Thursday, August 20, 2015

apologies and podiums

The data dump from the Ashley Madison hackers is stirring up muck from the bottom. "Life is Short. Have an Affair."--is a site for those seeking a partner for an affair. Want to cheat? This may have been the site for you but now that hackers have posted 9.7 gigabites of data stolen from the site, those who decided not to go that route can heave a sigh of relief. Not so with those who had accounts there.

Whether the data is accurate or not is up in the air. We are talking about data entered by people who want to cheat, after all. Right or wrong, names will be dragged through the mud and those who need to salvage their reputation will be hitting the talk shows to tell us they have reformed.

Already, the public apologies have begun. Josh Duggar, skin-of-his-teeth survivor of one scandal has been thrown into another because his name showed up in the data dump.

He says,
“I am so ashamed of the double life that I have been living and am grieved for the hurt, pain and disgrace my sin has caused my wife and family, and most of all Jesus and all those who profess faith in Him,” he continued.
Have some dignity, man, and stop groveling. The rest of us are no better than you.

What, exactly, does Josh Duggar owe any of us in the way of an apology for cheating on his wife? Nothing.

If an apology isn't personal, it means nothing. Apologizing to "all those who profess faith" in Jesus is bizarre. Duggar's offense was not against strangers who happen to share a religious faith with him.

Christian or not, we all sin. Christians profess to know that.

Matthew 6:5 says,
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
And yet, Duggar will not be alone in confessing his sin and apologizing publicly in the most pious and prayerful ways. He probably received advice from well-meaning experts who told him to "get out in front" of the scandal. That worked for Tylenol but Tylenol's ugency was about public safety and the survival of a company. Duggar's problem, as revealed by the hackers, is marital.

If you commit a sin against someone, apologize to that person. If you sin against God, apologize to Him. Leave the rest of us out of it and knock off trying to impress us with your heartfelt apologies.

It is not our concern. Our concern is our own sinfulness.

You think that your double life offended your congregation or your fan club? It probably did. Was it a sin against them? Maybe, maybe not. Even if you are sure that it was, consult the rule book before you start composing an emotional apology to be delivered in a press conference because somewhere there is--or ought to be--a rule that apologies delivered in a press conference automatically do not count.

Again, our concern is our own sinfulness. 

If we know that, those tearful public apologies will mean nothing to us. Why? Our concern is our own sinfulness. We are not surprised to learn that others--truly I tell you, even reality TV stars--are also sinful.

Those of us whose sins are made public, through sensational hacking events as in the lurid Ashley Madison story or through a public registry for sex offenders, must consider carefully before apologizing for our misdeeds.

Who did you sin against? Will your apology help or hurt that person? If it will not cause more pain, apologize to that person privately. This is between the two of you.

Talk to God privately. This is between you and Him.

Only egregious sins are committed against the world, so there is no need to apologize to the world. Your sin may indeed cause you a heavy burden of guilt; that heavy burden does not mean you owe the world an apology.

If someone tells you that you must apologize to your community, remind them that you are not the example of sinlessness that your community needs to heed.

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