Exploring personal and relational motivations and processes of forgiveness in religious families


family process, forgiveness, God, relationships, religion


Objective and Background: We used qualitative methodology to explore forgiveness motivations and processes in an ethnically, economically, and geographically diverse sample of 198 highly religious Christian, Muslim, and Jewish families in the United States (N=480). Priorre search has identified several significant relational implications and outcomes of forgiveness. However, there is a need for additional research on forgiveness processes and motivations among highly religious families.

Method: Families were interviewed jointly through a semistructured interview protocol. Analysis was conducted using thematic and team-based coding procedures.

Results: Core themes included (a)“Why forgive?”:Relational, religious, and spiritual motivations; (b)“What enables state forgiveness?”: Relational, religious, and spiritual processes; and (c) The role and development of trait forgiveness (forgivingness).

Conclusion: Findings highlight the relational, religious, and spiritual motivations and processes present in forgiveness and the role religious/spiritual beliefs and practices play in those processes. Additionally, findings illustrate participants’ value of the virtue of forgivingness and reported religious and relational processes that helped in developing the trait of forgivingness.

Implications: We offer several questions that can be used as a starting point for practitioners to work within the world view of religious clients to empower individuals, couples, and families to forgive.

Original Publication Citation

Hendricks, J. J.,Chelladurai, J. M., Marks, L.D., Dollahite, D. C.,Kelley, H. H., & Rose, A. (2022). Exploring personal and relational motivations and processes of forgiveness in religious families. Family Relations. DOI: 10.1111/fare.12733

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL



National Council on Family Relations




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor