Author Topic: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?  (Read 13176 times)

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Offline ialmisry

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #45 on: July 11, 2014, 12:40:22 AM »
In the United States, more than 5 million women are abused by an intimate partner each year. In 2007, intimate partners committed 14% of all homicides in the U.S., killing an estimated 1,640 women. Intimate partner violence is a leading cause of homicides and injury-related deaths during pregnancy. Now, those aren't all due to infidelity, but...

I'm not questioning your accuracy, but for completeness sake, where do you get these numbers from?

And regardless, I think spousal violence or threat or abuse of any kind is a serious marriage issue.  If that's what leads to infidelity, before even addressing infidelity, one has to address the fact that the spouse is in a dangerous position to continue as a spouse.
The government. One place to find numbers is here: http://opdv.ny.gov/statistics/nationaldvdata/index.html

I definitely agree about the issue of domestic violence. But, look: priests deal with all kinds of messed up stuff. This is not outside the purview of what could come up: a woman who cheated on her husband and he thinks he will beat her, or even kill her. There are a lot of issues there that need to be dealt with. But, you know, I want to see what the "always must tell the innocent spouse" crowd has to say about it.
Looking through the link, you will notice-or should-that no distinction is made between spouse, shack-up or one night stand.
That's certainly the most important thing to note when reading statistics about women getting beaten up.
When the safest place statistically for a woman is her home with her husband the father of her children, and that fact is purposely being obscured by obscuring terms, yeah, it is.

Sorry to upset the narrative.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 12:51:36 AM by ialmisry »
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Offline JamesRottnek

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #46 on: July 11, 2014, 01:18:44 AM »
Or you could just ask orthonorm. He will tell you how evil you are, and why self-hatred and guilt are wonderful.  ::)

Actually, he'll probably tell you: Stop feeling so guilty; you're crazy.

At least in my experience.
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Offline JamesRottnek

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #47 on: July 11, 2014, 01:20:18 AM »
How did you get from here:
Quote
I don't agree with a lot of what has been said above. If you have come to confession, fulfilled the penance, and committed to not sinning again, you have repented, end of story. The sincerity, sorrow, shame, guilt and compunction you lack is made up for by the action of God through the priest's absolution. Only a saint can feel perfect compunction, so the church only asks you to give what you're capable of giving. This is the whole reason why confession exists - a concrete and visible guarantee of God's forgiveness in spite of our imperfection. Belief in the absolute efficacy of the priest's absolution in the sacrament is simply a matter of faith. Also remember that emotions are not everything. If you regret something, it's better to not feel guilt and not do it again than to feel guilt and continue to do it.

You only have to nudge your toe forward an inch and the Lord will come running to you over thousands of miles.

To here:

I read an article in which an influential Orthodox priest encouraged not disclosing this for the sake of the marriage and the feelings of the innocent spouse. The adulterer gets to feel relief because his religion teaches unconditional divine forgiveness, but his spouse now believes a lie about the other and the marriage, loses a chance for restitution, and loses the option to end the failed marriage (as allowed by Christ in this case) or to forgive.

This might be the final straw for me. It has become clearer and clearer to me over the past few months that I just don't share the Christian view of how to deal with evil actions. Forgiving others unconditionally, without restitution and justice, does not solve these problems in any real way, it simply ignores them. Letting God forgive while not owning up to actions to the people who've actually been hurt - that is abhorrent. I remember reading in Wounded By Love how Elder Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia helped a man who murdered his wife escape from the police, because he had "repented."

Orthodoxy has made me feel very intense self-hatred and guilt over the fact that I cannot feel emotional "forgiveness" toward my abusive parents for their unrestituted actions. The only solace the church seems to give is "well, you're evil too, you're especially evil if you ever feel wronged even for the most heinous of acts, and we won't even require those who have hurt you to honestly reconcile with you, just with God and their confessor." I think that this religion might just not be for me.



I was talking about how one does not have control over whether he feels emotions such as guilt, not whether restitution to a betrayed spouse or abused family member should be necessary.

