Participants: Willie Oliver, Elaine Oliver
Series Code: MGH
Program Code: MGH000060
00:29 Welcome to Marriage In God's Hands.
00:32 I'm Willie Oliver, Director of Family Ministries
00:34 for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America.
00:37 I'm Elaine Oliver, Willie's partner in ministry.
00:39 And a Marriage and Family Consultant
00:42 for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America.
00:44 We're delighted you could join us today.
00:47 Today we're going to be talking about a topic we've titled
00:50 "Forgive or Forget"
00:52 In every marriage, there is some rain that falls.
00:58 Sooner or later, someone does something or says something
01:04 that upsets his or her partner.
01:06 Because there are no perfect people,
01:10 there are no perfect marriages.
01:11 And whether or not I am doing it on purpose,
01:15 if I live long enough and I stay married long enough,
01:19 I'm going to say something or do something
01:22 that Elaine doesn't like.
01:24 Well forgiveness certainly is a vital ingredient
01:27 in maintaining oneness in marriage.
01:30 When I was a kid and going through the Bible
01:33 and studying the Bible and learning about the
01:35 concept of forgiveness, I remember when I first came
01:38 across the text about forgive seventy times seven.
01:41 And at the time, I did not know multiplication that well.
01:45 And I just thought, wow, that's a lot of forgiveness.
01:49 Seventy times seven.
01:51 And that's exactly what God intends for us to do.
01:54 Imagine if, as a child I didn't know, it just seemed infinite.
01:59 That is exactly what God intends for us
02:02 when He talks about forgiveness.
02:04 And that's what God wants us to know.
02:06 That's the attitude He wants us to have.
02:08 To recognize that He forgives us.
02:10 He's forgiven us and because He's forgiven us,
02:12 we ought to forgive one another.
02:14 Because that is the nature of God.
02:17 And if we want to be like God and we want to have
02:20 Godly marriages, we want to follow Gods way,
02:23 we want to follow Gods lead,
02:24 we want to do it the way He does it.
02:27 And God certainly does provide us with a lot of scripture
02:31 on the topic of forgiveness.
02:33 And we're going to start with one from the book of Luke 6:37.
02:49 It appears to me that what God is saying is
02:52 you really have no right to hold it against your husband or wife.
02:56 You really have no right to withhold forgiveness because,
03:01 "I have forgiven you multiple times.
03:03 In fact, I have forgiven you so many times,
03:07 I have chosen not to remember.
03:09 And when you confess, I throw your sins
03:12 to the depths of the sea. "
03:15 So, when you're in marriage where being God like...
03:18 that's what marriage is like.
03:20 It's a reflection of the Godhead, the oneness of God;
03:24 Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
03:25 That is also what happens with husbands and wives.
03:28 We are one, and like Jesus and the church, one.
03:32 That union needs to be reflective
03:36 of what happens in the Godhead.
03:38 And we have the word of God to lead us in understanding this
03:43 forgiveness and how we can do it.
03:46 Ephesians 4:32 also says to us:
03:57 And that's exactly what you've been saying
03:59 about the fact that God forgives us every day.
04:03 And we do have a responsibility to forgive our spouse.
04:07 We know that inevitably there is going to be some wrong
04:11 that is done to the other person.
04:14 Whether it's on purpose, or most often than not, not on purpose.
04:19 And so there is going to be a need for forgiveness
04:23 in our relationship.
04:25 Well, what I think God is saying is that
04:27 if you're in a Christian marriage, forgiveness needs
04:30 to be a part of your culture.
04:31 Forgiveness needs to be a part of what you do,
04:34 how you negotiate your relationship
04:36 because we're fallible.
04:38 And because we're fallible and because we make mistakes,
04:41 the more forgiveness is a part of the fiber,
04:46 the fabric of our marriage, the easier it is going to be
04:50 to negotiate having a marriage that's secure,
04:53 having a marriage that's nurturing,
04:55 having a marriage that can bring a peace and joy
04:58 to our children as well.
