Unity and healing do not occur in the absence of accountability
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we are asked to repent of our sins and our mistakes. Those of us who have gone through the repentance process know it is painful, it is humbling, and can often strengthen our relationship with Jesus Christ. Repentance is one of the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel, according to the Fourth Article of Faith.
The process of repentance is taught to us as early in our Primary years and reinforced throughout our lives. The process if first, we must feel sorrow for our sins. We must acknowledge that we have done wrong and feel grief over our mistake. Second, we must confess our sins to Heavenly Father, an ecclesiastical authority, or to the person or entity we have wronged. Third, we promise that we will never commit that sin or transgression ever again. We must commit this to the entity we caused harm and to ourselves. Finally, we must make restitution for the harm we have caused and commit to living a better life. Restitution is varied but requires an apology.
The process of repentance has been on my mind a lot lately. A dear friend of mine has been in recovery from alcohol addiction for the past few years. She has worked the 12 steps meticulously and thoughtfully. She is committed to admitting her mistakes, making restitution for the harm she has caused others, and living a more honest, healthy life. I know that several of the steps have been personally painful for her as she has experienced feelings of shame and regret, but she knows it is necessary to complete those steps in order to remain sober. She is now showing up in her life instead of hiding from it.
Her strength and vulnerability have inspired me immensely. I’m in awe of her courage and fortitude. It’s been an honor to witness as her friend the commitment she has for holding herself accountable and making changes in her life for the better.
That is why I am so shocked that so many want to skip over all the necessary steps of repentance and get right to reconciliation. On January 6, 2021 citizens of the United States witnessed a violent mob attempt to stage a coup at the United States Capitol with the express goal to overthrow our democracy. Many people have made demands that we forget what happened just 2 weeks ago and unite and heal. They have no felt sorrow, confessed no wrongs, and have not made any restitution by apologizing. Utah’s own US Representative Burgess Owens, and LDS church member, called for unity while still blaming “the left.” This is what I have to say about that:
Unity and healing do not occur in the absence of accountability.
Jesus Christ knows this. The founders and administrators of addiction recovery programs know this. Why don’t we, who have learned the process of repentance since our childhoods and had it reinforced numerous times in our lives, know this? What it is about us that seeks to heal wounds without accountability? I have seen it in my own family as a relative who molested another family has demanded that we forgive him without ever apologizing or acknowledging the harm to his victim(s). I’ve seen it currently in my country where those who don’t want to be held accountable have demanded that they be forgiven instantly, and we “unite” with them.
When will we learn that there is no healing without accountability?