Good Morning, Steve
I woke up this morning realizing that this is probably the most significant thing, the most underlying statement in your post.
You see, I am not saying anything new. Sin is irrational, by definition. If the person is rational, that is, they are operating with full knowledge, no blindness, with all the relevant information at the forefront, he won’t sin.
However: Your statement reflects a very natural recoil to the observation that people do not know what they are doing when they sin! Our condemnation of the sinner is an operation of the conscience, our condemnation of ourselves (emotional guilt) is what guides our behaviors when we are growing up, before we can truly allow love of neighbor to take over. Ask yourself “If I really saw that every sin I have ever done involved an unwanted ignorance, would I be more likely to sin?”.
If I am more likely to sin because I have forgiven myself in this way, through understanding an underlying ignorance, then perhaps it would be better to reject the observation! I am not ready to forgive myself, I am not ready for love to be my guide, I still need the “stick” to keep me on the right path. It’s okay.
Jesus invites us to love one another. In doing so, we no longer need the stick to guide us. The stick is still there, so fears about the stick going away, though subconscious, are unfounded. But the stick itself becomes rather obsolete when love of neighbor is truly our guiding principle. In the mean time, in forgiving oneself, which is truly knowing God’s forgiveness, we live a new “wholeness”, a holiness. When I condemn myself, beat up on myself about past actions, I am in a stressful state, enslaved, not living an “eternal life” where the “yoke is easy and the burden light”. When I instead forgive myself, I reconcile within, and I am free!
What I am saying, then, is that Jesus invites us to forgive ourselves in this deeper way. We can realize that we do not know what we are doing when we have sinned, and this brings us to a deeper reconciliation. Indeed, we can find that every choice we have ever made involves good intent, but our sight was not clear, we were usually blinded by some desire that subconsciously pushed away rational thought.
I say the above knowing full well that no amount of talking about it can convince anyone. In order to understand what I am saying, a person has to make the effort to understand their own sin by using Luke 23:34 as a guide.