Some Thoughts on Apologies

Nor with a caveat.

There has been a lot of talk about apologies lately.  First E. Oaks, channeling Fox News or possibly Clint Eastwood, claimed that the church neither seeks nor gives apologies [1], prompting a lot of discussion about what constitutes an apology, and whether or not the church should apologize to gay people for their ostracism and mistreatment throughout the years.

“Accept everything about yourself–I mean everything.  You are you, and that is the beginning and the end.  No apologies.  No regrets.”  Henry Kissinger [2]

“It is a good rule in life never to apologize.  The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them.”  P.G. Wodehouse [3]

“Right actions in the future are the best apologies for bad actions in the past.”  Tryon Edwards [4]

Many bloggers, concerned about the lack of apology, have felt prompted to apologize to gay people on behalf of our Mormon communities.  As I continue to think about this, several questions come to mind:

  • Who should apologize for past wrongs?  Should current leaders apologize for past leaders?  Should leaders who disagreed with those actions apologize for those with whom they disagreed?
  • Can an individual member apologize on behalf of the organization without any authority to speak for that organization?
  • Is this type of apology a shaming tactic?  In other words, not really an apology at all, but an effort to demonstrate to the one not sorry that “this is how it’s done”?
  • Is this to make the one apologizing feel better for clearly standing against bigotry?
  • Are these actions paper tigers, with no real benefit to the gay community?  Isn’t it better to actually improve how our community treats gay people than to apologize? [5]
  • Is this just a way for the privileged to once again talk about their feelings about matters that don’t really affect them?
  • Are public apologies merely a performance?  When celebrities apologize at the behest of PR agents despite their insincerity, isn’t that purely self-serving?  How does that improve anything for the wronged parties?
  • What about others who are owed apologies?  Given that it’s black history month, and domestic violence awareness month, does this apology detract from the wrongs done to those groups of people who also deserve awareness?
  • Is an apology on behalf of someone who wasn’t sorry ever an actual apology?  Does it heal any breach or just point to the divide?

About 8 years ago, I went back to Pennsylvania with my husband and kids to visit the place I grew up.  During our visit, we attended my home ward, and I was excited to see many of the people who knew me well as a teenager but really hadn’t seen me since then.  This was before Facebook replaced the need for face-to-face human interaction.

One person I was really excited to see was the man who was my Sunday School teacher when I was 13.  He was an economics professor at the local liberal arts college where I had my first job.  He was a convert to the church from French Guyana, and he had a very strong accent that we loved to hear when he would give talks or bless the sacrament.  His wife was not LDS, but practiced voodoo.  I had never met her.  His daughter was my age, and although she has since quit attending church as have her older sisters, she and I were close as teenagers, playing on the same basketball team, being in roadshows together, and hanging out at youth conference and other activities.

When he was my teacher, like many 13 year-olds, I was a total pill.  I remember sitting in the back of his class looking up the dirty parts of V.C. Andrews’ books in class with my classmates.  We never listened.  We talked back.  We deliberately asked irrelevant questions for our own amusement. After he was released, we actually brought his successor to tears once by asking her pointed questions about sexuality. [6]  One thing I appreciated about him as a teacher was his ability to see past my childish behavior and to still trust me with responsibility.  He sometimes called me at the last minute to ask me to substitute teach the class for him that week.  It was a smart move.  I found out pretty quickly how tough it was to teach a bunch of 13 year olds, and I also learned more from the lessons I had to deliver as teacher than those I received (or frequently didn’t) as a class member.  My behavior didn’t shape up, but it definitely increased my investment, my self-worth, and my confidence to speak up as a church member.

I loved him as a teacher and as one of my adult mentors in the ward, and I wanted to seek him out specifically.  When I found him that day at church, I said, “I just wanted to apologize for my terrible behavior in your class.  You were always one of my favorites, and I never paid attention like I should.”  He stopped me right there and smiled.  “Never apologize for the things you did as a teenager,” he said.  “What you do as a teenager is an important part of growing up and becoming an adult.  You must do those things or you will never become an independent, mature person.  There is no need to apologize.”

