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Who Do We Forgive?
In religious terms, forgiveness is not always simple. Jesus seems to say that forgiveness is, to some degree, dependent on an accompanying change in behavior. Similarly, The Book of Common Prayer says that "true repentance" must precede forgiveness, along with "amendment of life." Forgiveness is not automatic. We don't
dispense it smiling and unthinkingly; we don't chant the familiar litany: "Oh, that's okay. No problem. I'll get over it." People who abuse and mistreat children, alcoholics who refuse to confront the havoc their behavior wreaks in their families, those who engage in sexual misconduct that destroys trust and love are not helped by too-easy forgiveness with no accountability for their actions, especially when these destructive actions are repeated and intentional. Forgiving others is not sentimental niceness; it is serious business.

Of course, forgiveness is most difficult when an individual’s actions are reprehensible by any existing moral code. How do we even begin to think in any clear way about people who seem beyond redemption and who have the capacity and the will to hurt us? How do we get by our fear and our wounds and see the child of God that lurks beneath?

--from "How Do We Give and Accept Forgiveness?”
an excerpt from "Finding Faith at the Movies"
by Barbara Mraz


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