Here is John McDonnell making his apology last evening for comments made in 2003 concerning the IRA. Here are some thoughts.
- When someone justifies what they said and then go on to apologize for what they said, are they really apologizing? By justifying what he said, “if it contributed towards saving one life” he is saying it was right to say what he said. But then he apologizes which means confessing being wrong. That seems confusing even contradictory to me.
- When apologizing explanation can be given for what was said, but surely we should never justify what we said and then apologise: that is just contradictory.
- Morality and emotions are mixed up. Apologising is about realizing you are wrong, which a moral position, and apologising for what you did or said. But he is apologizing for hurting feelings, which is to do with emotions, which is nothing to do with right and wrong.
- True repentance, as seen in scripture is a confessing wrong towards God and/or another. We see it demonstrated in the prodigal son when he returned to his father. We read ‘The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” (Luke 15:21). He does not say “Father I am sorry I hurt your feelings.”
- I am concerned that my children know what is right and wrong. Accordingly, I correct what is wrong. In doing so i continually hurt their feelings. Should I then be apologising to them all the time?!?!
- This all perhaps reflects upon a society which has lost its bearings concerning right and wrong. A biblically informed society, and such should be found in our churches, is governed by the fundamental call to love righteousness and hate iniquity. We are in a society which increasingly does not know what is right and wrong. If it feels good and does not hurt anyone, now defines what is good or bad behavior. When our measures of behavior are based on emotional assessments we are in a big predicament.
- How we need to make sure we hold to the true standards of God as revealed in scripture. And repent when we break these standards. and say sorry to God with true broken-heartedness. And say sorry to others when we have offended against them and seek their forgiveness.
- This point may be harsh, but I also wonder if there is a bit of the Blairite “show emotion in the right place and it will persuade people” syndrome. I am a bit suspicious that twelve years later for political convenience, a bit of emotion is introduced in order to make a good impression. I am perhaps a bit cynical here, but I am left wondering.
- We must be careful how we present ourselves when we are truly apologising, but let our presentation be genuine.
I have previously written on this subject here.