I often think about the wisdom of his response.  My behavior truly was terrible, but I wasn’t still that punk kid heckling from the back of the class. [7]  I was the adult who could look back with some embarrassment on my past behavior and how I had wronged him by not appreciating him at the time and by giving him a hard time.  The apology was only possible because I was no longer that ungrateful, self-centered teen. And then my apology was unnecessary because the one receiving it graciously knew my potential all along.  He could see past my behavior, even at the time, to the future me who would regret that behavior, and he loved me as I was becoming, even as I was then.

Apologies are less relevant than our future behavior and who we are becoming.  Some days I struggle to see past our community’s behavior in the present.  But once in a while, I can almost see our potential.

I care less if we apologize than I care if we mean it.  And to mean it, we need to change our future behavior. [8]

[1.] #sorrynotsorry

[2.] winner of the Nobel Peace Prize who secretly bombed Cambodia with over 500K tons of explosives during five years, many argue laying the groundwork for the genocidal Khmer Rouge to come to power.  Apparently slept like a baby.

[3.] English humorist.  Go back and read that again with a simpering, supercilious tone and add “my good man” to the end of it.  Then brush away an imaginary speck from your impeccably tailored trouser leg.

[4.] a 19th century theologian who didn’t bomb any civilians to the best of my knowledge.  Probably stayed up nights worried about the poor or something.

[5.] Not that there isn’t room for both words and actions, of course.

[6.] #sorrynotsorry

[7.] For those of you who think the bloggernacle isn’t too far from that back-row heckling, why don’t you come over here and say that?  I will wipe that smirk off your face.

[8.]  Here are 5 things the church could do that would be more impactful than an apology:  1) relaunch & beef up mormonsandgays website (as E. Christofferson mentioned), 2) educate ALL bishops on how to counsel parents of gay children and also that we don’t counsel them to try to change their sexual orientation by marrying heterosexuals, 3) pour some of our vast financial resources into preventing gay teen homelessness and suicide, 4) launch a campaign for church members to volunteer to sit with gay members at church and to welcome them and use a 5th Sunday to educate and raise awareness, 5) allow for open expression of diverse opinions on gay marriage and gay rights in all settings.  One difficulty is that so many felt pressured to donate to Prop 8 that allowing for dissenting views on this topic will be hard for some to hear.

Comments

  1. Marvelous.

  2. I agree that changing future behavior is incredibly important, but I’m actually quite stunned by all the pushback to the idea that apologies matter. Sorrow, and a sincere desire to right a wrong are the building blocks of repentance. One can change future behavior and still acknowledge to another (or a group) that they have wronged them–the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

    When I was a teenager there was a new YW in my ward who I was absolutely awful to. Her family moved away after a short time, but I regretted never writing that wrong. Years and years later I ran into her in the fMH Facebook group and via PM I was able to apologize to her and express my heartfelt regret. The catharsis in that moment was amazing. She accepted my apology with more than a decent measure of grace, and freed me from a chain that had bound me many years.

    I’ve always stood by the notion that as religious individuals we could stand to learn a lot from 12 step programs. At no time is that more clear than when we refuse to acknowledge the pain we have caused by refusing to apologize for it.

  3. I’d rather them walk the walk than talk the talk; so, agreed. I’ll be patiently waiting for my 5th Sunday Combined Lesson on the new Mormonsandgays.com website.

  4. It seems appropriate to discuss how to actually apologize. Hank Green says it better than I can:

    How to Apologize Without Being a Fartbag: http://youtu.be/qc_XWlqURTg

  5. EOR: I agree with you about apologies as pertains to my own behavior.

    I remember another regret from my teen years. A new girl moved into our school, and her name just sounded too temptingly like something pretty horrible, which I blurted out once in gym class, and unfortunately, this terrible nickname caught on like wildfire. I didn’t dislike her. I just made a thoughtless comment due to a lack of filters. After that, I purposely went out of my way to be her friend because I felt so bad about that name catching on, and she was of course a lovely person, and we were always friends the rest of high school. After high school, I ran into her at a Pizza Hut with her boyfriend, and she said with tears in her eyes how much it had mattered to her that I was her friend when she came to our school and didn’t know anyone, and that my friendship had meant so much to her. I wasn’t sure at that point how to tell her I was the author of that terrible nickname, and so I never told her. That probably warranted an apology. But I still wasn’t sure how to do it without making things worse.

