What advice would you give to someone who has suffered abuse (be that physical, emotional or spiritual) who is wrestling with hatred/anger towards their un-apologetic abuser? Given passages like Psalm 139:19:22, Psalm 109, is there a place for “righteous” anger and hatred? Or given passages like Matthew 5:44 and Luke 6:35 is there not a place for that?
I answer with a brief extract from an earlier paper on forgiving:
“1. You cannot judge the heart – and you must always judge with charity, thinking the best of people, even those who have sinned against you.
- If you are unconvinced of the sincerity, you may say something like this: “I am not convinced but I hope the best and I receive the apology in the same spirit in which it is given”.
In other words: the offended person takes this under “gracious advisement” and should even encourage the offender to stay the course. Hopefully the offended one would be open to continuing to read positive signs of God working change in the offender’s life.”
Now, if they are unrepentant, you need not, in fact, you can and should not forgive. Biblical forgiveness is always in the essential context of sorrow for sin and asking for forgiveness. For that reason also, you should not say, “I forgive in my heart even though he/she did not ask for it.” You should always be ready to forgive, have a forgiving heart and mind. But it can only be a two way transaction.
If this involves sexual abuse, especially against minors (under 18), there is much more to say. That is criminal activity and must be reported to the proper authorities (yes, police!)—also by those, such as teachers, pastors, elders, etc. to whom it is reported by the victim.