Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Power of Forgiveness

The longer I've been in ministry the more I'm convinced that forgiveness is essential for human health and the more I understand that forgiveness cannot be mandated, only bestowed by those who have been aggrieved or wronged.

I'm fascinated that the state of South Carolina has chosen to seek the death penalty for church murderer Dylan Roof, even though the families of the victims are asking for leniency and have been open about their forgiveness for Roof

Here is a portion of an article from the New York Times:

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Rev. Sharon Risher often thinks these days about what she calls her “humanness”: the passing impulse to crave the execution of the white supremacist accused of killing her mother and eight other black churchgoers last year.
“My humanness is being broken, my humanness of wanting this man to be broken beyond punishment,” Ms. Risher said. “You can’t do that if you really say that you believe in the Bible and you believe in Jesus Christ. You can’t just waver.”
But after delays, the Federal District Court here will begin on Monday the long process of individually questioning prospective jurors for the capital trial of Dylann S. Roof, who is charged with 33 federal counts, including hate crimes, in the June 17, 2015, killings at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Mr. Roof, whom a judge on Friday declared competent to stand trial, has offered, in exchange for a sentence of life in prison, to plead guilty. The government has refused to make such a plea agreement.
The 17-month path to Mr. Roof’s first death penalty trial — the state of South Carolina is also seeking his execution — has been marked by public demonstrations of forgiveness and reconciliation. But the federal government’s decision to pursue Mr. Roof’s execution is widely questioned, and it is in defiance of the wishes and recommendations of survivors of the attack, many family members of the dead and some Justice Department officials. Even South Carolina’s acrimonious debate about the display of the Confederate battle flag outside the State House was less divisive in this state, polling shows.

It seems to me that the state's choice is actually creating greater sadness and loss for these families who are attempting to live by their Christian precepts. What a world.

What are your thoughts about this?


roger said...

I think it's impossible to put ourselves in the shoes of family members of the victims. They have suffered horrible losses because of this evil monster, and I'm sitting here thinking that if he had killed one of my family, I would want this thing's life snuffed out. I might even feel so angry that I would volunteer to do it. However, that does not bring your loved one back.

I can only say that those family members are strong, and in the most severe test of their faith, they have not waivered. They are truly amazing.

Judy McKnight said...

We do not forgive to let others off the hook - we forgive to give ourselves peace, knowing that to hate or want vengeance creates more evil.