  6. I think part of the reason for wanting apologies is that so much of the current Church leadership has been utterly horrible to homosexuals–and not just ol’ redneck Boyd. Frankly, I’m surprised that the Church trots Elder Oaks out on these matters at all, given some of his cringe-inducing previous remarks.

    It takes a lot more courage to apologize for the words and deeds of the living than those of the dead.

  7. Life is too short to not apologize.

  8. Angela, that was an interesting story about the bad nickname, and I guess I have some mixed feelings about apologies. When I was in a singles ward, I was teaching Gospel Doctrine. There was a group of guys that were talking while I was talking, so I picked on them to answer a question about the Old Testament, just to get their attention that they were being rude. Then, a few weeks later, I needed a sub, so I asked the guy to substitute for me. He accepted. I thought I had gotten my point across, and also wanted him to know that I respected his opinion by asking him to sub for me. I thought all was well.

    Several months later, he comes up to me and apologized. I didn’t know what he was apologizing for. He told me that he had said some bad things about me to other people in the ward. It was news to me. I thought our relationship was fine, and his apology actually was really awkward. I had no idea he had been gossiping about me, and the apology actually made me feel worse about him than I had before he apologized. So, my advice to you is it was a good thing you didn’t apologize for the bad nickname, because I think the apology would have made it worse. Not all apologies are useful.

    Having said that, an apology by the church to groups offended (blacks, women, gay, transgender, etc) wouldn’t make things worse, and would be truly helpful for these groups. A lack of apology seems like an embarrassing stonewall. Everyone knows the church has treated these groups poorly, so NOT apologizing provides no restitution of all things that we are all taught to do when we repent.

    You bring up some good points about these apologies by individual church members are shaming church leaders–yes, there probably is some of that going on. But sometimes I do think leaders need to be shamed into doing things, because otherwise they just sweep unpleasant aspects under the rug and pretend they are not there. And they can do this because they act like they’re not accountable to the members. Every missionary teaches the repentance process:

    1- Recognize our sins (Oaks hasn’t done this),
    2- Feel sorrow (can’t get here if you can’t do #1)
    3- Forsake sins (Oaks is doubling down–religious freedom)
    4- Confess sins (can’t get here if you can’t do #1)
    5- Make restitution (we teach apologies here)
    6- Forgive

    It just seems extremely duplicitous of our church leaders to say “I know that the history of the church is not to seek apologies or to give them.” How on earth can they teach repentance with such hypocrisy? Oh yeah, do as I say, not as I do.

  9. wreddyornot says:

    Apologizing is an important element of sincere communication and it facilitates the 5 r’s of repentance. How can imperfect persons ever show their love without apologizing? The church, of course, other than in a metaphorical way, can’t apologize anymore than the house that a family lives in can. But those who live there, who govern there, who make it their home, they must all set an example and apologize for the wrongs done there. And it seems to me, those who lead there should lead the way and not obfuscate.

  10. We believe that a man or woman should apologize for his or her own transgressions.

    A child need not apologize for the transgressions of a parent. A new bishop need not apologize for the transgressions of the previous bishop. A president of the church need not apologize for the transgressions of a previous president.

    If any member of the church sees transgression in another member, let him or her approach that member as described in Matthew 18:15 and following.

    By the way, I’m still not so sure there is any transgression for which Elder Oaks needs to apologize — but if any church member was offended, I hope he or she will approach Elder Oaks directly to point out his transgression so that his soul can be saved (Matthew 18:15).

    There is truth in the P.G. Wodehouse quotation in the original posting.

  11. Wodehouse of course never really lived down his Berlin Broadcasts during WW2 in Britain. Something for which the majority of Brits at the time, would be unlikely to have forgiven him, even though by 1947, he was not deemed to have been guilty of any evil intent. At some point it dawned on him what an error of judgement that had been, and is reported to have said:
    “I have been longing for an opportunity ever since of putting myself right, I never had any intention of assisting the enemy” (http://www.channel4.com/news/pg-wodehouse-suffered-mental-pain-after-nazi-broadcasts). After, he lived in the US.

  12. It is incredibly dishonest to pretend the current Church doesn’t have anything to apologize for on this front. But more than this particular apology, it is a dangerous idea to claim that The Church would never/should never apologize. It smacks of pridefulness.

