When Lance Armstrong appears on Oprah this week, word is that he admits to doping during his cycling career. What makes his admission so grievous is that he repeatedly denied allegations of doping levied against him for years and went after those who tried to bring out the truth. But my concern is not about what Armstrong will or will not admit to in the church of Oprah. My concern is how we, as Christians, respond to any request for forgiveness. Let’s look at the arguments.
1) Lance has betrayed many people. He doesn’t deserve forgiveness after the way he treated people. True, but biblical forgiveness is not about what a person deserves. Did Javert in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserable deserve the forgiveness of Jean Valjean? No, Javert continued to hunt down Valjean with no resolve to forgive. He was all about the law and making Valjean pay. But Valjean’s forgiveness freed Valjean to be a better person and love. Javert ended up committing suicide.
2) Forgiving Armstrong means condoning or minimizing what he did. False. Forgiveness never does either. It actually recognizes the severity of the breach of trust or betrayal, which is why is it so powerful for the one giving it.
3) Forgiving Armstrong means we let him off the hook. False. He has already lost much. There are natural and spiritual consequences for betrayal. His financial empire is collapsing. His reputation is tarnished and his trophies gone.
4) Once a person asks for forgiveness, reconciliation follows. False. Forgiveness is an act you individually do and reconciliation requires two people. So you can forgive but not reconcile.
5) Once you forgive, things should go back to normal. False. If there is a breach of trust, the person still has to show he or she is repentant. Repentance requires a turning away from the wrong behavior and making a change. For someone to trust again takes time. The person has to repeatedly show he or she was sorry by not returning to that behavior.
6) If a person gets caught and that is what prompts an apology, it is meaningless. False. Your place is not to judge the sincerity of the apology. You are to forgive. Time will show whether the person meant it. God judges the heart. Only he knows if a person really repents. Our job is to accept the apology and still be wise about re-engaging that person given the type of offense.
7) Physically it doesn’t matter if I forgive or not. False. Forgiveness frees you. It has positive benefits to your health. It lowers heart rate and blood pressure and relieves stress.It reduces physical symptoms and helps you sleep, it restores positive feelings not only to the offender but to others, leading a person to more altruistic behavior and charitable work. It lessens depression and lowers your risk of substance abuse.
8) Forgiveness is spiritually commanded, not an option for the believer. True. God forgives us when we don’t deserve it and he expects us to do the same to others. Did people deserve Jesus’ forgiveness on the cross? Yet He gave it. And God tells us that if we don’t forgive, He won’t either. This doesn’t mean that your feelings will be in line with the choice to forgive. Feelings take longer to work through and trust is an issue impacted by lying or breach of trust.
I also spoke to CBN News about this topic. Here is the link to that interview. There is a set up piece about Amrstrong and then the live interview”
The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) found that increasing numbers of attorneys are relying on social networking evidence in their cases. According to their records, about one in five cases cite Facebook. Social media has been used to determine a person’s state of mind, and show evidence of actions, time and place and communication between people. Take Jack for example. He claimed he couldn’t work due to his disability, but pictures on Facebook proved otherwise. Sandy posted defamatory comments about her ex and those were used against her in court. Jill posted pictures of herself with her boyfriend, then was found guilty of an affair because of the date of her photos.
If you refuse to stay off social media, Badali and his partner Andrew Taylor, provide these 8 tips:
- 1) If you choose to keep your social media pages active, be vigilant in monitoring them. Remove any compromising photos or comments that others post about you or tag you in.
- 2) Privacy settings. If you don’t know how to lock them down as tightly as possible, now is the time to learn.
- 3) Be careful of what is in the “private” portion of your Facebook page, too (messages, etc.). There are judges who have ordered the parties in a divorce case to exchange usernames and passwords to each other’s social media pages.
- 4) Change your Facebook password to something your ex would not guess. It’s possible that a vindictive ex could log into your social media profile, make damaging posts in your name and then use these posts against you in court. Sound fictitious? It happens
- 5) Resist the temptation to vent about your ex on social media. Whether it’s an intentional slight or not, anything you post on social media can be used against you in a divorce proceeding. Tread carefully.
