Justice or Forgiveness?

Mark Maines | Jun 29, 2009

Dealing with justice issues is so complex. Especially when dealing with individuals who have been convicted of crimes worthy of civil punishment. A wrong act was committed; it is right to suffer the consequences for that act. However, it also seems right to provide opportunities for redemption for those who commit crimes at such a young age. Maybe it’s not possible to escape the tension between justice and forgiveness, nor are they mutually exclusive. However, it seems nearly impossible to balance these two realities, at the right time, for everyone. What does “just” forgiveness look like, and is forgiveness “just”?

I find this excerpt from Fredrick Buechner’s Wishful Thinking to be particularly helpful:

To forgive someone is to say one way or another, ‘You have done something unspeakable, and by all rights I should call it quits between us. Both my pride and my principles demand no less. However, although I make no guarantees that I will be able to forget what you’ve done and though we both may carry the scars for life, I refuse to let it stand between us. I still want to be your friend.

Mark Maines

Mark Maines is a Navy Chaplain currently assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. He is committed to helping individuals and organizations thrive in both their leadership and their followership. He holds an MDiv from Fuller Seminary, and serves on the Advisory Council for FYI. He can be reached at mark.maines@usmc.mil.


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