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Discussing religion, spirituality and values. Amy Umble is the religion reporter for The Free Lance-Star. You can email her at
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The other day, while at the gym, I looked up at the tv screen and saw Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino. I read the closed captions and saw Pitino apologizing for an affair. As the married man talked about "an indiscretion," I couldn’t help but think that it all sounded familiar. I can’t even count how many of these apologies we’ve been hearing lately. And they all sound the same–at least to me.

At first, I thought there’s probably a religion story about forgiveness, etc. But that’s already been done. But as I reflected on how similar the apologies seem, I wondered what the Scriptures have to say about the best way to apologize. Every time these apologies come out, it seems the TV news is filled with commentators dissecting these mea culpas, looking for some sign the apology is authentic–or not. So I turned to area clergy and asked if they had any ideas on what makes a good confession.

Here are some of the answers:

The Rev. Scott Roberts, Evergreen Church:

The first thing that popped into my head was the account of Zacchaeus’ "apology" in Luke 19:1-10.
As a tax collector, Zack was an agent of the Roman government. Anything he collected above what he was suppose to give the Romans he could keep for himself. It is suggested in the account that he was a dishonest man that had collected more from the people than was fair because his peers identified him as a sinner. (Interesting side note – Jesus was often seen hanging out with sinners like Zack. This confused and ticked off a lot of people because "holy men" weren’t supposed to do that. They were supposed to distance themselves from sinners. Jesus did just the opposite. He actively sought out these types of people. I think that is pretty cool!)
After his simple and life changing encounter with Jesus, Zacchaeus…
1. took personal ownership of his behavior (didn’t try to blame others of make excuses)
2. confessed his wrongdoing to Jesus and others affected by it (didn’t try to ignore, minimize or hide it)
3. gave proof of his repentance by making restitution. (didn’t just give lip service to those he had wronged)
Pretty good prescription for an effective apology if you ask me.
The Rev. Leslie Powers, Falmouth Baptist:
Using text from a seminary class on peacemaking. The book is The Peacemaker; A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande:
Address Everyone Involved; you should confess your sins to every person who has been directly affetced by your wrongdoing.
    Avoid If, But, and Maybe; the best way to ruin a confession is to use words that shift the blame to other or that appear to minimize your guilt; "I’m sorry  If I’ve done something to upset you" "I’m sorry I hurt your feelings,                    but you really upset me."
    Admit specifically; Specific admissions help convince others that you are honestly facin up to what you have done, which makes it easier for them to forgive you.
    Acknowledge the hurt; Your goal is to show that you understand how the other person felt as a result of yoru words or actions.
    Accept the consequences; Explicitly accepting the consequences of yoru actions is another way to demonstrate genuine repentance.
    Alter your behavior; explain to the person you offended how you plan to alter your behavior in the future.
    Ask for forgiveness;Some people can forgive quickly, while others need some time to work thorugh their feelings.
The Rev. Steve Dyer:
Psalm 51 is the most powerful apology in the Bible. It is actually sincere. Kings didn’t apologize to their subjects, so there is a King apologizing to God.
A few highlights from the Psalm include:
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 that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom in the inmost 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.


 So what do you think? Should apologies be public? And what makes a good one?