    More than not actually apologizing, I am more disheartened that the leaders of The Church don’t feel moved to.

  13. “I am more disheartened that the leaders of The Church don’t feel moved to.” Indeed.

  14. I am less bothered by current LDS church leadership’s refusal to apologize for this or that than I am by Elder Oaks’ seeming embrace of an across-the-board, institutional “no apologies” policy.

  15. What of the chains you bind yourself with when there is no way to apologize? Is the repentance process frustrated because you’ve not been able to “make it right”? Are those sins (or perceived sins) not able to be covered by the atonement? What of the chains you bind yourself with, waiting for someone to apologize? Is that a weight you are going to hold tight to throughout your life?

    Making restitution is not about making us feel better. We also rarely have any real idea now to make restitution for things done in the past to others as we don’t know how it effected them. What if your apology, well intentioned as it was, causes pain?

    For institutions, apologies tend to be empty words. People forget, then still expect another, getting upset that it hasn’t been done. We’ve no idea how many times the Church or it’s leaders apologized for anything, as not every interaction could possibly have been dutifully taken down by whatever media was available at the time. How many people are even aware of the “forget what we said, we didn’t know enough” in 1978?

    Yes, we can work to make things better. We can work to atone if it would actually help. However, there is no way for us to fully erase our mistakes, even if we spent the remainder of our lives as a slave to whomever we’ve hurt. That’s why we have a Savior, who can heal all wrongs.

    That’s why we’re told to “forgive all”.

  16. The thing about apologies when it comes to organizations as well as individuals is ACCOUNTABILITY. It is easy to bury accountability when a group of talking heads spit endless rhetoric as to why, who, when, what. It is not rocket science as some want to make this appear. There is a group of people who have done terrible things, they have pinned those things on God (if anything, they should apologize for that, making God seem as an idiotic bigot), then later on when they realize they were wrong, they go on as if nothing had happened. No accountability whatsoever, leaving open the window of “maybe that was the way God wanted it to be for that time,” as I hear many lousy apologetics chant every now and again.

    I am not understanding the tone of your post fully, is this another “it’s perfectly ok if we don’t apologize as long as we correct future behavior” type of post? What is the purpose of the post? To be able to dilute/minimize the recent embarrassing declarations of certain church leader and reason around until it becomes more palatable? One thing that comes in mind: many questionable behaviors exist because there are enablers, and I see that a lot with leaders and questionable behaviors.

    I am sorry, I did enjoy your post, but I do not think it really connects to what is going on historically at an organizational level in the context of LDS PR.

  17. Those quotes from “great men” like Kissinger certainly are provocative. Brilliant as he is, I do not believe Kissinger has ever been a follower of Christ, and the little I know about his machinations in the 1960s and 1970s suggest that he isn’t really a moral exemplar (for me, at least). Why worry about what people like him think about morality when we have the words of Christ?

    At a personal level, apologizing has been so utterly liberating. I have contacted some people I wronged more than a decade ago, to say that I was sorry, and felt tremendous peace from the process. The process of seeking or bestowing forgiveness is so absolutely healing and harmonious with the gospel of Christ. I would much rather “over-apologize” than “under-apologize,” as I don’t want to have to make excuses for not doing so when I meet Christ.

    At an institutional level, there are a number of separate ideas people seem to be confounding (not in this post, but in the recent bloggernacle discussion generally):

    1. Whether there are ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, whatsoever, when an apology is necessary.
    2. Whether the apology should be from “the Church” vs. having individual apostles/prophets apologize.
    3. Whether the apology should be made publicly vs. privately (to those wronged).
    4. With respect to LGBT, whether an apology is due for (i) the doctrine of chastity generally; (ii) the doctrine that homosexual conduct (i.e. sex) are a sin before God; (iii) supporting bans on same-sex marriage generally; (iv) actively working against same-sex marriage (e.g., Prop 8); (v) statements in the past that were un-Christlike with respect to gays and that made them feel demeaned.

    My own opinion is that apologies ARE necessary in some circumstances, that individuals who were wronged should be apologized to privately, and that public positions of the church that are later deemed non-doctrinal and that harmed others should be publicly apologized for (e.g., blacks and the priesthood). With respect to LGBT, I do not think that items (4) (i) – (iv) should be apologized for – in fact, I believe it would greatly displease God. We shouldn’t apologize for God, and we shouldn’t apologize for holding a political position that a majority of Americans at the time held. In contrast, the Church SHOULD apologize for (v).

