Monday, April 04, 2005

Forgiveness

I was in a discussion with a religious individual a while back regarding forgiveness. I happen to be of the belief that forgiveness must be requested in order to be given, and that you are not required to forgive anyone. I also believe that in order to have a successful life, you can not wallow in bitterness and anger. So while forgiveness is your option, getting past unjustice (real or perceived) is necessary. The discussion I mention was regarding the Christian requirement of forgiveness of all who have done you wrong. I suggested that perhaps that is overstated. For example, do you have to forgive your molester, or rapist? I was told that of course you have to. I was then told a story about a woman that not only forgave her molester/rapist but who then cultivated a platonic relationship with said molester (this person was not related to the rapist). While that is certainly anyone's prerogative, I question the mental health of someone who then becomes close to someone who sexually aggressed them. Sexual aggression with children or adults is a pathological behavior that can never be completely cured according to modern psychology. Those who partake in such behavior almost always re-offend. Think about it: if you found a 4 year-old sexy, what attraction would a 25 year old offer? To put it another way: if someone told you tomorrow that you could only be attracted sexually to dogs, not humans, what would happen? What if you could only enjoy gentle sex, when your preference was violent sex? Would that change your preference? Of course not. We are wired a certain way, and unfortunately, some of us are wired incorrectly. I am not suggesting that forgiveness is not admirable, or that it should not be engaged in - however, I think to insist that people forgive those who have been evil and/or cruel, is ridiculous. That they have to move on with their lives and try to get past it - yes, I believe they have to. But to demand forgiveness, and to ignore the safety boundaries that our brain automatically gives us to protect ourselves, to throw away those personal bounds that protect us....I find that foolish and dangerous.