What Is The Burden?

A pastor and author named Justin Holcomb posts this article about reaching prostitutes with the message of Jesus. As he relates, he has been involved in this for a long time. The girl in the story has suffered ongoing and uncountable episodes of victimization- rape, assault, and psychological coercion and manipulation.

The trouble with this is that for almost all conventional Christians, the primary duty that Kim, the girl has is to forgive each and every one of the men who abused her. The more harsh ones will say she needs to do this now. The more easygoing ones will say, not right now, you can take some time off to heal and get your life together, but you’ll need to get to it in a few years, not only is it an obligation imposed by Jesus it is also part of the healing process.

The primary beneficiaries then of this sort of Christianity are evildoers- they get forgiven of their sins, without even saying they are sorry, making any amends or doing any real repentance. The person who is imposed with the heaviest burden is the victim. To expect, to demand that Kim release all anger, and any demand for justice against these people is to impose an impossible demand.

In Holcomb’s book, he admits to the difficulty of this but still says it is both necessary and desirable. He denies demanding unbibilical forgiveness but then reasserts what I, from my reading of the Bible, is in fact not biblical but more based on New Age and Eastern ideas.

In his book, “Rid of My Disgrace”, Holcomb tells six stories of abuse survivors. In two of these stories, explicit forgiveness of the perpetrator is mentioned; in the other four it is not. I tried to contact Holcomb for an explanation of this; if forgiveness is so vital, how could it be left out in all these cases? But he didn’t answer me.

There is some debate among Christians whether forgiveness is conditional- based on the sincere repentance of the evildoer- or unconditional, given no matter what. The second view is by far the more popular, but I don’t believe it stands up to scrutiny.

1 Comment

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One response to “What Is The Burden?

  1. Matthew

    “The primary beneficiaries then of this sort of Christianity are evildoers…”

    Effect indicates intent.

    Snowflaking: the churches I grew up in did not emphasize peer to peer forgiveness in this way (or at all, possibly. I would find the emphasis inexplicable but for the hint in the quote above). The important thing was God’s offer of forgiveness to humans.

    No True Scotsman: What you describe isn’t Christianity, it’s a ludicrously shallow heresy. This heresy has been accompanied by heavy attrition of men from churches, which suggests it is more attractive to the female than the male. The women who find this emphasis attractive aren’t thinking of themselves in the role of the forgiver, of course, but as the trespassers who must be forgiven.

    Forgiveness as a sacrament is a Churchian inversion of Kol Nidre.

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