  18. An apology should never substitute for changed behavior. When coupled with improved behavior and understanding, it can help a relationship heal. But absent that, it’s not really an apology.

  19. Blake really hits the nail on the head. So many of these discussions seem to assume that we should be apologizing for current church doctrine, which is completely nonsensical, or political actions, which, whether you agree with them or not, have perfectly reasonable justifications that have nothing to do with hating anyone. Politics always creates winners and losers. I’m not so sure about Blake’s (v) though. For almost a year I tried to help my priests understand the difference between “gay” as in attracted to those of the same sex and “gay” as in violating the law of chastity, and that either way you slice it using that word as a pejorative isn’t polite behavior and is unbecoming of a priesthood holder. And could unwittingly harm someone who hears it. But it didn’t matter. They still said it all the time. But here’s the thing: it didn’t have anything to do with the church. Never in their lives have they heard a general authority say, “Dude, that’s totally gay.” If they were baptists or atheists living in just about any other state in the union they would still have talked that way. When compared with the arc of the sensitivity of society at large (real society, not the image of society we see on TV), official church rhetoric on this topic is at worst around the mean and possibly even deserves some praise for attempting to differentiate between inclinations and actions.

  20. Adjunct,

    I appreciate the kind words. By (v), what I meant were any derogatory statements towards people who simply have same-sex attraction, irrespective of whether they act on it. What I’m trying to say is: Hate the sin, not the sinner. In my book, having same-sex attraction isn’t a sin; it’s acting on it through unauthorized sex, which is sinful whether with someone of the same gender or not.

    Some gay friends of mine have said that a certain apostle (you might guess who) has said some mean things in the past about gays. One example is the 1976 General Conference talk “To Young Men Only” where the speaker seems to condone punching gays that make an advance on you. It was a bad section of his talk – I wish it had been neutral on whether the person making the advance were of the same sex. But I think gays have made too much of it. For example, if anyone (whether of the same sex or not) were trying to rape you or touch you inappropriately, it would seem fully justified resist, including punching in self-defense. Perhaps self-defense would even justify it if someone were trying to kiss you (thankfully, this wasn’t the culture when I was still dating!). I don’t think the talk can be construed to advocate punching random gays who are just walking down the street minding their own business – which is what some pro-gay advocates inappropriately suggest.

    Should this talk be apologized for? If so, ideally the apology would come from the speaker himself. It’s hard to see why you’d think the speaker was speaking on behalf of the entire church, First Presidency, etc – so perhaps that excuses “the Church” for apologizing for it. I don’t think it would be too harmful, though, for the Church to issue an apology for past statements like this that singled out gays, rather than immoral conduct with either gender. Bottom line: Let’s make clear that we welcome all of God’s children, and uphold God’s commandments to humanity.

  21. I agree that the no apologies line seemed much more like political red-meat rhetoric and machismo from the pages of NRO, Glenn Beck, or even Karl Rove in the opinion pages of the WSJ than counsel from a religious leader about issues of dire consequence to those directly affected.

  22. “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression”

    We are ultimately responsible for themselves, not any other person or organization. If I or any individual has a need to apologize for their own behavior as part of the repentance process, they they should. Any other blanket apologies, like “Sorry if I offended anyone” or “I apologize for such and such group” when they are not a spokesperson, is disingenuous and is meant to serve some other purpose.

  23. In 1976, a talk to “Young Men Only” that involved gays making advances on a young man would have been describing mostly adult men making advances on teenage boys. Gay teenage boys very, very rarely would have made overt advances on boys their own age. In this day and age, we can imagine happy gay teen boys finding each other and dating in a more peer relationship. But in 1976, a teen boy who was in a homosexual romantic or sexual relationship would have almost always been with someone older, often significantly older. Then an abuse victim often acts out sexually inappropriately.
    Telling kids to punch an adult who is a sexual predator who is grooming them for sexual abuse is usually completely inadequate advice, but no one really was equipped to give better advice to kids in 1976. Even today it is difficult to get kids to tell their parents when something like that happens.

