Shepards show true Christian charity

Editorial Board

There are some people who believe homosexuals are an abomination against the will of God.

Whoever believes that should take notice of the recent actions of Judy and Dennis Shepard, the parents of slain gay college student Matthew Shepard.

Without a doubt, their agreement to a plea bargain that will spare one of their son’s killers the death penalty is one of the most Christian acts in recent history.

Dennis Shepard said in court Friday that his son wouldn’t want Aaron McKinney to die, even though McKinney and accomplice Russell Henderson kidnapped, robbed and pistol-whipped Shepard, tying him to a fence and leaving him for dead in Laramie, Wyo., a little more than a year ago.

Both Henderson and McKinney are serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“I would like nothing better than to see you die, Mr. McKinney, but now is the time to begin the healing process,” said Dennis Shepard in court Friday, according to The Associated Press.

Dennis and Judy Shepard, who are in incomprehensible pain, have been models of dignity and strength throughout this whole ordeal. They’ve struggled to educate the public about the myths surrounding homosexuality, and during the trial, they kept a brave face.

The decision to be a part of letting McKinney live must have been an incredibly difficult one for the Shepards, but they did the right thing.

As tempting as it may be to give McKinney a painful death, it isn’t justice.

McKinney’s death wouldn’t bring Matthew Shepard back. It’s painful and obvious, but nothing will ever bring Matthew Shepard back.

The drug-dealing, high school drop-out McKinney isn’t going to learn anything about tolerance or how inhuman his actions were by going to the chair.

Who knows if he’ll learn those things in prison, but no matter how evil he is, McKinney doesn’t deserve the same fate he handed Matthew Shepard.

He deserves to spend every remaining day of his life contemplating what he did. Death would be too quick and merciful for him.

Judy Shepard has been part of a nationwide campaign to educate people about compassion and tolerance. It’s wonderful that she practices what she preaches.

The Shepards have been one of the few sources of hope during this American nightmare.

They’ve shown bravery and strength that is as inspiring as their tragedy is atrocious.

Let’s learn by their example.

Iowa State Daily Editorial Board: Sara Ziegler, Greg Jerrett, Kate Kompas, Carrie Tett and Andrew Brodie.