05:00 Do you think that's what the Bible is saying in Luke 17:3-4?
05:20 Yea, you know this whole notion of "rebuke him"
05:23 is important.
05:24 And the reason it's important is because it's saying,
05:28 just because someone does something against you
05:30 doesn't mean you quickly forgive and
05:32 let it go like if nothing happened.
05:34 Well, what the Bible is saying is,
05:37 if your brother does something against you,
05:40 and this could be a brother or your husband,
05:42 or your sister or your wife, if they do something against you,
05:45 bring it to their attention.
05:47 You know, it's something wrong; rebuking.
05:50 And the rebuking here is not being angry.
05:52 It's not yelling, it's not shouting.
05:53 The rebuking here is just bringing it to his attention,
05:56 bringing it to her attention.
05:58 And if you bring it to his attention,
06:00 and if you bring it to her attention,
06:02 and he repents, and she repents,
06:05 forgive him, forgive her.
06:07 This is what God is saying because this is the way of God.
06:11 Wanting people to get to the place where they recognize
06:16 that they have done something wrong
06:17 and they want to make it right.
06:20 Absolutely, I think there's one more text that we should share.
06:23 The Bible is just replete with text on forgiveness.
06:26 Matthew 6:14.
06:36 It's like there's an implication that if you don't forgive others
06:41 their transgressions, that God the Father
06:43 is not going to forgive you.
06:45 It's saying, you make mistakes as a human being every day.
06:50 Well I know there's some people who say,
06:53 "I didn't sin today. "
06:54 Well you know, I'm not sure that I'm prepared to
06:59 say that about myself.
07:00 I think that we sin in thought, we sin by commission
07:04 and omission.
07:05 Whether or not we plan to sin or we plan to do something
07:09 that is not exactly what God wants us to do, we do.
07:13 Does it mean that in our sanctified lives
07:16 we cannot get to the place where we are one with God
07:20 and we're on the same page with Christ?
07:21 Of course.
07:22 But what God is saying is that as human beings,
07:25 more often than not, something is going to be said
07:29 something is going to be done that's not appropriate
07:32 that needs forgiveness.
07:33 And if you're not willing to forgive your mate,
07:36 if you're not willing to forgive your husband or wife,
07:38 why are you expecting God to forgive you?
07:40 After all, that's a double standard.
07:42 And Christians should not have double standards.
07:45 Christians should know what they believe, why they believe,
07:48 and then live according to those beliefs.
07:51 Well, let's explore a little bit on exactly what forgiveness is.
07:55 Because we're always asked to forgive.
07:57 And it's like you were saying earlier that if someone asks
08:03 you to forgive, then you should forgive them.
08:06 Based on what the Bible, the word of God is saying.
08:08 So what is this forgiveness?
08:09 What is the definition of forgiveness?
08:11 Well one of the definitions that we have is when someone gives up
08:16 their perceived right or their desire to punish someone else.
08:21 You give up what you believe is your right or your desire
08:27 to punish someone.
08:28 Someone has done something to me and it was awful.
08:33 It was a terrible thing.
08:35 And now I feel that I have the right to punish them.
08:39 When I forgive, I give up that right
08:43 to punish the other person.
08:44 So then, the picture of forgiveness is
08:46 that of a cancelled debt.
08:48 You know, I like that picture.
08:50 I like that picture because, well let's say we all have bills
08:55 and we need to pay them.
08:57 Whether it's your car note or whether it's a mortgage,
09:01 or whatever it is, or whether you're buying something
09:04 or you owe something.
09:06 And God tells us to be very careful with
09:08 our finances so we don't owe.
09:10 You know, we're careful when we're buying.
09:13 But invariably in this economy in which we live,
09:16 we're going to owe something.
09:17 Now imagine my mortgage is due in two or three days.
09:23 And my mortgage holder sends me a note and says
09:29 you don't have to pay it this month.
09:33 That's huge.
09:35 Wow, can you imagine that? That's huge.
09:36 That's huge, that's a cancelled debt.