I suppose you have a point, though, in that the "Belief in the absolute efficacy of the priest's absolution" which I mentioned is the reason why some would feel justified in keeping these kinds of secrets. If God and the church have forgiven you, the forgiveness of the offended party would just get in the way.

Really?  So God can forgive you on my behalf, if you wrong me?  That's an unusual thought.

But my real point in replying to this post is to say that people have a lot more control over their ability to feel guilty than you seem to think. 
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Offline JamesRottnek

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #48 on: July 11, 2014, 01:24:55 AM »
In the United States, more than 5 million women are abused by an intimate partner each year. In 2007, intimate partners committed 14% of all homicides in the U.S., killing an estimated 1,640 women. Intimate partner violence is a leading cause of homicides and injury-related deaths during pregnancy. Now, those aren't all due to infidelity, but...

I'm not questioning your accuracy, but for completeness sake, where do you get these numbers from?

And regardless, I think spousal violence or threat or abuse of any kind is a serious marriage issue.  If that's what leads to infidelity, before even addressing infidelity, one has to address the fact that the spouse is in a dangerous position to continue as a spouse.
The government. One place to find numbers is here: http://opdv.ny.gov/statistics/nationaldvdata/index.html

I definitely agree about the issue of domestic violence. But, look: priests deal with all kinds of messed up stuff. This is not outside the purview of what could come up: a woman who cheated on her husband and he thinks he will beat her, or even kill her. There are a lot of issues there that need to be dealt with. But, you know, I want to see what the "always must tell the innocent spouse" crowd has to say about it.
Looking through the link, you will notice-or should-that no distinction is made between spouse, shack-up or one night stand.
That's certainly the most important thing to note when reading statistics about women getting beaten up.
When the safest place statistically for a woman is her home with her husband the father of her children, and that fact is purposely being obscured by obscuring terms, yeah, it is.

Sorry to upset the narrative.

No map to back up your claims?  I'm surprised.
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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #49 on: July 11, 2014, 01:33:51 AM »
In the ancient Orthodox Church, the practice used to be one of openly confessing one's sins before the entire Church, but it was stopped shortly after Constantine issued his decree of toleration as people are not that willing to forgive when someone had violated their dearest daughter or stolen a huge sum of money from the treasury.

Infidelity to one's wife is serious, and I can only imagine what the wife would think if her husband was forbidden to enter the church and had to stand outside during the Divine Liturgy. Perhaps that is what some guys are doing as they stand outside smoking their cigarettes and cigars while their dear wives go inside to pray for them.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 01:34:27 AM by Maria »
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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #50 on: July 11, 2014, 01:35:29 AM »
Infidelity to one's wife is serious, and I can only imagine what the wife would think if her husband was forbidden to enter the church and had to stand outside during the Divine Liturgy. Perhaps that is what some guys are doing as they stand outside smoking their cigarettes and cigars while their dear wives go inside to pray for them.

Yeah, this kind of speculation is super-helpful...
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Offline Maria

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #51 on: July 11, 2014, 01:40:21 AM »
Infidelity to one's wife is serious, and I can only imagine what the wife would think if her husband was forbidden to enter the church and had to stand outside during the Divine Liturgy. Perhaps that is what some guys are doing as they stand outside smoking their cigarettes and cigars while their dear wives go inside to pray for them.

Yeah, this kind of speculation is super-helpful...

I forgot the smilie.  ::)

The Serbian Priest said that it was a custom in his church for the men to stand outside the church smoking because they are not allowed to smoke in the church. The dear wives go into the church to pray for their husbands. Oh, and the men are happy to accompany their wives to church because they do feel protected by their prayers.
The memory of God should be treasured in our hearts like the precious pearl mentioned in the Holy Gospel. Our life's goal should be to nurture and contemplate God always within, and never let it depart, for this steadfastness will drive demons away from us. - Paraphrased from St. Philotheus of Sinai
Writings from the Philokalia: On Prayer of the Heart,
Translated from the Russian by E. Kadloubovksy and G.E.H. Palmer, Faber and Faber, London, Boston, 1992 printing.

