Forgiving Does Not Mean We Surrender Our Right To Justice

Everett Worthington Jr. is a prolific writer on forgiveness. He comes by his knowledge through research and personal experience. In 1995 his mother was murdered. The killer was caught and confessed. Later on the evidence was determined to be tainted, the confession was withdrawn and the killer was let go. Everett made a decision to forgive the man. He also decided that if the man ever went to trial he wouldn't push for the death penalty.

Worthington offers this on the topic of justice and forgiveness,

By forgiving, did we lessen our drive for justice? Does forgiveness work against justice, or can forgiveness ever work alongside of justice? Forgiving changed our emotional experience, but it did not affect our desire for seeing the perpetrator caught and brought to trial.

Justice often actually works to promote, not undermine forgiveness. Isn’t it easier to forgive a convicted and punished criminal than someone who gets off scot-free? When we are harmed, we experience a sense of injustice. This is called the “injustice gap.” The bigger the injustice gap, the harder an offense is to forgive, and the stronger the negative emotions are.

If the offender does anything to help balance the books, the injustice gap is narrower and forgiveness is easier.

Ann made forgiveness easier (though certainly not easy) by narrowing the injustice gap.

She gave up her good paying job to stop traveling and work locally.

She invested time in counseling and shared the insights she gleaned with Dr. Kessler.

She gave up volunteering at church. We both did for a season to give us more time to focus on our healing and relationship. 

Ann accepting these and other consequences helped me to forgive.

I made changes as well. I was more attentive around the house. I owned the damage my drinking and emotional affair had caused. I pursued her heart again like in the beginning, only wiser.

Justice was served and so was forgiveness. We moved through the pain. 

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