Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Choosing To Move On Does Not Mean Forgiveness Is Not Sincere

Dear Tazi:

I had been dating my now ex-boyfriend "Greg" for not quite two years when he was arrested for drunk driving. The passenger in the car he hit was seriously injured and almost died, and Greg was criminally charged. I was completely disgusted with what he had done and had no desire to stay with a man who was probably going to end up in jail, so I broke up with him.

Greg assumed that I was breaking up with him out of an immediate sense of anger, and surprisingly respected my decision. I should have known it was too good to be true, because as his trial date approaches, he has been calling me and emailing me, asking if we could try again. He has told me that he recognizes that he was at fault in the accident, and that driving drunk was a foolish and irresponsible thing to do and that he is ready to accept whatever punishment the judge gives him. He is planning on pleading "no contest" to the charges, on the advice of his lawyer, who tells him that pleading guilty will look worse on a criminal record.

Tazi, I believe that by pleading "no contest" to avoid admitting guilt is not accepting responsibility for his actions, and I have told Greg this. When he asked me to wait for him, I flat out refused, telling him that we do not have a future together. I thought this was the end of things, when Greg's mother called me. Apparently, Greg has decided to plead guilty in order to prove to me that he truly accepts responsibility for his actions that night. She is angry with me and has accused me of leading Greg on, implying that we could have a future together if he is willing to plead guilty. This was not my intent.

I emailed Greg to tell him that regardless of his plea we do not have a future together and that he should not be making decisions based on how he thinks I will react. I am strongly against drunk driving on both legal and moral principles, and cannot see myself building a future with someone who has committed this heinous crime. My email did not go over very well, Tazi.

After what I hoped was the final word on the subject Greg's mother called me again and told me that Greg was pleading guilty and "hoping for as much jail time as possible" because he could not see himself living his life without me and that if he was locked up it would make the pain of losing me easier to bear. His mother is now demanding that I tell Greg that I will wait for him - even if it is a lie - so he does not throw away his entire future over our break-up.

Tazi, am I punishing Greg too harshly for his behavior, as his mother claims? Is my refusal to lower my personal standards tantamount to a refusal to forgive Greg his sins? Am I being a hypocrite, as his mother claims, or am I right in my decision to move on with my life and to search for someone who shares my morals?

Confused Christian

Dear Confused Christian:

I think you need to take a giant step back from the situation and try to look at it through clearer eyes. Greg's mother is dumping her fears and frustrations on you in an emotionally abusive way. I cannot say I blame her for blaming you - she is upset, and it does appear that her son is dumping responsibility for his bad judgement onto you. This does not mean that his mother's actions are excusable, just explainable.

I suggest that you stand your ground on not getting back with Greg, and not appeasing his mother by lying to him and giving him false hopes that could come back to hurt you in the near future. I think that until Greg'd legal issues are settled one way or the other, you need to keep your distance from him. Greg would be smart to accept his attorney's counsel - that is why he is paying him - and not try to prove a point to you by pleading guilty and accepting a harsher sentence for his crime.

From what you have written, it appears that Greg wishes to plead guilty to prove to you that he is willing to accept full responsibility for his crimes (and make no bones about it, drunk driving is a crime); however, by doing so he may incur a harsher punishment at sentencing - and beyond. It is difficult enough for someone with a felony conviction to rebuild their lives post-incarceration; a plea of "guilty" over "no contest" can make this process even more difficult. In your desire to take the moral high road, do not blind yourself to these facts.

Are you judging Greg too harshly for his behavior? Perhaps. Has Greg apologized to those he has hurt? Has he asked for their forgiveness, and offered to do penance by them? If his actions speak as loud as his words, than yes you are being too harsh. I am not saying you must get back together with Greg, but you must be willing to accept his apology if you wish to call yourself "Christian". Your place is not to judge the sincerity of his remorse, but to work on overcoming the anger you feel towards him.

To answer your second question, I do not feel that a refusal to lower your standards is a refusal to forgive Greg's sins. You have the right to move on with your life and to search for someone new, but I suggest that you unload the emotional baggage you are carrying before you attempt a romantic relationship with someone new.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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