There is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood. There is no forgiveness unless someone buys it.
So the first lesson for Christian parents on forgiveness is: Don’t do it easily.
First of all, you have no right to forgive by fiat. How dare you! How dare you manufacture cheap grace, how dare you sell indulgences to raise St. Peter’s dome! If God can’t just wave a wand and make everything right in Eden, what makes you think you can?
Much psychological damage is inflicted on children by forgiveness out of time. They lose the value of law and they lose the value of true forgiveness, which is the supreme act of love and always costs a fortune.
Not only is the Law of Creation the right law to follow, it is also is the recipe for mental health.
Christian forgiveness has transmogrified over centuries into what we now term “letting things go”. This stems from that virtue in our culture’s called being “laid back”, which is opposed to the vice of being “anal”, or too concerned about details. In the 50’s it was suddenly good to be “cool”. Actually, “cool” means nothing more than “noncaring”.
We are bombarded with self-help books which counsel us not to “sweat the small stuff” — and, we are told, it’s all small stuff. So apparently the only escape from the wheel of existence and suffering is the oblivion of a nirvana of sorts, where nothing hurts because nothing exists. This is an Eastern and fatalistic solution to life’s worries, and not a Chrsitian one.
In a laid-back culture forgiveness becomes meaningless. Everybody has an automatic claim for forgiveness on everyone else, no matter what. This is a demonic heaven.
Not only are children decieved by the Time Gap, but parents are, too. Make a note of this, parents: children reap what they sow, without exception, no matter what the parents do. Pain put off as inconvenient or intolerable just builds up until some day of reckoning in the future, when it will break them.
Every time a parent says “oh let him just be a child” a red light should flash. Often, this means nothing more than “I know he needs to reap some discipline for that choice but I just can’t bear to see him suffer.”
We do not let things go: we observe the plant to see how much pruning and tying it can tolerate at once. But a shoot left today will have to be dealt with later, when it is bigger. It is the art of the gardener to prune and water the right amount both today and tomorrow.
It’s not that our culture is too forgiving, it is that it is actually not forgiving enough, because we have turned our backs on the law, and so subverted true forgiveness before it can bloom.
As parents, we sow into our child’s character, and he reaps the harvest till long after we die.
Forgiveness is only fully understood when the just penalty of the infraction is understood.
As a father, I have no right to forgive my son by fiat. But as a fellow servant of God, I must, or I will not be forgiven myself. So there must be clarity of roles before we can understand what to do: are we a friend or a Father? We can be both, but we cannot be both in the same area at the same time. Most people mush these various roles in together in an ambiguous soup so that the flavor of all the distinct roles is lost…
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