Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 05-19-2020, 09:27 AM
OldOlds is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 861

Does "Repent" require a belief in god or a religious context?


From an IRL debate. Looking up the definition, it doesn't explicitly seem to state one must repent TO a god, but at the same time, all the examples are religious in nature. And I don't believe I've ever heard the word used without at least a religious implication

Is there a factual answer to this?

I'm thinking "Repent" does require a religious context simply from the overwhelming use in that way. But I am open to being disabused.
  #2  
Old 05-19-2020, 09:40 AM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is offline
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 88,641
"Repent" just means "turn back", without any inherent religious implications at all. An atheist career criminal who decided to become an atheist law-abiding citizen could be fairly described as having repented.
  #3  
Old 05-19-2020, 06:59 PM
UDS is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Australia
Posts: 9,215
It's mostly used in a religious context, but there's nothing inherently religious in the concept. The OED defines it as "To review one's actions and feel contrition or regret for something one has done or omitted to do".
  #4  
Old 05-19-2020, 07:59 PM
Melbourne is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 6,313
Here's legal (non-religious) contexts for repentance:

https://www.abc.net.au/religion/the-...in-cr/10095452

https://www.armstronglegal.com.au/cr...ce-is-decided/

They are both Australian. The USA may use words differently.
  #5  
Old 05-19-2020, 08:04 PM
Buck Godot's Avatar
Buck Godot is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: MD outside DC
Posts: 6,506
To me, repent means recognizing that ones previous actions were morally wrong and striving to do better in the future. Atheists have morals and feel guilty about what they did just like everyone else. No god required.
  #6  
Old 05-19-2020, 08:15 PM
Aspidistra is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 6,365
A fairly well-known non-religious use of the word is the saying "Marry in haste, repent at leisure". There, 'repent' is being used purely in the sense of 'regret - realise that you made the wrong decision'
  #7  
Old 05-19-2020, 08:36 PM
am77494 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 2,129
Not sure if “repent” has an Indo European root etymologically. Repent translates roughly into “pashchatap” in Sanskrit or Hindi.

It is the act/feeling of empathizing with the person(s) who may have been hurt by your thoughts or actions. There is no religion involved with this word.
  #8  
Old 05-19-2020, 09:10 PM
UDS is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Australia
Posts: 9,215
Etymologically speaking, the word comes from the Latin paenitere, to repent. Where that word comes from is not entirely clear, but it's thought to be related to Latin paene, meaning almost, not quite there. (We get the suffix pen- from this root, as in peninsula, not quite an island; penultimate, next to last.) Semantically, the suggested explanation is that repentance is the realisation that you have missed your mark; you have not achieved what you could have; you have fallen short.
  #9  
Old 05-19-2020, 09:22 PM
thorny locust's Avatar
thorny locust is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Upstate New York
Posts: 2,390
I've seen it commonly used in the context of people found guilty of a crime being given a longer or shorter sentence based partly on whether the judge thought they were truly repentant. The question wasn't whether the defendant thought they'd committed a religious sin, but whether they recognized and were sorry for the injury that they'd done to other people.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:49 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017