Unpacking a new theory of forgiveness: Part II

By my way of thinking, forgiveness is either an action or a lack of action. Depending on circumstances, forgiveness is either 1. treating the wrongdoer as if no offense has occurred or 2. refusing to demand repayment from the wrongdoer.

Yesterday we addressed number 1. Here’s number 2.

2. Inaction.

Major offenses possess the capacity to upend our entire lives. Offenses occur on a spectrum, of course, and they may be significant without being life altering, but the potential is there nonetheless. When I say “inaction,” I mean that we refuse to retaliate. This is not the same thing as treating the wrongdoer as if no wrong has occurred. Treating the wrongdoer as if no wrongdoing has occurred implies that the relationship proceeds on the same trajectory that is was on prior to the offense. When it comes to major offenses, a “new normal” must be established. That new normal, presumably, involves relational distance. The amount of distance depends on the nature of the relationship and the nature of the offense but, in essence, inaction becomes a legitimately good thing to do when our realistic choices are either 1. retaliate or 2. do nothing. It is my opinion that doing nothing is a morally, responsibly, and faithfully good thing to do when the realistic alternative is retaliation.

Christians are not prone to give themselves credit for inaction- but I am convinced that this is both good and necessary (at times).