Wednesday, September 27, 2006

e-Confession

I was always find it interesting to see what the Today show considers to be "news" and this morning they intrigued me with a piece about confessions and the way some groups are reaching out using the internet. There's an evangelical megachurch in Edmond, OK (near my former residence) called Life Church which is using the internet as a way to do outreach and one of their ministries is online confessions. People can remain anonymous and type out their confessions online where they get posted for all to see. There are people who confess drug addiction, adultery, pornographic longings, etc. - and it's all right there for anyone to read. My personal favorite is the "sexuality section" where people confess they have had homosexual experiences or currently feel attracted to members of the same sex but want prayers to overcome their sinful ways. I'm not even going to begin on that one.... Once posted, the confession goes up with no information about the author, and they get categorized (by "sin" I guess) - and this is just out there for anyone to look at 24/7. They do have a statement that the site shouldn't be viewed by anyone under 18 as it contains adult content, but still...

The Today show actually talked about that bit on their show several months ago, but this morning's story was a follow up with a response from "other churches" - which actually was only a response from Catholics (no other protestant churches were mentioned or asked for their opinion). Big surprise - the Catholics aren't keen on the idea of online confessions. However, there was no mention about the differences in theology between these two denominations. For Catholics, confession and reconciliation is a sacrament - something sacred and intimately done between an individual and the preist (who represents/mediates for God). Protestants, evangelical or not, simply don't have this kind of belief. Confession is still something that is a part of many traditions, but it's not considered a sacrament, and is often done more as a group than as individuals. Nowhere was this mentioned. They just sensationalized the fact that Life Church, as well as other groups and websites, are offering places on line for people to tell their innermost, darkest secrets and that several Catholics think it's wrong or a bad idea. Yippee.

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, what do you think about the concept of online confession? Is it helpful to tell your secret, knowing you'll be anonymous but that anyone can read it? I can understand the need to tell, to get it out rather than bottling it up, but how do you know anyone is listening? Where does reconciliation come in? Is this an acceptable way to reach the unchurched population? If so, what does that say about our culture?

5 comments:

Big Unit said...

I don't agree with it. To voyeristic for one thing.

Now for the controversy: I seem to remember several scriptures saying homosexuality is a sin. What do you do with those?

OK, start the attacks and name calling on me. Remember though I have 5 close gay/lesbian friends so I am not a gay hater. I have lots of sin too but I can't just ignore any verses that say my sin is a sin.

mandyc said...

Unit, your asking questions about those scriptures doesn't make you a gay hater. There are all kinds of things the Bible which call for this type of questioning. For example, how do you read the 6th commandment in Exodus 20:13 - "You shall not kill" or "You shall not murder"??

There's are MANY issues with biblical translation as well as interpretation and it greatly depends on which text you're talking about as to what the specific challenges are. Aside from the questions of defining sin and then listing specific sins (which is a huge theological issues in and of itself), there's the question of whether homosexualtiy is a choice or not. If people are created "that way" or choose it, does that make a difference in how you read those scriptures?? What about the fact that God saw all that was created and called it good? What about the fact the passage that says [s]he without sin cast the first stone?

If you want more, you'll have to give me a specfic text.

hipchickmamma said...

was the today show talking about say postsecrets.com or specicially the Life Church (which i've never heard of btw).

i doubt there are reconciliations say at post secret. there's another one my hubby scans (he's a freak i know!) but i don't remember the name of but i'm pretty sure it's not sponsered by a church--but it sounds similiar.

anywho...while that is said that there is likely no reconciliation, i'm left with 2 observations.

1. people confessing their sins do not (and perhaps most often do not) seel reconciiation. it is simply a way for them to get it off their chest so THEY feel better rather than to heal any wounds. if they were healing wounds then they would be dealing with their "victims"

and

2. I do believe that reconcilaition can happen on such sites as post secret. not the typical kind where you make up with the individual but one in which you are able to see something humane about the person who wounded you, and for whatever that is, you are able to forgive or at least begin to forgive. while that is not reconciliation with the perp, it is a healing reconciliation for the victim.

unfortunately i remain too cynical to believe that a perp would find and understand the victim from their confession. often perps fail to recognize themselves in the pain of others.

does any of that make sense?

Big Unit said...

Wish I had more time but I have an early flight in the morn. Oh yeah, I have a log in my eye so I can hardly get the saw dust out of anyone elses.

I beleive it is a choice. God said His creation was good before Adam and Eve sinned (btw, not Adam & Steve) but gave us free will, now we sin, God sent His Son..........

Heard a good study on thou shall not kill/murder. Origin of word is murder- basically kill without purpose kind of thing. Death penalty ok, kill in self defense ok.

I am glad we can have these discussions and differences of opinions and still be friends.

hipchickmamma said...

going on to big unit's subject. here is where i tend to lose touch with the argument/discussion.

my initial response is what difference does it make if it is a choice or not? are we really going to debate if it is a sin or not, and if it is does that give any of us the right to bash and disenfranchise and kick someone (s) out of the church? where the hell do we get the idea that it is our job to decide who or what can seperate someone from the love of God?

based on JC's life i don't understand the debate at all. i can't help but think it doesn't matter...we are supposed to seek the light of Christ in everyone we meet, to see and honor the imago dei. the imago dei in ourselves and others.

yes, i could venture to say that sin is irrelevant. well, depending on how you define sin. is sin the "moral" behaviors we enact or the failing to recognize and honor all of God's peoples?

there is so much we take and dismiss out of the bible--both sides mind you--the reality is that the bible does contridict itself unles you use a little hocus pocus. we are left to decide what to make and do with it. frankly, i don't know the answers. but i do know i'd much rather err on the side of love and compassion and grace than judgementalism and fear.