Monday, August 15, 2022

Why is being unforgiving an unforgivable sin?

And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses (Mark 11:25-26).

Discussions of the "unforgivable sin" usually focus on the sin against the Holy Ghost, but this passage from Mark (also Matt. 6:14-15) seems to indicate that being unforgiving is also unforgivable: If you don't forgive others, God will not forgive you.

Isn't that surprising? Failing to forgive is such a relatable sin, something that comes so naturally to just about everyone, that it is counterintuitive to say that it is less forgivable than other, seemingly more serious, sins. For example, if a rapist repents, he will be forgiven; but if his victim fails to forgive him, she will not be forgiven. Isn't that a bit shocking?

I suppose the most natural interpretation of this passage is that if you want God to forgive you, you have to forgive others, because it's only fair. I don't think that cuts it as an explanation, though. We're talking about forgiveness here, which is by definition not about being fair, but about extending mercy to those who deserve condemnation. "I can't forgive you, because it wouldn't be fair"? But it's never fair. If it were fair, it would be vindication, not forgiveness.

My best guess is that forgiveness is an absolute requirement because Heaven is not an individual state, like Buddhist enlightenment, but membership in the Family of God, and as such it inherently involves relationships with other former sinners. It's not that God views unforgiveness as "the worst sin" and insists on "punishing" it; it's that, as a matter of spiritual and psychological fact, one simply cannot participate in Heaven until one can freely and fully forgive.

Sync note: Opening up BibleGateway to look up this post's text led to the syncs that resulted in the post "Many sparrows, again, and other sync links." That post prominently features figs and mentions my finding figs growing on the wall of the abandoned restaurant, as related in "Owl time, and cold noodles." In "Owl time," I said that the figs made me think of Mark 11:13. The passage I was looking for for this post also turns out to be from Mark 11.

14 comments:

WanderingGondola said...

How might this apply to forgiving oneself? I must be far from the only person to have been unreasonably harsh on their own past actions.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

@WG

No, you're not the only one.

Sinners are not qualified to judge. That is the message of the parable of the mote and the beam, and the story of the woman taken in adultery. We are no more qualified to judge ourselves than to judge anyone else -- and so what we are enjoined to do is not to make our best guess, not to suspend judgment, but to forgive all. As a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith puts it, "I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. And ye ought to say in your hearts -- let God judge" (D&C 64:10-11). That includes forgiving oneself.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Ps. 139:23-24). We should commit all judgment to Jesus Christ, in full confidence that he is Good and loves us. There is nothing to fear.

It is also permitted to ask God directly whether or not one has been forgiven for some particular sin, and to receive an answer.

Ra1119bee said...



William,

But isn't forgiving the same as Karma?

For every action there is a reaction.
IMO, Karma insures the fairness of our existence or perhaps
it's called balance.

I believe that our Soul has to earn the worth to become pure spirit
so as to be one with the Divine, which takes many many incarnations/incarcerations
in this dimension.

I believe that we have to earn forgiveness for our sins and we do that by letting go of
our Ego.
It's our Ego that unbalances us, IMO and binds us to this duality dimension.

Karma will not allow us to progress and become pure spirit unless we walk a while and miles
in our Fellow Man's shoes. Those "walks" teaches us compassion/empathy which is necessary
so that we won't sin against our Fellow Man/Woman/Humanity in the first place.

Coincidently, I just watched a very good movie on Netflix which I believe mirrors my perspective about this topic.
The movie is called The Dreamseller.

The Dreamseller is a foreign film, but it's dubbed in English on Netflix.




Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

@Debbie

Different assumptions. As a Christian, I aspire to the resurrection of the body, not existence as a "pure spirit." Karma is just cause-and-effect. Forgiveness is a different matter entirely.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm - Surely all sins are 'unforgiveable' - in the sense that we must repent all sins to be resurrected to eternal life?

The problem with failure to forgive is that it is a form of resentment (which is probably a clearer way to understand 'Pride') - and, since Heaven in a place of love, there is no place for 'harboured resentment' of any kind (just as there is no place for resentment in a good family).

