Forgive One Another

Found this story on a great blog called Open Book. When a former policeman member of a "large liberal feminist church" in Oregon was convicted of using his position to coerce women into sex--the church, which despised his actions, rallied around him and his pregant wife.

Did this man make very bad and harmful choices? Yes, he did," Senior Pastor Greg Flint said. "The question is, do we cut him off? Our tradition is, we don't - at least not based on our reading of Scripture and understanding of what it means to be brothers and sisters in Christ."

The church offered an alternative to jail--community service and "restorative justice" in which he'd have to make amends to his victims.

The judge didn't buy it, and sentenced the church member to six years in jail.

And the church's pastor's words didn't go over well with victims.

But Flint's words ring hollow for Lori Yount,
victim advocate and volunteer coordinator for Lane
County Victim Services. Yount, who served as
advocate for all of the women in the Lara case,
said she was "taken aback" by church members'
demeanor and Flint's testimony at Lara's four-day
sentencing hearing.

Yount said she never saw any church members approach any of
the victims to offer support. She said many of the
women "felt re-victimized" at the hearing.

Liberal churches, like this UCC congregation, get a lot of flack for their theological stands on issues like gay marriage. But this church gets it--at least in this case. They are wading into the messy, unpopular work of forgiveness and reconcilliation that Jesus preached.

Jesus came to set the captives free. Not to set only the innocent captives free, but all of them. It's not a popular message in a country that has more than 2 million people in prison.

It's not a popular message for any of us. It offends our sense of justice. But this story doesn't shy away from the moral difficulties involved in reconcilliation. It's not make-nice, "Ok, I forgive you." It's the hard, uncomfortable work of forgiveness.


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