Does “turning the other cheek” mean complacency?
Earlier this week members of the First Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, were gunned down during a typical Sunday morning church service. Devin Patrick Kelley’s rampage claimed at least 26 lives and wounded at least 20 others. The violent act left behind a small-town church of 100 reeling from losing friends, neighbors, and loved ones, as well as the question: What now?
A pastor from a Fort Worth, Texas-area church has his own answer for the afflicted congregation: forgive.
“To refuse to forgive is to insist on drinking the poison you meant for your worst enemy,” Pastor Al Meredith, formerly of Wedgwood Baptist Church, told a radio interviewer. “You always destroy yourself.”
Meredith has insight into what it means to forgive a mass shooter. In 1999, a gunman killed eight members of Meredith’s own congregation, and wounded seven. Meredith has been preaching forgiveness since then.
Meredith’s words reflect a difficult tension when it comes to the aftermath of tragic violence, particularly when that tragic violence occurs within a Christian place of worship: According to the FBI, almost 4 percent of mass shootings between 2000 and 2013 took place in a church. How can or should those affected by tragedy live out one of the most fundamental and radical principles of Christian life — to “turn the other cheek” to offenders — even as they balance righteous anger at those responsible?
Forgiveness can be a politically loaded act
In some cases, forgiveness of offenders has doubled as a political act of resistance. When white supremacist Dylann Roof opened fire on an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine, the families of victims made headlines by forgiving Roof publicly during the trial.
“We have no room for hating, so we have to forgive,” Read More Here