Focus on Forgiveness (Doctrine & Covenants 64-66)

Monday, June 14, 2021


Channing: [00:00:10] This is The Faithful Feminists podcast, 

Elise: [00:00:12] But this is not just any come follow me podcast. We do things a little differently here. We offer approachable feminist interpretations of the come follow me manual for those who want to study and understand the scriptures in a framework of equality, social justice, and sisterhood.

We are here to show you all the really good ways faith and feminism work together to illuminate and deepen the gospel experience. 

Channing: [00:00:36] We saved you see on the soft chairs. So join us today for a conversation about doctrine and covenants, section 64 through 66 for the dates June 14th through the 20th. We're so glad you're here.

Elise: [00:01:00] Welcome back everyone. Just to set a little bit of context for these sections. We are in August of 1831. And at this time, many of the elders of the church are actually traveling back to Kirtland, Ohio. They had just been in Missouri, taking a look at the land that would now be established as Zion. And honestly, it was not a fantastic journey for them.

It was hot and people were exhausted. And soon we started to see tensions that turned into disputes and fights. The come follow me manual says, quote, “it may have seemed like building Zion, a city of love, unity and peace was going to take a long time.” And thankfully, these sections also teach us that one of the fundamental elements of building Zion is forgiveness.

We've never had an episode on forgiveness before, not even in all of our Book of Mormon times. So we're really excited to dive into forgiveness today, and that's going to be the main focus and topic of this episode. But alongside forgiveness, the come follow me manual also adds that the Lord requires our hearts and our willing minds. “God requires patience and diligence for Zion is built on the foundation of small things, accomplished by those who do not become weary in well-doing.” 

Channing: [00:02:17] Just a quick heads up before we get into the bulk of the episode, the bulk of this episode is a conversation about forgiveness that focuses on survivors of abuse and harm.

We offer this content warning for anyone who might be sensitive to this conversation and encourage you to participate in your own self-care whether that means continuing, pausing, turning off, or avoiding this episode entirely, we love you. And we want you to take good care of yourself. 

Elise: [00:02:43] One of the things that I like the most I think about the introduction or the first few verses of section 64, is that we are met with the loving, compassionate arms of a merciful God. And I think that is a beautiful stage setting before we talk about forgiveness, right? Especially in previous weeks when we've seen a vengeful, punishing, angry God, I really appreciate the conversation around forgiveness being introduced to us by a loving God.

For example, in section 64, verse two, we read, “I will have compassion upon you.” Because God knows what it's like. Right. This verse also says “I have overcome the world.” Verse three says “I have forgiven you your sins.” And verse four, “I will be merciful unto you for, I have given unto you the kingdom.” Huh, thank goodness! This is the stage setting I need before talking about forgiveness.

Channing: [00:03:38] Right? It's really nice. Especially because forgiveness can be such a tricky topic to talk about that it's really nested in this love and acceptance and a reminder that the only reason we're talking about this is because of God's love.

And so after God reminds us that they love us, they also give us a commitment and it's in the same section, section 64, verse nine, it reads “wherefore I say, unto you that you ought to forgive one another for he that forgiveness not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord. For there remaineth in him the greater sin.” And then in verse 10, “I the Lord will forgive whom I will forgive, but if you, it is required to forgive all men.” 

Elise: [00:04:25] I wanted to ask you, like growing up in primary or young women's, or even now in like the adult Sunday school classes, how would you describe or define forgiveness? Like, what is like, what does forgiveness mean for you?

Channing: [00:04:42] Oh, geez. Starting off with the easy questions aren't we? Um, I think I would have to split my question into two parts. I'd have to give the acceptable answer and then I'd have to give my actual feelings about it. So I think the acceptable answer would be that forgiveness is a requirement, honestly. Okay. I don't even think I can give the acceptable answer. I think I just have to give how I feel about it.

