, "Because I have no longer have relationship with my father, does that mean I'm demanding repayment?"

My response is this: What is the reason you have no relationship? What efforts at forgiveness have been tried? What has the response been? Is the reason you have no relationship because you've struggled to forgive or because your father has struggled to repent?

In the conversations I've had so far, it has always been the case that the person I was talking to had some kind of narcissistic abusive father who persisted in causing harm without ever making an amends, or even attempting an amends. Given that, Matthew 18:17 suggests Jesus himself would be comfortable treating that person as an outsider, severing relational ties.

In situations such as this, it is not demanding repayment to remove yourself from relationship if you are doing so because you've been injured, attempted forgiveness, and have repeatedly met strong resistance.

More on this tomorrow.