Back to RJ Archive

Every knee shall bow

White, Mary
June 4, 2015

Source: (1999) In God and the victim: Theological reflections on evil, victimization, justice, and forgiveness, ed. Lisa Barnes Lampman and Michelle D. Shattuck, 183-198. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; and Neighbors Who Care: Washington, D.C.

As the mother of a murder victim, Mary White grapples personally and sensitively in this chapter with the issue of forgiveness. Forgiveness is difficult; it often seems directly contradictory and even offensive to our natural inclinations in the aftermath of deep injury. Yet, White contends, the practice of forgiveness is necessary and foundational to Christian life. Wrestling with forgiveness can be arduous and lengthy. It can be a process with ever deepening levels. However, White believes that in the long run forgiveness can lead to healing and a more profound relationship with God. White also discusses the complex relationship between forgiveness and justice. She claims that forgiveness does not abrogate the need for justice in response to an offender’s wrongdoing. Administration of justice through the legal system, however, cannot fully resolve and repair injustice and harm done. Criminal justice, then, does not substitute for the need to practice forgiveness. The Church, therefore, can and should help crime victims face the reality of crime and its effects, as well as embark on the process of experiencing and offering forgiveness.


AbstractCourtsForgivenessPrisonsRJ OfficeVictim Support
Support the cause

We've Been Restoring Justice for More Than 40 Years

Your donation helps Prison Fellowship International repair the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends for prisoners and those affected by their actions. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.

Donate Now