I can not stand those tattoos which say, “No regrets.” Every time I see one I can’t help but think, “I bet I can name one regret you have!” That is, perhaps, the dumbest tattoo one can have.
So often I hear Christians saying that they have no regrets. They sometimes even go so far as to say they do not regret their sins! It is just my opinion, but I think this is a mistake. To see why, let us examine why any Christian would say that he does not regret his sins.
Experience is a very big part of life. Much of our knowledge comes from our experiences. In fact, our experiences play a big role in making us who we are. This would include our sins.
Let’s take the example of drug use. We are told from a very young age that drugs are dangerous; that using drugs can ruin our lives. Yet, many people don’t seem to get the message. They decide, for any combination of reasons, to use drugs. Some people use drugs for a short time, and then they quit. Others may be addicted for years, or even decades. Still others’ drug use may compromise of one puff of a joint. Whatever the extent of “experimentation”, and whatever the reasons, many people seem to need to learn the hard way that drugs are no good.
Despite the fact that the use of illegal substances is immoral, and can be dangerous, there are millions of people who use them, quit, and never regret having gone through it. When asked why they do not regret their drug use, there those who will answer that they would not change a thing about their past, because experience has helped to make them who they are.
I understand some people just have the personality type where they have difficulty obeying authority, or they have some compulsive “need” to do what they know they ought not. Some people just seem to need to learn their lessons the hard way. Yet, I ask, does that justify committing sin? Does that mean we should not regret our sins? Is regretting our sins tantamount to regretting the people we have become?
There is no justification for sin. Some people may be invincibly ignorant of certain sins. Some people may have a condition, or be under certain circumstances, which lessens their culpability. So we should always try to avoid sin.
I understand that all our experiences go into making us the people we are. Yet, sin is an offense against the infinite, perfect, ineffable God Who loves us. We are created by this God, and we are created to love Him. To sin is to place our own will above God’s. So we should avoid and regret sin.
To make the argument that to regret our sins is to regret who we are is absolute nonsense. We are children of God. God is all-good. He created us to do good. To sin is to distort our nature. In Genesis 1 and 2 we see God calling all His creation good. When we sin, we harm or destroy the good in us. So we must regret our sins. To argue that our sins shouldn’t be regretted because they make us who we are today is tantamount to saying that to sin is to be human. This is just wrong.
One more point to address is that there are those who would say that everything happens for a reason. God has a plan for us, and if our actions had been altered, we couldn’t be who we have become. Those who lived lives of great sin and then repented might not have turned to God had they never sinned. God used their sinful lives to bring them to Him.
I do not deny that everything happens for a reason; but sin happens because we choose it. God allows us to use our free will to sin, but this is not what He wills. The fact that He can use sin to bring us closer to Him speaks to the power of God. It has no bearing on whether or not we should regret sin.
To make the argument that sinners might never have repented and turned to God if they had not sinned misses the point. We should not live a life of sin. We are meant to love God and avoid sin. There would not have been a need to repent if the sins had never been committed. No parent wants to see their children learn their lessons the hard way. No one has to do this. Those who take the hard route to God choose to do so. To argue otherwise is to say that sin is inevitable. Evil is never inevitable.
God never wills us to sin. He wills us to love Him, and do as He asks. We can become the people God wants us to be without living a life of sin. In fact, we can only become who God wants us to be without sin. Sin is incompatible with God, and it does not exist in Heaven. So let us be rid of this idea of no regrets. Maybe change your tattoo to say, “I regret my sins.”
Peace in Christ,
David J. Pollard
American Catholic Solidarity