I was raised in a conservative sect of Christianity.  One of the most important portions of any church service that I would attend was absolution.  Churchgoers would repent for their sins and the pastor would relay God’s forgiveness.  Absolution always confused me as we were taught that belief in Jesus Christ would render our sins meaningless, being that faith in the Son was the only route to heaven.  At the same time, absolution required that we feel remorse for our sins and for our transgressions against God.  If faith alone would send us to heaven, why was remorse and repentance even necessary?  Why would my fellow sinners repent only to commit the same crimes again by the time church rolled around the next week?

A similar confusion exists for the treatment of sentences when it comes to the justice system.  A presence of remorse by the convicted can often lead to more lenient sentences.  If a contract has been made with society to where certain crimes correspond to certain sentences, then why does remorse come into play at all?  It is not so much that those without remorse are punished for their lack of such, but rather that neurotypicals are elevated because of their ability to feel such.  Does not selective sentencing defeat the purpose of the contract?  Why play favoritism to one group when the ability to feel remorse is strongly tied to an immutable feature – the wiring of the brain?  Along those lines, remorse does not change the nature of the crime.  You can’t go home again.

Whether it is asking for God’s forgiveness or for the state’s forgiveness, the result is the same.  The “sins” requiring such forgiveness cannot be taken back and the ability to show remorse for such is arbitrary.  Rather than playing favorites with respect to who can feel what, should we not just enforce the contracts that are in place?  Why offer a “get out of jail free” card when the conditions for using it are arbitrary?

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