Decent Films Mail > Mailbag #2

Re: Dead Man Walking (1995)

In the review of Dead Man Walking you said “The victims’ families’ grief-stricken refusal to forgive is understandable…”, and I just wanted to know what exactly you meant by that. Aren’t we as Christians obligated to forgive those who seek our forgiveness?

Wow, is that old Dead Man Walking capsule still out there? That thing is older than the website. I really should update it one of these days. (Like a lot of things I should do…)

To answer your question, it is certainly the case that we must be willing to forgive all who wrong us — not only if they seek our forgiveness, I think, but even if they don’t.

At the same time, for our fallen human nature this is possibly one of the most difficult demands Christian charity makes of us. That people should not only fall short of it, but even find it incomprehensible that it should be asked of them, even to the extent of finding it offensive and outrageous that those whom they consider unforgivable actually receive the forgiveness of others, is entirely understandable.

In calling it understandable, I don’t mean that the families aren’t wrong by the demands of Christian charity. I do mean that I understand completely why they feel that way, and I would not judge them for it. I can even imagine myself in their shoes at least feeling the same way they do — though I pray God I would not allow those feeling to determine my response, and would offer forgiveness regardless how I felt.

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