Thus it is irrelevant what is the supposed-cause of this resentment.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

@Bruce

I think failure to forgive must be "unforgivable" in a special sense. We are never told, "If you are not honest, God will not forgive your sins" or anything like that; it's only said about failure to forgive.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm "I think failure to forgive must be "unforgivable" in a special sense. "

Why do you say that? Because of that Bible verse you quote? Or is there some other reason?

I would regard it as splitting non-existent hairs to rank sins - except insofar as some have a more rapid/ powerful tendency to further sin than others.

I think CS Lewis was right in The Great Divorce when he showed how any sin, no matter how seemingly trivial - when un-repented - will keep a soul from Heaven. That is surely all we need to know?

Francis Berger said...

I agree with the general idea of this post, but I feel some distinctions need to be made.

Forgiveness is certainly a way to prevent the accumulation of resentment. In this sense, I believe it is vital to forgive people (including ourselves) for weaknesses, errors, maliciousness, sin, etc. At the same time, Christians sometimes conflate forgiveness with tolerance and excessive charity, which can lead to all sorts of trouble.

Anyway, in most cases, "resentment-prevention" forgiveness tends to be one-sided, with one party forgiving the other party even though the other party fails to acknowledge let alone ask for forgiveness. I'm sure this benefits the forgiver, but I am unsure about how it benefits the forgiven.

Not forgiving may indeed be a sin -- but refusing to ask for forgiveness or refusing forgiveness when it is offered may be the "bigger" sins here.

Full forgiveness, on the other hand, is relational, with one party asking for forgiveness and the other party granting it. To me, this represents the highest form of forgiveness, at least from a spiritual perspective.

Wade McKenzie said...

Prof. Charlton said: "I would regard it as splitting non-existent hairs to rank sins..." I concur whole-heartedly with his statement.

With all due respect, William, I believe there are several things to be said against your idea that unforgiveness is singularly unforgivable. For the sake of brevity, I want to focus on just two of them. Also, I want to make clear that I myself believe in forgiveness--I believe we should forgive all, without exception. I just don't think that Jesus authentically taught that we must forgive all in order to be forgiven by God. But he is depicted saying that here in Mark, so what gives?

Now firstly, by your own admission, Mark's gospel is possessed of a lesser--maybe even a far lesser authority--than John's. So--again by your own admission--we would need (so it would seem) to corroborate this teaching in John in order to validate it. Does John corroborate it? No, I don't think so. Indeed, John seems to teach a contrary doctrine: "And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." The disciples are granted power to forgive or not, as they determine. Again, I believe that the disciples then, and we ourselves now, ought always to forgive, but that isn't what Jesus actually said in the gospel which you assert to have the highest authority of all.

What's more, let's acknowledge that Jesus is depicted in each of the gospels saying many things that are ambiguous, paradoxical, enigmatic. This passage from Mark that you've quoted is actually far more puzzling than you let on. Jesus is giving his disciples a teaching on prayer, and advising them to forgive if they themselves want to be forgiven by God, and also presumably if they want their prayers to be answered successfully. He gives them this teaching in the wake of an extraordinary instance of a miraculous answer to prayer--the withering of the fig tree.

Jesus had gone to the tree and taken offense at it, because it wasn't bearing fruit for him--despite the fact, as the text clearly states, that "the time of figs was not yet." Did he forgive the tree for failing unnaturally to produce figs out of season? No, he cursed it rather; he exemplified unforgiveness to it. The very prayer that is being extolled as a successful, answered prayer is a prayer of unforgiveness and destruction against an entity that one might suppose is an epitome of innocence.

Between the prayer for the fig tree's destruction and Jesus' subsequent teaching on prayer, we have the episode of the cleansing of the temple. Afterward, and before the passage you quoted, Jesus talks about having faith to receive answers to prayer, like the prayer for the destruction of the fig tree. He says: "For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith." What mountain is he talking about? Well, the context--the cleansing of the temple--suggests that it's the temple mount. The cursing of the fig tree would seem to be a symbolic iteration of this more significant curse. Is Jesus depicted forgiving the proponents of Second Temple Judaism, if I can put it that way? Of course not. So, the teaching on prayer in Mark 11 concerning forgiveness, is embedded in deeds and attitudes of unforgiveness on the part of Jesus.

Ra1119bee said...

William,

Cause and Effect? Yes, in this duality dimension where the Physical Body exists, for
every action there is a reaction, and as it should be.

