Forgiving Ray Rice

I am a Christ follower. I believe in His Word, and I strive – poorly at times – to be a reflection of God’s love and mercy. I am a father to a daughter, in love with the one woman who owns my heart, fiercely loyal to and protective of my little girl. I am a sports fan, often times consumed by the games grown men play, and the peripheral happenings that surround them.

I find these three aspects of my life coming together with regards to the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal. If you’re not familiar with the incident, I will not regurgitate the specifics. Rather, please feel free to link out to ESPN.com for the full story. I am also not here to join in the cacophony of outrage and opinions that has inundated not just the sports media, but mainstream news outlets as well.

Rather, I want to explore the space of what happens next. Not for Ray Rice or his wife Janay, the victim of Rice’s physical assault, but for us instead .

There is a rush to create distance from Ray Rice the man. First, the Baltimore Ravens, Rice’s former employer, terminated his contract. The NFL promptly followed suit and suspended him indefinitely, thus impacting his ability to be signed by another NFL team. Ravens fans sought to return the jersey of a man once considered a beloved member of their franchise, and commercial sponsors severed ties with the former running back. Ray Rice is left a modern day leper, shunned and discarded by society.

Still, in the immediate aftermath of the February incident, and now in the current and upsetting media storm, the victim of Ray Rice’s rage and stupidity, the only person whose opinion really matters, has chosen to display forgiveness. Janay proceeded to wed Ray in March, a mere six weeks following the violent incident. In a press conference in May, Janay stated she, “deeply regret(ed) the role that (she) played in the incident that night,” a comment that left many nervous and confused. Just today, Janay repeated her position of support saying, “I love my husband. I support him. I want people to respect our privacy in this family matter.”

My position on domestic violence is quite steadfast. In discussing the issue with my daughter, I’ve been quite imperative; “He hits you, you leave him. It’s not up for discussion. It’s over.” I am not sure how I would react as a dad at the knowledge that a man struck my daughter. I pray I never have to find out … and that I have sufficient money in the bank to make bail.

I also understand that both positions are not mutually exclusive. You can forgive a person who has wronged you and still choose to no longer associate with that individual. Forgiveness does not mean having to accept or tolerate the status quo, and growth and forgiveness almost always go hand in hand.

Yet through it all, we can look at this scandal through a worldly prism of outrage and contempt, or we can look at it through the prism of instruction we find in the Bible. “Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.” – Luke 17.4

Through it all, it’s been Janay Rice who has acted Christ-like, proverbially turning the other cheek, and choosing love over spite or revenge. The outcast leper is hers to heal and His to redeem.

Janay and Ray Rice
Photo by Patrick Semansky/AP, via abcnews.go.com
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4 thoughts on “Forgiving Ray Rice

  1. You have written a challenging and thought provoking post! I thought about an article I read about an Amish family who immediately went to be with the family of the man who killed their son. At the time I doubted I could do that. I still have those doubts tonight. Thank you for bringing this to us.

    1. Belated thanks, Rick, for your comment.

      Just like when people work out at the gym, stressing their muscles so they can become stronger, I believe God presses on us during the tough times so we can make our faith stronger. I like to think that in the unimaginable scenario, I would lean on grace and forgiveness, but I still struggle to understand how people do that when burdened by so much pain, anger, and contempt. If we think about it, it’s quite miraculous when people do display forgiveness in those tough times.

  2. This issue and circumstance is a tough one to imagine ourselves in…and my heart hurts for the couple. Obviously something is very wrong in their relationship that this could happen. But you are right, it is not our place to judge and they must forgive and move on, hopefully forward and together. The media didn’t help this situation either…over and over and over again we heard and saw and drew conclusions. You did a good job in the blogpost and you created also a teachable moment with your daughter. I’m praying for the Rice family.

  3. Belated thanks for the comment, CJ.

    It is interesting to see how the default reaction is a worldly one. Blame, judgement, outrage: and through it all we miss the message He wants us to carry. Grace, forgiveness, and renewal.

    And I do hope these lessons hold with both my kids. If there’s one thing better than learning from our mistakes it’s learning from the mistakes of others.

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