“remorse” – oil on canvas by peter lloyd (to purchase or browse, view his gallery)
Whatever happened to being sorry for what you’ve done?
Remorse, regret, responsibility, and repentance…
have been exchanged for excuses, explanations, exemptions, and exonerations.
- “Well, I didn’t mean it that way. So I’m sorry if that’s how you took it.”
- “I hate that you were hurt by what I did.” [Not “I hate what I did.”]
- “Well, that’s just the way I am. I can’t help it.”
- “I really had no choice in the matter.”
- “I think it all goes back to my upbringing. My parents weren’t around and…”
- “Hey, who are you to judge me?! The Bible says not to judge.”
- “Well, maybe it would be wrong for you, but it’s not for me. My conscience is clean.”
- “Everyone else does it.”
- “It was only a small lie.”
- “Seriously, you’re going to hold me responsible for that. I was drunk!”
Garrison Keillor writes (in jest):
In 1976, a major Protestant denomination narrowly defeated an attempt to destigmatize the Prayer of Confession by removing from it all guilt or guilt-oriented references: “Lord, we approach Thy Throne of Grace, having committed acts which, we do heartily acknowledge, must be very difficult for Thee to understand. Nevertheless, we do beseech Thee to postpone judgment and to give Thy faithful servants the benefit of the doubt until such time as we are able to answer all Thy questions fully and clear our reputations in Heaven.”
The apostle Paul writes (not in jest):
Even if the things I said made you sad, I don’t regret them. It was really difficult to see you hurt like that, but because was your sadness was short-lived, I know it was for the better. I’m really happy now — not because you were heartbroken — but because your sorrow prompted you to change your lives. That’s because you were sorry just as God intended. Godly sorrow brings a change in your heart, mind, and actions; and this is the path to salvation and true life. Worldly sorrow, on the other hand, leads to depression and, eventually, death. — 2 Corinthians 7:8-10 (my paraphrase)
And I write (not sure whether in jest or not):
I’m not sure Christianity the way we’ve done it is going to work anymore.
A few thoughts:
- As Christians, I don’t believe it’s within our job description — or within our power — to change the worldview of a nation. So we ought not complain about the loss of remorse in modern-day America. Rather we should focus on this next point….
- While we can’t put a stop to postmodernity, the loss of remorse in the church is a completely different story. There is a sorrow that is Godly. And without it, I fear we cannot have salvation. Some of us are just playing games.
- We also might do well to consider another way of first presenting the gospel to non-Christians in our communities. I don’t know for how much longer the old “you-have-guilt-and-need-to-be-forgiven-through-the-blood-of-Jesus-Christ” thing is going to work as an introduction. [I’d argue it probably already isn’t.] Perhaps we should think about some other portion of the good news with which to begin. It just doesn’t make sense for us to have to convince people of their guilt, so that we can sell them our religion. I wouldn’t say this if I didn’t know for sure that there exists a whole lot more good news than the forgiveness of sins spiel alone. [For my idea of a more complete definition of the gospel, see this post and those preceding it: the full and complete gospel.]
What do you think?