09:39 You owe me, you need to pay me
09:41 so you can keep living and have shelter.
09:43 But someone says you don't have to pay this month.
09:48 That's what forgiveness looks like
09:51 and that's what forgiveness feels like.
09:54 Relief, release. Oh, peace.
09:58 And that's what God wants us to do in our relationships.
10:02 So what happens when we don't forgive?
10:04 There are certain things that happen when we don't forgive.
10:09 Well when we don't forgive, what happens?
10:11 Tell us.
10:12 Well, when we don't forgive, we grow bitter ourselves.
10:15 So we harbor these bad feelings.
10:19 We harbor animosity, we harbor resentment.
10:23 And all of these things are in us, and if we don't forgive
10:27 we don't have the freedom to move on
10:30 from a certain situation.
10:31 When we don't forgive, our disagreements multiply.
10:34 If we haven't forgiven someone,
10:38 there are bad feelings that still remain.
10:40 And because your bad feelings that still remain,
10:42 it doesn't matter what the other person says or does,
10:44 we have these bad feelings.
10:47 And so disagreements multiply. You can't do no right.
10:50 Even if you're right, you can't do no right.
10:52 Why? Because I'm angry at you.
10:53 I'm not happy with you because
10:55 you've done something to injure me
10:57 and you haven't spoken to me about it.
10:59 And unless I let it go, I become a hostage to that reality.
11:04 But there's this interesting concept that we have
11:07 that floats around.
11:08 And we titled this segment, "Forgive or Forget. "
11:10 But we hear a lot of people talking about
11:13 the notion of forgive and forget.
11:15 And it's a really tricky concept because often times
11:20 we think that when someone has done something to us,
11:23 we know that the Bible says we should forgive,
11:25 but the deeper the wound, the more difficult it is to forgive.
11:31 And so sometimes, it's not as easy to forgive as quickly
11:36 even though the Bible tells us.
11:38 And we know that the sooner we forgive,
11:41 the sooner we can release ourselves and we can experience
11:45 that new freedom.
11:46 But I think it's very important for people to understand
11:49 that it is possible to forgive something,
11:52 something that we still remember.
11:56 So a good example of that is the fact that when
11:59 our son, Julian, was about 8 years old and
12:02 we had just gotten a beagle.
12:04 And beagles, if anyone knows anything about beagles,
12:07 beagles are very hyper dogs.
12:09 But they're wonderful dogs and they're probably classified
12:11 as one of the friendliest dogs around.
12:14 And our little beagle Fergie, loved scrunchies.
12:18 You know those little holders that girls
12:20 put their hair in ponytails with.
12:22 And she would always go after scrunchies of my daughter
12:26 or the neighbors kids, or whatever.
12:27 And one day Fergie went after a scrunchie and Julian our son,
12:33 went to get the scrunchie out of her mouth.
12:35 And when she did, Fergie wasn't upset, she was just trying to
12:38 hold on to the scrunchie.
12:40 And what she did was she bit Julian by mistake.
12:44 And so our son has this little scar on his hand
12:48 that has now healed, he's now over 18.
12:51 And the scar has healed but he still remembers it.
12:55 He still remembers the experience.
12:57 Is he angry at Fergie?
12:58 And maybe this is a very light situation,
13:01 but there's still a scar from that situation.
13:05 And it's the same thing in our relationships that sometimes
13:08 there's been a wrong that has been so deep
13:11 that we still remember it, and obviously God gives us the power
13:15 to forget over time.
13:17 But we have still forgiven.
13:19 So what I'm hearing you say is that you might still remember
13:22 and yet you have forgiven.
13:24 Well, we have much more to talk about, but
13:25 right now we're going to go to break.
13:27 So stick around and come right back.
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14:10 Welcome back to our topic on forgiveness.
14:13 We were talking earlier about the whole misconception of
14:17 forgiving and forgetting.
14:18 And while we do believe that God does give us the power
14:23 to forget what we've forgiven, the fact that we remember
14:27 something does not necessarily mean that we have not forgiven.
