You pose a very good question, one that likely has been asked by many others.  How can we follow the example of Christ to forgive the sin of rape or molestation when He certainly was never raped or molested?  Let’s begin by reading Hebrews 4:15-16, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”  We also read in Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” 

It is the absolute love of God manifested to us that will allow us to forgive personal trespasses against us.  God’s love is so powerful and complete, He can forgive anything we do, and we should imitate that love.  One has defined forgiveness as the “act of giving up our rights to avenge.”  We can do that when we realize that the Lord will, in His time, judge those who have committed such heinous atrocities.  We read in Romans 12:19-21, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Is revenge necessary?  The Lord will take care of that!

Christ, our high priest, was tempted, or tried, in ALL POINTS like we are…except for sin.  He had no capacity to sin and thus was never tempted to sin.  There was nothing inside Him to respond to any temptation that could exist.  The Lord Jesus said in John 14:30, “Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.”  There was NOTHING in Christ that Satan could appeal to that would cause Him to sin.  We must understand that not only did Jesus never sin, He never had the capacity to sin.

So, how can Christ, empathize with those who have been raped or molested?  (I want to point out that forgiveness does not take away the person’s guilt and the punishment that our legal system may impose on the molester.)  Consider how the Lord Jesus Himself, innocent of all charges against Him, was mocked, beaten, flogged terribly, and nailed to a cross, only to be made fun of by those who watched Him die.  Crucifixion is one of the most hideous, painful, and humiliating forms of execution ever devised.  Yet, we hear these loving words as He cried out to His Father, “FATHER FORGIVE THEM.” (Luke 23:34).  He loved beyond measure, even those who sought to kill Him.  What an incredible and powerful love!  Romans 5:5 tells us that “…the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”  The same love that allowed the Lord to forgive his murderers is now ‘poured out’ into the hearts of all who believe in Him, giving us the ability to forgive, “even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” 

For our own sakes, we need to be able to forgive so that we can move on from such terrible and traumatic events.  When something terrible like this happens to us, we have three choices in how we respond:

  • We can let it destroy us.
  • We can let it define us.
  • We can let it develop us.

It is the experienced love of Christ in our lives that will allow us to forgive (give up our right to avenge) and continue on in life without letting that experience destroy us or define us. 

For the believer, we read in 2 Corinthians 5:4, “For the love of Christ controls us…” (NASB).  Allow God’s love to penetrate your being, learn more about His boundless love, walk in His love, and allow His love to control you…to control your feelings, your attitude, your thoughts, your actions, and control your ability to forgive even the greatest of atrocities.  (459.4)