Practicing Repentance: Part II

While it’s true that our culture cares neither for wrongdoers or confessors, as we said yesterday, we also live in a narcissistic culture where it is completely normal for wrongdoers to find clever ways to avoid blame, or to appear contrite, or to victim blame, etc. These are complicated times. I am not suggesting that every appearance of repentance be met with mercy, but I am suggesting that the ability to earnestly repent is a good thing, though it may not solve the problem (depending on the scope of the offense and the relationship between the victim and the offender).

It is difficult to conceive of a particularly Christian version of forgiveness or repentance under such circumstances. It is assumed, in the Christian tradition, that forgiveness and repentance are restorative and rehabilitative both for individuals and communities. In other words, these are actions that necessarily bind us together rather than tear us apart. Such a view is not modeled for us anywhere in our culture, and only rarely in the church.

Acts of repentance drive us further apart because, when we repent in our culture, we have confirmation that the wrongdoing took place, which means our anger is justified, which means we can ramp up our wrath and our shame and whatever else.

What can we do about this?