This immediate, instant forgiveness for the shooter in the Charleston massacre is a misguided belief that I call “macho Christianity.”
It’s the belief held by some that no matter what a person does to you (or to others), you MUST forgive. “Go ahead — do something to me — watch how fast I forgive you!”
The Charleston church members have forgiven the shooter.
Really? He is forgiven?!
Does that mean nobody will testify against him in court? They will not help prosecute somebody they have forgiven.
Many Christians believe, if I’m a true believer, I can not go by MY will — I must go by the will of Jesus — I don’t like it, but I MUST forgive.
This is type of force-feeding. I can’t help feel that deep down, there is not the freeing of the spirit that we think forgiveness accomplishes — rather, a resentment — that all of the human processes have been suddenly jerked to a halt: shock, grief, anger, bewilderment…
This is a merciless, even inhuman, regard for one’s human self. It quickly casts aside all that one is feeling, for the sake of making a big show of “what good Christians we are — we forgive.”
Much of what we call stardom in Christianity is a disregard of “self” (self-sacrifice, meekness…). It isn’t healthy! Missing from a person’s life is balance. We all have needs. We can not ONLY service the needs of others.
Every so often, I’ll read an obituary in which somebody lauds the deceased, “He never thought about himself — he only thought about others.”
“No wonder he died!” I’ll mutter to myself.
It isn’t enough that we go through life thinking we’re picking up points with God by doing things like forgiving a murderer. Our purpose in life — that is, God’s goal for us in life — is that we become complete. “You must be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.” “Perfect” in this sense does not mean “flawless, making no mistakes.” Rather, “perfect” means “total, complete.” Stan Musial said that Willie May was the perfect baseball player. Complete. He could do it all — run, field, throw, hit for average, hit for power.
We are to become perfected as human beings — complete in the three aspects of life: relationship with God, with others and with our own selves.
A person neglecting any of these tripods leaves an imbalanced three-legged stool.
The role of forgiveness in God’s goal for us is that balance be restored. A person who feels every slight from others and holds tight the harm such that relationship with others shrivels rather than grows — is losing balance — is failing to become perfected, complete.
To forgive too quickly — to forgive too often — also means imbalance, because of its disregard for “self” in the three-legged life situation where we seek fulfillment — self, others, God.