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Can We Forgive Someone While Still Wanting Justice?


Amy writes to Busted Halo on Facebook and asks Father Dave: “Explain the relationship between forgiveness and justice. Can you forgive someone and still desire justice?”

Father Dave replies: “Absolutely. In many cases, that is needed. We always talk about this Old Testament notion of God being a God of mercy and justice. God is the only one who does it perfectly. For us, it is an effort, and we don’t get it right all the time. But those two things are both things we are called to, yes.”

RELATED: Forgiveness Is Not the Same as Letting Go

He gives the example of someone breaking into a home and the homeowner forgiving them and thinking there’s no need to call the police. It’s still wise to call the police, even though the robber has been forgiven.

Father Dave explains that forgiveness is not mutually exclusive with desiring justice. The two can go together, but that’s not always necessarily the case. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we don’t desire justice in a particular situation. And Brett points out that you don’t need justice in order to forgive. Father Dave replies, “Not understanding the distinction puts us in a society where people don’t forgive.” (Original Air 12-28-17)