Paul's Passing Thoughts

Former Abused Missionary Children Are Loving ABWE God’s Way

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 8, 2011

“Sometimes, confronting rather than forgiving is the most loving thing you can do.”

If you haven’t been vacationing on another planet, you have probably heard about the group that published a website in order to publicly confront ABWE for covering up the following:

This bold move conjures up all kinds of opinions, but let me begin with the opinions that instigated this post (my second on the subject). My missionary son-in-law posted a 20/20 expose on his FB page about children who were sexually abused in IFB churches:

I watched the clip, and was struck by how one of the abused children who sought help was counseled by a pastor: “Real Christians forgive and forget, and move on with their lives.” Then, the other day, I visited the aforementioned site and observed this comment on another posted link regarding the Bangladesh children: “Donn Ketcham DID confess his sins a long time ago. Christ has forgiven him, so it’s time the rest of you did likewise!…Mark 11:25-26 states that if we do not forgive then neither will our Heavenly Father forgive US. There is an echo in my mind…’Get over it!’”

Is this true? Are Christians, even those who have been sexually abused, biblically obligated to “forgive and forget”? Before I make my case, let me answer the question and qualify it. The answer is NO; but, that doesn’t mean revenge is in order either. Not forgiving doesn’t equal: revenge is ok. See Romans chapter 12 on that. We are to love those whom we are un-reconciled to (i.e., enemies), and we are to do good to them and bless them. And by the way, speaking from personal experience—that’s really easy to do if you don’t have to forgive them. I can’t explain that, but it’s probably due to the fact that God knows what He’s talking about. Hence, the Bangladesh children (now grown-up) do well: they are not partaking in unbiblcal forgiveness and they are loving those who have wronged them. Huh? That’s right. Sometimes, confronting rather than forgiving is the most loving thing you can do.

Now I’d better make my case. Let’s look at Matthew 18:15-17

“If your brother sins against you,go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

Does ABWE qualify as “brother”? What about Ketcham? Of course they do. And by the way, Jesus doesn’t say “your brother in the local assembly.” A case for a strictly local application cannot be made here. Also note that Jesus says IF he listens to you (repents: see Luke 17:3), “you have won your brother over.” That’s “IF” he repents. If he doesn’t repent, other people are to be involved. If he still doesn’t repent, the church at large is to be told. If he still doesn’t listen: “treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” Jesus didn’t say, “forgive him anyway.” And, “treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector” doesn’t sound like forgiveness to me.

Furthermore, Jesus had another opportunity to discuss no-fault forgiveness when His teaching prompted this question by the disciples: “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” This is further elaborated on in Luke 17:3,4; “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” In the parable that immediately follows in Matthew’s account, a warning to those who refuse to forgive those who have asked for forgiveness is the issue. In fact, Bible verses that fall under this category (where a seeking to be forgiven is assumed) are usually the ones people cite to make a case for “forgive and forget” whether reconciliation has been sought or not. Notice how Christ emphasizes the necessity of repentance: “If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” It would seem that this would be a better opportunity for Christ to teach no-fault forgiveness even if somebody sins against you seven times in one day. To the contrary, He seems to use the seven times to illustrate the need for reconciliation / repentance instead, and the obligation to forgive accordingly.

Granted, petty offences should be covered with love (1Peter 4:8). And in the Matthew 18 process, if the offended party is being petty—the two witnesses should tell him—that’s the beauty of how the Holy Spirit designed the process (it’s doubtful that He didn’t see some kind of circumstance that isn’t covered). However, forgiving and forgetting serious offences, and thereby leaving the offender in a bad situation with God—is not how we love people. Matthew 5:23,24 states the following: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Proverbs 28:13 says, “He who conceals his sins does not prosper,
but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” I realize there are many verses like Mark 11:25 that seem to call for blanket forgiveness, but I think these verses assume reconciliation has been sought, and there is also a sense in which we can not allow ourselves to dwell on offences that are un-reconciled (Philippians 4:8,9) which could lead to bitterness. But in all of this, the specific and clear language of Matthew 18 and Luke 17 must be considered.

The Gospel

Though I hesitate to use the gospel for a prism to interpret, one might consider that Ephesians 4:32 says to forgive others the way God has forgiven us, but we must remember that God doesn’t forgive us unless we repent (Acts 2:38). We must be “reconciled” to God (2Corinthians 5:18-21). Let me put this in some real-life context. I have an unsaved relative who has offended me on many occasions, but I have chosen to cover the incidents in love. However, he recently went too far. Though I have had the opportunity to help him after the fact and have done so, I am also making it clear to him that until he acknowledges his sin and commits to not repeating it—our relationship is hindered. “And by the way, God will not forgive you until you reconcile with him as well.” The incident offers more opportunity to present the gospel to him than in past memory. It begs the question: should we forgive in anyway unlike God forgives? Should we forgive in a way that God wouldn’t? Even in regard to Christians, if we do not ask for forgiveness, we are open to be chastised by God (1John 1:9).

What is Forgiveness?  

Like the motivation for forgiveness, love, forgiveness is not a feeling. Forgiveness is first a declaration (Isaiah 43:25, Jeremiah 31:34). If forgiveness was just a feeling experienced by the forgiver—we wouldn’t know that we were forgiven. Forgiveness is also active. Jay Adams wrote the following in regard to Isa. 43:25 and Jer. 31:34;

“Obviously, the omniscient God who created and sustains the universe does not forget, but He can not remember. You see, forgetting is passive and is something that we human beings, not being omniscient, do. Not remembering is active; it is a promise whereby one person (in this case, God) determines not to remember the sins of another against him. To not remember is simply a graphic way of saying, I will not bring up these matters to you or others in the future. I will bury them and not exhume the bones to beat you over the head with them. I will never use these sins against you.”

Even if you don’t agree with anything written here, Adams’ clarification above will aid you greatly, for if you believe in no-fault, blanket forgiveness, and you tell the offender accordingly, a vow is still a vow which God takes seriously (Psalm 15:4). It’s safe to assume that many Christians say they forgive others and then hope the right feeling of forgiveness will just happen somehow. Truly “forgetting” will certainly never happen if you talk about it. But let me inject another example at this point. Recently, I saw an interview with a missionary whose husband had been brutally murdered in another country. However, the missionaries belonged to what was a cult by anybody’s standard. I watched as she calmly spoke of how she had completely forgiven her husband’s murderers. Something made me very uneasy about the testimony and I truly doubt  the  world was impressed by it. Her forgiveness for the murderers may have been her own, but it certainly wasn’t God’s.

Should sexually abused children really “forgive and forget,” and thereby pave the way for (among many, many, other issues) a Christian organization to cover-up criminal activity?

Not only do I doubt that, I would contend that their confrontation is the most formable act of love perpetrated on ABWE and Donn Ketcham in the past thirty years.


4 Responses

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  1. William said, on May 8, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    Paul to Timothy: “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm….beware of him”.


  2. paulspassingthoughts said, on May 8, 2011 at 9:37 PM


    Then there’s that–among the many other issues. Granted, your citation alone is ample reason for the website.


  3. Paolo said, on June 11, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    This is old and rehashed information. The MKs took down the bangladeshmksspeak website a while ago.


    • pauldohse said, on June 11, 2012 at 3:02 PM

      Paolo, You are a liar.

      > —–Original Message—– >


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