Forgiveness seems Lazy; am I really expected to forgive Dylan Roof?
I spend a lot of time on the phone with my family. Because I am the first child and the only member of my family in the US, so it’s very important both for my and my parents’ emotional and mental health that we talk very often. In one day, I can call my father and have a one hour long conversation with him, then call my mother and talk with her for another hour, then call my sisters and talk with them for another hour. Also, I more or less talk with them every day. Ours is probably an extreme need to talk on the phone, but honestly, I relish the hours I spend on the phone with my family.However, I do not call my family on Thursday evenings because they are always at bible study. The devastation of Charleston did not hit me quite as hard until I had a conversation with Priscilla whose parents, too, are active in their church and regularly attend Bible study. She asked me to imagine that my family members had gone for Bible study and never returned home.
At that moment, it hit me.
I am angry about Charleston. I am angry, very angry. I am angry because you cannot reduce the entirety of an individual to the color of their skin. Dylann Roof’s action was an attack on both race and religion.
Dylann Roof, you decided to walk into a church, a house of worship, and you decided to take life. Do you, Dylann Roof, realize that the lives you have taken can never, ever be replicated? Do you realize that your action was utterly disrespectful to God, the creator of the universe? Do you even know what you have done? Do you Dylann? Do you? How dare you Dylann? How dare you walk into God’s house and take life? Life is sacred, that is why Jesus died on the cross. Dylann, Jesus Himself died for you, and for the people you recklessly killed.
In Nigerian movies, characters are very quick to blame the devil. “Oh, sorry madam, this is the work of the devil, he took my hands and placed them on your money and the money flew into my pocket”
Please, are you a remote-controlled robot?
“Sorry honey, the devil made me sleep with that man”.
Please, did you think you were going for a swim as you took off your clothes?
Dylann, while I always roll my eyes at people who make such statements, this is one point where I will believe if you tell me that the devil made you do it.
Here is why: I cannot comprehend how you can harbor such hatred that you take not just one, but several lives. I feel bad for you because when trouble comes, the devil vanishes and lets you suffer alone- check Nebuchadnezzar who ate grass for 7 years because of his pride, check Samson who lost his eyes because of disobedience. However, here is the difference between God and the devil- God is there with you especially when you mess up. God granted Samson his greatest kill at his (Samson’s) death, even though he had disobeyed God and lost his eyes. God restored Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom when he had had enough grass and learnt his lesson.
So Dylann Roof, I hope you realize that the one and only person that can take you out of your misery is Jesus Christ. The same Jesus whom you have disrespected so outrightly. But you’re in good company, though. I, for one, disrespect Jesus day in and day out; but His mercy is new every morning, so you have nothing to worry about. If you want more clarity on this, please refer to your Facebook wall.
That said, please can we not act like all we need to do is forgive Dylan Roof? Please don’t get me wrong, forgiveness is absolutely necessary. However, forgiveness does not in any way take away our social responsibility, especially as Christians. Do you ask what God would do in this situation? I’ll give you two examples to prove that God is the champion of social justice:
- Egypt- God could have sat on His throne in heaven and clapped for the Israelites as they forgave the Egyptians several times. But God warned Pharaoh severely and eventually sent ten plagues to Egypt. God clearly shows us that in an unfavorable and unjust system, you disrupt the peace. In fact, He killed the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, yep, that’s how much God cares about social justice. This should be a wake up call for everyone to disrupt the peace of a system that oppresses people due to the color of their skin. This is NOT about gun violence, this is NOT about mental illness, this is about the wickedness that dwells in the heart of man. I am not saying go and kill off the first born sons of the oppressors. The only person who has authority over life is God because life belongs to Him. However, if you live within an oppressive system and you do nothing about you, you too are an oppressor.
- Esther- In the book of Esther, there is a man named Haman who hated the jews. In fact, Haman planned to have all the Jews executed. But Queen Esther got word of his despicable plans and did something about it. Yep, she did not just forgive Haman and move on, she did something. Queen Esther declared a three day fast for all Jews throughout the land. But she did not stop there. She risked her life and went in to see the King. There was a law in the land that if anyone went into the presence of the King unsummoned, they were to be killed. But Esther went to see King Xerxes. She was so favored, Xerxes said he would give her anything, even up to half of his kingdom. Esther’s courage made a difference to the entire Jewish nation.
I would really love to explore this in more depth, but this post is already very long and dense.
Conclusion- Please, as much as you want to forgive Dylann Roof, this is a wake up call to the world, because there already is too much wickedness. When Jesus spoke to the adulteress, He asked her if anyone had condemned her, and when she said no one, He explicitly asked her to go and sin no more. As much as you forgive Dylann Roof, ask him to go and sin no more. Jesus chased the thieves out of the temple with whips, and He overturned their tables because He is as much a God of mercy as He is one of justice. You too will give account of what you did about the systematic oppression in your society.
Whew, that was a lot. May God bless us with the gift of courage! Allelu, Allelujah!
Image from here.