The Church, Black Women, and “Forgiveness Indoctrination”

Just about 24 hours ago there was a twitter chat regarding a piece written by CandiceBenbow titled 4:43. It was written in response to themes in Jay-Z’s newest album. Her piece can be found here. I finally catch a twitter chat as it’s happening and I’m excited cuz I read this piece and it had me in my real deal emotions.

This was the tweet that got my twitter fingers jittery:

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I was all too familiar with the subject matter and I had some stuff I wanted to put out into cyberspace. Which sparked this tweet:

 FullSizeRender (9) You can click here to see where I proceeded to add a very shortened version of my own experience with “church hurt”. The Amens from sista twitter let me know I was onto something. My goal wasn’t to talk about how hurt I was, but to explain how forgiveness became the focal point of a situation that should have been REPENTANCE.

After the chat was over I knew I had to write a post about it. I decided that in my regular ratchademic fashion, that I should be real and candid about the hurtful experience I only brushed over in the chat to make a point. This is about me. My healing. And my desire to be candid and open. I have an obligation to my sisters to be so. So here goes:

The Black church/Black community, whatever, has got to stop perverting forgiveness to protect men of position and status.

When I was 16, I dated a young minister at my church. I went away to college a few months after. A few weeks later he presents me a twisted version of some indiscretions of his that transpired while I was away.  I was only hearing about this because the situation spread through pretty much the entire church. Interventions were had with him, the other person involved, and their guardians. (All things I found out after the fact). This was 6 years ago.  To this day, I was never included in any conversation. The only apology I ever got was from the guardian of the other person involved. But her being an adult, I found value in the humility.

His actions could have landed him in serious trouble. But no disciplinary action was taken against him. Not even within the church. He was on his post, playing the organ, and was preaching in the pulpit immediately after as normal. By the time I found out what REALLY transpired, I was left broken and in shambles to pick up the pieces on my own. At the end of the very first semester, I finished strong with a 1.68 GPA

Now I was left to fathom forgiveness. Of course, I had to remember, “the devil don’t want you to forgive”, so whatever I was going to do, I had to do it fast. Maybe only two people in that church ever asked me if I was okay. But I knew everybody expected me to. Months later I return from school, having recently learned the reality that they apparently been knew. He had long since moved on and I was faced with seeing him every Sunday in the pulpit, new girl in tow. I can’t tell you how many times I sat up in the Lord’s house contemplating real murder. I wanted to heal. I wanted to move on. But my obligation to the church building impeded that process.

At 17 years of age, I went an entire week without eating food because I was so sick to my stomach at the reality of my situation. At 17 years of age, I approached him, a couple years my elder, after weeks of crying out to God and trying to take control of my life, to let him know that I forgave him. At the time, I couldn’t figure out how to heal without getting past him first. And because I was embedded in bi-weekly doses of black theology, I had to rush the process because God forbid I died tomorrow without having forgiven him yet. I would have just purchased a one-way ticket to hell.

Unfortunately, the linear progression of healing never became my reality. In another hurdle, I had to contemplate how all these adults in the church completely ignored me and my subsequent suffering. They saw me in that prayer line, week after week, begging God to take this pain away. And perhaps, I still haven’t forgiven them for that.

Today, that 4:43 is married and has since been promoted in the church world and I can barely set foot in that building. Granted this has not been without more scandal on his behalf. But what does a black man in scandal mean to the black church? Forgive him.  Move on.

I learned an early lesson from forgiveness indoctrination. Some marveled at how well I “got over it”, but never did anyone really expect him to be publicly sorry. That was private. “Between him and God”


Let me tell you something sis. Anybody who hurts you disqualifies themselves from the ministry of “you need to let it go”. That is abuse, and I’m not willing to debate that. Forgiveness is about you. When someone tells you “it’s no big deal”, it is for the sole purpose of THEM being able to sleep at night. My choice to forgive needs to either contribute to or be the culmination of a healing process for myself. Your life cannot revolve around someone else’s feelings. And I rebuke the doctrine that makes a woman feel as if her lot in life is to constantly forgive and that’s as good as she gets. Sis, don’t let nobody hi-jack your healing.


