Compunction is a word that has been left behind and it really is unfortunate. Compunction means: feelings of guilt or moral scruple that follows the doing of something bad, or a pricking of the conscience.
Pamela Dolan writes, “If turning (or taking a new path or amendment of life) is the primary consequence of repentance, then what is its cause? The early church had an answer, one that is rarely discussed these days: the experience of compunction, that pricking of our conscience that is the first signal we have become aware of our sin. Compunction is usually followed more or less swiftly by contrition, sorrow for our sins. Without awareness and sorrow, either for particular sins or for our general state of sinfulness, there is little to motivate us to repent and change our behavior.”
Dolan continues, “It is time to reclaim compunction as a spiritual gift. We are so allergic to guilt, so resistant to facing our own shadow side. If we learn to recognize compunction when it happens, we can use it as a tool in discernment. It is diagnostic, in a sense. It cuts through the haze of our distractions and busyness and our many defensive numbing mechanisms. But it comes and goes rather quickly, at least in my experience, so we may need to train our souls to recognize it for what it is.”
My concern is this: what if our conscience is not pricked, moved, and made sorrowful for sin? Better to have compunction than to have a guiltless repentance.
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Jesus