Pete Davidson’s apology and society’s struggle with forgiveness

Last week, Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson told a joke about congressional candidate-elect Dan Crenshaw. Crenshaw is a decorated Navy SEAL who lost his right eye fighting in Afghanistan in the War on Terror.

Naturally, many were unhappy that Davidson made a joke about the appearance of a war hero.

This weekend, Crenshaw appeared on Saturday Night Live. And after giving a couple of comedic jabs back to Davidson (Crenshaw had some pretty good timing on his jokes), he forgave Davidson.

It’s fascinating to me how cynical some are when it comes to forgiveness. I’ve seen people say that SNL must’ve paid Crenshaw a lot of money to go on and “accept” the apology, I’ve seen people say that Davidson only apologized because there was an uproar.

Sure. Those things are possible. But why do we always have to be cynics? Why not just take it at face value? Davidson is a 24 year old comedian who told a joke that wasn’t in the best taste.

Why do we have to assume the apology is disingenuous?

Sometimes it’s in the face of criticism that we more clearly see the weight of our mistakes. That does happen. When I was in college, I wrote a humor column for the student newspaper. I wrote a column taking the local mll to task (it was a small town). There was a bit of a backlash (obviously not anywhere close to the level of an SNL joke, seen by millions). The mall pulled stopped carrying the paper, pulled advertising and threatened a lawsuit.

I never dreamed of any of that happening when I wrote the article. I also hadn’t considered the weight that words could have. And in hindsight, I certainly thought “this wasn’t the best idea.”

So yes, I absolutely believe Davidson was sincere. From seeing him on the show and in interviews, I’ve always thought he seems like a likable guy. And I am also not so cynical as to undermine the sincerity of Crenshaw in accepting Davidson’s apology.

Forgiveness is a virtue that is a struggle for many. Which is fascinating in a world where so many people reject the gospel. We can acknowledge that people mess up. And yet we struggle with the idea of forgiving them when they do.

That’s the beauty of the gospel!

Sin is something where the only means of redemption is the forgiveness that God offers through what Jesus did on the cross. Our need for forgiveness is real, God’s forgiveness is real. Likewise we need to ask for forgiveness when we’re wrong and we need to be big enough to forgive.

It was a nice moment. I thought both guys were class acts in apologizing and forgiving.

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Josh Benner is the associate pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. His hobbies include working out, watching sports, and photography. Josh and his wife Kari live in Minnesota.

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