Love for a murderer

17 Sep

Right, now here’s a tricky question for you.

Could you love a murderer?

I was trying to find loopholes in my little philosophy – ‘To be known, is to be loved’. Exceptions to the rule. Terminally unloveable – as known as they could be.

And for a minute, I thought I had one – or three.

Murderers, pedophiles, wife-beaters.

I mean, they are pretty sky high up there on my ‘bad people scale’. We have a national anger for what they do, and a fear that they may strike someone we love, or first-hand effect our lives. They are at the centre of stories that shock nations, generate billions of pounds worth of press and bring up all sorts of horrible feelings at their mere mention.


Could I love a murderer? If I really knew a murderer, and understood him. Could I love him? What if he had murdered a member of my own family?

Can you vehemently hate what someone does, and love them at the same time?

I believe that we aren’t as we are, because we simply are (yup it’s a  bit of a tongue twister, read that again!). That closed mindedness angers me. We are all mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers.

Someone to someone.

Known by someone.

Understood by someone.

And all with the potential to do the most horrific, damaging, news-worthy things.

We can get hurt, very messed up and painfully damaged. And as my Mum tells me –

Hurt people

Hurt people.

Our deepest fear, is not that we are inadequate
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
Marianne Williamson

So could I love a murderer? If you took me to death row, and gave me time, lots of time. Time to talk, time to find that story that everyone has – the one that could reduce you to tears. Time to counsel, to understand, to know.

Really know.

To find that place at the very core of someone where it all went so drastically, damagingly wrong. To peel back the layers of hurt, hate and hopelessness. To look beyond.

To forgive?


I have been uncomfortably challenged by these incredible, confusing, life-changingly inspiring stories. People forgiving abusers, murderers, terrorists. And abusers, murderers and terrorist’s stories of forgiveness.

So grab a cup of tea, a biscuit (preferably chocolate) and a comfy chair. And flick through these stories, be challenged – and maybe even changed.

These word’s are Anne Marie Hagan’s. Her father was hacked to death in front of her when she was only 19.

‘Forgiveness is not permission. It doesn’t mean that you agree with what the offender has done, or that they had a right to do what they did. Also, forgiveness cannot be conditional on remorse because that would mean we can only forgive those who are sorry. Forgiveness is recognizing that the offender is a human being who is deserving of kindness, compassion and love despite the harm they have done’

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

4 Responses to “Love for a murderer”

  1. Farida September 17, 2010 at 1:57 pm #

    …insightful and very thought provoking!
    thank you for sharing beautiful xxx

  2. boho fangirl September 17, 2010 at 6:16 pm #

    First time I read the title of the post, I was like “NO WAY!” but then after reading the whole thing, it got me thinking…

    We are all humans and capable of doing really ugly, horrific things to each other. And yes, all of us have stories, families, loved ones, friends, enemies and what-nots. So got me thinking twice..but still can’t make a decision. Hmmm…a tough one indeed!

  3. Ali B September 18, 2010 at 7:43 am #

    Thank you for you thought provoking piece.

    Just the very fact that we are human beings means that we will all be messed up to one degree or another.
    That dysfunction will show its self up in the far from perfect way we will treat others and view ourselves.
    It is usually the people who have been hurt the most through the years who are most likely to go on to hurt others the most, as you said.

    Is it true that to be known is to be loved and to be loved is to be known?
    I think so on a Divine level.
    As a Christian I am transformed by my belief that I am known, really, deeply, truly known (no bad bits hidden) by a warm and compassionate God.
    I have an inherent value.
    He knows me, He accepts me, He loves me.
    And I am grateful beyond words because I don’t deserve it. Tim Hughes sings ‘You see the depths of my heart and you love me the same – you are amazing God!’

    But my challenge then is to go on and treat all others with the same value I myself have received, whether they are deserving of it or whether they are not.

    The offering of forgiveness in the stories that you mentioned is a reflection of the divine. It is not a natural human reaction for most. The forgiveness of those hurt in the stories, though undeserved, was given as a gift. And what a potentially life transforming gift that could be for the perpetrator.
    Yet might it be a sort of double edged sword?
    The wronged person is saying to them ‘I forgive you because as a fellow human being you too have an inherent value and deserve compassion.’
    If the perpetrater were to recognise and receive the gift of worth and value bestowed on them, perhaps for the first time in their lives, does it then cause them to acknowledge a worth and value to their victim which they had never recognised before?
    Did they treat their victim as a value-less piece of commodity at the time of their crime? Was it that atitude that allowed them to commit their crime in the first place?
    If they are now to embrace a new value for themselves through accepting the gift of forgiveness, will they have to also bestow that same value on their victim and allow a new revelation of the depths of the wrong they have done to a fellow human brother or sister?
    I would like to think so.
    Then there is opportunity for a deep heart change.
    Sometimes the hardest person to forgive can be oneself.

    As Jesus told the disciples who watched a prostitute bathe His feet in grateful tears in response to the love and acceptance He had bestowed on her
    ‘Those who have been forgiven much, love much,’

    May I myself find my way through to offer the gift of forgiveness to others when my own times of challenges and hurts come.

  4. DaPoet September 19, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

    Re: So grab a cup of tea, a biscuit (preferably chocolate) and a comfy chair.

    Would it be ok if I just grabbed a donut? Of course there are lots of women who fall in love with murderers who send guys on death row marriage proposals all the time.

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