I did something wrong a few minutes ago, no, two things. Well, I actually don’t think what I did was wrong, but most of my readers do, and that is why I felt I should do (say) something about it.
First things first, what did I do? 1. I clicked RT on a tweet by Joel Osteen and I clicked “share” on a status update linking to a blog-post by Rob Bell. The truth is, I really liked the tweet and the post. I thought they were inspiring, creative, and most importantly, I thought they spoke the truth. I thought what I was doing was perfectly innocent and even commendable — I was passing on the truth to the masses.
Well, not everyone agrees. Though nobody said anything, I could virtually see the shock in the hundreds of eyes that saw the Joel Osteen Retweet on my Twitter Feed. I could hear the astonished gasps from the dozens of “reformed” friends who were unlucky enough to see the shared Rob Bell post on my Facebook Timeline.
The problem was not the tweet, or the post, the problem was the people who authored them. Joel Osteen and Rob Bell are taboo names in the reformed circles that I roll in. Quoting Joel Osteen is almost an abomination. Affirming a message by Rob Bell is regarded as the first step down the slippery slope towards unbridled liberalism, universalism and erasing hell. But I did it, and that’s why I feel I need to apologize to anyone who may have been offended by my actions.
I am sorry if what I did offended you. That was never my intention. I am sorry if any naive Christian will begin paying more attention to Joel Osteen and putting Rob Bell on a theological pedestal because Cornell commended something they wrote. I really am sorry if my actions were a stumbling block to any weak Christian. Please forgive me.
And while we’re in that mood of forgiveness, will the Kenyan women also please forgive Colonel Mustafa? He stood on national TV last Friday on #theTrend and apologized to all the women. He apologized for taking a sensual photo with socialite Huddah Munroe, in which she was topless. He apologised to all the women who felt offended and degraded by the photo. He said he did not mean to offend anyone. He also added that Huddah and any woman who may appear on his music video does it voluntarily, but that was beside the point. The point was that he was sincerely sorry, and anyone who doesn’t believe it should see how remorseful his face was as he apologized.
A few weeks earlier, Pastor Muriithi of Mavuno church also stood in front of the whole country on TV, and even in his church, and apologized. He apologized to all the people who were offended by the provocative poster inviting teenagers to a teaching series on sex. He said, “Our intention was never to offend, and I am sorry that many were offended by [the poster].” He was really sorry, and he even invited those who had better ideas on how to reach teens to send their suggestions.
Do you see any common pattern in the three examples of apologies above? All three seem sincere and truly remorseful. They are standard apologies. But are they really apologies? Before I even go to the biblical definition, do the three acts above fit the mold of a standard, dictionary definition of an apology? Merriam Webster says an apology is “an expression of regret for having done or said something wrong.” Another dictionary (Oxford) says it is “a regretful acknowledgement of an offence or failure.”
Do the three examples above qualify to be called apologies? Yes, the three statements are expressions of regret. But something is peculiarly missing, the acknowledgement of offence. In the three cases, we are acknowledging that people are offended by our actions, but we are not really acknowledging that our actions are offensive? Why? Because if we really believed we had wronged our audience, we would do something that accompanies the apologetic “statement.” We would make a commitment to change our actions, we would strive to never repeat the offence.
A true apology is not an “I am sorry if I…” but an “I am sorry that I…”
You see, Mustafa will still produce videos objectifying women. Cornell may still post updates by Kosher writers and preachers. Mavuno church will still test the limits of the consciences of conservative Christians. In other words, nothing about our actions will change. There may be apologies in our lips, but no apology will ever come forth in our actions. Which makes me wonder, is this really an apology? Or is it just adding insult to the offense in the name of politeness?
What I believe is that a true apology is not a courtesy phrase thrown out to appease the mad crowds while the offender continues to do what he was doing. A true apology is a change of direction. More than a change of tone, it is a change of mind. A true apology is what the Bible calls REPENTANCE.
Anything less than this is an insult to the offended, and is better off not being said.
If you don’t see the need to change or reform it, you are sinning against God and against your fellow man by apologizing or saying “sorry” about it.
Do you agree?