«Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, repent’, you shall forgive him» (Luke 17:3, 4).
This biblical passage basically refers to forgiving the remorseful offender seven times a day, every day and all the time. What kind of person would offend you so many times so frequently? They are most likely family members or someone whom you spend most of your time with. Will it be easier to forgive someone who constantly puts you down or who harms you and justifies his behavior as normal?
It is estimated that 30% of the women throughout the world are able to forgive the same offender again and again. Their offender abuses them verbally and other times physically or sexually. It is about their intimate partners! But after releasing the accumulated tension through violence, the offender shows remorse, asks for forgiveness, becomes affectionate, promises not to do it again and is kind to her, «provided that she would not provoke him anymore.»
These women’s ability to forgive is indisputable; however, forgiveness does not mean that the victim should allow her integrity to be diminished because of violence. «Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?» (1 Cor. 6:19). Domestic violence represents a serious public health issue that requires attentive consideration.
In the campaign Recognize Violence launched by UN, some advice is given on how to prevent and react to the first signs of violence. «There is one way to change your violent partner: change your partner;» «Don’t marry a violent man. Children are fast learners,» they claim. But what happens when the bond is strong and there are children suffering in the midst of the relationship? By paraphrasing today’s verse, we would say: «Be aware! If your partner abuses you, admonish him; but if he has a change of heart, forgive him . . . If he comes to you seven times and tells you: ‘I’m not going to do it again’, forgive him as many times as necessary.» In other words, forgiveness is undisputed. Even so, admonition, warning and reprimand are necessary, and an important way of doing it is through professional help and filing a police report.
If you are one of those women, do not hesitate to forgive. But remember that you are the temple of God, and admonition, together with external support, will help you protect your integrity.