Friday, October 12, 2007

Forgiveness, Laestadian Style

I think the recent comments regarding sexual abuse and forgiveness are very iluminating, and extend well beyond the present context. I completely agree with the folks who have said that forgiveness within the OALC (and I saw this issue alive and well within the ALC too) was and is used to sweep problems under the rug, to shift responsibility from perpetrator to victim, and to allow people to maintain appearances and avoid taking responsibility for their own actions.

One of the reasons why this tactic is so effective, of course, is because as Christians we really are called to forgive each other. But is forgiveness saying "I forgive you" and then never speaking of the matter again? Absolutely not!

True forgiveness is a long process. It's the end of a long journey that in the case of abuse should start with a full criminal investigation. Only once the full extent of what the perpetrator has done has been exposed, examined, and judged in the full light of day can an informed decision about forgiveness be made. Only once the victim is safe from threat of further abuse and given time and resources to process the experience of what has happened to them are they in a position to consider true forgiveness.

The quick shortcuts to forgiveness offered by the Laestadian churches cheapens true forgiveness and in the case of abuse only serves to short-circuit the healing process and to enable the perpetrators to continue on in their evil ways.

This issue enrages me for a couple of reasons. First, sexual abuse happened within my extended family many years ago. It was covered up and never talked about. Secondly, the same dynamic comes into play for so many lesser issues as well. "Forgiveness" being used to close down discussion and disagreement of all kinds.

I apologize if this post sounds like I'm shouting. I'm not shouting at anyone but the perpetrators and enablers of this sick theological idea.


-ttg

23 comments:

  1. I recently spoke with a preacher about the abuse that goes on in the church. I wanted to know why they don't feel it is necessary to take further action than just forgiving and forgetting. I voiced my concerns about this issue spiraling out of control as the perpetrators are protected in this 'safe' world that chooses not to follow the laws of America. He gave me a short schpeal on forgiveness in the bible and than went on to say that 'prison is no place for a christian'. At that point I asked him if they would forgive and FORGET a murderers confession and take no further action, to which he responded, "Yes, in fact that has recently come upon some young man's conscience and we have forgiven him for this sin". The conversation ended with him informing me that I obviously had not forgiven the person who had abused me at a young age and that he would pray for me, that I could learn to forgive this man. He also told me that by living a worldy life, I was welcoming the devil into my heart, which was leading me to have these doubts and this unforgiving heart. Somehow this terrible act commited onto me, became MY sin. No, I do not believe that I am the sinner here, but I still walked away from that conversation feeling pretty sad.

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  2. If that is true, what the preacher said, about the young man and murder.....I don't know what to say. UNIMAGINABLE!! In that situation, of all situations, that would be the understanding? I can hardly think of a word that can describe how disgusting that thinking is. If you are given that kind of knowledge and you do nothing about it, you are basically an acomplice to the crime, as far as I am concerned. I can hardly stand to think about it. I want to throw up.

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  3. daisyaday, you sound like you were a great mom. :-) Not because you were perfect (nobody is) but because you were aware of your own feelings and stresses and what that also brings to the child-rearing situation. Your kids were lucky to have you. :)

    First Anon, I would seriously consider talking to the police about that pastor. If he's admitting to covering for a murder, that might be something that the police can take action on, and it might even cause some of the sexual abuse issues to get brought to light as well.

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  4. Thanks, Tomte. I appreciate that.

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  5. To first anon, this is second anon...when I said this...

    you are given that kind of knowledge and you do nothing about it, you are basically an acomplice to the crime, as far as I am concerned

    I was referring to the pastor you were talking about for not taking action, not you. Although, Tomte's suggestion is valid.

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  6. first anon,

    you are entirely right. the sin/crime was not your responsibility. they have a very warped view of forgiveness. nowhere does it say in the bible that crimes should go unpunished.

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  7. I find it amazing how people can twist the bible to make their sinful and hurtful choices against other human beings okay. As christians, we have a responsibility to follow the laws of the land we live in. That means serving time in jail for unlawful acts. If you don't agree with the laws here, you can always move to Mexico. They take the laws into their own hands there since the police don't do anything. So, if you are suspected of molesting a child, the family of the abused will probably go after you, burn your house down, and try to kill you. I wonder if these people with this messed up idea of forgiveness are thankful they live in a country where the law actually protects them and gives them a right to a fair trial.

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  8. Wow! That comment about the murderer really blew me away! Who said it? Someone in the North west?