  24. Lew Scannon says:

    Yes, but would you have felt good about yourself if you hadn’t apologized, if you had just shrugged it off and not let your teacher know you felt bad about your behavior? Maybe you would have. I don’t know you, but I couldn’t. Why? Because I am a Mormon, and I was taught that a part of repentance was confessing sins to those I have offended or harmed in any way. Are institutions above repentance? Heaven forbid.

  25. great comment, Lew.

  26. Since there seems to be a lot of (mis)interpretation of Elder Packer’s talk, here is the offending passage: (link to full talk here: https://www.lds.org/manual/to-young-men-only/to-young-men-only )

    Now a warning! I am hesitant to even mention it, for it is not pleasant. It must be labeled as major transgression. But I will speak plainly. There are some circumstances in which young men may be tempted to handle one another, to have contact with one another physically in unusual ways. Latter-day Saint young men are not to do this.

    Sometimes this begins in a moment of idle foolishness, when boys are just playing around. But it is not foolishness. It is remarkably dangerous. Such practices, however tempting, are perversion. When a young man is finding his way into manhood, such experiences can misdirect his normal desires and pervert him not only physically but emotionally and spiritually as well.

    It was intended that we use this power only with our partner in marriage. I repeat, very plainly, physical mischief with another man is forbidden. It is forbidden by the Lord.

    There are some men who entice young men to join them in these immoral acts. If you are ever approached to participate in anything like that, it is time to vigorously resist.

    While I was in a mission on one occasion, a missionary said he had something to confess. I was very worried because he just could not get himself to tell me what he had done.

    After patient encouragement he finally blurted out, “I hit my companion.”

    “Oh, is that all,” I said in great relief.

    “But I floored him,” he said.

    After learning a little more, my response was “Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn’t be well for a General Authority to solve the problem that way.”

    I am not recommending that course to you, but I am not omitting it. You must protect yourself.

    From this passage, it is clear that jks’s statement that the talk “would have been describing mostly adult men making advances on teenage boys” is not accurate.

    Also, Blake’s comment that “For example, if anyone (whether of the same sex or not) were trying to rape you or touch you inappropriately, it would seem fully justified [to] resist, including punching in self-defense” is true for what it’s worth, but Elder Packer does not say what the companion did to “deserve” to be punched out by the missionary he was interviewing. We only have two clues as to what happened: first, there is Elder Packer’s preface to the story, where he encourages young men to vigorously resist if they “are ever approached to participate in anything like that.” Second, we can make an inference from the missionary’s reluctance to tell Elder Packer what he had done. Simply based on common experience, I would doubt that most 19-21 year-old men would hesitate to tell their mission president or other ecclesiastical authority that they had punched someone because that person had tried to rape or sexually assault them. Your mileage may vary, however.

  27. A couple of years ago Elder Faust apologized, or expressed deep regret and got choked up for some innocuous thing he did as a child. I remember everyone was really impressed, as if Elder Faust must be super-righteous if he is so seriously apologizing for this little thing so many years after the fact. But I felt ambivalent about it because it seemed like such innocent behavior and the apology seemed to point to Elder Faust’s unrealistic perfectionism. But maybe it was just an honest expression of sorrow at our fallen nature.

  28. martha my love says:

    The assertive, and I’m sure many think aggressive, position that Elder Oaks took on behalf of the church and by extension the community of saints simply lacked humility. That’s particularly surprising for an apostle who purports to be in some sort of communication with Heavenly Father and who was especially chosen. And it’s particularly non-constructive because, however simplistic the church has tries to make these matters to this point, there are still at least two sides to this and still a long way to go to resolving it.

    That bravado wounded more members of the LGBT community than it assuaged. A look at any national media makes clear that it offended many non-Mormon and non-LGBT people. And I don’t doubt it unsettled a good number of faithful saints in the bargain who expect some humility and Christlike compassion in their leaders. An apology would have accomplished so much more.

  29. Nate’s example of E. Faust’s apology is probably closer to my own story about my teacher. Why did I apologize? I think I wanted him to know that he really had a positive impact on me, and the apology fit that given my youthful behavior. Why didn’t I apologize to the girl I befriended after I made up that terrible nickname? Because I didn’t want her to know that her one true friend wasn’t as true as she thought. Partly that was self-serving, but I also knew it would hurt her and that it wasn’t useful information to her. My sister apologized to me for something a couple years ago, and it was something I had no idea had happened in the first place. It definitely distanced the relationship. Knowing about it was hurtful to me, although she felt better to confess it. I forgave, but I still wish I didn’t know.

