In honor of Lent,
let’s talk about forgiveness and reconciliation.
In my booklet, “101 Tips for a Happier Marriage,” I have a whole section called, “Forgiveness is More Important than Sex.” Why is that? People forget a great sexual encounter five minutes after it is over. But they’ll remember their grudges for a lifetime.
So, I was reading Jesus of Nazareth, Part 2, by Benedict XVI. I came across this explication of the theological meaning of the death of Jesus on the cross.
Again and again people say: it must be a cruel God who demands infinite atonement Is this not a notion unworthy of God? Must we not give up the idea of atonement in order to maintain the purity of our image of God?… with reference to Jesus, it becomes evident that the real forgiveness accomplished on the Cross functions in exactly the opposite direction. The reality of evil and injustice that disfigures the world and at the same time distorts the image of God–this reality exists, through our sin. It cannot simply be ignored; it must be addressed. but here it is not a case of a cruel God demanding the infinite. It is exactly the opposite: God himself becomes the locus of reconciliation, and in the person of his Son takes the suffering upon himself. God himself grants his infinite purity to the world. God himself “drinks the cup” of every horror to the dregs and thereby restores justice through the greatness of his love, which, through suffering, transforms the darkness. (page 232)
So, what is the non-religious equivalent of forgiveness? And could it be, that the willingness to forgive, at least partially inspired by religion, explains why regular religious practice is a protective factor against divorce?