Guilt for Free. Forgiveness for Sale.

"Guilt Forgiveness" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
“Guilt Forgiveness” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

And you do realize, don’t you?, that this doesn’t just apply to the church but to most relationships?

It’s easy to make someone feel guilty. It’s harder to forgive with no strings attached.

Then it’s another thing when you make a business out of this strategy.

One of my good friends, a facilitator in The Lasting Supper, said, “Sounds like Catholicism when people bought indulgences.”

Yep, some things never change.

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18 Replies to “Guilt for Free. Forgiveness for Sale.”

  1. If forgiveness from God, is a commodity owned by the church, then those that fear God will be owned by the church.

    I think a key is to evolve from a fear-based forgiveness-centric relationship to a love-based embracing-centric relationship.

    Forgiveness is wonderful, but we cannot forever revolve around it. Otherwise, we shall be seeking daily forgiveness from authorities or each other, and our life-focus will be consumed with thoughts of our lowliness, lack of holiness, sinfulness, and untrustworthiness.

    “The beginning of wisdom is to fear God”. However, “the goal of the commands is love from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and unfeigned faith”.

    The start of this race is not the same as the finish line.

  2. Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well. (
    Principles illuminate the way to freedom of the heart. Openmindedness, compassion, kindness, patience, trust, faith (in the process of healing), respect, dignity, perseverance, courage, strength, humility, on and on.
    God (inside of us all) (or if you chose not to conceptualize that), may we forgive every transgression now, or begin to open ourselves to the possibility. Church involvement or not, higher power or not.

  3. We can also be consumed with proving a concept (that served us before) doesn’t hold water any longer. So much so that we whirl around, mentally contorting, approving or disproving others’ beliefs and paths. But ultimately, forgiveness of self can dissolve all this as well. Because my God (Good Orderly Direction) is inside, and if I bend to it, it never leads me astray

  4. I think it was some ancients who put it this way: the unexamined life is not worth living.

    We don’t need to have “guilt” over the “guilt-forgiveness” cycle. If you have any insight into yourself and your relationships you will find that nothing is more natural and more needed. Otherwise, we go around finding guilt over every damn little thing with everybody else, as we can see currently happening all around us. It’s not a good trade.

  5. Maybe I can ask this here: since we have a contingent of LGBT commentators, maybe we can discuss this rationally.

    Since this is currently topical on a number of fronts: what happens, for example, to the transgendered male to female who are looking for dates with males (XY)? Catlyn Jenner said that “she” could not go through with having her penis removed and that she is having trouble getting dates with men. (Is she not married to her wife anymore?) So with our without penis, will the transgendered be having dates with a regular male, who might want to have a wife and have children with her? How does this work? As the article questions: is it the “regular” male who is supposed to change his attitude? Is the whole world supposed to change for the perceived need of the transgendered? Is the world at fault? Is biology at fault? Is God at fault? Whose fault is it that males don’t call back transgendered women for dates? Whose fault is this heartbreak?

    (I use the word “transgendered women” in the way some feminists have said, strictly out of politeness. It is not really appropriate. An XY woman will never know what it means to be a “woman”. Any insistence on that really betrays the male’s understanding that being a woman is a matter of appearance and apparatus.)

    I expect to get screamed at, but is there something in this question? We wouldn’t have to bring all this up if it were not plastered on the front of magazines at the check-out stand at Walmart.

  6. Indulgences is exactly what this cartoon reminds me of. I agree with your observation that some things never change. The only people I know who constantly talk about forgiveness, our human depravity, and our need for salvation from our humanness are people of the church.

  7. Hi Brigitte:

    Yes, I am a believer, bisexual in orientation, and a male to female (MTF) person, commonly called a transsexual. On the latter point, I am just like Caitlyn… only not as rich, famous, or as pretty… (dammit! šŸ˜‰ ).

    My MTF friends that date are (a) much younger than me and (b) very upfront with any person that they date.

    – Because they are younger, they really do not ‘see’ the world as dangerous as I see it. Their generation is making room for loving the person, more than the outer appearance, voice, or apparatus.

    – Because they are upfront about being transsexual, they (appear) to attract men that are very open to new experiences, and men that have much stronger than normal ability for following what they see as ‘right’.

    Like any couple that cannot conceive, if they wish to have children, they will need to adopt.

    You asked, ‘who/what is at fault?’ Basically, the cause is unknown. However, there is a hint found as follows:

    In the Netherlands (as I recall) the rate for born-female transsexuals (who lives as a man) is 1 in 12,500 and born-male transsexual (lives as a woman) is 1 in 12,000. So, about 1 out of 6,250 people.

    As I recall, in a study of men born to mothers that used DES during pregnancy, about 150 of 500 reported gender dysphoria (moderate to severe) and 100 reported that they were male to female transsexuals (pre-op or post-op).

    See page 1 for the 100 number, and page 9 for the 150 number in this link:

    Thus, the general percentage is 1.6 per 10,000 persons.

    Yet, the DES percentage is 20%, that is 2,000 per 10,000 persons.

    So, because of the huge increase in transsexualism among those that are “DES Sons”, many of us lean towards ‘endocrine disrupters’ being the most likely cause during pregnancy.

    Other studies point out that ‘correlation never proves causation’; however, we can produce born-males that exhibit female behavior in sheep or birds…. and in this case with animal models, we are changing instincts at a very deep level.

