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Our Stories - The Gospel That Shuns Forgiveness

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Our Stories - The Gospel That Shuns Forgiveness:

There are many things about the "Message" that have surprised me after my family and I decided to leave, but none so much as the group's hardcore views against forgiveness. Sure, we all heard sermons or recordings of sermons describing the faithfulness of God, and how Jesus came to forgive but was this unbounded love for one another truly practiced? I can say that at least in the several groups I met with from coast to coast, forgiveness was something that was severely lacking.

Having left the group and experienced what "normal" Christians promote, I find it very odd that the "Message" has survived this long on platforms of negative reinforcement rather than positive. We heard so many sermons condemning the "sinners" rather than lifting them up, and so many of the "sins" seemed to come from extra-biblical "revelation" or gross misinterpretation of the Bible. There were times when we listened to sermons condemning women for cutting their hair when not a single female listening had ever attempted it. Sermons included condemnation of the female dress code when not a single female had violated it and even included condemnation of lifestyle choices not a single person in the congregation would have even wanted. It's odd, looking back at how much of it was directed at women and how little was directed at men, but it is even stranger when you think of the few times any single person ever stepped outside of the "rules".

Because negative reinforcement was so frequently used when anybody made a mistake, the congregation, elders, and even pastor used ... even more ... negative reinforcement to correct the situation. They were so accustomed to condemning instead of forgiving that the "sinners" became the target of an onslaught of insults in the form of "religious correction". As it drove these people further away from the group, it is evident now that the negative reinforcement was highly ineffective. But sadly, none of us realized it while under the control and manipulation of the group.

I sometimes wonder what became of these people that were driven away from the "Message" because of its lack of forgiveness. Did they find churches that practice forgiveness, or did it drive them away from church for life? How did it affect their outlook on life, being an outcast from something they so dearly loved? Did they lose faith in humanity, simply for the error of a handful of people in a small building?

Trying to find inner peace after being an active participant in an unforgiving faith took quite some time. After escaping, we have to live with ourselves -- even after everything we thought, said or did to other people we called "brothers" or "sisters". It is ironic that so many who lived a life of "Message perfection" left the cult only to become part of the "Unforgiven" simply for leaving. But then, I can't think of a single person who'd not proudly choose to be "Unforgiven" by man to join the forgiven by God.