Thanks to all who share their thoughts and questions.
Thanks to Candleman for sharing his book recommendations. From his suggestions I have added to my list of books to order and read.
I would like to respond to Mark’s searching questions. “I read an article on forgiveness that asserted that we humans are ‘hard-wired for revenge.’ What do you think?”
My answers to that question are yes and no. Yes we are wired with strong self-preservation instincts. Anyone who threatens us is likely to evoke a strong reaction. Just as King Benjamin observed, the natural man–unchanged by the divine influence–is an enemy to God.
The no part: We are also hardwired for empathy. When we take the point of view of the offending other, our reaction is softened. This is what psychologists call moral development and God calls kindness and pure knowledge. The yearned-for end-state for this inborn empathy is charity–when we love as Jesus does.
Mark asked another question: “Also, if we are too quick to forgive before the transgressor feels remorse for his error, are we helping them to possibly ‘short-cut’ and minimize their understanding of what they have done?”
Phew. That’s deep. My thought is that we are required to forgive (See D&C 64:8-10). It is God’s job to dispense any needed “vengeance.” Only One who loves perfectly and understands infinitely can be entrusted with exacting payment.
However, we may inadvertently encourage thoughtlessness by over-excusing sin. For example, the doormat spouse might say, “You’re right. I deserved that. I’m sorry I’m such a bad person.” There is a more balanced response. While we do not hold the offender accountable, we can say, “Ouch! That really hurt. You must feel awful to say/do such a thing.” We do not withhold forgiveness but we do not disguise the pain caused by the offence. If the person is open to repentance, he or she may feel empathy and may repent.