Faith leaders on true forgiveness in Will Smith aftermath: Is saying 'I'm sorry' enough?03/30/2022
Morgan: Will Smith once said this to me
Piers Morgan, who has an upcoming Fox Nation show slated for April, reveals on ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ what Will Smith confided to him years ago.
Faith leaders and others are sharing their reactions to the “apology” that actor Will Smith offered to comedian Chris Rock on social media after Smith’s shocking slap of Rock on Sunday night in front of millions during the live broadcast of the Oscars.
More broadly, they’re commenting on what true forgiveness is — or should be.
Can a few words of regret put out on a social media platform (after backlash and possible punitive action by the Academy) be enough to address the damage done by an unprovoked act of violence toward someone else?
“We should never forget how quickly we can fail — and how we need God’s grace at every moment of our lives.”
Here is some thoughtful, prayerful input from three faith leaders on a troubling occurrence that millions of people are still talking about well past Sunday evening.
‘We must choose to forgive at every moment’
“No one slaps another person on international TV without having resentment that has built up for a long time,” noted Dr. Jeff Myers, president of Summit Ministries (summit.org), who is based in Manitou Springs, Colorado. “That kind of anger doesn’t go away by saying the words ‘I’m sorry’ and then pretending that it never happened.”
Will Smith is shown here. Says one faith leader, "Forgiveness is to be the way we live, not just the words we say."
Myers added, “In the Christian tradition, believers daily express our sorrow for what we have done and left undone. The goal isn’t shame — but mindfulness. We should never forget how quickly we can fail — and how we need God’s grace at every moment of our lives.”
Yet “forgiveness is also ongoing,” Myers also said.
“Saying ‘I forgive you’ to a person doesn’t mean the offense is erased. We must choose to forgive at every moment of every day.”
“Regrets [should be turned] into greater awareness and better decisions.”
He noted that “Jesus said that we should forgive our enemies not just seven times, but 70 times seven, a figure that represents infinity. Forgiveness is to be the way we live, not just the words we say.”
He also said, “Wise people don’t try to live without regrets. They try to turn those regrets into greater awareness and better decisions. Both the offender and the offended choose to live at all times in the grace of repentance and forgiveness.”
‘Pray that true repentance has taken place’
“As a pastor,” said Lucas Miles of Nfluence Church in South Bend, Indiana, “I’m pleased to hear that Will Smith apologized for his recent behavior, and I pray that true repentance has taken place in his heart and that all involved use this incident as an opportunity to draw closer to God.”
Will Smith, left, and Jada Pinkett Smith arrive at the Oscars on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
(Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
He added, “While I’m certain that it will take some time for Chris Rock and the Smiths to personally work through what happened, my bigger concern is that America works through the importance of this moment.”
Pastor Miles also said, “I believe that Smith’s actions encapsulated the growing threat of cancel culture.”
“As a nation built upon freedom of speech, we don’t have the right to silence or forcefully control every message we don’t like, even when it offends us or those we love.”
Will Smith yells at Chris Rock from his seat at the Oscars after physically assaulting him on stage on Sunday, March 27, 2022.
The pastor added, “I pray that we use this moment to recognize how out of control we are and to hopefully re-center ourselves back on biblical principles and godly wisdom.”
‘More involved process of character refinement is a must’
Rabbi Pinchas Taylor of Plantation, Florida, shared with Fox News Digital, “Two things can be true at the same time: perhaps a defense of [Smith’s] wife was warranted, and violence is never the appropriate defense.”
“Perhaps it would be worthwhile for Will Smith to somehow involve the public in his journey to further clean up the mess.”
He explained, “Physical violence is only acceptable in response to physical assault. You can’t just hit someone because you don’t like what they say, and to add insult to injury certainly not as a public figure, on national television, on a show that many families watch together.”
Added Taylor, “While a public apology to Chris Rock is a good start, a much more involved process of character refinement is a must. You can forgive someone for spilling wine on your carpet — but the stain still remains.”
The rabbi also said, “Perhaps it would be worthwhile for Will Smith to somehow involve the public in his journey to further clean up the mess.”
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