A Fresh Look on the Moral Virtue of Forgiveness

It’s been two years since the first day my husband and I sat on a workshop about forgiveness that was sponsored by Central Christian Church, a church that we would eventually affiliate with during the remaining few months we had in Singapore and before we headed back to our home in the USA. Hubby and I learned refreshing life-changing lessons about the philosophy and the science of forgiveness from Dr. Robert Enright’s workshop, Pathways to Forgiveness. One of the takeaways was that Forgiveness is not just a form of Love but the perfection of it.

FORGIVENESS DEFINED

Attending CCC Pathway to Forgiveness Workshop

Dr. Robert Enright is a premier advocate of forgiveness therapy, an esteemed researcher of the science of forgiveness, and the founder of the International Forgiveness Institute. I can’t stress it enough how surprised we were, being generously giving and wholehearted people, to have realized that we knew very little about forgiveness. And that what we thought of as the act of forgiving was inaccurate. The paradigm shift that followed that edification was liberating and empowering.

Forgiveness is a universal moral virtue. In a biblical sense, forgiveness is the completion of God’s love. Invoking it, in relation to my faith, means accepting it as a manifestation of the community of love I have with Jesus Christ.

A CHRISTIAN CURRICULUM ON FORGIVENESS FOR CHILDREN AGES SIX TO EIGHT

Dr. Enright stressed that forgiveness is a choice. It is a process composed of many components and steps. And although there’s no timeline for it, it’s imperative to go through the entire process.

For a thorough understanding of forgiveness, it’s helpful to comprehend what it’s not.

For a long time, I thought forgiving the offender is forgetting the transgression, and that reconciling with the wrongdoer and pardoning the offense were few of the requisites of genuine forgiveness. The workshop made me realized I needed to relearn to identify moral virtues from acts that aren’t. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy explains Aristotle’s take on a moral virtue, referred to as a hexis. A moral virtue it says, “…manifests itself in action. More explicitly, an action counts as virtuous, according to Aristotle, when one holds oneself in a stable equilibrium of the soul, [in order to choose] the action knowingly and for its [own] sake.”

FORGIVENESS QUIZ

Forgetting and pardoning a transgression are not moral virtues. Justice, compassion, forgiveness, courage, and fortitude are some of the examples of moral virtues. Dr. Enright referenced one of Aristotle’s lessons which emphasize “to never, ever practice one virtue in isolation of all others.”

Dr. Enright opines in a video recorded at the 2011 American Psychological Association Convention in Washington, D.C., “People also think that when they forgive they are excusing what the other person did, saying, ‘It’s okay.’ Forgiveness is stronger than that. Forgiveness stands on the truth that what happened to me was unfair, it is unfair, and it will always be unfair, but I will have a new response to it. And another misunderstanding is that people acquaint forgiving and reconciling. They say, ‘Because I have a response [of] goodness towards the other, a sense of mercy and compassion towards another who has hurt me, I must now go into an unhealthy relationship again.’ No – forgiveness is a moral virtue like justice. Reconciliation is not a moral virtue – it takes two people or more to come together again in mutual trust. One can forgive without reconciling; one does forgive without ever excusing; when one forgives it is never from a position of weakness and when one forgives, one also seeks justice at the same time. It’s a very strong position.”

Never, ever practice one virtue in isolation of all others.

The Psychological Science of Forgiveness by Dr. Robert Enright.

A Forgiveness Intervention for Women With Fibromyalgia Who Were Abused in Childhood: A Pilot Study

I strongly, strongly believe that the actualization and high sense of maturity attained by a person, a family unit, a community, the Body of Christ, a nation, and the world is tied to a deeper understanding of forgiveness and the ability and willingness to not just practice it, but to also pass on a legacy of it to future generations. It is my hope and my enduring desire to see an in-depth study on forgiveness be started and continued in every community I belong.

 

Sources:

Personal anecdotes of the author’s from the 2014 CCC sponsored workshop on forgiveness entitled, Pathways to Forgiveness.

http://www.apa.org/pubs/books/interviews/4441016-enright.aspx

http://internationalforgiveness.com/files/Forgiveness-Defined—Revised.pdf

https://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/forgiveness-why-we-need-to-have-mercy-on-the-merciless/16473

http://www.psy.miami.edu/faculty/mmccullough/Papers/CV%20Papers/ForgivenessandMercy_CharacterStrengthsVirtues_2004.pdf

http://www.dehon.it/it/images/stories/Documentazione/Documentazione_incontri/Capitoli%20Generali/XXIII%20Capitolo%20Generale/Forgiveness%20and%20mercy_Javier-Lopez_ENG.pdf

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/quizzes/results/2/

 

 

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