I think for me, my understanding is that forgiveness is a requirement to like be fully accepted into the kingdom of God. Like I honestly, that is how I view it. Like, you must forgive everyone in order to like participate in Zion. And I think like in general, forgiveness, uh, is kind of viewed as like an important step in somebody else's repentance process.

Right? Like we forgive ourselves, we forgive other people and then things are just like flowery and like, perfect after that. And obviously I think people will be able to sense the cynicism in my voice. Um, but yeah, that's my thoughts on forgiveness, but I'm, I'm curious to hear what you think. And then I also know that we have some other resources that can offer us an additional understanding of forgiveness.

Elise: [00:06:11] Yeah. Actually on the LDS website under the gospel topic section for forgiveness, it says “to forgive as a divine attribute, it is to pardon or excuse someone from blame for an offense or misdeed. The scriptures refer to forgiveness in two ways. God commands us to repent of our sins and seek forgiveness. God also commands us to forgive those who offend or hurt us.”

And as I was preparing for this episode, I was trying to kind of find some language to articulate what I felt like forgiveness was, but I kept coming up against definitions that really talked about, just like this definition says, pardoning or excusing and other definitions that talk about not holding resentment and basically letting go of all ill will towards the person.

And that is very, very challenging for me when thinking about forgiveness. And I also remember in my master's program, I took a course on reconciliation and dialogue. And one of the main themes that we covered in that class was forgiveness. And I remember the definition that the professor offered had something to do with forgiveness being an undeserved action.

Like the survivor or the victim chooses to forgive a misdeed or mistreatment that is undeserving of their forgiveness. And so those are some of the things that are running through my mind about forgiveness. And I realize that it is a free form idea. I don't have a, I don't have a clear, a clear definition to offer, but one thing I did find helpful in my study is I tried to learn about what forgiveness is not.

So even if I can't clearly say what forgiveness is, here are some things that forgiveness is not. This is from a book titled “A Communicative Approach to Conflict, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation: Re-imagining our Relationships” by Waldron and Kelley. These are both of the professors that I work with at the university, which is pretty cool.

So, first of all, the authors say that forgiveness is not just a simple apology. Saying you're sorry is not the same as forgiveness, especially because an apology can often be like an avoidance tactic, right. Just to kind of put an end to the conversations so that we don't have to talk about it or think about it anymore.

And in some ways an apology can be a little bit manipulative, right? Because if I say, I'm sorry, there are some times when I expect that the forgiveness will just come immediately because I have made an apology and that's not the case. 

Channing: [00:08:55] Right. It reminds me of like that phrase that I hear sometimes like, oh, I'm sorry that you feel that way in response to something that I said. The second thing that forgiveness is not, the authors say, is forgetting. And I think that this is really important to remember, especially because we bump up often in the church and in the scriptures about this idea of forgive and forget, and that both are kind of like requirements of each other.

But the authors say here that generally this approach to forgiveness can be problematic. One, because it's kind of impossible to forget something that's painful that's happened to you. I mean, our brains are literally wired to remember things that have been harmful or painful to us because it's a protective measure and it wants us to remember to not allow those things to happen again.

And so the requests for people to just forget what's happened to them is actually requesting them to literally overwrite the like very natural and innate ways that our brains work. And so you can't just like will yourself to forget. It's kind of an impossible ask. And secondly, the authors demonstrate that the act of forgetting something or forgetting a wrong actually can sometimes imply that the violation has been overlooked and the lessons that that person might have learned on either side from this incident are also forgotten. And so not only are we trying to overwrite our brains, but also we might be forgetting literally what we possibly could have learned, or like overlooking the wrongs that have been done.

Elise: [00:10:51] The next item of what forgiveness is not, is that forgiveness is not excusing justifying or condoning, right. In each of these examples, excusing, reframes the entire event so that it's no longer seen as unjust. Justification says like, well, there were good reasons why I did this offensive or harmful or violent, violent thing, and I don't have to take responsibility for it.

And then finally condoning almost glosses over the event and just tries to say, you know what, it's fine. It's okay that this happened. It's okay that you treated me like this. It's all good. And none of those things are forgiveness. 

