By Harrison Neville
We all live our lives holding grudges and casting blame on each other. Most of us have at least one person whom we have held a grudge against for years, perhaps someone we haven’t seen in years, who could be an entirely different person, but still, we hold on to our hatred.
Trust me, I get it. Forgiveness isn’t easy, and it can be nice to have someone you hate to rant about to your friends – someone who you can use to make yourself feel better, because at least you know you aren’t like them.
And really, who can judge us? Sure, maybe it isn’t nice, but almost everyone does it, so why does it matter. It really doesn’t seem like it should matter. As long as no one gets hurt who cares?
Unless of course, your entire religion is based around the concept of forgiveness. Unless people actually are getting hurt.
Then it might matter.
At least a little.
Recently, John Archibald published an opinion article called “Killing is easy, if you look the other way.” The last line of the article says, “In Alabama we don’t like to think of people convicted of crimes as people. If we did, we’d have to treat them that way.”
Archibald points out in his article that those who are convicted of crimes are reduced down to the sum of their crimes, making it easier to stomach their execution.
In many ways, it is natural for people to want revenge, particularly if a member of their family was the victim of a violent crime.
There is, however, a heavy layer of hypocrisy to it if that person is a Christian, and according to the Pew Research Center, 86% of adults in Alabama identify as Christians. See, for Christians, forgiveness is a fundamental part of their entire belief system. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the cornerstone of the gospel of Jesus Christ rests on the notion of forgiveness. Literally, the whole reason Jesus died was in order to forgive everyone’s sins.
Throughout the gospel it is stated that there is no crime for which someone cannot be forgiven. In fact, one of the heroes of the Bible was a man called Paul, who, prior to his conversion to an apostle, was one of the greatest threats to the lives of Christians in his time. He worked hard to hunt down and kill Christians. In the stoning of Stephen, the Bible says that those who killed Stephen actually laid his robes at the feet of Paul.
Paul was a murderer, and not only that, he was a murderer who killed Christians, yet those who he hunted would eventually forgive him for his crimes against them and accept him into their ranks as a leader.
I’ve heard the story of Paul more times than I can count in various church related venues, constantly held up as an example of the level of forgiveness that Christians should aspire to.
So, once again, I will say I find it somewhat hypocritical that a high percentage of evangelicals, specifically white evangelicals, support the death penalty. These are the same people who push anti-abortion laws as part of their pro-life beliefs, the people who screamed “all lives matter” in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
All lives matter. Unless of course you’re on death row. As Archibald said, “In Alabama we don’t like to think of people convicted of crimes as people.”
But, if you really do believe that everyone has the potential for redemption, and that all life is sacred, then there is no room to exclude convicts.
Unless of course, you really don’t care.
But if that’s the case, it’s far past time you shut up about everything else, because if Christian forgiveness is for everyone, then you don’t get to pick and choose.
Harrison Neville is the editor in chief for The Alabamian. He is a fourth-year English major whose hobbies include reading, hiking, cooking and writing. He has previously worked for The Alabamian as a managing editor, distribution manager, copy editor and SGA columnist.