googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Too Quick to Forgive

Monday, January 12, 2015

Too Quick to Forgive

The Bible commands us to forgive. Sometimes, though, someone may have committed such a great wrong against us that we have trouble forgiving him. In those cases, we feel justified in holding a grudge. Nevertheless, the Bible is clear – if the sinner repents, we are to forgive him.

Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
Luke 17:3-4

The words of Jesus are clear: we rebuke the sinner but then we forgive him if he repents! Christians, in general, tend to be very forgiving. In the case of our personal dealings with other people, it's probably always the best thing to do. Don't hate. Don't hold a grudge. Just forgive. However, from a political perspective, I believe we're a little too quick to forgive.

I was reading and article online about the Fire Chief in Atlanta who was just fired for having written a book (completely on his own time) that discussed his Christian perspective on sexual morality. Considering that this is a municipality, a governing body, punishing a person for expressing his religious beliefs, I don't see how this is not a violation of the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment. The mayor of Atlanta said, I will not tolerate discrimination of any kind within my administration. Now that's funny. I guess he means, “discrimination of any kind against gays.” He seems to have no problem with personally discriminating against Christians.

Now, I hold government bodies to a different standard than I do private employers. I believe the state cannot be allowed to discriminate at all. We could not, for example, have a fire department that refuses to enter a black neighborhood or a police department that refuses to arrest white people accused of crimes against blacks. On the other hand, I believe private individuals and employers should have the right to discriminate. If this fire chief worked in another capacity for a private employer, I wouldn't be arguing that his rights were violated. However, I would still hold it against that employer.

The fire chief article included a link to the Duck Dynasty fiasco that happened about a year ago. I don't watch the show, but I understand one man on the show expressed his religious beliefs about gay marriage and A&E, the channel which carries the show, tried to drop him from the show. Cracker Barrel, a restaurant chain that offers southern style cuisine, also said it would no longer sell Duck Dynasty merchandise. Well, the backlash they received from the public was so severe, both reversed their decisions within 48 hours.

Since both A&E and Cracker Barrel are private businesses, I believe they were acting in their rights. They shouldn't face government fines for their decisions but these employers need to be held accountable by the public. Frankly, I'm getting sick and tired of businesses discriminating against Christians for the sake of tolerance toward gays.

When A&E and Cracker Barrel made these decisions, the public let them know they didn't like it. But even though they reversed themselves, I wonder how repentant they were. A NY Daily News article quotes A&E as follows:

We at A&E Networks expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article, and reiterate that they are not views we hold,” the network’s statement continued. “But ‘Duck Dynasty’ is not a show about one man’s views.”

Hmm. That doesn't sound very repentant. To me it sounds like they're saying, “We still hate Robertson's views but we're going to keep him on the air because we don't want to lose all the viewers who agree with him.” I would have liked to hear something more like, “We were wrong and acted rashly. Robertson expressed his deeply held religious beliefs and we should have respected his right to do so. We believe in tolerance and that should include tolerating even those views different than ours.”

Cracker Barrel was slightly more contrite. Another NY Daily news article says:

You flat out told us we were wrong. We listened. Today, we are putting all our Duck Dynasty products back in our stores. And, we apologize for offending you.... We respect all individuals' right to express their beliefs.... We certainly did not mean to have anyone think different. [They should apologize for their poor grammar. They should have used “differently.”]

Do see what I mean by only, “slightly more contrite”? You told us we were wrong. We apologize for offending you. We didn't mean to have you think we don't respect everyone's beliefs. Where's the part where they said, “We were wrong”?  We're constantly being abused by intolerant businesses and government officials and we accept their non-committal apologies. 

1 John 1:9 says, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins. What kind of “confession” is it if I said, “Forgive me, God, if I've done anything wrong”? In such a weak prayer you're not even admitting to any sin, let alone confessing one.  If these companies would admit to being wrong, I would forgive them. But since they don't, I won't. They need to be held accountable for their sins. We need to make them see that we won't forgive them until they repent. If we hold their feet to fire every time they make a bad decision, they might become a little more circumspect. Maybe they'd reconsider their corporate philosophies. Maybe they'll stop making such bad decisions in the first place.


Josue said...

RKBentley: I don't agree with your conclusion that you should forgive only when the other part repents. Jesus commanded us: “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

This is the same attitude God had towards us that even when we were sinners not looking for God, He sent Jesus to die for use because he loved us. This is different to sin forgiveness where we have to repent in order to be forgiven.

The verse you are using (which using only 1 verse for a theological statement is not good) resembles more to the church attitudes on Paul's Epistles. When someone openly makes an offense to the church must be rebuked and if he repents, he should be accepted back to the congregation.

That is my thinking based on my limited knowledge of the Bible.

God bless you on this ministry you have here :)

RKBentley said...


Thanks for your comments. I always appreciate hearing from a brother. I agree with a lot of what you said.

I absolutely agree that we cannot build too much on a single verse. The verse in Luke must be tempered by the other verses you've cited. Of course, I'm sure you agree the verses you've cited must also be considered in light of Luke as well. Christians are commanded to love their enemies and be ready to forgive, but are we not also commanded to rebuke sin? As we love our enemies, do we simply overlook their sin?

I believe that the command to rebuke sin and expect repentance is a part of loving our enemies. If someone is on the wrong path, we aren't doing them any favors by letting them to continue in sin. We can't just tell an unrepentant sinner, “That's OK; God still loves you just the way you are.” Instead, we need to speak the truth in love. Hopefully, they will see their error.

When we accept half-hearted apologies from companies who have abused Christian beliefs, we're sending the wrong message. We're telling them their behavior is acceptable. We need to rebuke them and expect them to truly repent. Hopefully, they too will see their error.

Thank you again for your comments. Please keep visiting. Also, please pray for me. God bless!!