Black Women and the Church graphic



31 thoughts on “The Church, Black Women, and “Forgiveness Indoctrination”

  1. Great post! I never thought about this in this way. I definitely agree I would go further and say that all women have to deal with this indoctrination of forgiveness not even just from church but from society as a whole. And not just regarding men but from any wrong we are dealt. I think that this greatly contributes to the problem of misogyny and sexual harassment and even assault. Women think they have to forgive and therefore think they are wrong to tell or complain or take corrective action and so they keep it to themselves and the cycle continues. If we as women are to forgive anyone it must first be ourselves for allowing disrespect and abuse to pass unremarked and undefended then we can change the course of the cycle and live fully. Much love ❤️

  2. “My choice to forgive needs to either contribute to or be the culmination of a healing process for myself…Sis, don’t let nobody hi-jack your healing.” Amen to that. Forgiveness needs to be taught in the nuanced manner that it exists, both inside and out of the church. Love it.

  3. I was hanging onto every word of this post! There is definitely a specific double standard in the church regarding forgiveness that we need to talk about more. Come on now!

  4. The more I read your blog the more I feel like we must have been twins in another life! Girl, when I say I can relate to this 100%!!!!
    The church (not God) can be so obsessed with protecting their public image that they don’t know how to deal with personal/private affairs properly. And as you’ve said, often the forgiveness is forced or rushed, especially if you’re a woman. They want you to forgive before you even have a chance to process what has gone on and I don’t believe that is God’s intention. God bless you for being strong enough to share and wise eboughyto recognise that this is wrong- very often people are easily misled by the church. Love this post!

    • Thank you thank you thank youuu for these words! And I likewise have to make this separation between what the church sometimes does and what I believe God actually wants to happen. If I believed this was synonymous, this would have been a very different post and I would no longer believe in God. I care about the souls within in the church.

  5. White girl here, but I still found your post an interesting read. I’m so sorry you had to go through that.

    I remember as a young kid, the pastor at my church ran off with another woman, leaving his wife and young daughters. I also remember thinking how strong his wife was, because a few weeks later, she got up in front of the church and told her own story about how it made her feel and what she was going through in the process of healing and moving on.

    I agree with you that forgiveness, though necessary, is not a process that should be forced or rushed because that takes away its value.

  6. Amazing!

    This is so smart and well thought out. It’s one of those questions that people don’t think about because God is love and love bears all things so of course we must forgive. But what are we forgiving, and how does the emphasis on forgiveness affect those who are being forgiven. Do they appreciate forgiveness as a gift or do they expect it as their due. I don’t have a terrible church story, I was never hurt in the same way you have been, but my mother is a pastor and this makes me want to talk to her about the question of forgiveness versus repentance.

  7. The 443 chat and this post….WHEW! I cannot tell you how much I relate to this. I went through this with the church when I decided to leave my abusive husband. I can’t tell you how many people tried to preach forgiveness while discounting the fact that I was abused in this relationship.

  8. As a fellow blogger I wasn’t sure what kind of blog to expect because of your handle, BoujeeRatchademic (love the name btw). After reading 4:43, I’m very impressed with your perspective, your intellilect, your writing, and your raw insight. Dare I say, forgive me if I sound surprised; you’re the bomb. Keep on doing what you do. I’m inspired. Oo


  9. Yass 🙌🏿 All of this. The grooming for oppression is real and it covers everything from racism, sexism to capitalism. Churches have become a breeding ground for this kind of work. Black women truly get the trifecta. I am sorry for your experiences of pain but I love seeing how it is lit a fire under you to express yourself. Beautiful.

  10. All I’ll say is Spot ON!
    This topic often swims around in my mind but honestly, as you said, we as women hesitate to speak on such. We hesitate to express such as our situation/stories are usually dismissed. We are encouraged to ‘forgive’ whilst the other party is allowed to ‘move on’ how and when they like all whilst still being held in high regard by others.
    Unfortunately sexism is indeed present in church.

    If I really go into this, we will literally be here all day. Thank you for opening up this necessary discussion and letting me know I am not alone in my thoughts.

    • Of course!! I’m glad you could identify with it. And i like to consider myself one of those people who says the outlandish stuff that everybody’s thinking lol. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts ❤️

  11. Thiiiiiis. Such a good read. The 4:43 post really hit home. Having been in a situation like that a year ago, to say it’s been difficult is an understatement. He was able to move on, while I was left completely stuck in the mess he created. It’s soo difficult to forgive when everyone around you seems to invalidate the trauma you’ve experienced. But you’re completely right—“to forgive needs to either contribute to or be the culmination of a healing process for myself”. I can’t tell you how much it means to see you put this into words. Forgiviness ain’t about him. It’s about me. Thanks for the reminder, sis. ❤️

  12. Oh. My. God. I am so glad you touched on this. Unforgiveness is a silent killer! I’ve been in s similar situation contemplating murder in church. 🤦🏾‍♀️ I had to heal a great deal just to enjoy church and receive a message.

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