Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Thoughts on Michael Vick

Michael Vick was released from prison in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, this morning. He'll serve the last two months of his sentence (for bankrolling a brutal dog-fighting operation) at his admittedly palatial Hampton, VA home. The e-mosphere (a term I'm trying to coin...electronic atmosphere) is abuzz this morning with debate about whether or not Vick should be allowed to play football again. Some thoughts: What does forgiveness mean? Jesus said that he who has been forgiven much loves much (Luke 7:47). The argument from Law goes like this: Sure, Vick has "paid his debt to society", but the penalty did not fit the crime. It wasn't enough. The Christian parallels are obvious:

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus preaches, "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person.If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you" (38-42).

It seems that this has far-reaching implications for forgiveness. Are Michael Vick's sins so heinous that the "turn the other cheek" dictum doesn't apply? Are we to go back to "Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth?" Are there times when the popular rejoinder, "Jesus doesn't want us to be doormats," is true? What would it mean to forgive Michael Vick? What are your Thoughts on Grace in this situation?


  1. Vick should not be allowed to return to pro-football. These superstar athletes are idolized by our youth... and when they get off Scott free or with a slap on the hand... it sends a bad precedent.

    Same thing with athletes who do steroids or wind up doing drugs of other sorts...

    Case in point.. Michael Phelps who was smoking a BONG and got photographed. And he was on the Wheaties box. Is this a role model?

    Our Athletes need to be held to a (no pun intended) higher standard. No drugs... no dog fighting... no ANYTHING.


    How many of us are Millionaires.

  2. No "anything"? Where does the line get drawn? Traffic violations? Jaywalking? It could be argued that athletes get paid millions for their talent (or, more accurately, the ability they give to their employers to sell merchandise and TV rights) and not for their moral fortitude.

  3. Does forgiveness mean that someone is being permitted to do the same thing they did before? I am not sure that it does. I consider that Jesus teaches us to forgive others so that we would be forgiven for the things we do. Considering this when one would ask me if I believe that Michael Vick ought to be forgiven for the part he played in dog fights, I would say as everyone else did that I felt his involvement with the dog fighting was heinous. If I was inclined to judge him I would consider Jesus teachng about forgiveness and would have searched my soul to uncover whether or not between people I might have incited fights. Did I say for instance a bad thing against another that may have lead to one's arguing with another. I would then ask for forgiveness for my sins. If in my heart I believed supporting him would get him involved with dog fighting again, I would not support his return to his career. This does not mean I don't forgive him, but it is a reflection of my concern for the dogs.

  4. Jesus, when asked "How many times should we forgive?", said "Seventy times seven times." I believe he was talking about the same infraction. Indeed, is it really forgiveness if you forgive on the condition that the person doesn't do it again? Can forgiveness be unconditional?

  5. I don't see how forgiveness CAN'T be unconditional. the premise for the forgiveness is that someone has wronged you -- its kinda nonsensical to then assume (with some sort of conditional forgiveness) that thereafter they won't wrong you again. Conditional forgiveness puts some cost on the person who repents, which is why I don't think it actually exists. Actual forgiveness costs the forgiver.


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