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Agnostic/Atheist Support Group

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hurtbs posted 4/24/2007 12:23 PM

So, for those of us who do not lean on religious/faith concepts of forgiveness and reconciliation, how do you develop your ideas/beliefs about this process?

First of all, I don't believe that 'everything happens for a reason' or is part of a 'larger plan.' Instead, I believe that people are responsible for their own choices. As they're responsible for their choices/actions, then they are the ones who have to fix them - they do not give up this responsibility to a higher power. Personally, I find it more empowering.

Still struggling with the issue of forgiveness. I do believe in forgiveness. I think that it is important for all walks of life. I do not, however, believe that people are entitled to forgiveness.

Other thoughtss?

wasfooled2 posted 4/24/2007 12:37 PM

Glad to see this group, too. I was not raised religiously. I wouldn't say I'm athiest, but definitely agnostic. I just don't know what to believe in. I could use some help in the faith department. I have truly lost it with this affair.

Glad you guys are here.

7yrsbetrayed posted 4/24/2007 22:28 PM

So, for those of us who do not lean on religious/faith concepts of forgiveness and reconciliation, how do you develop your ideas/beliefs about this process? First of all, I don't believe that 'everything happens for a reason' or is part of a 'larger plan.' Instead, I believe that people are responsible for their own choices. As they're responsible for their choices/actions, then they are the ones who have to fix them - they do not give up this responsibility to a higher power. Personally, I find it more empowering.

Still struggling with the issue of forgiveness. I do believe in forgiveness. I think that it is important for all walks of life. I do not, however, believe that people are entitled to forgiveness.

Other thoughts?

I finally realized that I will never forgive my FWH. And that's ok. What he did is horrible. It really is unforgivable but that doesn't mean that we can't move forward. I don't have to forgive him to do that. I have to TRUST him. In order to trust him I have to know that he is sexually sober. I have always loved him. I used to trust him. I still love him. He's working at regaining my trust. No, I will never say, "It's ok, I forgive you." because I don't. It's not ok. It never was. He knows it was wrong and accepts responsibility. I think forgiveness is overrated and frankly, I don't for a second believe most people when they say that they forgive people for horrible things. I think they just feel obligated to say it.

I still struggle sometimes with my FWH's SA recovery because of the whole "give it up to your higher power" thing. As an atheist it's just silly to think that God is going to intervene and fix something. Yeah, and the Money Fairy might come and shower our house with cash. Whatever. My FWH says that he has defined his higher power as "us" (our family, me, our daughter) and society. In order to be a good person he needs to be responsible for his actions in his family and the community.

rizzo posted 4/25/2007 14:42 PM

I believe in forgiveness. I believe that you can forgive the person without forgiving the action. Just like I forgvie myself, but never my actions. But I agree that not everyone is entitled to forgivenss, nor is my life horrible because there are people I have chosen not to forgive. I don't have to forgive them, but I have to become indifferent to them.

I, too, find far more power in taking responsibility for my actions, for fixing them, and for living my life than the idea of giving it up for a higher power. My H is the polar opposite.

My belief often ends up being "that which does not kill us, makes us stronger". By that I mean that by getting through and learning from experiences we become stronger people.

kwash posted 4/25/2007 16:07 PM

I am an atheist and I struggle with the forgiveness thing too. My MC says I equate forgiving with condoning and I agree that I do this. Perhaps those who believe in a higher power believe that forgiveness is a necesary step to healing because asking god's forgiveness is a necessary step to redemption (I think?)??? I don't think I will ever forgive my ex-h and OW and I don't think my lack of forgiveness has hindered my recovery. I just don't get forgiveness as a must step in recovery outside of the whole redemption thing.

This is a very interesting thread and I'm happy it's here!

Still_Lost posted 4/25/2007 20:40 PM

In my life, I don't believe that forgiveness is a prerequisite to healing or moving forward. I will never forgive XH or OW because the A is unacceptable along with the landslide that followed. It was a complete destruction of many lives.

Perhaps acceptance is the idea that I apply in my own life. I accept the horror of my reality. It doesn't make me feel great but at least I found peace in truth. Truth is what allows me to make good and proper decisions.