Offline OrthoNoob

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #52 on: July 11, 2014, 03:23:58 AM »
In the United States, more than 5 million women are abused by an intimate partner each year. In 2007, intimate partners committed 14% of all homicides in the U.S., killing an estimated 1,640 women. Intimate partner violence is a leading cause of homicides and injury-related deaths during pregnancy. Now, those aren't all due to infidelity, but...

I'm not questioning your accuracy, but for completeness sake, where do you get these numbers from?

And regardless, I think spousal violence or threat or abuse of any kind is a serious marriage issue.  If that's what leads to infidelity, before even addressing infidelity, one has to address the fact that the spouse is in a dangerous position to continue as a spouse.
The government. One place to find numbers is here: http://opdv.ny.gov/statistics/nationaldvdata/index.html

I definitely agree about the issue of domestic violence. But, look: priests deal with all kinds of messed up stuff. This is not outside the purview of what could come up: a woman who cheated on her husband and he thinks he will beat her, or even kill her. There are a lot of issues there that need to be dealt with. But, you know, I want to see what the "always must tell the innocent spouse" crowd has to say about it.
Looking through the link, you will notice-or should-that no distinction is made between spouse, shack-up or one night stand.
That's certainly the most important thing to note when reading statistics about women getting beaten up.

You can almost taste the signaling here.
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Offline Nicene

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #53 on: July 11, 2014, 03:44:55 AM »
Even if it brings pain the spouse needs to know.
Thank you.

Offline JamesRottnek

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #54 on: July 11, 2014, 03:49:29 AM »
Even if it brings pain the spouse needs to know.

What if it brings pain to more than the spouse?  What if it causes a divorce when there are children?
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Offline Nicene

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #55 on: July 11, 2014, 03:58:18 AM »
Even if it brings pain the spouse needs to know.

What if it brings pain to more than the spouse?  What if it causes a divorce when there are children?

Isn't it the spouse's right to get a divorce?
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Offline hecma925

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #56 on: July 11, 2014, 04:02:08 AM »
Even if it brings pain the spouse needs to know.

What if it brings pain to more than the spouse?  What if it causes a divorce when there are children?

Isn't it the spouse's right to get a divorce?

They can.
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Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #57 on: July 11, 2014, 08:41:40 AM »
Also, as much as I respect Mor and much of what he says, I would not cast aside all of Orthodoxy just because some guy on the internet said "not necessarily"

The OP asked about what priests would require of penitents in a particular situation, not about what the penitent ought to do.  Though I'm not a priest, I answered based on my understanding of what I've studied and how I was trained.  I never claimed that my answer was authoritative, though I think I'm not out of line to suppose that my posts on any given day are more authoritative than what others might throw out on any number of topics.  
I meant no affront to you Mor, but when an individual is meeting with a priest in person, there is a much greater capacity to dialog and discuss the issue. It is a barrier of the medium of the internet, not of you personally that I was trying to explain.  Even if I obtained advice from a priest on here that I thought was strange or I did not understand, it would not be a cause for me to question Orthodoxy. Although a priest online may know my internet persona, they don't really know me.  It is far better to have a discussion with a priest the penitent trusts in person than relying on perhaps a theoretically correct answer but not one that is beneficial for the penitent directly.  I sense this thread arose of some personal struggle on the part of the OP, not just a curious inquiry on the theoretical.
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Offline ialmisry

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #58 on: July 11, 2014, 09:12:52 AM »
Even if it brings pain the spouse needs to know.

What if it brings pain to more than the spouse?  What if it causes a divorce when there are children?
What if the children aren't his and he doesn't know it?
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Offline jah777

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #59 on: July 11, 2014, 10:06:57 AM »
St. Nikodemos also counsels spiritual fathers to be careful not to disclose confessed adultery to the other spouse out of concern for how damaging this information would be.  The role of the spiritual father is to help the person confessing to repent and turn away from such things. 