    So, when a transsexual (MTF or FTM) says they truly feel like the other gender, I hear them. That feeling is not going to go away.

    The next question becomes ‘how do we manage intense dysphoria?’

    Now that it is here, within a person, how does he/she manage the intense sense of being a different gender than your own body?

  8. David, this cartoon illustrates so clearly what the church has got wrong about forgiveness, compared with what Jesus said, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

    Jesus said forgiveness was free. The church says it’s conditional on feeling guilty.

    Jesus said concern yourself with forgiving others and God will forgive you. The church says concern yourself with feeling guilty for your own sin in order to be forgiven by God.

    Jesus said concern yourself with how you treat others. The church says concern yourself with how you relate to God, and only think about others when you have time left over.

    See how subtly the church makes its adherents self-absorbed? Focusing on your relationship with God at the expense of others is basically just another way of being self-centred.

    But Jesus said in effect live as though the God who is angry at sin, and who demands sacrifice, doesn’t exist, and get on with being a good humanist!

  9. Hi Caryn: I will look into the DES paper carefully. Thank you for that. I might get someone from the local CMDS (Christian Medical Dental Society) to comment on it for me. You also wrote: “now that it is here, within a person, how does he/she manage the intense sense of being a different gender than your own body?”–I really cannot fathom what that means, to have the “intense sense of being a different gender”, nor what it would mean to deal with that. It baffles me completely.

    All the things we see brought up in popular culture these days just strike me as absurd, not to mention again, what I have already said, that it is deeply insulting to women, and what is perceived by some to be “womanhood”. Since you like to share. I would not mind hearing more about what it is exactly that you feel intensely that is not about appearance, voice or apparatus. Thanks, a lot.

  10. I looked at the DES paper. It is very interesting. I have heard some talks by a physician who researches environmental medicine who stresses the issues with estrogen everywhere, including the drinking water. He would not let his sons drink tapwater, for instance. He says that everyone is on birth-control and the hormones are in the water… The paper gets to the environment that is full of estrogen in one place. It also mentions the feed to animals we consume… I am also the age where some of my age-mates were Thalidomide babies.

  11. Hi Brigitte: oh wow…. Thalidomide …. . I am 60 years old, but born in the US. I understand the drug was in serious use in Germany. I just re-read the history today… 5,000 cases with birth defects survived. What an agony! šŸ™ .

    I will try later to write about Gender Identity Dysphoria, especially the profound or extreme dysphoria (deep sense of incongruity) felt by most of my transgender friends.

    And, I love confession. I use it quite often in TLS. We call it being honest and vulnerable. We post about our short-comings and missing the mark, all the time… or post just a normal passage of life…. or celebrate a joy.

    An honest post about our humanness or short-comings (some will say ‘sin’) is incredibly potent, and very freeing and healing. Given that TLS is a mix of philosophies, our language and posted text may differ…. so again, in TLS we do not ‘confess our sins’ (within the orthodox concepts)… yet, with our honest postings, we do ‘own’ our ‘feelings’ and our ‘short-comings’… and we state honestly what happened.

    In short, we confess our sins…. but use many different vocabularies within TLS. And… that is ok by me.

    I think the power (of confession, of owning our humanness) lies in the honesty, the acceptance of ‘being heard’, and then hearing similar stories.

    And if someone needs to be ‘forgiven’, we have several pastors, and former pastors, that are lovely people, and they understand that request. Others do not, and have no similar histories… and that is ok. They can post, and read, and observe … so long as the exchange of views is with mutual respect, we are ok with discussion, as well.

    From the similar stories, we can (if we wish) glean new ideas and new tools.

    However, again, TLS is a mix of many evolving philosophies, including multiple forms of Christianity.

    So, in my case, I weigh the advice hidden in the similar stories – I give slightly more preference to the Bible-based evidence, and then to the psychological evidences/tools, and then to people’s stories of ‘what worked for them’. But… that is me.

    Also, I seldom need ‘forgiveness’, within the concept of Confession. I’ve already asked God for forgiveness, so that is taken care of. What I need then, within TLS, is to confess (for example) that I lost my temper badly, to hear other similar stories, to glean out what worked for other people (so that I have new tools to try)… and to have someone laugh with me, or cry with me.

    But, again, that is me.

    I have come to believe that without honesty, and mutual respect, there can be no community that cares for the ‘over-burden’ of the people, more than it cares for correcting their guiding philosophy (or insisting on ‘right doctrine’)..

    Similar to the Parable of the Good Samaritan, we put people first, and doctrine last.

    But again, I love confession. It is powerful and potent, though I use an entirely different vocabulary (or multiple vocabularies) with my many friends.

  12. Sure. Sounds good. That is the power of friendship, and what more do we want? Even God wants it and offers it.

    I will await hearing about the dysphoria.

  13. Caryn, would you care to say or not say whether you are yourself a “DES-son”? I did leave message to get feedback from CMDS. We’ll see if we get something.

    In my family we were so anti-drug, that we’d rather die than even take antibiotics, it seemed. I was so sick once and my family finally phoned the doctor and I got antibiotics in a needle. We were scared even to mess with the bacterial flora of the intestine, as antibiotics do… I suppose it kept us safe from DES and Thalidomide.

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