  30. To the point about apologies needing to be sincere before they can be useful – I disagree. If I waited for myself to have 100% pure motivation for my actions, I’d hardly do anything good. Sometimes just doing what’s right because one knows (at least partially) that it’s right is better than not trying at all. Action (or apologizing when you have an inkling that you should) sometimes helps our motivation come around. When a lack of sincerity or pure motivation becomes an excuse for not doing hard things, I know I’m just kidding myself and avoiding discomfort.

    In college at BYU my roommate and I were VT partners. It was the last day of the month and she called me in the afternoon, wanting me to come with her to drop in on a sister we had been assigned to. I felt very strongly that this was filled with insincerity and I wasn’t going to embarrass myself on this sister’s doorstep. I said I’d rather not go the very last hour of the last day because it was so obviously self-serving. She said she could see my point, but she still thought it was better to visit than to not. I refused. Today I still abhor dutiful self-serving box-checking, but I think there may be some truth to her “it’s better to do it than not.”

  31. For me if I were the girl in question the apology would not make it worse for me. It would hurt that my friend had started the nickname, but I would value her honesty and her sincere regret over causing me pain more than anything.

    As far as “resisting advances”, advances are not rape. You are not being raped if someone asks you out, or winks at you, etc… That’s just gay panic BS.

    No one is asking The Church to apologize for doctrine, so thanks for the red herring, but The Church has plenty to apologize for. For both in the past and currently dehumanizing, and “othering” LGBT individuals.

  32. “martha my love says”, where do you get the idea from the scriptures that prophets always speak with humility? That idea seems odd to me.

    And yeah, if you come on to your mission companion, you’re probably going to get punched in the gut. Just like if you offer him a cigarette or a Playboy magazine. There you are in this incredibly difficult period of your life sacrificing your life for something you believe in and then some punk spits on it all like that? Seems like a pretty natural consequence.

  33. BTW, you know who says “We do not apologize?” College Republicans clubs. The one at my alma mater chalked “BURN UJAMAA!” in front of the black students’ affinity dorm of that name, and then claimed that the ensuing uproar was an intentional misconstrual of their oft-stated argument that there shouldn’t be ethnically themed dorms. (All-white fraternities apparently were OK, though.)

    Be careful adopting the rhetorical tropes of spoiled rich boys who think that it’s the height of cleverness to try to use “niggardly” and “spic and span” in every article they write.

  34. Clark Goble says:

    Great comments Blake. Agree fully especially upon many separate issues being conflated.

  35. I think anyone demanding apology from someone else is part of the problem, and not part of the solution.

    Yes, apologies matter WHEN they are appropriate, sincere, and backed with action. But if you are spending time and energy keeping tally if who deserves an apology, and who ought to give it*, you are spending that much less time actually helping.

    *Unless you are analyzing where you, yourself, ought to apologize. Apologizing for someone else is mere posing, calculated for dramatic effect and not for real change.

    I think this is partly why I don’t like agitation. I prefer to work on myself and make change within my sphere of direct influence over trying to control others’ actions. I will preach and testify, but I won’t try to gain power over another’s actions by banding together with likeminded people. I am far too cautious of being sucked into mob mentality.

  36. Adjunct–Hmmmm….I guess I should’ve punched my district leader in the gut the first time he came onto me during my mission. Such doublespeak–a church leader would never tell our young women to punch someone who is being sexually assertive (remember, you gotta be the ‘nice girl’!), but in this case it’s okay, just because it’s a same-sex advance. I’m confused. But that’s for another blog topic….

  37. Like many above have said so well. I absolutely agree that institutions should repent. Especially when the institution claims spiritual authority over the whole earth. In this capacity it must apologize to those under its stewardship when it mis-speaks for God. Where much is given much is required.

  38. Hopefully I’m not repeating something pointed out earlier but on the topic of apologizing for the actions of those who have passed on……
    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/595052990/Illinois-offers-regrets-to-LDS.html?pg=all