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‘Is Forgiveness For Suckas?’

October 29, 2010

Bloggers Brett and Kate McKay make a compelling case for the strength that can be expressed through forgiveness:

The great satisfaction we derive from stories of revenge is quite understandable. Revenge played a healthy role for much of our evolutionary history. Within tribes, revenge insured that misdeeds were punished and deterred would be wrong-doers from committing egregious acts in the first place. Eye for an eye. It was a rudimentary but effective way to mete out justice…

I think we often resist the idea of forgiveness both because it seems contrary to the idea of justice and because it seems like an action born of weakness. After all, many people equate forgiveness with letting someone off the hook for their crime and allowing them to get away with wrongdoing. Doesn’t the lack of just punishment encourage the person to commit the same act again and put us in the position of condoning their crime? And if so, is forgiveness for suckas? For whipped push-overs?

But true forgiveness shouldn’t involve ignoring the issues of justice. It does not preclude justified anger. It shouldn’t be a get out of jail free card you bestow upon everyone willy nilly. It is not something you agree to simply to avoid conflict. It should not involve being a doormat who allows someone to hurt you over and over again. It is not the same as reconciliation, and it does not mean that you forget what has happened, nor that you automatically trust a person again.

What it does mean is that you let go of both your ill-feelings towards the offender and your need to personally balance the scales of justice. It’s a process whereby the antagonism you feel for the offender is replaced with compassion.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Murray permalink
    October 30, 2010 8:33 am

    I agree that forgiveness does not involve ignoring issues of justice. Even God does not ignore that. He just decided to punish our sins in the Body of Another.

    The basis for Christian forgiveness is that we deserved punishment for every single one of our sins but were absolved by God through the death of Jesus Christ. The sins others commit against us were likewise paid for. Therefore, if we understood what God did for us, it is relatively simple to extend the same grace to others.

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