On apology: Do you lose your dignity when you apologize?

Really, my last post on this topic for now. But Lazare mentions that the dignity of the apologizer is diminished in the act of apologizing. Read his comment about his wife’s apology for a false accusation against their daughter,

Louise’s apology was successful because it diminished her own dignity while restoring Naomi’s. By saying, in effect, “I am the culprit, not you. I misplaced the brownie and blamed you when I should have known better.” (p. 50).

Later he talks about how apologies restore balance in relationships and restore dignity to the wronged. I agree with that, especially when the offender has power over the offended (like the illustration of the mother over the daughter).

But does the one doing the apologizing lose dignity when apologizing? To whom does that seem to be happening? When someone apologizes to me for something, I see their dignity going up, not down. It went down with the offense and returns with the heartfelt admission and request for forgiveness.

I think he has it wrong here. What do you think?


Filed under book reviews, conflicts, cultural apologetics, Psychology, Relationships

8 responses to “On apology: Do you lose your dignity when you apologize?

  1. Debbie

    I agree with you.

    I had to make a sincere apology to my daughter this morning after an impression from God enlightened me to how I just blow off her feelings even when I can see the pain on her face and I know she is feeling injustice.

    My apology restored the dignity of both of us and I made sure she knew it was God who had kicked my hiney!

    I like your blogs btw.

  2. John Tinnin

    Perhaps the author is thinking that one’s personal value is based upon the perception of others. Dignity would then be lost by admitting fault. However, if our dignity comes from God (Imago Dei) then admitting that we have shifted from the character of God’s image is an affirmation of faith (I’m trusting in God not in my shifting self), hope (there is hope beyond our flawed nature), and love (I love God more than maintaining the illusion of my own goodness). Christianity invites us to go on record against ourselves (confession) and consequently going on the record for the true source of our dignity.

  3. Perhaps he is equivocating on the word “dignity” and means something more like “pride.” I agree with you that there is a dignity in apology or admitting one’s wrongdoing and seeking forgiveness, but it is the dignity of humility and love. In seeking reconciliation, one must be humble, which is a dignified thing to be in the economy of the kingdom. I think this is the “upside-down-ness” of the kingdom ethic – the first shall be last, etc.

  4. Jess

    I’m definitely with you on this one. I see the dignity of the one doing the apologizing as going up exponentially.

  5. Amy

    It depends on the nature of the apology. For example, I’ve had someone in my life repeatedly apologize to me because I am upset about a past unresolved issue. However, she fails to take responsibility for her actions for that issue. So, in that sense, she’s just using an apology as manipulation.

    Also, I think of a woman who apologizes to her husband after he beats her. She is sorry for burning dinner or whatever nonsensical reason the man can think of for raising his fist. Again, definitely a dignity issue.

    I know I tend to think in extremes, but then again, life is extreme. I think being forced to apologize in certain situations is humiliating.

  6. Apologizing can restore the balance to a relationship and the dignity of both persons, if there is a genuineness to seeking forgiveness and not wrong the other person again. Where there is this submission to God, to be an agent of his compassion, then dignity is sustained. But, as Amy has said, there is no dignity where manipulation is present in the apologizing.

  7. Carol

    If ignoring someone is the reason I apologize and the person being ignored was ignoring me too how does that other person ever realize what they’ve done wrong?

  8. Linda

    Since the act of apologizing is a deliberate choice to set aside one’s own feelings, and/or thoughts about the offending event, I see it as a selfless act. It is “esteeming others as better than oneself,” and that never diminishes anyone’s dignity.

    There are multiple factors present in a situation like this, and it seems that maybe the feelings of the apologizer (shame?) are being confused with the feelings of the person receiving the apology (probably gratitude and a restoration of respect!). Yes–sometimes it feels humiliating when we (rightfully) have to extend an apology, but it’s always worth it, as long as we mean it . . . 🙂

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