The following essay summarizes some of the ideas in the “Song of Prayer,” which can be found in the book A Course in Miracles.
You can only forgive yourself, for it is only your “sins” that you see in another. It seems that another is sinful, but if this were the case, how could you ever be free from being harmed by him? You would be his prisoner forever. However, you can release yourself and your brother together when you offer true forgiveness. As long as this world seems to be your home, there will be illusions and errors. However, if you look at the world through Christ’s eyes, you will see that your mistakes can be overlooked and that eternal peace will be yours.
Forgiveness that has been corrupted by the world can be called “forgiveness-to-destroy.” This type of “forgiveness” focuses on guilt and sin. This type of “forgiveness” overlooks real love because it sees salvation in guilt. “Forgiveness-to-destroy” is death, and it hates everything that it sees because it reminds it of death. “Forgiveness-to-destroy” appears in many ways, but it has one goal: to make different and to separate what God created equal and whole. The following are some of the more common forms of “forgiveness-to-destroy”:
The Patronizer. In this type of “forgiveness,” one person sees himself as better than the one he “forgives.” Thus, he separates himself from the brother whom he hates, for he sees sin and death in him.
The Wallower. In this type of “forgiveness,” one person claims to share in the sin of another. In this case, people often compete with each other to see how deeply they can delve into their sins, which they believe deserve to be punished by a vengeful God. Thus, people attempt to separate themselves from each other and from a God whom they see as fearful and distant.
The Martyr. In this type of “forgiveness,” one person patiently accepts the results of the sin of another. The martyr separates himself from the one who seems to be abusing him, and reinforces the ideas that sin is real in the other person and that God requires sacrifice.
The Bargainer. In this type of “forgiveness,” one person offers forgiveness to another if the other person will give him what he wants or needs. The person who gives in this way is mocking true giving and in the attempt to control another becomes a slave himself.
What is the alternative to “forgiveness-to-destroy”? We simply need to be open to a new way of looking at the world and a new way of forgiving. The way we practice “forgiveness” does not work. We need to be willing to look at the world through the eyes of Christ and not interfere with his plan for salvation. We are not asked to figure it all out ourselves or to make great efforts. All we need is a “small willingness” to let God’s will be done. He will do the rest.
Christ has forgiven you, and in His sight the world becomes as holy as Himself. Who sees no evil in it sees like Him. For what He has forgiven has not sinned, and guilt can be no more. Salvation’s plan is made complete, and sanity has come. Forgiveness is the call to sanity, for who but the insane would look on sin when he could see the face of Christ instead? –A Course in Miracles