After the initial shock and disbelief, I took control of my life and focused on rebuilding my family without XH. I felt comfortable moving on without forgiveness. In fact, it did not even enter my mind.

Perhaps in the near or distant future, XH may show interest in his children. If my kids want him in their lives, then I must oblige but there would still be no forgiveness involved.

If he were to show decency and sincerity in the future, I may be inclined to view him as a different and improved person. He may regain my respect and trust but it's not necessarily forgiveness. It's actually acceptance and letting go.

Skye posted 4/26/2007 09:34 AM

I agree with you 100%. I don't believe forgiveness is necessary. But acceptance is. And once that occurs, we are on the road to recovery.

I am learning (slowly) that you have to accept the unacceptable but you don't have to forgive the unforgiveable.

And maybe that is a concept only angostics/atheists can accept.

rizzo posted 4/26/2007 13:15 PM

I guess I feel that in order to move forward with my H, I had to forgive him. If I could not forgive him, the person, I would not be able to live with him. The people in my life I have not forgiven I do not have anything to do with. I don't hate or resent them, I simply want nothing to do with them.

While his actions (and mine of course) were unforgivable, the person is still forgivable.

kwash, I struggled for a very long time too about condoning/forgiveness. I believed that if I forgave I was condoning the behavior. I started to look at it a little differently after talking to our new MC. She asked me to look at how I treat my children. Do I forgive them if they mess up? Does forgiving the child mean condoning or forgiving the behavior? That really struck a chord with me and made it easier to separate the person from the behavior.

7yrsbetrayed posted 4/26/2007 19:01 PM

I am an atheist and I struggle with the forgiveness thing too. My MC says I equate forgiving with condoning and I agree that I do this.

Ditto. For me to say "I forgive you." is the same, for me, as saying, "What you did is OK."

I don't believe forgiveness is necessary. But acceptance is. And once that occurs, we are on the road to recovery.
I am learning (slowly) that you have to accept the unacceptable but you don't have to forgive the unforgiveable.

And maybe that is a concept only angostics/atheists can accept.

Very well said Skye! Very well said. I think I need a t-shirt that says "I can accept the unacceptable but I cannot forgive the unforgiveable."

My husband said that what he needs is my acceptance, not my forgiveness. And by acceptance he just means that he needs to know that I love him, flaws and all. And I do. I don't love his addiction but I love him even though he is flawed. I cannot forgive what he did but I have accepted it and we are moving forward.

Gonna_Make_It posted 4/27/2007 23:52 PM

to me the whole forgiveness / trust things is just semantics anyway...

My WW has a very black and white view concepts like this. She was having a very hard time with me right after d-day because she could not understand how I could say I love her and want to be with her and then turn around and say that I would never be able to trust her again or forgive her. To her it is either forgive or not forgive.

We've discussed this a lot and to me it is all just shades of grey. I will not forgive her, I will not forget this, but I will be able to move on and not hold it over her head.

In the reality that is perceived by ME I can trust her more and more each day as she proves herself to me and get to the point where I am comfortable with her future actions but I will never be able to say that I TRUST her or FORGIVE her. I just hope to have faith in her actions enough to be OK with where we end up.

Skye posted 5/10/2007 13:36 PM

7yrs, I've been away so didn't see your response, but I'll buy one of those tee shirts too!

25wimsey posted 5/10/2007 14:10 PM

I also would like one of those tee shirts! Forgiveness is a concept which is often so tied up with religious thought--and that doesn't help me any. Janis Spring wrote a book about Forgiveness after infidelity--it's really helpful and not religiously oriented at all. More the acceptance stuff which helps me ( if I ever truly get there!)

7yrsbetrayed posted 5/11/2007 00:55 AM

I shared my revelation (that I had as I typed that post) and the resulting amalgamation into the line "I cannot forgive the unforgivable, but I can accept the unacceptable." with my IC (who is also our MC) He was quite literally WOWED. Like seriously wowed by it. Wrote it down. Said he needed to share it with other clients. And praised me up one side and down the other for coming to it all on my own (well, mostly...i had the concept but Skye gave me the easy portable version) He says this is huge. He's right. It was. A huge breakthrough in our recovery and our reconsiliation.