14:30 And that's something that is a little difficult sometimes
14:34 for us as Christians because we want to believe that if we've
14:37 forgiven, we're going to quickly forget something.
14:40 And as we said earlier, forgiveness takes time.
14:45 Forgetting takes time.
14:47 And the deeper the wound, the longer it's going to take
14:50 to forget something that has hurt us deeply.
14:54 Now I want to be very clear that God says that
14:58 when He forgives us of our sin, He remembers that sin no more.
15:03 And He's cast the sin to the depths of the sea
15:06 and He remembers that sin no more.
15:08 Let's remember that God is perfect.
15:11 And because God is perfect, God can choose to do
15:14 anything He wants to.
15:15 If He tells you that He's throwing your sin to the depths
15:18 of the sea and He no longer remembers it, He does it.
15:23 But we're not God.
15:24 And we're not perfect.
15:27 So, if we're not God and we're not perfect,
15:29 our forgiveness isn't perfect.
15:31 And the fact that we didn't quite do it
15:34 as quickly as God did, the forgetting that is,
15:37 doesn't mean that we have not forgiven.
15:40 And there's another important thing on that
15:41 whole notion of forgetting.
15:42 The fact that we've forgotten doesn't necessary
15:46 mean we've forgiven.
15:47 And that's really important to remember because
15:50 sometimes we say, "Oh I've forgotten all about it. "
15:52 But we're still harboring the hurt.
15:55 And you and I both believe and we talk about this all the time
15:59 when we're working with couples, and even in our own relationship
16:02 that we know that the sooner we accept God's power
16:07 and we allow ourselves to forgive, the sooner we can begin
16:11 the healing process.
16:12 And that's really important for us to stress here
16:16 is that God does give us the power to forgive something
16:21 that we still feel and hurts that we still remember.
16:27 That's the key, I think, that we want to get across.
16:29 Because this whole thing of putting together
16:32 forgiveness and forgetting, I think keeps people
16:35 from either forgiving, because for as long as I remember
16:39 then maybe that means that I can't yet forgive.
16:42 And God does give us that power to forgive
16:45 that which we still remember.
16:48 We're talking about marriage here and so I want to
16:50 bring up an issue, to share a visual that's a powerful one.
16:54 And that is infidelity in marriage.
16:59 If someone has been unfaithful, if your spouse has been
17:01 unfaithful to you, you can forgive that individual.
17:05 But you're not going to be so quick to forget.
17:09 Not because you don't want to, but because the image is so
17:12 powerful that it's not so easy to put out of your mind.
17:16 If someone has been unfaithful,
17:18 you're probably going to remember it.
17:20 In fact, if you deal with this matter clinically,
17:24 you will find that clinicians know that the deeper the hurt,
17:28 the longer it's going to take the individual
17:30 to come out of it.
17:32 Why? Because it's a deep wound.
17:35 And one of the most difficult things in marriage when
17:37 there's been unfaithfulness, is that it's very difficult for
17:41 the person who was injured to trust again.
17:45 It's a huge issue. Right.
17:46 It's something we have to give to Jesus,
17:48 it's something we have to give to the Lord.
17:50 And of course He can heal us.
17:51 Of course we can get to the place where we've forgotten.
17:54 At least where it's out of our consciousness,
17:58 it's not on the surface of our consciousness.
18:00 It's been relegated someplace where we don't see it,
18:03 where we don't think about it.
18:05 But that takes work.
18:06 So we just want to be clear that this whole issue of forgiveness
18:09 is not a simple one, is not an easy one,
18:12 and it's not one that just snap and it's gone.
18:15 And it's important that as we deal with each other as couples,
18:20 when we have committed an offense
18:23 against the other person, something like infidelity,
18:26 that we're not quick to say to the person,
18:28 "Well, if you've forgiven me, you would have forgotten. "
18:31 And an example of that is, I may have forgiven
18:34 and years have gone by and I have rebuilt trust with you.
18:38 But let's say I see the person that you had an affair with.
