Forgiveness is not a Mulligan

Over the last few days, I’ve been marinating in my own anger (something I really don’t like doing and generally manage to avoid)  over the statement Tony Perkins, head of the evangelical Family Research Council, made in response to the allegations that Trump paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 for her silence over their alleged affair.

Perkins asserts that President Trump gets a “mulligan” for his behavior. Other prominent evangelicals claim that Trump is a changed man who deserves another chance. After all, we Christians are all about forgiveness.

Evangelicals are so afraid of the gay agenda and so determined to legislate women’s bodies that they are willing to reduce the holy gift of forgiveness to a golf term for the sake of a man whom they think can deliver the latter and deliver them from the former.  The same people who have kicked battered women out of their churches for leaving their abusive husbands and violating the sanctify of marriage whole-heartedly support thrice-married man who has cheated on all three wives.

I have many issues with evangelicals and with our president, but this “mulligan” statement has really gotten to me.

Yes, Jesus did indeed tell Peter that you can’t put a count on forgiveness. Actually in response to Peter’s question as to if seven times is enough to times to forgive someone, Jesus said, “Seventy times seven.” I don’t think Jesus was asking Peter to do a math problem, but letting Peter (and us) know that there are no parameters or limits around forgiveness.

But forgiveness is not at all the same as a mulligan. For those not in the know, a mulligan is not part of the formal rules of golf, but is chance to do-over a shot that you’ve really screwed up. The only reason I know this is that I used to work for a non-profit that held golf fundraisers, and I used to sell mulligans for $50 a pop to benefit cancer research.

Forgiveness is not a do-over. When you screw up in life, there are consequences.  If I get caught stealing a really fabulous leather jacket from the window of a local boutique, I’m going to be arrested. There will be a fine. I may have to go to jail. Those are the consequences. However, my husband, my daughter and my parents would choose to continue to love me and support me even though I’d done something immensely stupid. My Lord and Savior would continue to love me and never abandon me–even if I went to jail.  I wouldn’t get a mulligan, but I would be forgiven by the ones who love me most.

We can love people and still not approve of their actions.

We can forgive people and not give them a mulligan as a substitute for the consequences of those actions.

We can even support a president and acknowledge that his actions are sinful and wrong.  Just quit trying to make it all fit in to the framework of  flawed theology.

Forgiveness is such a gift. A gift given to us through what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. A gift that we are able to bestow upon others because of what God has done for us through Christ. To reduce it to a golf term that’s not even a real part of the game is downright blasphemous.

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