I guess I don't understand why your postings on the Tarot, Synchronicity,
Remote Viewing, Dreams, Intuition, Numerology/Gematria, and how that connects with
the Resurrection of the Physical Body.

What is synchronicity's purpose if it's not a message from our Soul to 'pay attention'.

All of the above are pursuits of the Soul and the Sacred Sciences which is Symbolism.
How was I able to see 5 years into the future in my dream in 1990, and better yet,
what was the point?
Is the ability to dream and/or see aka Divination, in the Future demonic?
If so what about Deborah and Jacob?

What is your objective when you pursue Remote Viewing exercises as you described in a previous post?

If our Mortal Body is resurrected do we still have a Soul and if we do, WHY? if the Soul
('pure spirit') has little to no importance.

Is a 5 year old (who dies tragically) physical body resurrected? If not why?
I would think a 5 year has not yet committed many sins.

Not trying to be combative just my perspective.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

I agree that any unrepented sin is a barrier to salvation, and that in that sense there is no hierarchy of more or less serious sins. If Jesus put special emphasis on unforgiveness -- which he certainly seems to have done, and not only in the passage I have quoted -- it is probably because it is a sin which we are often unwilling to admit is a sin, one in which it is so easy to make oneself feel justified.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Debbie, I'm not sure where you got the idea that I think the soul as little to no importance. Obviously it is the most important thing, and is who we are. I took your reference to "pure spirit" as meaning being 100% spirit, with no physical component; if you meant something else by it, we may just be talking past each other.

My view on the spirit and the body is that of Joseph Smith:

"Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. . . . For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy; and when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy."

WanderingGondola said...

One of the crazier ideas I've been toying with is whether cause-and-effect actually exists. What if it's an illusion, and our sense of time is too linear to see past it? Maybe I can work that into a story or something...

Ra1119bee said...


Wandering Gondola,

You mentioned illusion, which I'd like to share my thoughts on that subject if I may.
I had a dream in 1990 (which I've shared with William and on this blog) that tragically came true in 1995.
The woman who was killed, I didn't know in 1990 when I had the dream, but I met her in 1993, when my hubby and I bought our first home.

That particular dream and many many other esoteric experiences and dreams ( many premonition ) that I've experienced over my lifetime has convinced me that our Soul transcends linear time and we do so every night in our REM sleep, and also in our waking time when the Soul transcends linear time in order to 'get our attention' which I believe is synchronicity, however for much of our waking time, our EGO is at the helm.

I personally think cause and effect does exist which would explain the nature of this landscape/dimension of matter.

Anything in Matter in THIS duality dimension can be and often is manipulated and controlled, which of course Matter includes our physical body and mind (and grey matter brain), and also includes emotions, especially EGO.

Our greatest power source and IMO is our Soul which I personally believe is connected to the Divine Source, God) and I believe it is our Soul which is our Opponents Final Frontier via Transhumanism via Artificial Intelligence.

I believe our Soul is the domain of creativity, intuition and "knows" Past (as well as Past Lives)...... Present .... and Future) .

To 'see' the future is priceless and powerful because it means we can see past the illusion and therefore we can ' change direction', which is a threat to our Opponents.

Our Opponents are master manipulators of Saturn/Chronos/Time which is how they bind us
to this duality planet and they do this by strengthening our Ego so as to minimize
our Collective Consciousness and Soul.

Our Collective Consciousness is our harmony with our fellow man/woman/humanity, much like a flock of birds who all fly together and all turn in unison without chaos.
I believe we possess that same harmony.
However, our Collective Consciousness has also been severed by our Opponents through Divide and Conquer, as they know that there is power in numbers which is why they've separated us.


Our EGO pleasures and protects the physical blood only. The physical body is weak, it can be crushed, it's needy of 'matter'(water, food, shelter) and emotion and thrives best
with Love and compassion and evolves through knowledge.

The physical body stinks, pees and poops, ages dies and rots and because it's matter, the physical body can be and often is manipulated and controlled.

When we become off kilter and away from Soul and favor the EGO that's when we (and IMO) accumulate bad deeds/sins aka Karma which must be paid.

I'm currently paying back a Karmic 19 debt in this lifetime.
We reap what we sow ( Soul? )

There's nothing new under the Sun....

All IMHO...


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