18:43 It might evoke some emotions in me.
18:47 Now I know that I've forgiven, but those emotions may
18:51 still occur and I will have to go through that process again.
18:54 Perhaps even of reminding myself that I've chosen to forgive.
18:58 So it's unfair for the person who has committed the wrong
19:02 to expect that you may never think about this thing again.
19:06 Again, over the years as time goes on and as trust
19:09 has been rebuilt in this relationship, regardless of what
19:14 the offense may have been trust has to be rebuilt,
19:17 I may still evoke, there still might be some emotions that
19:22 may surface again because of the crime that was committed.
19:27 On that note, the whole issue of responsibility comes up.
19:31 And that is, what is the responsibility of the individual
19:34 who has caused the injury.
19:37 If I'm a spouse who has been unfaithful
19:39 to my wife or to my husband, I am responsible
19:44 for helping my spouse to trust me.
19:47 Now if I had an affair, if I was unfaithful to my spouse,
19:53 I need to be careful how I treat members of the opposite sex.
19:58 How I find myself, where am I with those individuals.
20:02 How do I allow myself to be in a room, whether it's at church
20:06 or at work or any place else, where it's just the two of us
20:09 and nobody else.
20:10 Or my spouse may come to my place of employment.
20:14 And she comes in and find me in a compromising situation
20:18 with a member of the opposite sex.
20:20 That's problematic.
20:21 So if I have been the party that has injured my spouse,
20:26 I need to take responsibility.
20:29 Despite the fact that my spouse has forgiven me,
20:32 I need to take responsibility for restitution.
20:34 I need to take responsibility for making sure
20:36 that the things that I do help build up, build up our trust
20:42 in each other.
20:43 Because without trust, the marriage isn't going anywhere.
20:46 Right, so then forgiveness does not absolve the wrongdoer
20:52 of their responsibility.
20:54 So if I have done something against you,
20:57 I now have an obligation to restore this relationship.
21:01 It takes the relationship out of the mode of punishing.
21:06 We've removed those feelings of resentment, of revenge.
21:12 We've taken those emotions out of the relationship,
21:16 but there is still an obligation for the wrongdoer
21:19 to make things right.
21:20 So then, we can say forgiveness and restoration
21:23 go hand in hand.
21:25 Yes, because trust builds slowly over time.
21:29 But it has to be consistently trustworthy.
21:32 The person who has made, who has committed the wrong
21:35 has to be consistently trustworthy for your spouse
21:39 to feel that they can trust you again.
21:42 So, the fact that you've been forgiven
21:44 does not absolve you of responsibility.
21:46 If you have stolen $100, let's say,
21:50 or you've hit somebody's car, and you go over and you say,
21:55 "Oh I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to hit or damage your car. "
21:58 Well, you didn't mean to damage my car, but it's damaged
22:01 and it's going to cost to repair it.
22:03 So who is going to pay for that cost?
22:05 Well certainly the person who damaged it.
22:06 That's the right thing to do.
22:08 So let's understand this whole issue of forgiveness.
22:12 It's not a simple one.
22:13 It's very complex, it's very complicated.
22:15 And the person who has done the wrong has the responsibility
22:19 to make it right.
22:21 And the person who has done something wrong
22:23 needs to understand that even though they've been forgiven
22:26 and they've experienced that freedom,
22:29 that joy of being forgiven, as they are rebuilding,
22:32 as they are restoring the relationship,
22:35 rebuilding the trust, there may be feelings of hurt and guilt.
22:40 And it's not the responsibility of the person who was offended
22:44 to make you feel better.
22:46 Because that's something now that's going to be between you
22:49 and God as you ask God for forgiveness
22:52 for what you've done to your spouse.
22:55 In this case, we're talking about marriage.
22:57 So there are some steps for seeking
22:59 forgiveness and reconciliation.
23:01 And should we talk about those for a little while?
23:04 So one of the things that we can do is that
23:06 certainly as we talk about conflict management,
23:09 what we usually recommend is that you select a time,
23:12 that you choose a specified time to talk about the issue.
