Forgive and hold Gov. Northam accountable

2/22/2019, 6 a.m.
In the current political challenges facing our Commonwealth, I was taken aback by comments and ideologies espoused by the Rev. ...

In the current political challenges facing our Commonwealth, I was taken aback by comments and ideologies espoused by the Rev. Al Sharpton during a gathering at Virginia Union University.  I vehemently disagree with Rev. Sharpton’s observations on forgiveness in this matter of Gov. Ralph S. Northam’s inappropriate actions of appearing in blackface.

I am not certain where Rev. Sharpton derived his ill-advised theology but it appears to be in graphic contradiction to the teachings of Jesus in the Bible on the subject of forgiveness. In the Bible, a woman caught in the act of adultery was not required to “pay for her sin.” In John 8:11, Jesus simply said to the woman, “Go and sin no more.”

I take further umbrage at Rev. Sharpton’s statement that “Forgiveness without a price is not forgiveness, it’s a pass.” It plays well as an inflammatory sound bite being used to agitate a supportive audience, but it seems to lack sound theological buttress. 

In Matthew 6:15, Jesus said, “But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Nothing here is mentioned about the person in trespass “paying a price” prior to being forgiven by those whom they have trespassed against. 

Lastly, in Matthew 6:12, again Jesus affirms the foundation for forgiveness when He taught, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Here again there is no mention of a transgressor having to “pay a price” for forgiveness.    

So Rev. Sharpton has come and gone, having incited his audience. But what substantive impact did he have on helping Virginians solve this political quagmire we are facing?

As a “son of the segregated South,” I’m proud to be a descended from a race of people who have survived much more than seeing someone in blackface. Our people survived Alabama Gov. George Wallace, Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox, Birmingham, Ala., Public Safety Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor, U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who was a recruiter for the Ku Klux Klan, and the list goes on.

To Rev. Sharpton and those who have precipitously called on Gov. Northam to resign because of his indiscretion, I leave you with the words of Jesus: “Ye without sin, cast the first stone.”  

Let’s hold Gov. Northam accountable under a greater degree of scrutiny in the position that he was duly elected to serve. Let’s help him learn from this episode, just as many of us had to learn from some of our past undisclosed indiscretions. 


North Chesterfield

The writer is senior pastor of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church.