Forgiveness and Justice
Forgiveness and justice although from a similar stable are NOT the same. This point is often forgotten or misunderstood by many people.
When I forgave the men that raped me I did it; calling on God’s strength to get me through, and his supernatural power to sustain me. I did it so that I wouldn’t have to live with anger and hatred festering away and eating me up inside. I did it to be free of the burden of bitterness. I had been down that path in the past; it was painful; it was horrible and I didn’t want to go there again. I was reminded of how close I had come to not being able to do that just days before the rape. And I did it because that’s what the Bible tells us to do. “Vengeance is mine” says the Lord. That frees me from having to decide what level of retribution is satisfactory.
I will never know what made my attacker’s do what they did. They can never justify what they did with an answer that will be satisfactory, there isn’t one.
But I did want justice. I wanted the men to be caught. I wanted them to be sentenced, I wanted them to be locked up so that they couldn’t hurt others, and I wanted them to know that what they did was wrong. I wanted the law of this land to sanction these men to learn that in a “decent” society – or any society – that rape, buggery and sexual assault are totally unacceptable forms of behaviour and very serious crimes. I wanted the sentence that I had been led to believe they would get – and that was Life – possibly with a recommendation that they serve longer. (“Life” being 15 years) to be handed out. It wasn’t. But that was a failing of the justice system.
I like many other victims of numerous crimes were let down by the one system designed to help and meet out justice. However, my forgiving the men did not impact on the judge’s decision on sentencing. That decision was made by a man who really didn’t understand what I had gone through. He made an error of judgement. One he was judged for, for many years.
Thankfully as a result of the error the law changed and you could then appeal against low sentencing. It didn’t give me justice, but it has helped others to get some.
At Easter it’s a good time to look at forgiveness and justice. Easter is a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice, a time to see God’s forgiveness and his love, conquering sin and death. But still giving people freedom of choice. Mankind has freedom of choice; the ability to hurt or heal, to persecute or protect, and the freedom to decide whether they want to follow Christ or deny him. That choice doesn’t make anyone perfect. It gives people a way back though when they do fail.
I try and fight/campaign for justice and I try to forgive. I don’t always get it right, but God’s grace enables me to be forgiven.