Christian forgiveness and Bush's DUI

This thread is not intended to be an attack on Christians, Republicans, the “Right” or habitual drunkards.

In 1971 John Kerry supposedly threw some Medals that he was awarded for service in a combat zone. He was at the time ~28 years old.

In 1976 George Bush was conviced of DUI. He was ~30 years old.
In 1985 George Bush became a Christian. He was 39 years old (Frontline).

My question/problem/debate is…
My understanding among Christians is that behavior prior to conversion is as if performed by another person. Bush’s DUIs and other behavior is by a different person. He can not be criticized on this. God has fogiven him.
Kerry’s behavior was by the same person. He can be criticized. God has not forgiven him (for what?).

Really this might be poorly posed. I am just trying to understand this born again stuff.

links I used for dates – I also have Cheney 2 DUIs
BUSH DUI 09/04/1976

1985 conversion at 39

Cheney 11/19/1962

Kerry 1971

You’re going to have explain what you are talking about, because I really don’t understand what you are getting at.

People don’t become perfect once they’re born again. Most Christians believe that if you’re truely sorry for your actions, then you’ll be forgiven.

I think the OP is just trying to understand what being “born again” means and to what extent it absolves you of past misdeeds.

For my cynical answer, it’s just a rationalization to be used or ignored as needed. So if a drunkard is “born again” and you want him to win elective office, you say that’s all behind him and it shouldn’t matter. If same born-again former drunkard offers you a ride home after having “just a few drinks” at a party, you politely decline.

I think you are confusing divine forgiveness with human forgiveness.

Anyone who truly repents of his sins is forgiven by God. Christians are also bound to forgive those who have repented. But that doesn’t have any legal force. And I have never heard of someone arguing that Kerry can be criticized because he hasn’t been born again since he tossed the medals or ribbons or whatever, but Bush can’t for his DUI because he has been.

Classical Christian thinking is that repentence before God brings remission of the eternal consequence of sin, which is separation from God. It doesn’t automatically revoke the temporal consequence.

Supposing, for instance, that having sex without a condom is a sin. I engage in that sin, and as a result I get AIDS or something. Now I repent of my sin. God forgives me, but I still have AIDS. Or if I am convicted of DUI, I can repent and be forgiven by God. But that doesn’t mean it never happened.

A very crude oversimplification would be that being born again is a Get Out Of Hell Free card, but not a Get Out Of Jail Free card.

I hope this is addressing your question. AFAIK, both Bush and Kerry are both Christians, and therefore are equally entitled to God’s forgiveness. Whether or not the voters feel the same, I guess we will see in November.


Or if I am convicted of DUI, I can repent and be forgiven by God. But that doesn’t mean it never happened.

Welll … sorta. As far as God is concerned, it never happened (Isaiah 43:25). I doubt the Court is going to erase it, though.

Xiao, you’re on the right track. The Bible says when someone accepts Jesus, they are a new person. The “old” Dubya is dead, basically. Dub’s DUI happened when he was still a sinner, so it’s not considered as important as it would be if his DUI happened, say, last month. Yeah, it’s still a bad thing, don’t get me wrong. But Christians tend to overlook what people did before they got saved because in our minds that period was “BC.” Meeting Jesus changes everything; after that it’s a new ball of wax.

FWIW, I don’t think Kerry’s throwing the medals could even be considered a sin. They were his, weren’t they? He was free to do what he wanted to with them AFAIC.

To stretch the point to the point of absurdity, one could argue that if Charles Manson were “born again” he should be freed because he’s not the same person that hacked up Sharon Tate and others. Divine forgiveness can be obtained, but you’re still subject to accept civil and criminal responsibility for what you did regardless of your religious state of grace. One could also argue that if Mr. Kerry receives the Sacrament of Reconciliation, then he should be immune from criticism as well.

The point the I was inexpertly trying to get to is that if I discuss GWB to the Christians that I am around, I can not use anything prior to 85 indicating that he was reckless, had bad judgement,…He is not the same person, even though as an adult, he did these things.

I think the Charlie Manson analogy is fitting. George could through his actions could have killed a few people. He’s a better singer than GWB, too.

IIRC, Tex Watson, who did actually participate in the Tate murders, has become a Christian. And there was even some suggestion that a woman whose name I cannot recall - was it Tucker? - who had been sentenced to death but become a Christian behind bars should not have been executed for that reason. I think I remember that Bush even signed the death warrant.

Well, it was twenty years ago and a misdemeanor - maybe they are basing their arguments on that, and using the Bush conversion as an example of how he has changed. He has quit drinking as well. And are misdemeanors automatically expunged from one’s legal record after some period of time, or am I mistaken?

Anyway, I don’t agree with your colleagues that it is out of the question to criticize anything someone did before they became Christian. Nor that Kerry dumping his medals was necessarily a sin.

And I believe true repentence necessarily involves making an effort to cease benefitting from or repeating a sin. Thus Bush stopped drinking and Kerry has made some statements to the effect that he has had second thoughts about his medal-throwing.

So repentence means making amends, if possible. Sort of like how I would like to apologize to Olentzero for some nasty cracks upon his resigning from the SDMB, but I can’t because he ain’t around to hear it. So I have to wallow in my guilt.