Tuesday, March 07, 2006

On Forgiveness And Repentance

An English vicar (priest) cannot forgive the July 7 bomber who killed her daughter, so she's resigning her post. Her resignation is understandable, but unnecessary - forgiveness should only take place when the sinner has repented. A suicide bomber can by definition never repent, and so cannot be forgiven.
A vicar whose daughter was killed in the London bombings has resigned because she finds it hard to forgive the men who carried out the suicide attacks."I rage that a human being could choose to take another human's life. I rage that someone should do this in the name of a God," she said. "I find that utterly offensive.

"We have heard a lot about things causing certain groups of people offence and I would say that I am hugely offended that someone should take my daughter in the name of a religion or a God.

"I have a certain amount of pity, the fact that four young people felt that this was something they had to do. But I certainly don't have any sense of compassion.

"Can I forgive them for what they did? No, I cannot. And I don't wish to. I said in the early weeks and still now say the name of my daughter's murderer...every day.

"I believe that there are some things in life which are unforgivable by the human spirit. We are all faced with choice and those four human beings on that day chose to do what they did."

The doctrine of forgiveness strengthens civilized societies. It helps the bereaved come to terms with their loss, it reduces the incidence of blood feuds, and it allows repentant sinners to re-enter society.

Modern Germany and South Africa offer inspiring examples of societies strengthened by repentance and forgiveness.

But if the sinners do not repent, forgiveness encourages them to continue their crimes.

For example the Brit government's forgiveness of the IRA convinced the minority nationalist electorate to transfer their votes from moderate nationalists to these "redeemed" killers, so encouraging the non-nationalist majority to move to the opposite extreme and radicalizing Northern Irish politics. Similarly, the German people after WW1 never expressed regret for starting that carnage, and those that forgave them convinced the Nazis they could try again.

The complete absence of Muslim repentance for the atrocities committed in the name of their god suggests they don't have this concept in their religion.

That's unfortunate, because that gives us only two ways of dealing with Islam - submission or the sword.