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.
This is a grave mistake. It is a good thing when someone confirms a wrongdoing has taken place. Why? Because this is the very thing that confirms the victim’s story, a rare win when most accusations fall on deaf ears. When a victim’s story is confirmed, there is an opportunity for justice to happen. For this reason, repentance can represent the good on several fronts.
It can, theoretically, draw victim and offender back together and offer their relationship hope for a second act (or third act or fourth act). It can offer the offender hope for a new life beyond their former destructive ways of living. Let’s not forget- so often people find themselves trapped in a cycle of wrongdoing in part because they do not believe they can transcend the pattern itself.
Offenders need hope for themselves in order to stop offending. Should they stop, this would be good not just for themselves but for all possible future victims as well. It is good both for the offender and the people around the offender as he or she moves forward in life. And, lastly, failing those first two things, repentance creates the possibility for justice when such a possibility might not otherwise exist.
When someone is willing to repent and confess, be careful in how you respond. That confession may just be a good thing for all involved.