(So, is anyone really serious about wanting a shirt (or bumper sticker etc) cause I'm a graphic designer and could whip it up and open a CafePress store. Just saying. )

[This message edited by 7yrsbetrayed at 12:58 AM, May 11th (Friday)]

Skye posted 5/11/2007 06:48 AM

I could certainly use a magnet! (I'm a little too old for tee shirts.) Maybe I could take some small steps looking at it every day.

25wimsey posted 5/11/2007 11:00 AM

Magnet would be perfect!!! Wearing a tee shirt would involve explaining why I was wearing it!!

25wimsey posted 5/14/2007 13:49 PM

Anyone see the book reviews about Christopher Hitchings new book "God is Not Great"? Sounds like an interesting book--

Course me reading it is a little like preaching to the choir (to borrow a religious analogy!!)

Skye posted 5/15/2007 08:26 AM

Right now I'm reading "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. Truly enjoying it. Will pick up the Hitchens book next.

I constantly wonder what "believers" would think if they read these books!

tootired posted 5/25/2007 12:59 PM

Don't really have much to add right now - a bit pressed for time,just wanted to say that I"m *very* happy to see this thread alive again!

I hope to be able to come back again and add something to the group - a little background - I'm agnostic as is (F)WH and I'm not really into the whole forgiveness thing, like 7yrs was saying I also equate it to condoning the behaviour - I am however working on the whole "acceptance" thing and I'd say I'm about 85% there (20months past DDay 2 and 2.4 yrs from DDay 1)

Oh! Here's a question! How many of you celebrate Christmas and Easter????? We celebrate both............merely from a "traditional" standpoint and ofcourse the kids love it. When DD (9) asks about "why" we celebrate those things we tell her "Some people believe that..........." and go on to explain the reason for that particular holiday I also offer up "but other people believe..........." and I'll point something out about Buddhists or say something about Allah, we also say that "some people don't believe in any of those things and have their own thoughts and opinions on things, this is what I believe, I believe that if there is God or Heaven I'll find out when I die or maybe I"ll come back as a frog or maybe nothing at all happens........who knows......but I'm okay with not knowing"

We also point out that for Christmas that the act of giving is important and this is what we are celebrating and practicing. DD also knows that she is free to be part of any religion she wants or no religion at all,it is her choice. DS (3) is a bit yong now but we'll be telling him the same things.

Would anyone else care to share their experiance w/the holidays???

[This message edited by tootired at 1:01 PM, May 25th (Friday)]

Skye posted 5/25/2007 13:19 PM

I always celebrated the holidays while raising my children. I felt I "owed" them the bases of religion. Now they are grown up and I only celebrate if they want to. I have the bigger home and I'm still the mom, so we seem to congregate here. They know how I feel and they have their own beliefs, which is what I wanted for them.

Shadow Dog posted 5/25/2007 13:22 PM

I've gotta say, I don't much like Christopher Hitchens' writing. When I see his byline on Slate, I avoid the article--don't want to validate his material with a single "hit".

It's just that he has a peculiar way of thinking and an abrasive manner--I guess I think of him as being to the Left as Dr. Phil is to therapists.

Dammit posted 5/25/2007 14:23 PM

FWH and I are both atheists yet we've always done the Xmas and Easter thing with our son. We pretty much did the same as you tootired, explained that the 'giving' aspect of Xmas is what we are celebrating. Easter was only ever about coloring eggs and lots of candy.(It's fun and Easter has the BEST candy so why not!). Although we did explain what others celebrate these holidays for ...

I will always remember the first 'religious' discussion with my son. He was 4 and asked what happened when you die... I explained that people believe so many different things, we covered quite a few and also discussed what mom and dad think. We do that with most things.


He's 16 now and pretty much following in his parents footsteps with his beliefs but we always tell him whatever he decides on the matter it's his choice and we will respect him for it.


As to Christopher Hitchens... I've not read much of his stuff but the times I've heard him in interviews etc. I think he comes off as a pompous ass.

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