Channing: [00:11:34] Forgiveness is not reconciliation. I think oftentimes when we approach forgiveness, we think of the end goal, right. That the end goal is that the relationship goes back to the way that it was before or that it like is bandaged and complete, not even just bandaged, but completely healed from that point on and everything from there on out should be fine and great and without issue, but the problem with focusing only on this end goal of reconciliation is that we run a huge risk of the offending party being able to either commit more harm or stop the forgiveness process entirely.

And the author does say that going through the process, going through the forgiveness process for the offended party can be incredibly healing, even if there is no act of reconciliation. So the author encourages us to look at the forgiveness process without having to have it culminate in this really grand, huge act of reconciliation.

Elise: [00:12:43] So now that we know a little bit more about what forgiveness is not, I think if we returned back to verses 9 and 10, that talk about wherefore, you're commanded to forgive one another. And anyone that doesn't forgive is actually condemned in the Lord and it's required that we forgive everyone. I think a few of my general overall thoughts is that yes, I can appreciate the call to forgive and be forgiven.

Especially if these things help us be in right relationship with one another and with God. And so I appreciate that, especially in this context where the saints are trying to build Zion, that looks like love, unity, and peace. I think forgiveness is a crucial part of that, but without nuance or sensitivity to the injustices, atrocities, violence, neglect, and abuses that people suffer, I think that the same message of forgiveness can start to feel more harmful than healing. In fact, it can start to really feel like spiritual bypassing, which I know is something we've talked about in a previous episode. And for me personally, this is one of the hard parts about any conversations about forgiveness, but especially as we're trying to do it in a podcast format for lots of listeners, because we wouldn't even be talking about forgiveness if there wasn't harm in the first place.

Forgiveness doesn't exist without injustice, abuse, violence, or mistreatment taking place. And so I think that in every conversation about forgiveness, we must first witness the harm done and stay there with the victim or the survivor. If we are invited for as long as they need, we don't just get to jump to or bypass our way to like wag our fingers in their face and remind them that they must forgive everyone without always already first and foremost, moving through the pain and suffering of injustice. 

Channing: [00:14:35] I really appreciate that perspective, especially as somebody who definitely has been a victim of abuse and violence and injustice I have noticed that, especially if I am vulnerable enough to share some of those experiences, that I often notice that people jump immediately to, oh, just forgive and forget.

And if you're not there yet, the problems with you when really it's a way for them to avoid their own discomfort about whatever experience it is that I'm sharing. So I love that you outlined that here where our responsibility is first to the victim, before we can even start to have a conversation about forgiveness.

One of the best definitions I've come across about spiritual bypassing comes from an acquaintance that I know her name is Sara Hanks. And on Instagram, you can find her at cottonwood tarot. She uses this definition coined by John Welwood saying spiritual bypassing is quote “a tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks. In other words, spiritual bypassing uses spiritual concepts to help you avoid uncomfortable responsibilities and feelings.”

Elise: [00:15:58] And perhaps in the context of forgiveness and abuse, spiritual bypassing might sound like, remember that [insert the offending party’s name] is also a child of God and they deserve forgiveness too. Or your bishop or your leaders shaming and pressuring you into forgiveness by claiming that it's the most righteous and holy thing to do. What are some other examples of what spiritual bypassing might sound like when we're talking about forgiveness?

Channing: [00:16:26] Um, I think that there's this really common idea that victims of real harm, real injustice, real abuse can't heal until they forgive. And so essentially like this, it's this goal of forgiveness that's placed in front of them that says like, once you reach this, then you will finally have healed. And in that way, I think I feel like forgiveness is really commonly weaponized against victims of abuse, rather than doing the actual hard work of helping these people walk the walk through the process of forgiveness. Yeah. There are other ways that spiritual bypassing shows up too, like, oh, well, angry feelings are contention and contentious.

Elise: [00:17:13] Yes, that's right. That's right. 

