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Jennifer Lawrence
Associated Press/Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision
Jennifer Lawrence

Guilt, regret, and forgiveness

Faith & Inspiration

Every now and then I thank God I lived the worst of my unsaved life in the pre-internet age. I’ve struck my share of cringe-worthy poses in front of cameras, and there are a couple of embarrassingly silly family videos stored somewhere. But as far as I know, no one has ever recorded me during the worst of my drinking-like-a-fish decadent days.

People aren’t so fortunate in the internet age. We seem to live on our phones, texting and snapping photos, and within seconds someone’s youthful (or middle-age or elderly) indiscretions are broadcast for all the world to see. And there’s no undoing it. The best you can hope for is to wait for the next person to do something worse and for people to become bored with your antics. Though time takes away the sting, guilty feelings and regret can linger.

I can’t imagine the mental anguish people go through when someone publishes what they thought were private moments. I’m sure by now you’ve seen the reports about a hacker or hackers invading the privacy of certain female celebrities and posting their nude photos online. Some have claimed the photos purportedly of them are fake. But Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence confirmed the ones of her are real. Actress Mary E. Winstead, who also confirmed hers, said she’d taken nude photos with her husband in the privacy of their home and deleted them years ago. The FBI is on the case.

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Consenting adults can and, more important, will do whatever they want in the privacy of the bedroom, but they should keep in mind—as we all should—that there’s no such thing as privacy anymore. The only private space left is inside your head.

This leaked nude photo incident serves as a reminder that actions can have embarrassing and guilt-inducing consequences. And feelings of guilt can be a good thing. Although Christ has forgiven us for our past, present, and future sins, our finite human minds tend to dwell on them. Feeling guilty isn’t wrong per se. Guilt can be a sign that we’re doing something wrong. Part of what led us to Christ was our guilt. The Holy Spirit convicted us and we turned away from sin and toward Him.

But we can’t allow guilt to render us ineffective. We should feel emboldened by God’s forgiveness. As the apostle Paul told us in Romans 8, there is “therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

As people used to say, “Shame the devil and tell the truth.” After confession and repentance, there is forgiveness. Ask, and you shall receive. As we remember the worst of our sins, we can rest assured that our Creator has absolved us. Is guilt about the past weighing you down? It’s amazing to know that Christ has forgiven even murderers. To stay mired in guilt and regret wastes His sacrifice.

La Shawn Barber
La Shawn Barber

La Shawn writes about culture, faith, and politics. Her work has appeared in the Christian Research Journal, Christianity Today, the Washington Examiner, and other publications

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