Truths You Can Use

Truths You Can Use


Should Todd Akin Be Forgiven?

Forgiving others often involves struggle. As I wrote a few months ago, forgiveness does not necessarily mean condoning. Rather, it means accepting, moving on, and not holding your life hostage to the actions of another person.

Does this same logic apply, however, to the actions of a public official? As one of my congregants recently asked me, can we forgive a comment like that of Congressman Todd Akin, who contended that certain types of rape are “legimimate?”

Hard Questions

Furthermore, what does forgiveness mean in this case? Since the comment was not directed at any individual in particular, who is entitled to forgive?

These are not easy questions, and in the case of my congregant, it is a hypothetical one, as she does not live in Missouri and has no connection to Congressman Akin. Yet, it does demand some soul searching. How do we judge the words and convictions of others, and how do we hold them accountable?

Here’s what I said:

1. Forgiveness demands a clear and unequivocal apology: We have all received apologies where the offender says “I’m sorry for how my actions and my words made you feel.” In most cases, this is not an apology for one’s actions. It is simply an acknowledgment that what he or she did or said hurt us.

Congressman Akin needs to apologize for what he said unequivocally. It is not enough to say he misspoke. It is not enough to engage in a new ad campaign. He needs to show that he understood the ugliness and dishonesty of what he said. It is not politics. It is ethics.

2. Forgiveness and atonement are not the same thing: As Rabbi Brad Hirschfield points out in his thoughtful article, forgiveness is letting go of one’s anger and moving on. Atonement, on the other hand, involves reconciling oneself with the offense. It involves a renewed relationship and understanding. It takes more than a few days, and more than letters and advertisements.

3. Keep an open mind: Politics thrives on divisiveness. It is about who wins and who loses. Human relations, on the other hand, thrive on empathy and understanding.

Todd Akin probably has no future in politics. Yet, he does have a future as a human being. Let’s hope that future is one of growth and empathy.

By Evan Moffic,

GET YOUR FREE EBOOK: HOW TO FORGIVE EVEN WHEN IT HURTS.

What Do You Think? 



Previous Posts

In the Wake of the Kansas City Horror: The Life-Saving Power of Interfaith Conversation
This post was written with my friend and colleague, Reverend Lillian Daniel.  The late great Abraham Joshua Heschel was once asked why he devoted so much time to interfaith dialogue. He answering by recounting part of his family history. “When the Nazis came for my parents,” he wrote,

posted 1:56:25pm Apr. 16, 2014 | read full post »

Sermon from the Mound: 7 Spiritual Truths from the Baseball Diamond
Sports are one of the great sources for spiritual insights. As a child, I remember paying extra attention when the rabbi used an illustration  from baseball or football. They helped me visualize and understand the spiritual lesson. Of all sports, baseball lends itself best to Jewish wisdom.

posted 3:53:17pm Apr. 06, 2014 | read full post »

The Perfect Diamond with a Scratch: A Story of Hope and Healing
This short story, first told in the 19th century, continues to bring comfort and healing. We can use it every day of our lives. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esDr_IdrhjQ

posted 9:57:01pm Feb. 27, 2014 | read full post »

Love Wins: 3 Spiritual Lessons from Disney's Frozen
I used to enjoy walking into a home of peace and quiet. Since the film Frozen premiered, I have lacked this simple pleasure. Its soundtrack seems to play on a continuous loop every day throughout our home. I guess that’s part of the price to pay for having two small children. As a glass h

posted 4:21:04pm Feb. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Date Night With God
A healthy marriage is sustained by consistency. It is not the big moments—the wedding day, the birth of a child, the new home. It is the acts of love and commitment expressed daily, weekly and year after year. Sustaining them is not always easy. One consistent practice I suggest to young parent

posted 6:28:55pm Feb. 10, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.