Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Forgiving those who do evil

I don't know if anyone else is uncomfortable with the idea put forward of forgiving people who do evil, for example forgiving Henry Morgentaler for the abortions he performed and for eliminating protection for the unborn in Canada.  I have heard pro-life people promote forgiving people like Morgentaler, but I have never felt that it was quite right. And I was unable to formulate a response that was logical in return.

Well, thank you Melanie Phillips for doing just that. The woman has a keen sense of truth and of right and wrong.

In today's column, entitled Mandela, Justice and Forgiveness, Phillips writes:

And second, while you are entitled to forgive someone who has done harm to you personally, you are not entitled to forgive those who have not done you any harm but have done harm to others. Only the victim is in a position to forgive. If others do so, this is a presumptuousness which can lead straight to gross injustice or worse. There can be no forgiveness for Stalin, Hitler or Mao. To ‘forgive’ them would be to betray their victims and negate their suffering.

Doesn't that ring of truth?  There is more.
In today’s climate, however, where good and bad have become relative concepts, people have increasingly lost the will to fight for the former against the latter. They would rather reach an accommodation, even with active enemies. But you cannot split the difference between good and evil, for what you end up with is merely a sanitised form of that evil. 
Forgiveness may be necessary for an individual to move from darkness into light; but justice is essential if a society is to be civilised. Forgiveness is a great virtue; but it can never be at the expense of the fundamental moral distinction between right and wrong, good and bad. To make it so, as many are now doing over Mandela’s legacy, is another example of the vicious culture of sentimentalisation to which the morally confused west is now unfortunately all too prone.

It's worth reading the entire article.

1 comment:

Elena said...

I don't know. Something about her argument runs counter to the Our Father. Pro-lifers are the first to argue that abortion is not a private sin; rather, it is very public because it really does affect many more than just the biological parents. Thus, isn't public forgiveness needed? Not a public profession of forgiveness but a heart that is forgiving. I don't think that forgiving someone else's killer does injustice to the victim. Rather, it just binds up more people in a web of un-forgiveness masked as justice. Forgiveness does not exclude justice. Justice and mercy meet perfectly in God and 'should' in us as well.