Yes, I’m still talking about Josh Duggar. But I want to talk about apology and his victims, two things that haven’t received the attention they should.
In regards to apology, there is a good book On Apology by Paul Lazare that covers the parts of an apology and why those parts are necessary for an effective apology. While don’t agree with everything he wrote (and the book was a bit triggering for me), I think understanding that an apology involves more than just saying sorry. It involves naming the offense one is apologizing for, acknowledging the hurt caused by the offense, and offering some sort of reparation/restitution to the victim. I think there is another part but it has been a few months since I read the book. Josh Duggar did not really acknowledge the hurt he caused the victims and focused on the hurt he caused himself. His apology is almost meaningless.
But he apologized! So we have to forgive.
Actually, no. I do not have to forgive him. Too many Christians believe and teach that forgiveness is mandatory no matter the offense. And that if the offender apologizes, says they are sorry, the offended must forgive and move on. Forgiveness is not accepting an apology. It is not allowing the other person to hurt me again all in the name of Jesus. It is not about godly behavior.
Forgiveness is about letting go of the hurt and pain the victim suffered and moving on. An apology may be involved or it may not. But it does not involve allowing bad behavior or crimes to continue or to go unpunished by secular authorities. A victim chooses to forgive or not to forgive. Being forced to forgive makes that forgiveness meaningless. Repentence and a true change of heart is also important and must be involved.
So I do not have to forgive Josh Duggar and neither do his victims. They can demand to see a true change of behavior and real repentence before they can choose to forgive. They can also refuse to continue to have contact with him.
Christians unfortunately confuse forgiveness with reconciliation which are two different things. I’ve already discussed forgiveness. Reconciliation is about the relationship and repairing that relationship after hurt and damage has been caused. We all should encourage reconciling ourselves with God after we sin. However, we are not required to reconcile with those that will continue to hurt us even if we have forgiven them.
There is a good article here and here
by Jimmy Akin, a Catholic apologist that covers forgiveness and reconciliation. And no, forgiveness is not mandatory especially to some one is unrepentant or does not ask to be forgiven.
We have several young girls who were victimized sexually by a brother and then forced to forgive their brother. They were most likely blamed for their molestation (using Gothard material; just visit http://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com for posts on this) and given little support or room to heal. It was all then swept under the rug to protect Josh and probably Jim Bob as well. The victims did not matter. Only Josh matters because he is a man.
These girls who are victims are being further victimized by those who excuse what Josh has done and ignore their pain and suffering. Their voices are not being heard. Rather, their voices have been silenced, their pain unrecognized, and their victimhood belittled. They are not even recognized as victims. Josh is considered the victim, not the actual victims who have to live in shame and silence perpetrated by their own parents, their abuser, and many Christians.
These girls need help and have been and are still being denied help all in the name of “forgiveness” and being good Christians. Very few are talking about their suffering and what it means for them and how they have been hurt. They need to be allowed to express their feelings and to tell their story. Their story is theirs and they need to be able to tell it without condemnation or judgements or forced to forgive. Their voices need to be heard.
Unfortunately, the cultic system these girls live in does not allow girls or women to have voices or to even acknowledge that they have been hurt and abused in any way. So further victimization. These girls need our help and support, not our judgements or false expectations of godly or biblical behavior. I believe those girls and one day they will tell their stories and I will listen.