Widower Pastor Davey Blackburn has just been criticised by a fellow minister for choosing to forgive his wife Amanda's murderer.
According to an opinion piece written by Elizabeth Delaney for The Gospel Herald, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson sad Blackburn should not have "offered" to forgive his wife's attackers because it was a "sign of weakness."
"The criminals haven't asked for forgiveness, so how does he know if they want to be forgiven? It's the criminals that need to apologise to him for their heinous crime. They offended the pastor; he didn't offend them. So I'm not sure why he feels the need to forgive them," explained Peterson.
"If he's a man of God, he should be living a life of forgiveness anyways. If the people who committed this crime are truly sorry and they ask for forgiveness, then it makes sense for him to offer forgiveness."
Delaney said Jesus Christ provided the best example of what it is like to truly forgive, even if the offending party has not asked for forgiveness.
"Jesus did not wait for humanity to ask for forgiveness before choosing to die on a cross as payment for our sins. That decision was made well in advance so that we could have the option to receive it—as in free will," she wrote.
Delaney said choosing to forgive Amanda's attackers does not mean they are already off the hook. According to her, choosing forgiveness is simply choosing not to hate in response to the horrible crime they committed.
"Hate is a powerfully poisonous emotion. Hate is the root of why Amanda Blackburn's killer murdered her. Choosing to forgive is not about the murderer. And from the angle of Pastor Blackburn's well-being, it's not even about needing the killer to receive it. It's about being able to move forward with his life and be the father that little Weston needs for him to be. And Amanda would want the best for them both," she said.
In the coming days, Delaney said Blackburn will learn how to be a single father, keep his job at the church, and struggle with not losing his faith because of the tragedy.
"Choosing to forgive and to love won't be easy in this situation. And Pastor Blackburn is well aware of that. But it is a choice that can be made and maintained by the power of God and choosing to get as close to God as he possibly can during this time of intense emotional pain," she said.