Tuesday, August 08, 2023

Sin: Admitting, Confessing, Remorse, Repenting


                                                                   (Williamsburg, MI)

One example of a moral truth, used in philosophical ethics, is the statement Raping children for fun is wrong.

Christians would say Raping children for fun is sin. The concept of sin implies a Divine Command Giver to whom persons are responsible and accountable.

Imagine a person, whom we'll call 'X', gets caught while raping a child for their own pleasure. They may admit that they did this. From their admittance it does not necessarily follow that they believe what they did was wrong. Indeed, if they are an intellectual atheist, or even a village atheist (see Nietzsche), they may not believe morality exists at all (viz., objective morality),

To admit something it just to say, "Yes, I did this."

If someone confesses something, they have gone beyond mere admittance. If someone confesses "I raped a child for fun," there can be guilt involved. The person who merely admits they did something is often found out. The person who confesses something is often moved by guilt, and comes forth. An admittance is often involuntary. A confession is often voluntary.

If someone confesses a sinful action, how can we tell if their confession is genuine? We can discern genuineness when it is accompanied by remorse. By sadness. Even, grief. About not only how our sin may have hurt others, but how it has disappointed God, and created a breach in the God-relationship. 

Psalm 51 exemplifies this, where David is writing from the darkness of his sexual and murderous sin. Ps. 51 is confessional, remorseful, and repentant.

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
    sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
    you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
    and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

Remorse usually leads to repentance. When remorseful people confess their sin to others, and to God, they run after "doing a 180." They get the help they need to morally and spiritually move in the other direction. The seeds sown in the ongoing acts of confessional remorse begin to emerge and grow from the soil of genuine repentance.