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Forgiving but not forgetting

Forgiving but not forgetting

Warren Blumenfeld, wonders if he will be ever be able to forgive evangelicals and other Christians for the use and abuse of GLBT persons even as they attempt to soften their stance.

Tikkun daily:

The late Dr. Bell of New York University Law School forwarded the theory of “interest convergence,” meaning that white people will support racial justice only when they understand and see that there is something in it for them, when there is a “convergence” between the “interests” of white people and racial justice. Bell asserted that the Supreme Court ended the longstanding policy in 1954 of “separate but equal” in Brown v. Board of Education because it presented to the world, and in particular, to the Soviet Union during the height of the cold war, a United States that supported civil and human rights.

In like fashion, I posit that evangelicals and other conservative Christians, as they see more and more people supporting and more states passing civil and human rights protections based on sexual and gender identity and expression, and more and more people are leaving those religious institutions that have not caught up as welcoming congregations, evangelicals seemed to have “evolved” somewhat from dictating policies to at least debating varying perspectives. Whether they will eventually soften their stands is another matter….

…So while I understand that evangelical institutions need to go through their processes and hopefully evolve to a more progressive view on LGBT civil and human rights, I continually ask myself:

Can we forgive you for defining us as “inherently disordered,” as “contrary to God’s will,” as “sinners,” as “perverts,” as “heretics,” as “Godless,” as “deceived” and “depraved,” as a “corrupting force on civilization and on the family,” as “contrary to the laws of nature,” and that our relationships “will tear down the very fabric of society”? Can we forgive you for your insulting and repugnant mantra “We love the sinner but hate the sin”…?

…Can we forgive you as you so arrogantly tell us why and how we have come to our same-sex attractions and our gender identities and expressions, and that it is a “choice” that we can change? Can we forgive you for your abusive “religious counseling” to remove us from the so-called “gay lifestyle”? Can we forgive you for your bogus and dangerous “reparative” or “conversion therapy”? Can we forgive you for the defrocking, excommunications, purging, and banishments? Can we forgive you for turning our loved ones against us, and for making us internalize your lies?

Can we forgive you for using our bodies as stepping stones for your own ambitions and political (yes, political) advancement?


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Pete Haynsworth

“I try hard to address the individual who has caused harm, without also embracing everyone around; and I need to be held accountable when I do harm, without it involving everyone who might know me.”

Good point.

“… Can we forgive you for defining us as ‘inherently disordered’? ” … requires forgiveness of just whom? Every soul in the Roman Catholic Church?

Marshall Scott

One of the books that has shaped my thinking on this is Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf. He describes a radical call to reconciliation from Jesus that is always before us, even if in any given instance we cannot meet it.

That said, I find myself thinking, “Forgive whom?” That is, remembering that while older members of an institution have done harm, their younger siblings in that institution may have a very different attitude. I try hard to address the individual who has caused harm, without also embracing everyone around; and I need to be held accountable when I do harm, without it involving everyone who might know me.

That’s less obvious in our culture than one might think. Having worked in healthcare for almost all of my career, I’m quite aware that “any person can sue anyone else at any time for any reason.” In my world, that includes medical claims that name almost every professional who has signed a chart, regardless of that person’s actual participation in the patient’s care. Not that different are the difficult family situations I have encountered, where the feuds can run for generations.

So, I always have to ask this myself: who specifically do I need to seek to forgive, or to ask for forgiveness.

Ann Fontaine

On anger and forgiveness: “The first blow of trauma is something terrible has happened to us. The second blow of trauma is that it is denied, minimized, deflected….We may be told by our spiritual traditions: forgive, let it go, pray for your enemy, practice mindfulness. In fact, the rage is in exact proportion to the deep hurt that has been inflicted and is a compensatory step toward healing. It is an instinctive thrust of energy to push out the dent in our sense of self which the blow of trauma inflicted. Rage asserts that we are a person who matters, we have agency, we are worth listening to as we speak of this event.” (Ann Ulanov, “Transforming Trauma,” in Knots and Their Untying).

Troy Haliwell

Can you forgive? Yes, it is possible. What you have to do is allow a passage of time for your anger to recede. It is only then can you really look at those who have offended you with a wiser and more open heart.

Can I forgive those who have done those things against me, a gay man who is religious and devout? Christ tells me all things are possible through him. Is it an easy path? No, because I still get angry about it, because such things are still happening. I have not yet gotten past the anger as the events are too recent.

But I know that in the end, Christ will show me the way out of the anger and into the field of forgiveness. In the end, those conservatives will transition to moderates, when they see the hurt and pain and stop seeing us as a “thing” and more as people.

Wayne Helmly

One of the greatest gifts I give myself is to forgive everyone for everything, as best I can. So, yes, I forgive the Church for all the hateful lies She told me about myself. I also forgive myself for ever believing them. Honestly, I pray to forgive not out of magnanimity, but for my own benefit. To not forgive means that I am beating myself with the club that I intend for someone else. The anger and resentment I carry when I do not forgive is eating at me. I doubt that most heterosexist Christians are losing any sleep over whether I forgive them. But a hardened heart will cost me sleep and much, much more.

Moreover, as a follower of Jesus, I am compelled to pay attention to His teachings. And those teachings concerning forgiveness are clear: Forgive everyone. Richard Rohr teaches that what we don’t transform we transmit. Unless I transform my hurt and anger through forgiveness, I’m going to transmit it to someone else. Perhaps Jesus knew that, too.

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