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Joy Behar, Mike Pence, Donald Trump and the Question of Public Apologies

If you've never humbled yourself, taken full responsibility for your actions without blaming others, and asked for forgiveness, you should try it.

Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a professor at a number of seminaries. He is the author of 25 books and hosts the nationally syndicated, daily talk radio show, the Line of Fire.

According to Vice President Pence, Joy Behar needs to make a public apology for the anti-Christian comments she made on the View. According to Pastor Robert Jeffress, if President Trump did indeed commit adultery in the past with porn star Stormy Daniels, no public apology is needed. It's a matter between his family and God. How do we sort this out?

To Joy Behar's credit, she did call Mike Pence to apologize for her ugly comments, since her words were directed at him. As he told Sean Hannity, "I give Joy Behar a lot of credit. She picked up the phone. She called me. She was very sincere, and she apologized and one of the things my faith teaches me is grace; forgive as you've been forgiven."

However, since she made the comments on national TV, Pence said, "I'm still encouraging her, to use the forum of that program or some other public forum, to apologize to tens of millions of Americans who were equally offended."

He's absolutely right, and it will be for Behar's own good to follow his advice. Sins committed publicly require public apologies. And in this case, because she sinned against people who are taught to forgive, I believe she will receive an outpouring of forgiveness if she is humble and sincere. Some will still scorn and mock her, but those with a true faith will forgive.

What about President Trump and his alleged affair with Stormy Daniels?

According to Pastor Jeffress, "Evangelicals knew they weren't voting for an altar boy when they voted for Donald Trump. We supported him because of his policies and his strong leadership."

As to whether the president owes America an apology (if guilty), Jeffress explained that "evangelicals understand the concept of sin and forgiveness" since "we're all sinners" and "we all need forgiveness." That forgiveness, Jeffress continued, is available to everyone through Christ, and whether or not Trump needs that forgiveness (meaning, whether he's guilty of the porn star's charges) "is between him, his family, and his God."

Is Jeffress correct?

On the one hand, if a man committed adultery 10 years ago, confessed that sin to his wife and family, and made things right with anyone else involved, there's no need for that to be disclosed publicly. As the Scriptures teach, "love covers a multitude of sins" (Proverbs 10:12). Why put someone to shame for a privately committed sin, if it has been confessed and rectified? (We're not talking something like committing murder in private. That must be dealt with in public under the law, for many obvious reasons.)

There would be, however, one exception regarding private sins and private apologies: If the private sins related to someone's public responsibilities, then a public apology would be appropriate.

When it comes to allegations against the President of the United States, there are several factors involved.

First, if the allegations are true, then he is presently lying about them. That requires public confession and apology.

Second, the charges involve the payment of hush money to prevent election embarrassment, which is also a public issue.

Third, because the allegations have become public, they raise further questions about his character in the past, perhaps even beyond what some of us understood.

Speaking for myself, if the allegations are true, that wouldn't surprise me at all. This is pretty much who I understood him to be in the past. For others, this would be a disappointment.

Either way, while I appreciate Pastor Jeffress's gracious pastoral sentiments, if I were counseling the president, I would say this: "Sir, if the charges are true, even if God, Melania and your family have already forgiven you, why not be honest with the nation? Americans are forgiving people, and, since it's true that we knew we weren't electing an altar boy to be president, it will be easy for us to show mercy. In fact, we'll remember your humility and contrition more than your past misdeeds. That's the way forgiveness works."

Of course, if the charges are false, then the president should remain steadfast in his denials. But if true, let him say to the nation, "As you know, there are many things in my past for which I'm not proud, and this is one of them. Years ago my family forgave me, but today I'm asking you to forgive me. I've also made significant changes since then, and those old days are long since behind me."

By humbling himself, he will be lifted up.

The same would hold true for Joy Behar. The more she recognizes the wrongness of what she said and the more she humbles herself before her Christian viewers, the more they will forgive her and offer her a fresh start.

As the Scriptures state, "For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 14:11). And, "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5).

If you've never humbled yourself, taken full responsibility for your actions without blaming others, and asked for forgiveness, you should try it. It's painful and beautiful at one and the same time. And more than that, it's wonderfully liberating.

Dr. Michael Brown ( is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Playing with Holy Fire: A Wake-up Call to the Pentecostal-Charismatic Church. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

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