SAE and Hope for Repentance

The Friday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is a reflection on a recent event or topic and a new feature of this blog for Fridays. The topic could be something taken from the news cycle, popular trend in culture (e.g., movies, music, etc.), a debate on social media, or the like.


Earlier this month, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity at the University of Oklahoma (OU) fell under just scrutiny. A video went viral that recorded members of that fraternity chanting a song with racial slurs and referencing lynching. David Boren, who is the residing president of OU suspended them from campus and expelled two students from SAE, as a result.

The media onslaught of horror came quickly and it came justly. With the exception of those who fought evil with evil (by chanting racist comments back at SAE), the criticism of such behavior and the shock of this kind of racism is expected.

The point of interest I have had during this whole fiasco hasn’t been OU’s reaction (administration, student body, athletics) or the media’s response, or the national SAE.

I have been curious to see how these particular students involved in the singing of this racist song, and particularly the ones suspended would react. I have wanted to see if their apologies seemed sincere and contrite. I want to see repentance!

Just today, one of them released a statement saying,

“Some have wondered why I hadn’t spoken out publicly. The trust is I have had a mix of pain, shame, sorrow and fear over the consequences of my actions. I did not want to apologize to the press or to the whole country until I first came to apologize to those more directly impacted. … The truth is what was said in the chant is disgusting. … And after meeting with these people I’ve learned these words should never be repeated.”

Other than wanting a clarification for what he meant by “these people,” I think that is a good start.  But I think we need to see more than words to know a change of heart (aka repentance) has occurred.

And then, if there is sincere confession and repentance, I am most anxious to see if we as a society are willing to restore them with the same amount of attention that we criticized them with.

You see when you expel someone in the church for sin (Matt 18:15-20) and they return to the church in full repentance, you restore them with as much enthusiasm and celebration to mirror the cursing and condemnation that came before.

In other words, match the energy of restoring them with the same energy you used to curse them.

If these members of SAE genuinely confess and repent, my prayer is that this society pours on the forgiveness. It’s what Jesus did for us!


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