Like my friend, Todd Littleton, I have long enjoyed the op/ed columns from syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. of The Miami Herald. In today’s column, Pitts has strong but appropriate words for Governor Mark Sanford and other public figures that defend their adultery with the “I made a mistake” line.
According to Pitts the problem with these four words of defense is that:
They allow the offender to appear to accept responsibility for his offense while at the same time minimizing it.
Like the shot from a skilled basketball player, this line is “nothing but net.” Pitts has zeroed in on the problem with many public confessions. It could also be said that he has zeroed in on the problem with all unrepentant confession.
One cannot accept responsibility for sin — the offense against a holy God and the collateral damage brought upon other human beings by minimizing the sinfulness of sin.
Such sinners are seeking after the quick forgetfulness of others. They think this is grace. Yet grace only comes when we own the ugliness of our sin. The sin which caused Jesus to be despised and rejected on the cross. Then the beauty of God’s grace is prominently displayed. Other sinful humans can then also offer forgiveness. If the holy God of heaven has demonstrated grace of the ugliness of sin, how can unholy people not follow suit?
Pitts illustrates the difference between making a mistake and being a fool. If a man unwittingly sticks his hand into a fire and is burned, that is a mistake. If a witness to that event also sticks his hand into the same fire, he is a fool.
Today we have the examples of countless men who have been burned. We who play with the same fire are fools. My hope is that readers of this blog will avoid that kind of folly. To help you, just remember these words:
This fire is scorching hot, leaving burns and scars. Don’t go near it.