Taking innocent life is not new. You might say it is as old as Cain and Abel. The real culprit is hatred, and humanity has never been able to harness this destructive emotion. Hatred seeks to harm, in some form or fashion. And if we are unable to physically harm someone who we perceive as being worthy of our hatred, we find ourselves wishing harm to fall upon them.
But when hatred turns violent, and blood is shed as a result, it is fair to ask whether or not forgiving the shooter… the murderer… the butcher… the assassin is warranted, much less required. Is it our duty to forgive them for what they have done?
Many of you remember the classic song, The Cat’s in the Cradle by Harry Chapin. It is about a father and son who never seemed to find time for one another. In my 15 years of forgiveness-related counseling, I’ve learned that one of the most common emotional wounds that children carry into adulthood is a feeling of abandonment by a parent. Sometimes children are literally abandoned, but most often the pain grows out of having an absentee parent; a parent who was too busy, for one reason or another, to spend time with their children. Continue Reading
Over the last 15 years of forgiveness-related counseling, there is one reoccurring obstacle, which has kept daughters from forgiving their mothers and sons from forgiving their fathers. It has kept victims from forgiving their perpetrators and families from ever forgiving and reconciling with one another. This one barrier is almost always the source of continued long-lasting personal pain and suffering. It is the fountainhead of racial tensions too and just about every other interpersonal concern that I can think of. Wonder what it is?
These words, spoken tearfully, fell from the trembling lips of the widow of a man who killed himself after she found out he was having an affair. Forty hours after she read a text message from her husband’s paramour, he drove his car into a nearby lake and killed himself. The congregation became quieter than quiet, as she shared her testimony during Sunday morning worship.
The theme for morning worship was “Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery.” The widow’s name is Brenda, and is a close personal friend of my wife. This is her story.
All religions value forgiveness. Only Christianity requires it. In fact, even people who claim no religious affiliation can find and experience the benefits of forgiveness. We know that everyone, from Baby Boomers to “Gen Z,” will find what we have to share both relevant to their everyday life, as well as emotionally and spiritually healing.