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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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Apologies, Take Two

Here are a few more responses to the apologies question (which was: In light of all the apologies for indiscretions out there, do the Scriptures offer insight on the proper way to say "I’m sorry"?)

From the Rev. Steven Doe, Bethel Reformed Presbyterian Church:

Yes, the Bible does deal a lot with indiscretions, only labels them with their true designation: sin!
When we ‘downgrade’ things to the level of ‘mistakes’, ‘missteps’, ‘errors’, or ‘stepping over the boundaries’ we are really minimizing their seriousness. Calling things ‘sins’ puts things in a category about which the Bible has much to say. I do not know what indiscretion that coach had committed, but it is very likely that it was some kind of sexual one. We are, of course, rightly upset if he had sex with a student because then there is the abuse of power as well as using another person.
The most powerful explanation of sin’s consequences is found in Psalm 51 as King David writes:
"For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you [God], you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment."
So seeing sin as against God puts in a much higher ‘bracket’ than we tend to do. But it also means that God is in the position of doing something about our guilt. That is where David started his prayer:
"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!"
Writing about the process and the same sin David said in Psalm 32:
"Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’, and you forgave the iniquity of my sin."
So, bottom line, when we regard things only in terms of ‘social outcomes’ we miss the central point the Bible is making. Sin is done against God and in that also against others. Since it is God’s law that we break, we must come to Him first, and then go to the people we have sinned against and hurt. Coming to God and asking forgiveness based on the salvation found in Jesus Christ, means that we can then honestly admit what we have done and take the consequences because the greatest consequence, being guilty before our Creator, is already taken care of.
From Captain Michael Harris, the Salvation Army:
Psalm 51 is the chapter that David (as it is commonly believed) wrote following his transgressions with Bathsheba. It is the perfect apology which includes not only recognition of his sin, his hatred of the sin and apology, but it also includes a desire to put things right. No excuses. just sheer apology.