There seems to be an unwritten yet oft-appealed to 11th commandment. Go to any “seeker sensitive” evangelical church or any “open and affirming” liberal church and you’ll find this commandment: Thou shalt not offend. These churches might agree with the old Puritan adage of comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted, so long as you don’t offend people or a certain subset of society. If a pastor begins to address sins—not just sin in general, but sins in particular—he had better watch out because if he offends the wrong person, he and his family will be out on the streets.
Forgiveness is undoubtedly an important theme and doctrine in Christian faith and life. But it is much more than just a theme. It is essential. The world doesn’t look fondly on forgiveness and its counterpart the apology. Very often, saying you’re sorry or forgiving someone of a debt or wrong is seen as weakness. How many people cringe at the thought of the federal government forgiving student debt in light of the trillions of dollars of its own indebtedness? How many actors, politicians, and talking heads have actually offered a truly sincere and believable apology? How many of us actually live by the cliché “forgive and forget?”