Senator John Edwards is finally doing the right thing. He was wrong to cheat on his wife. He was wrong to lie about the affair to the public. If he continues to lie to the public, that's wrong, too.
He's also wrong about so many of his political positions and decisions.
But today John Edwards is apparently doing the right thing: He's asking for forgiveness. He's not doing it for show (it isn't because of him that we know about it, so at least he's not doing it for show very well). He's simply admitting that he was wrong and asking people to forgive him. By people, I mean his former advisers, donors, supporters, and campaign staffers, who are reportedly receiving private phone calls from a contrite Edwards.
Fox News is reporting that Edwards's staffers—at least some of them—are rebuffing Edwards's requests for forgiveness. One reportedly told Edwards brusquely, "I don't want you to call me again." That's the wrong response to the right thing.
And the whole matter is germane to the question of biblical church discipline. The same Jesus who gave us the procedure for the exclusion of errant members in Matthew 18:15-20 is also the One who, in the very next breath, told us in verse 22 that we are to forgive a brother "up to seventy times seven." So, if John Edwards were a member of First Baptist Church of Farmersville, it would be our duty to accept his request for forgiveness, to forgive him entirely, and to welcome his continued membership in the church. To abandon church forgiveness is just as problematic a sin as the abandonment of church discipline. Indeed, it may be a more problematic sin, for the refusal to forgive produces a repugnant stench in any matter of church discipline, leading many godly people in their rejection of an unforgiving spirit to go too far and reject biblical restorative church discipline along with its mutant clone.
I'm willing to presume that the former Edwards supporters in the Fox News piece are all lost people. But if any of them are not, they've committed a very public sin and have been disobedient to their master.