I was having an argument with some of my Christian friends. They said that we must forgive whoever wrongs us, as we hope God will forgive us. Period, whether or not they repent. I responded that God only forgives the penitent. So we should follow His example. Would forgiving the impenitent lead crime victims, for instance, not to press charges against their attackers? I’ve heard some Christians say that, and seen it depicted in movies as the “truly Christian” response. Should wives who’ve been abused “forgive” their still-violent spouses and move back in with them? I’ve read of priests who advised that, too.
But this disagreement vanished after my friends and I talked a little bit longer. What’s key is to distinguish firmly between “forgiveness” and “reconciliation.” If by “forgive” you mean “letting go” and not clinging to wrongs and craving vengeance, then, yes, that’s a good idea. It’s spiritually and even psychologically healthy. I probably shouldn’t still start fuming with anger every time I think back on tyrannical bosses, abusive landlords, or treacherous ex-friends.
That doesn’t mean I have to gaslight myself into thinking they were innocent, or ever have any contact with those people again. I still have a duty, when necessary, to warn people who might come into danger of suffering at such villains’ hands.
An Equal and Opposite Sin
A murder victim’s family can forgive a loved one’s killer, but still appear and testify against him getting turned loose to kill again. Wyoming citizens aren’t obliged to give Liz Cheney just one more chance to hold the football while they kick it. Premature reconciliation is irresponsible and wrong. In fact, it’s as every bit as sinful as harboring vengeful hate. It’s evil that wears a smiley face.
Defined thus narrowly and sanely, forgiveness is an excellent idea. Which is why I recommend it to candidate Donald Trump. Even as he faces in the coming days an arrest and a politically-motivated prosecution.
Trump Should Forgive, But Never Forget
No, don’t rehire, reappoint, or endorse the people who stabbed you and America in the back. Don’t even say nice things about them. But don’t let them spoil your peace, or dim the sheen that reflects from the gilded mirrors on your wall. And don’t let the thought of such people become a major factor in your plans for the future.
Kick the dust off your feet, as Jesus told the disciples when they left a town that rejected them. If it helps (as it helps me) remember the next thing He said, “Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.” (Mark 10: 15) In other words, trust in divine justice to be vastly more thorough than your own.
Trump’s Overlooked Virtues
Over the course of the past ten years, Donald Trump has changed quite a bit. Even more in the past five, as he has befriended and listened to sincere Christian pastors. During the presidential debates, he explained how he embraced the pro-life position, and in office he proved that he was willing to walk the talk. That’s more than we can say of a lot of supposedly pro-life Republicans.
What other Republican president would have stood by Brett Kavanaugh, when the left sprayed him (along with innocent bystander Mark Judge) with a firehose of filthy lies and outright perjury? The Soros operatives and pro-abortion fanatics who coached Christine Blasey Ford were certain — based on the rabbity timorousness of the GOP in past years — that false accusations alone would get Kavanaugh thrown under the nearest passing bus. They didn’t reckon with Trump, and his genuine character virtues, which include loyalty and courage.
So I’m confident that Trump can forgive (not recklessly reconcile with) those who lied about him, who gave him catastrophic advice, who gladly accepted jobs on his staff or cabinet, then callously schemed against him. If Trump can do that, he will find more personal peace, and feel less driven to lash out in ill-advised (though justified) rants and barbs aimed at those who betrayed him. Or at those who merely compete with him for the favor of Republican primary voters, such as the admirable Ron DeSantis.
Exorcists Can’t Fight Among Themselves
I’ve written here before that we don’t so much need a political reawakening as a national exorcism:
Given its full-on embrace of child castration, abortion through birth, gun confiscation, forced vaccination, $10 per gallon gas, massive vote fraud, and FBI harassment of parents who question Marxism in schools taught by illegal immigrant drag queens … I think it’s only fair to ask a spiritual question:
Is the Democratic Party, and the left which has captured it, from the tip of its darting tongue to the rattle that ends its tail, even a human institution anymore? That is, are people still running it?
Should we think of the Democrats as the proverbial lemmings who drown themselves? Or are we dealing instead with a herd of thundering Gadarene swine, dragging us down their slippery slope to perish in the sea?
When skilled and spiritually prepared exorcists get to work praying over some poor, dominated victim of preternatural possession, they don’t need to be fighting among themselves. But the Enemy will try to get them doing that, to keep his grip over that helpless soul they’re trying to free. They must resist this attack, and part of that resistance entails pulling out the barbs of lingering anger — however justified, as Trump’s mostly is.
In Part II, I’ll explore the obligation of those who have lied about, defamed, and committed false witness against Donald Trump and his supporters to publicly repent, for their own immortal souls’ sake as well as our country’s.
John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of “God, Guns, & the Government.”