Channing: [00:17:16] And, if you're so focused on all of the bad things that have ever happened to you, then, like it's really hard for you to feel God's love. Your heart is hard because you can't see the good. And so there's a lot of just like one liners or quips that I can pull, even from my own experience where people have basically like dangled forgiveness, like a carrot, and just said like, here, come and get it.

Like, as soon as you get here, everything's going to be great and dandy and fine. And, uh, that carrot is really hard to get.

Elise: [00:17:52] Yeah. And I'm sure that our listeners can make their own conclusions about why this is harmful and hurtful, but here's some of the things that I noticed with spiritual bypassing in the context of forgiveness is that it bypasses or skips over the lived experience of the victim or the survivor and skips over all of their pain, leaving little room for the offended party to experience the pain and the trauma. It just tries to, I don't know, push that down or ignore it altogether. And like you said, place the burden of responsibility on the victim or the survivor.

Channing: [00:18:31] Yeah. And there's no conversation here about justice and mercy, right? All of the focus is on the survivor, extending mercy to the perpetrator without any accountability. Well, I can't say ever, but most often without accountability or responsibility being asked of from the perpetrator. Right. And that's hugely problematic.

Elise: [00:18:53] I also don't want people to think that we are alone in our critiques of forgiveness. There are many, many critiques of forgiveness, especially in the realm of what's the relationship between justice and forgiveness. And the next few ideas come from an article titled “The Justice of Forgiveness” by Daniel Philpott that was written in 2013. Some of the critiques around forgiveness is that, like we've said, it pressures the victims and often disrespects their autonomy. Forgiveness can place the burden of repairing the relationship on the victims who have already been wounded.

And finally forgiveness is off equated to like complete excuse or pardon as if nothing bad had ever happened. And so my next question, I don't have, well, I have thoughts, but I would love to hear what you think. Does this mean that victims and survivors are not commanded to forgive? What do you think?

Channing: [00:19:52] Um, I think that's a really tough question.

Part of the thoughts that I've been having about this chapter, especially that verse that we come across that says “of you it is commanded to forgive everyone.” And my thoughts, my thought that is still kind of a baby thought, but I think should count for something most often in the scriptures, when I come across commandments to forgive, it's like for little things, right.

Even in this section, it's just like, people are mad and probably like hangry and hot and bothered. And like there's a lot of infighting and contention that could all be easily resolved if we just set our differences aside and agree to like get along. Right. But then when we're talking about like serious injustice, like racism, enslavement, child abuse, sexism, homophobia.

Like we get to the sections and verses about God's saying like, it's better for them if the millstone was hung around their neck and they drowned in the oceans, right? Like if you, like let my people go and if you don't, I'm going to send plagues and like locusts and like the sun and the moon will be covered in blood. It's like, God is coming for justice in those verses. And so I think that in some ways, like, we're tempted to say like, yes, you should forgive for everything, but that doesn't, I don't know if that necessarily holds up. When we look at the scriptures as a whole and obviously I said, like, I haven't done a ton of research on this, this is just a baby idea. But as an actual survivor of horrific abuse, I cannot get behind, like who has been through years and years and years of therapy, I can not get behind the idea that God will just say, well, Channing, I'm not going to let you go in to wherever it is that we're trying to get into. I'm not going to let you in until you forgive your perpetrators. Like I cannot get behind that idea.

Elise: [00:22:06] Yep. Yeah. I also think that you bring up a great point about reading or pulling from other verses in the scriptures that talk, maybe lean more into the justice side of things, as opposed to only ever focusing on kind of like a blanket forgiveness. And in that way, I appreciate the reading of forgiveness that looks more holistic and contextual, as opposed to just basing our entire understanding of forgiveness on these two verses in one section of the doctrine and covenants.

Channing: [00:22:37] What do you think about it? Do you think that this means that survivors and victims are not commanded to forgive.

Elise: [00:22:45] Personally, I think that this is a, it's a personal individual and circumstantial question to be sorted out by the victim or the survivor and their God. And so in no way do I ever believe, or would ever recommend that it is my duty, my place, or the responsibility of an outsider or a third party to step in and tell others to forgive, or that they must forgive, or when to forgive.

