I base this understanding/belief on both practical life and Biblical evidence. In life, if person were to cause another person to fall under the wheels of moving vehicle, the person run over by car will suffer injury that will need immediate medical attention. If person who caused accident, whether intentionally or accidentally it doesn’t matter, were to quickly scoop up injured person into their own car, drive them to their own home, and hide them from outside world. Then tell them how sorry they are, receive forgiveness, and then tell injured person to go on with life and forget about the whole thing because it is forgiven, it would be recognized as cheap repentance. It would not be true acknowledgment of guilt or responsibility for accident. True repentance would involve helping the person get the medical help needed to truly recover from accident, even when it required person to own responsibility to injured person’s family members, medical staff at hospital where he takes injured person for treatment, and police who are responsible for seeing to it that justice is served to all citizens. All that is true even if injured person does not press legal charges (which he continues to have right to do) because he has forgiven offender.
And what if injured person remains hidden in home of offender, and although forgiveness has been requested and received, injured person doesn’t get well but instead gets increasingly symptomatic that even deeper injury was acquired at time of accident than either previously perceived, and still offender does not take injured person to receive medical treatment needed so they continue to lay in the home ignored because offender continues to tell self that there is no more responsibility to injured person since forgiveness has been given, perhaps even begins to feel imposed upon that injured person continues to suffer in his home. So injured person dies of neglect and injury and eventually neighbors smell stench and call authorities to remove remains but offender still sees himself as absolved of all responsibility and may even feel sad for dead person that they were not able to recover and get themselves out of his home (and maybe just a little bit resentful that his home has been so negatively impacted by this person’s stench). Or to write the scenario just a little differently, lets say the injured person does not die but instead manages to get self to hospital to receive treatment, and it turns out that injuries are going to require multiple years of different therapies and treatments to recover. Is it right that the offended take upon self all the cost and complex struggles involved in getting to and through therapies and treatments, managing extra challenges that living with injuries requires possibly experiencing additional grievous injuries that occur due to damage done in original accident , while offender looks on with mild (or not so mild, if the truth were told) condemnation that offended/injured person is not able to live in the freedom of forgiveness as the offender has taught himself to do? Does this scenario really sound like it reflects God’s will and provision for injustices done?
Is it not justice that persons who commit violent crimes must pay with sentence passed down by judge or jury? Is it not proper that men who father a child by sexual acts with child’s mother must contribute to the support of that child until the child reaches age of maturity? Does forgiveness requested and/or given in any way diminish the responsibility of offender to be responsible to bear the consequences of sinful acts on victims? Is it shameful or wrong of injured person to need treatment for healing, even if it exposes perpetrator to social or public condemnation, whether or not that condemnation is justly or appropriately conveyed? Please do not misunderstand – I am not equating brother’s cancer to just recompense for injuries he caused. Cancer, as I see it, is natural consequence of repressing conscience which, if it had been listened to, would have lead to willing contributions toward relieving the burdens which are being born by injured persons as direct result of being victims. It would have freed conscience from need to hide guilt, and when there is nothing to hide or repress there is nothing poisonous remaining to cause body to rebel against itself.
Just to be clear, these are the words of one who has spent many years dealing with, trying to comfort and nurture the ones so severely injured who grapple with self-rejection and self-condemnation because they are not able to be healed even when they have managed to truly forgive. Also the words of one who has ministered comfort to and watched as injured teens have gone through eating disorders and severe uncontrolled cutting to relieve themselves if only temporarily of the horrific guilt and self-condemnation they feel due to sexual promiscuity that was direct result of brother’s sexual assaults. They are the words of one who loves the Lord God more dearly than words are able to express, and who would never dream of minimizing to any extent the amazing and powerful, merciful grace of our Living Lord and Savior. And any anger and resentment that may be conveyed in these words are due to the lack of actions that should have followed the words of repentance – actions that would have validated the genuineness of repentance and brought true healing to both offended and offender. I take absolutely no delight or satisfaction in the fact that my brother must again battle this merciless monster that is called cancer. I would not wish it upon him for anything in the world; but I recognize it as the natural consequence of offenses attempted to be buried instead of truly healed.
And I have again become wordy in my endeavors to convey what is in my heart, so conclusion will have to come in yet one last post in this series.