There have been many folks skeptical about Rothlesberger’s newly rediscovered Christian faith or at the very least, his change of lifestyle after his most recent sexual skirmish with the law. Consider me to be, or at least to have been, among the skeptical.
When someone commits a sin of a public nature, or really any nature for that matter, and truly repents, forgiveness is/has already been offered and accomplished by Christ. If offered by Christ, then we should obviously honor that, right? Well, yes, provided that there is true repentance. But true repentance can only be known as it is displayed over time.
No one can atone for any sin, nor does anyone need to even try to atone for any sin. Nor should you make someone atone for his sins. And I think we do the latter more often than we would like to admit in marriage and friendships. It’s not just a waste of time, but a mockery of the cross, calling Jesus’ work insufficient.
But is it harmful and unloving to presume repentance instead of actually waiting to see real repentance displayed before assuming a genuine change in life trajectory?
Yes, I think so.
Whether its Big Ben, me, or anyone caught in the act of a public sin, any sort of “I’m sorry,” is probably going to fall on deaf ears. And in some ways it really should. Because real repentance will inevitably look like something. “I’m sorry” is not a trump card that precludes any need for a real change in behavior, particularly when sin has severely hurt a relationship.
What repentance looks like for gossip, sexual sin, anger, or racism will differ according to the sin or how much struggle there is. But real repentance will be noticeable, even it if it is only noticed by you (in regard to private sins like envy).
For Big Ben, repentance from womanizing looks like more than just getting married. It looks like deciding to honor God with his sexuality, and that will be noticeable. Even the public has noticed it, as he is not living with his fiancee until they are married. I’m not praising someone for living consistently as a Christian, particularly when he confess to be one. But this act is an outward demonstration of what seems to be true repentance and gives more credibility to his profession of faith. And I’m glad for him.