So that's, I know that that's a non-answer, but I didn't experience it. And so who am I to say that everyone must forgive even the most horrendous of crimes? You know, that's not, I can't say that. And so I would try and come from a place of empathy, and trust, and understanding, and try to be there for victims and survivors as a support, as an ally, as a listener, a shoulder to cry on. Someone that's got their back, but definitely not as someone who is coming in on my high horse and saying, “well, you know, you really better forgive.”

Channing: [00:23:49] I really think that that speaks to maybe one of what your spiritual gifts is. And I really think that it is like being willing to sit with someone and just hold their pain and listen to their experiences.

And I've been on the receiving end of that, especially in context of this exact conversation. And I've always been really grateful for you as you've kind of stood witness to that. And I also think you have stood witness to times where we've had mutual acquaintances say to me like, oh, just forgive and it'll be better. And then I come to your house and I'm crying in the living room. So I really appreciate the conversation that we've been having about forgiveness, because I think that it offers a perspective that doesn't get discussed enough in the church, how sometimes our rhetoric around forgiveness and the requirement of forgiveness can be really harmful to survivors of abuse and injustice.

And I'm really grateful that we've brought light and understanding to that. But also as someone who has experienced some of these things, I also do think that there are important and really healing, like there's a healing potential for the process of forgiveness. And so I want to balance some of the discussions that we've had about, about the conversation that we're having about forgiveness right now in the church in general isn't necessarily helpful, but how we can maybe shift and change that conversation to focus on the survivor and how the process of forgiveness can benefit them in real and tangible ways instead of continuing to harm them.

Elise: [00:25:24] Yes. Thank you for that because there is a part of me too, that I want to see justice and forgiveness as partners, not as things that are in contradiction with one another. And that's why I really appreciated this article, “The Justice of Forgiveness” by Daniel Philpott that we've talked about previously.

One of the things that the author makes a point of is that forgiveness is not just a checklist or kind of like a one and done thing. It's a process that relies on other practices that move us toward justice and healing. For example, they write quote “the justice that restores right relationship involves not only forgiveness, but also a portfolio of other practices that seek to restore the flourishing of persons and relationships with respect to the wounds that injustices inflict. Besides forgiveness, these include acknowledgement, reparation, apology, restorative punishment, and building socially just institutions.” And I am so excited about this because I think that some of these, this portfolio of other practices often gets left behind in the conversation about forgiveness.

Sometimes we can think that forgiveness is the only thing that needs to happen in order for us to recognize humanity in one another and that's not the case. Forgiveness comes alongside other things, acknowledgement, remorse, reparation, apology, and restorative punishment, if that's what the victim or survivor asks for.

Channing: [00:26:56] Well, and I love this too, because all of this seeks to support the survivor, right? This is not, this is not a solution that supports the perpetrator in their actions, this, all of these acknowledgement, reparation apology, restorative punishment, and socially justice institutions, those are all to support the survivor because that's the person that has been wronged. Elise: [00:27:24] I love that. Absolutely. And on that same line, well, what can forgiveness do for survivors or victims? The author continues to talk about how forgiveness can allow us to quote, “defeat the standing victory of injustice by constructing a world where the wrongdoing no longer has power over us.” And I think that also draws on the idea of imagination and reclamation of our own power.

They continue to say that forgiveness can help restore the agency and the autonomy of the victim or the survivor. And even that forgiveness can help victims and survivors overcome the quote “corrosive effects of anger and resentment.” But this is not to say, like, I think that you said a little bit earlier, this is not to say that anger and resentment that these feelings should just be cast aside or pushed down, or that these feelings are wrong and bad. They are necessary and they are healthy.

Channing: [00:28:24] Yeah, I personally experiencing this full perspective on anger is that anger is a good indicator in our relationships where a boundary has been crossed and anger is a good catalyst for change, but it's also not like the best place ever to stay and just like sit in and steep in. So I do think that this perspective of because anger has to be a part of the reparation. It has to be a part of recognizing just how much hurt has been caused. It's absolutely necessary, but you know, the more we push them down and the more we push it aside, the less, like, the more survivors are encouraged to basically disconnect from themselves and disconnect from their experiences. So allowing the full spectrum of emotion in the healing process is really important, um, for the survivor and for the perpetrator to understand like, oh, wow, I don't get to just do whatever the heck I want scot-free. I have to face the consequences. And sometimes the consequences are the other person's feelings. 

Elise: [00:29:42] I also want to read a passage from a psychologist. Her name is Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela and she's a psychologist and a researcher that does a lot of work around the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that came forth out of the apartheid in South Africa. She writes, “the victim in a sense needs forgiveness as part of the process of becoming rehumanized. The victim needs it in order to complete himself or herself, and to wrest away from the perpetrator, the fiat power to destroy or to spare. It is part of the process of reclaiming self-efficacy. Reciprocating with empathy and forgiveness in the face of a perpetrator's remorse, restores to many victims, the sense that they are once again capable of effecting a profound difference in the moral community.”

So many good things to pull out here and again, like you said, Channing, this lens of forgiveness works to support the victim or the survivor. 

Channing: [00:30:45] Yeah. It restores their power. 

Elise: [00:30:47] Yes. And it restores their humanity. It allows them to reclaim and reshape the world that they want to live in. 

Channing: [00:30:55] Yep. Yep. That's so powerful. I'm so glad you found that. Thank you.

Elise: [00:30:58] Another thing that I've just, we don't have to include this, but one thing that I found really striking in my research about forgiveness is that there is a ton of literature about forgiveness, and it's often talking about forgiveness, in some of them, in some of the most atrocious and horrendous situations to have ever occurred.

Lots of conversations about forgiveness also include the Holocaust or include apartheid in South Africa and in much of the literature, I find it so astounding that many scholars just like, just like Gobodo-Madikizel encourage and can see the hopeful healing newness that comes through forgiveness. And in this way, my mind is just kind of blown because sometimes forgiveness feels like an impossible task.

And yet often I have seen that those who are most, that those who are, um, that those who have suffered the most are the ones that can see the healing power of forgiveness.  

Channing: [00:32:08] Well, and I think too, it speaks to the ability of the community to support them. Because an undertaking that huge is impossible to do alone.

It's not from like a good moral, like, it's not that these people are like, hmm, have moral superiority or they're just innately a good person, because I really believe everybody is a good person. I think that it really speaks strongly to the community's ability to support and offer resources to the victim in order to facilitate their healing.

Because like the ability to just forgive somebody it's hard. It's not just like something that you're naturally born with because it actually goes right against, I truly believe it goes against our DNA programming to just forgive without first acknowledging all of the pain and that pain can be really difficult to sift through.

So I really think, yes, absolutely all of the credit needs to go to the survivor, but there is a profound element of support that happens, um, in these cases and that can't be diminished in conversations about forgiveness. 

Elise: [00:33:31] Returning back to the well, returning back to the gospel topic on forgiveness, one of the talks that was listed there as a resource was the talk titled “The Healing Power of Forgiveness” by James E. Faust and in this talk, he includes a passage from Bishop Williams where he says, quote, “forgiveness is a source of power, but it does not relieve us of consequences.” And I think that we hear some of these consequences or notions of accountability later in section 54, for example, in verse 40, it says, “and even the Bishop who was a judge and his counselors, if they are not faithful in their stewardships shall be condemned and other shall be planted in their stead.”

And I really appreciate the tie between forgiveness as power, but also responsibility, accountability, and consequences that will come. You don't just get off scot-free. 

Channing: [00:34:27] Well, and I think too, like, it just speaks to the fact that bishops have the responsibility to provide a portion of that support. Like we've been talking about before.

