Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Apologies and Forgiveness

I wasn't going to comment on the Ashley Madison leak, I didn't give two shits about it.  Married folks signing up for a website to cheat... not the most sympathetic victims.  If forced to provide a statement it would have looked something like this:

(Nelson from The Simpsons)

However, as a few of the more celebrity users have started providing responses to their leaked use of the website it brought up a couple thoughts.

As a society we have this fascination with tearing down successful, recognizable people.  The bigger they are the harder they fall... the harsher the criticism and laughter from the masses.  What makes a story even more juicy is when the person is famous for their values and beliefs, then it's brought to light that their actions are completely contradictory to the image they try to portray.  Two of the big names are high profile Christians.

I'm sure I don't have to name names here, you've probably heard more than enough already.

Now, religious folks, despite a sometimes holier than thou attitude, are still people like the rest of us.  They have all the same faults, desires, and issues.  In general they're no better or worse than anyone else.

What I've found troubling though is how fast some of these people are to apologize and claim forgiveness.  For some I'm sure it's heart felt and meaningful... for others, I'm not so sure.

One of the things that's bothered me about Christianity in particular is how easy it is to get into god's good graces.  I remember a set of pamphlets that the local churches gave out when I was a child.  One was a good man, a Buddhist, who donated lots of money to charity, always did the right thing, but went to hell because he wasn't a Christian.  The second was about a drug addict who became a thief and murderer, was a horrible person, but repented before getting the lethal injection and went to Heaven.

For some this is a noble concept, that anyone can be redeemed, but to the less noble it can be an escape route.  I knew some Catholics in my twenties that used to joke about going out Friday and Saturday night, getting drunk and sleeping around, then feeling guilty and saying the right words Sunday morning to wash away their sins -and repeat -and repeat.

It's a system that would be really easy to take advantage of, there's no consequences.  Do some bad things, sleep around, do whatever you want, then say your sorry and you're all good again.  Imagine if our legal system worked like that, wouldn't it just encourage people to break the rules?

At least with these high profile cases there are financial losses, if not spiritual ones.  And those poor spouses, the ones that don't believe in divorce, stuck with an asshole.  Publicly.  Them I just feel sorry for.

Again, I'm not saying that this is about all Christians (or other religious groups with similar ideology), I've known plenty of good ones, but there are bad apples in every group and some of the highest profile, most conservative Christians certainly seem to be the latter.  Nobody likes a hypocrite, but we do like to see them fall.

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