According to a recent survey, more Americans desire forgiveness in their lives than are willing to forgive others. The details are unsurprising, but interesting. Many of the hold-outs suggested that those who commit violent or sexual crimes are unforgivable, and a whopping 60% said ‘forgiving someone would first depend on the offender apologizing and making changes‘.
In addition, the majority of Americans polled said they ‘sought the advice of friends and family rather than religious leaders when grappling with issues of forgiveness‘, 25% said they ‘did not know where to go for help with spiritual needs‘, while a third of respondents ‘struggle with spirituality‘.
These results are, in fact, much too conservative. My feeling is that the true numbers ought to be about 100% in every case. Almost nobody knows what in the world is going on (existentially speaking), including myself; and our true selves emerge spontaneously, not after we have a moment to mull over the best answer to the pollster’s question. So the margin of error in polls like these is influenced less by the sample size (in this case, N=1000…where my stats nerds
at?), and more by the respondent’s desire to respond as the idealized self. The reality, of course, is that the numbers would have been the same had the poll been conducted within the church. Thank goodness that Christ was pro-active in His forgiveness, even calling out from the cross on behalf of his murderers, ‘Father, forgive them!’ Yes, and forgive us too.