Spirituality/Medicine Interface Project

On Forgiveness

Authors: John R. Knight, MD, Gordon P. Hugenberger, PhD


This edition of the Southern Medical Journal includes a special section on spirituality and alcoholism and in a related scientific article, Knight and colleagues report on the importance of forgiveness as a protective factor for underage drinking. Among adolescents, forgiveness had a more significant effect than any other religious or spiritual construct, including belief, religious affiliation, religious practices, and others. Why is this? Could it be that forgiveness is one of the ultimate tests of spirituality? Perhaps. After all, one can profess a belief by simply uttering a creed and demonstrate religious affiliation by walking into a church on an occasional Sunday. Forgiveness, however, is a matter of the heart—and it is no easy matter.

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