And I think that the church has, if I'm being a hundred percent candid, I think the church has a long way to go before we can really reach that level of accountability and a thought that I had that I wanted to add to this we actually find in verse seven of section 64. And this is talking about, this is the Lord talking about Joseph Smith.

The verse says, “nevertheless, he, it has sinned, but verily I say unto you, I the Lord forgive sins unto those who confess their sins before me and ask forgiveness who have not sinned unto death.” And I think it's interesting here that we see Joseph Smith explicitly called out in the text for sinning. I think in our minds, we have this idea that anyone who is called to like a higher level calling or leadership calling in the church is basically like immune to sin and like, can do no wrong.

Elise: [00:35:37] Or if they sin that just somehow like, oh, it's okay. They're, they're the highest position in power. So we, we can't worry about that, 

Channing: [00:35:46] right? Like, oh, well God knows everything. So God knew that they would do this so God accepts it. It's like a retroactive condoning of whatever action it is that they've done.

And so I wanted to include this first, because I think that it shows that the Lord actually still cares if you do the bad thing, even when you're in a calling. And I think that this pushes back on the concept of infallibility of prophets, right? Or the infallibility of church leaders, this idea that they can do no wrong while they're in their calling.

And I appreciate this. Especially when we also consider the verses in scripture that we find that says like, God has no tolerance for even the least degree of sin. And I think about this a lot when I'm thinking about, I don't know, I really don't like math. I am not very good at it, but you know, when you're using your graphing calculator and you get like, even the tiniest little bit wrong, or like you're drawing a map or an angle and you get the degree wrong. If you're off by even one degree, then it messes everything up, right? Like if you point your compass one degree further than you, should you end up somewhere totally different, 200 miles away than what you originally intended to. And so I think that this idea of like prophets can't sin while they're in their callings, isn't necessarily true.

And this isn't to say that like prophets can't ever make mistakes and because they are people. And I think that that's the exact thing that I'm trying to say. Prophets are people too, and they can make mistakes. And so it's up to us to call out systems and leaders of systems that cause harm in order to collectively move us in the right direction and make sure that we stay on track and not allow one person's decision that leads us one degree off to take us to a place where we don't really belong and where we don't really want to go. So I think in context of this discussion that we're having about forgiveness. I think if we can collectively move more toward a compassionate understanding of forgiveness, that the consequence of that would be more empowerment for the people in our communities and a more whole and healthy church. And that's definitely something worth working toward 

Elise: [00:38:19] Yes. And even the saints thought so too. I mean, the sections are also about building Zion, a place of flourishing. And I think maybe just to close, I wanted to spend a little bit of time thinking about forgiveness as a path to this flourishing in section 64, verse 41, it says “for behold, I say unto you that Zion shall flourish and the glory of the Lord shall be upon her.” Verse 42 says “and she shall be an end sign unto the people. And there shall come unto her out of every nation under heaven.” And these verses remind me that God wants us to flourish and flourishing, like we heard from the Philpott essay, the author wrote that justice and forgiveness along with all of those other practices, all of these things seek to restore the flourishing of persons and relationships.

So is there a connection between forgiveness and flourishing and making sure that Zion is a place where all can flourish? I think, yes. But only after we only get to the flourishing part after we've gone through the, I don't know how long this episode is 40 other minutes worth of trying to work through what forgiveness is and isn't. Not jumping to forgiveness and bypassing or skipping over the real lived pain and trauma of the experience.

And also that we are supporting the victim or the survivor every step of the way through community support, but also through the understanding of what forgiveness means. And then, and only then do I think that we can get to the place where we can say yes, forgiveness is a path to flourishing, which is also a path to Zion.

Channing: [00:40:19] Friends, thank you so much for joining us today for this robust conversation on forgiveness. We hope that you feel supported and that we've offered a new perspective on what the potential of forgiveness can be, especially for survivors of abuse, neglect, and harm. We love you. Take good care of yourself this week, and we hope that as you engage with the text, that you can find a lot of love and healing and compassion.

We love you so much and we'll see you next week.

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