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  9. This whole topic makes me sick and reinforces my decision to leave. The anonymous poster above who recently spoke with a preacher about abuse - was that an OALC preacher? I hope you're not holding out on any hope that things will change there.

    Someone pray tell me why prison is no place for a Christian? The laws pertain to everyone. Why is it that to them the laws only pertain to the "worldlies" as they say? It's a warped system.

    As I've said before, parents need to watch their children.

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  10. This is first anon.
    This was a preacher from the OALC that told me this.
    I know that I should go to the police with this information,and all the different accounts of child molestation going on, but I am scared.
    I no longer attend church, but this is all very new to me and I am trying to adjust to these enormous life changes.
    I want to do the right thing, but I feel so guilty even thinking about going to the police.
    Have I ever been brainwashed...

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  11. To first anon:
    I am praying for you. In Apostle Paul's letter to Timothy he said "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

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  12. You can probaby report it online and ask that your identity be protected.

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  13. I encourage you to go to the police, report the abuse that happened to you, and see if there is anything at this point that can be done. This is the only action that has a chance at stopping perpetrators. The church continues to ignore the problem.

    Years and years ago I brought this out with an OALC preacher and was assured that they were doing all they could. Yet they refuse to preach about it from behind the table! Most congregants probably don't have a clue that it's happening amongst their own people.

    Forgiveness has no impact on sex abusers. They'll continue the abuse until stopped by the law.

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  14. Be brave. You've already shown incredible courage by not attending the church.

    Try not to let fear keep you from doing what is necessary. The police will at the very least explain what can be done and how the system works.

    It does take time to adjust to the life changes you are going through.

    After I left the OALC, it took me about five years to adjust. I felt all kinds of anxieties, had some sleepless nights, worked on making new friends and new connections, read tons of books, talked with friends and some family members, listened to lots of music, walked and walked and walked, looked around for another church, and took on new and different challenges.

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  15. The secrecy of confession is one of the most sacred things to me, and if I was a priest, I would never ever consider revealing to the police or any other instance any crime confessed to me. But I understand the ones who belong to communities that don't have confession might have another view on this.

    However, I think I would encourage or even demand them to go to the police themselves. Something should also be done to prevent it from happening again, but that something cannot be the priest breaking the secrecy of confession.

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  16. In my opinion, the secrecy of confession can only go so far. I think if its a crime like murder, or child molestation, etc. they should definately report it to the police. If the person does it once, they could easily do it again, and there are people in danger if it's kept secret. Thats just what I think...

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  17. Seems to me that if the person confessing was remorseful he or she would be willing to accept the consequences of the crime. To allow one's guilt to be foisted off on the victim seem cowardly.

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  18. I totally agree, anon 12:54.

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  19. Crimes have to be reported. The consequences of keeping quiet are too great. God bless. LLLreader

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  20. I agree that a priest keeps confidentiality on some sins, but when the sin is a crime, I think there is moral responsibility to report it to the proper authorities. And the person confessing the crime should humble themselves to accept responsibility for their crime and pay the price. If you are truly repentant of the crime you committed, I would think you would be willing to pay the consequences.

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  21. I belong to the IALC, and I've only heard of a few isolated incidences of child sex abuse. Most of these seem to be uncles of young girls, and the girls speak out as an adult about the abuse, but no one has ever prosecuted the cases that I know of, but it has caused some family estrangements and rifts that have been deep and lasting. As far as I can tell, it has not been epidemical or anything, and the accused have seemed to suffer some social stigma as they should.

    I have a question in regards to the child sex abuse incidences that were mentioned in the OALC and LLC. Have the abused been boys or girls? I am wondering if perhaps the abused have been girls rather than boys, because girls wouldn't seem to strike the homophobic fear that the sexual abuse of boys does. Even though it has been proven that pedophilia and homosexuality are two distinct things. I'm wondering if boys were abused rather than girls if people would be more willing to see the prosecution and punishment against the perpetrator? Any thoughts?

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  22. I am aware of mutliple molestation offenses, involving both Boys and Girls being victimized in the OALC. And in each case that I am aware of with the boys, the abused turned into an abusers of their younger siblings/relatives.

    It really is a vicious cycle, which is why these cases should never be swept under the rug like is so often the case in the OALC.

    In my own humble opinion, this has been going on in the OALC for some time because of the ho-hum way it is handled by the majority when the crimes are brought to light.

    It's quite disgusting.

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  23. New web site for those who are have decided to leave the church.

    postlaestadianrevival.freeforums.org

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