23:16 So, it may be the person who has been offended,
23:20 or it may be the person who has created the offense
23:24 that will say, "You know there's something that I need
23:26 to speak with you about and can we choose a time that
23:29 would be a good time for both of us to discuss this matter?"
23:32 Another thing that we want to do when we're trying to
23:35 come to grips with the whole issue of the offense
23:37 and the hurt, is to explore fully the feelings that
23:41 are involved in the injury.
23:43 You know, not "Oh, I'm sorry. " "Oh, I forgive you. "
23:48 Well, yes, but I think it's important both parties
23:51 to come together and talk intimately and sincerely
23:56 about how what you did hurt me.
24:00 Not to accuse, not to make it worse.
24:03 But just to make sure that we understand what has happened.
24:06 I need to clearly say, the injured party needs to
24:09 clearly say, "This is how I felt when you did this. "
24:12 And then the other person may also have an opportunity to
24:16 explore why they did it,
24:17 and the circumstances under which they did it,
24:20 and perhaps get to the place where they say,
24:23 "Well I didn't really mean to do anything, any harm to you. "
24:26 But it happened and acknowledge the fact that it happened.
24:29 Right, and understand that this may be a lengthy conversation.
24:34 And as a matter of fact, as we talk about these first two steps
24:37 the couple, let's say that's in this situation, may have to seek
24:41 the help of a pastor or a counselor
24:44 to help them work through these issues.
24:47 Again, the deeper the wound, the more difficult the conversation
24:51 that we will have about the situation.
24:55 If it's just a simple matter of, you now, I forgot
25:00 to pick up the kids after school, that's not something
25:05 that you, hopefully, will not need a pastor to intervene on.
25:08 But if we're talking about infidelity,
25:10 if we're talking about some type of abuse,
25:13 then it is going to require some third party intervention.
25:16 And point number three right here now, is that
25:19 the person who was the offender
25:21 asks for forgiveness at this point.
25:24 We've explored what's happening, I ask for forgiveness.
25:26 Right, and then as the offended party deals with it,
25:33 talks about it, explores the issues and concerns,
25:36 they offer forgiveness to the person who
25:40 committed the offense.
25:42 Yes, the offended person agrees to forgive
25:44 and then you move from there.
25:47 You ask for forgiveness, the offended person
25:49 agrees to forgive.
25:52 Remembering that it's not as simple
25:54 as steps one, two, three, four, five.
25:57 That the offended party may say, "I need to talk about it
26:01 a little bit more, I need to explore it. "
26:04 But it is important, it really is important
26:06 that we understand that God expects us to forgive.
26:10 And He tells us in His word that we need to forgive.
26:13 And then, give forgiveness time to heal.
26:18 Give the forgiveness an opportunity to take place.
26:21 Because it's going to take some time.
26:22 And the deeper the wound, the more difficult the situation.
26:26 Well here's what Ellen White has to say in the Adventist Home.
26:30 Here's what the results of a forgiven relationship are.
26:41 That is a wonderful and terrific quotation.
26:44 "One well ordered, well disciplined family
26:46 tells more in behalf of Christianity
26:48 than all the sermons that can be preached. "
26:53 That's awesome.
26:54 What it's saying is that God wants us to have the kinds of
26:57 families, kinds of relationships that will honor Him,
27:01 that will represent Him.
27:03 You can preach all you want to preach.
27:04 But someone said, "I'd rather see a sermon than hear one. "
27:10 How do we see a sermon?
27:11 By the way our families work together.
27:14 By the way we live together.
27:16 By the way we forgive each other.
27:18 And then there's the promise of success.
27:19 Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ
27:24 who gives me strength.
27:26 Is it hard to forgive? Of course it's hard to forgive.
27:28 There are many difficult things that will
27:30 rise in marriage.
27:32 But with God on our side, we cannot fail.
27:36 And through His grace and power, we can forgive each other
27:39 and have great families to represent Him.
27:43 God bless you.