Stories | Questions | Why might forgiveness be problematic?

Forgiveness ceases to be beneficial when it is offered as a universal prescription, or when it fails to stop an offence from happening again. Nor is it helpful to push, prescribe or praise forgiveness in an overly sentimental or inflated way.

To forgive can also be an isolating position to hold, perhaps because those around you may see it as an act of betrayal, or feel angry and vengeful on your behalf.

You should be prepared to be an outsider if you choose to forgive when others don't, as it often means questioning the assumptions, norms, and values of society.

Bjørn Magnus Jacobsen Ihler

"When Desmond Tutu suggested that Norway needs to forgive, it caused massive outrage."

Mariane Pearl

"Forgiveness is too lame as an answer to extreme situations."

Alistair Little

“ I don’t think I have a right to ask for forgiveness. It only adds insult to injury, and places yet another burden upon relatives and family members.”

Wilma Derksen

"At times it was incredibly tough. People said we couldn’t have loved Candace because we forgave."

Jude Whyte

"Most people won’t ever forgive because they see it as stampeding on the memory of their loved ones."

Yulie Cohen

"Some of my family followed my example, but some didn’t. My brother no longer meets me or speaks to me."

Geoff Thompson

"People are understandably suspicious, even angry, when you talk about forgiveness in connection with a paedophile."

Mary Foley

"I knew that if I didn’t forgive, anger and bitterness would turn me into a person Charlotte would not have liked."

Peter Tatchell

"In this atmosphere of on-going, unrepentant Christian bigotry, it is difficult to forgive – especially when the Church leaders who sanction our victimisation express no remorse."

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