“The apology that wasn’t” was the headline last week in an Atlantic magazine article regarding Joe Biden.
By now you’ve probably heard the former Vice-President has come under fire for his treatment of women. Pictures and video of Joe hugging, kissing, rubbing noses and smelling hair have blanketed the airwaves. It’s interesting that women are just now coming forward with their complaints and it’s making news.
However, the likely 2020 Democratic candidate for President finally issued a video apology. Sort of. He explained his behavior over the years by saying, “I’ve always tried to make human connection.”
“That’s my responsibility, I think. I shake hands, I hug people, I grab men and women by the shoulders and say, ‘You can do this….’ It’s just who I am.”
“For more than two minutes,” the article opined that “Biden explains and insists and reminds and acknowledges and anthropologizes and promises to evolve with the times. He does not, however, apologize.”
Later, in answering questions from a reporter following a speech to union workers, Biden said “I’m not sorry for any of my intentions. I’m not sorry for anything that I have ever done. I have never been disrespectful intentionally to a man or a woman.”
Biden’s predicament reminds all of us that there are times in our lives when we need to openly and honestly apologize for our actions.
An apology is an acknowledgment of wrong doing. Of regret for one’s behavior. Of sorrow for having hurt, insulted or offended another person. It involves confession and concession. It is an admission that further seeks to make amends to the one aggrieved.
The Bible teaches that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). While not all mistakes may rise to the level of a flagrant sin, they demonstrate our human flaws and foibles. Mistakes in judgment ought to be admitted. And corrected. Our errors may or may not be intentional, but they are still errors. And God calls on us to correct them. Both with Him. And with others.
Benjamin Franklin astutely advised, “Never ruin an apology with an excuse.” “I’m sorry, but…” Or “I’m sorry, if…” Or “I’m sorry you…” These statements sound hallow and insincere. They deflect personal responsibility. And avoid honesty, openness, and transparency. Most of all they fail to express genuine remorse for the afflicted hurt. In fact, an insincere apology may do more harm than no apology.
The inspired writer James admonished, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (Jas 5:16).
The Bible offers some excellent examples of apologies that issued themselves, not just in words, but also in deeds. King David. The Prodigal Son. The tax collector, Zacchaeus. They all expressed recognition of wrong doing. Remorse. Resolve. Reformation. Restitution. And heartfelt repentance for their wrongs.
A sincere apology attests to our humility and willingness to admit a weakness. It re-establishes communication. Repairs relationships. As wellness coach Elizabeth Scott expressed it, “A sincere apology puts the focus on your better virtues, rather than on your worst mistakes.”
One of my favorite authors, anonymous, put it this way, “An apology is a good way to have the last word.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman