Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Truth or Convenience
submitted by: slowfo

The American Church is not really interested in truth as much as they claim. In many respects, the truth is only sought out when it's convenient and comfortable for everyone - making "The Church" just like everyone else in the world. It's safe to talk about truth in Church......just don't start itemizing everything, okay? Because you'll have Betty confessing she told a fib. Conner saying that he speeds too much. But there's always Cliff in the joint who confesses his sexual trysts with octogenarians and it just ruins it for everyone.

Although God sees sin as sin, people definitely don't. But I think it's truthful confession that could really make Church more of the life-changing journey it was meant to be. Confession. No holds barred confession of sin. At least the Catholic Church continues their confession booths with the priests. But what about Protestants? The best we seem to do is "Honestly......it's hard for me to say this.....(voice cracking)...I really struggle with pride sometimes at work." Whoa, that's an earth-shattering revelation! Did one of your employees just hear that? Because "proud" is probably not what they would call you. It would probably be more like "self-centered, stingy, greedy, ego-maniac who just bought himself a $1.5 million house with cash while the rest of the faithful employees live on below-poverty wages."

Those sinned against don't have problems specifically calling out wrong-doing. It's the perpetrators (which includes all of us) that don't want to be held accountable by anyone. And for that matter, who does want their personal grossness aired for the public? But it's a different thing if everyone is candidly sharing the very real sin they've done for the week.

Imagine, what would it be like if people came together and could admit that they need help? Together they sought God and the support of other strugglers. They fully confessed ALL of their sin as a matter of cleansing. Everyone was held accountable to take real steps of healing in their broken relationships. And every week they celebrated the growth they took together. Can you imagine how freeing the Church could become? (sigh).....oh well, I don't see the Church changing that anytime soon. I guess we'll just leave that sort of healing to the 12-step groups, huh?

4 comments:

Pixie said...

Couple of disjointed thoughts:

1. In Christianity, confession stems from repentance and decision to choose life not death in our actions. I wonder if people confess more easily in 12-step programs because they know that there is a concrete 12-step way out of their mess into life. From my experience, group confession in church/church groups devolves into "we suck" and/or "we need to do better starting now" with no concrete path forward. We get the repent & confess part but kinda leave people hanging on the road to recovery.

2. The church has a problem with gossip. Priests are honor a code of strict confidentiality. A lot of us, myself included, haven't always dealt graciously with someone's admitted sin and their vulnerable situation after confession. It gets complicated when the sin is public because "everyone knows, right?" and so the lines of when it is acceptable to talk about it get blurred.

I definitely think we need to see more confession in the church - maybe a discipleship model of some sort would offer the confidentiality & mentoring towards wholeness that is needed.

g13 said...

i'm really glad you brought this topic up scotty. as you well know, i think that the tendency towards secrecy and hiding in the church is a form of fundamental hypocrisy that can stunt the church's mission. if we can't be honest about our brokenness and sin within the body of Christ, then we have to seriously question whether we understand or embrace grace at all.

kellie's comments regarding the care with which confessions should be taken and the importance of providing the penitent with practical steps towards change are also helpful.

in the life of our little community, we have recently begun practicing confession as a communal practice in a small group setting. though we have yet to hear of octogenarian trysts - and would not, in fact, share that information if we had:) - i am confident that the practice of confession will help open our hearts to the teaching of Scripture and will encourage us to pray for one another in concrete and, one would hope, efficacious ways.

Clovis said...

You probably wouldn't want me to join in on the confessions. I'd make Cliff blush.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great post, slowfo. And thanks for pointing out (what I call) the church's categorization of sin...to borrow from Orwell, all sins are equal, but some sins are more equal than others. My gluttony is not as offensive as your lust issue, and so on. We still very much operate in the Believe-Behave-Belong model...when Jesus is calling us to Belong then Believe and let His transforming power help us Behave.

Evangelicals need more confession, but not where we confess to get a Rx (my problem with Catholic confession)...the confession is the Rx. Shedding light on a dark subject...and we only need a little light in any darkened place to find our way out.

Kevin Smith Clark