- 6) Stop checking in. There is nothing more damaging to parents claiming they cannot pay child support as when they “check in” at an expensive restaurant or airport to leave for a vacation.
- 7) Be especially sensitive to the awkward position your mutual friends are in when a couple is breaking up. It may sound harsh, but sometimes “unfriending” mutual friends – not just friends of your ex – may be the safest option until the divorce is finalized.
- 8) Remember the basic rule of all social media. Before writing a post, making a comment or sharing a photo, think to yourself, “Would I be comfortable if millions of people – not just those in my personal network – saw this?” When in doubt, don’t post.
Bottom line, think before you post! And remember, when you are defaming your ex, he or she is the parent of your child/children. What kind of an example does that set for your children?
I finally was able to see the movie version of Les Miserable. Stunning performances by the actors, beautiful cinematography and an incredible story of grace and forgiveness. One could not help but be moved by the message—every life is of value and worthy of God’s forgiveness and grace. I was moved to tears.
But the contrast of the movie trailers preceding the film is what struck me. Every single film had intense violence in the trailers. I felt assaulted. Especially considering the timing. We just witnessed the burial of first graders gunned down by a heartless trigger happy adult, and now we promote movies in which violence still reigns supreme and “entertains” Americans.
I might be alone in this, but I find nothing entertaining about the download of violence that continues to be promulgated by Hollywood. And one of the new movies in the trailers was Django Unchained, an incredibly violent movie with an over the top massacre scene directed by Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino is known for creating violence on the screen. It is his trademark.
Yet, he became incensed by reporters who asked about the connection between movie violence and real violence. He refused to answer a TMZ reporter when the question was posed and became rude. He told the TMZ reporter that he had no obligation to explore the topic of real life violence. He reportedly got hostile with a British interviewer as well.
Hmmm…becoming hostile when asked about violence? In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary violence, is it really a leap to ask about violence on the big screen? Does Hollywood have any culpability in helping curb violence in our culture?
Hollywood. Home of the entitled and privileged, many of whom feel they can do whatever they want with little consequence. And how dare we ask them to explain their actions or thinking on the heels of one of the worst violent crimes in recent years. While violent films may not create a violent killer, the jury is out on the impact they have on all of us. Issues like desensitizing us to violence, creating fear and anxiety in terms of a world view, have been determined to be a result of violent media.
It’s time for media producers to do a little self-examination. We can have all the conversations we want on gun control, safety in schools but don’t tell me that the constant bombardment of violent images, graphic brutality doesn’t play on the minds of the unstable. However, Hollywood continues to award this type of violence and take a hands off approach regarding their own culpability when it comes to our violent culture.
The question to ask is, what good does all this pictorial violence do for average American viewer? Does it help us become better people and treat our brothers and sisters with more care?
For me, we could benefit from a lot more of Les Miserable and a lot less of Django!
I’ve written several articles on the impact of the mom’s mental health on the development of her unborn baby, but what about the dad? Could the mental health of the father also impact his unborn child? A study published in Pediatrics provides and answer to this question.
A Norway study of 32,000 children found that the psychological distress of dad during a baby’s pregnancy did indeed impact child development.
Specifically, fathers were given a screening questionnaire regarding their mental health status during their child’s pregnancy. Later, mothers were asked to also fill out questionnaires regarding their child’s development. Controlling for a number of variables, an association was found between the fathers’ mental health and their children’s later developmental problems. Dads who scored high on anxiety and distress when the mom was 17-18 weeks pregnant, had children who were more disruptive and anxious at age three!
Why is this?
One can only speculate–maybe the mental health of the father later impacts his parenting, or maybe his mental health impacts the mother’s mental health, or maybe there is a genetic link..we don’t really know.
But psychologist, James Paulson, associate professor of psychology at Old Dominion University has been studying the mental health of dads and how this may impact child development. He believes the study has an important take away–consider the mental health of the dad, not just the mother. Better depression screening for dads just might make a difference in the development of healthy kids, even before they are born.
Reference: Paternal Mental Health and Socioemotional and Behavioral Development in Their Children, Kvalevaag, et al.