There is no question that adultery is absolutely devastating to the spouse who is cheated on.  I honestly do not know what would be worse:

1)  Learning right away about the adultery
2)  Learning about the adultery only many years later

If a person is willing to confess such a major sin, most likely they truly wish to repent and not repeat the sin.  My preference would be for my wife to immediately confess and repent, then fulfill whatever epitemia (penance) is given to her, but for me to never know and for her to never again commit this sin.  However, a person who has committed adultery should be given an epitemia by the spiritual father to not commune for a number of years.  If my wife never communed from Sunday to Sunday, I would certainly grow suspicious and I don't think I would let the matter go until she gave me an explanation that actually made sense.  In other words, I don't know how it could be kept secret in that context even if the spiritual father does not require one to tell their spouse.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 10:07:17 AM by jah777 »

Offline genesisone

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #60 on: July 11, 2014, 10:51:23 AM »
St. Nikodemos also counsels spiritual fathers to be careful not to disclose confessed adultery to the other spouse out of concern for how damaging this information would be.  The role of the spiritual father is to help the person confessing to repent and turn away from such things. 

There is no question that adultery is absolutely devastating to the spouse who is cheated on.  I honestly do not know what would be worse:

1)  Learning right away about the adultery
2)  Learning about the adultery only many years later

If a person is willing to confess such a major sin, most likely they truly wish to repent and not repeat the sin.  My preference would be for my wife to immediately confess and repent, then fulfill whatever epitemia (penance) is given to her, but for me to never know and for her to never again commit this sin.  However, a person who has committed adultery should be given an epitemia by the spiritual father to not commune for a number of years.  If my wife never communed from Sunday to Sunday, I would certainly grow suspicious and I don't think I would let the matter go until she gave me an explanation that actually made sense.  In other words, I don't know how it could be kept secret in that context even if the spiritual father does not require one to tell their spouse.
Your words here make much sense.

It's also important to consider the nature of the infidelity. Remember that our Lord told us that even to lust after a woman is to commit adultery. So the scope of what infidelity might be is wide. Most posts here seem to imagine that we are discussing a full-blown sexually active affair. But what if it is no more than a stolen kiss in the storage room at work twenty years ago? Is that the same thing? If a man confessed that to his wife today, she might begin wondering quite unnecessarily if "more" had happened not just then but in the intervening two decades. In that case, confession to the wife would do far more harm than good.

Much better to let it remain under the judgement of the priest who will have heard more of the details. That's one of the things that I appreciate about Orthodoxy: how we live out our faith is not a one-size-fits-all deal.

Offline William

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #61 on: July 11, 2014, 10:53:19 AM »
I suppose that when sit-coms have a higher morality than your religion, something is wrong.

Orthodoxy has taught me a lot, and I'm glad to have learned from it. But I cannot have any part with a faith that can justify this. Thanks to everyone for their help over the years.
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Offline jah777

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #62 on: July 11, 2014, 10:55:11 AM »
I suppose that when sit-coms have a higher morality than your religion, something is wrong.

Orthodoxy has taught me a lot, and I'm glad to have learned from it. But I cannot have any part with a faith that can justify this. Thanks to everyone for their help over the years.

What sin are you accusing the Orthodox Church of justifying? 

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #63 on: July 11, 2014, 10:57:02 AM »
I suppose that when sit-coms have a higher morality than your religion, something is wrong.

Orthodoxy has taught me a lot, and I'm glad to have learned from it. But I cannot have any part with a faith that can justify this. Thanks to everyone for their help over the years.
Doesn't it seem at all strange to you that you are bagging a religion based on an internet conversation over an issue that does not personally affect you seeing as you are not even married?  ???
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Offline Carl Kraeff (Second Chance)

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #64 on: July 11, 2014, 11:19:46 AM »
The question was not 'should the person confess this to their spouse'
But rather
'Should the Priest require that they do so'

That is the distinction I think Mor is addressing.

There might be situations where the Priest would not 'require' it.

I tell you what; you are one sharp, logical person. I had been coming to that realization as I read your posts, but this one caused me to cement my opinion. Are you perhaps in the legal profession?
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 11:24:59 AM by Carl Kraeff (Second Chance) »

Offline yeshuaisiam

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #65 on: July 11, 2014, 12:07:49 PM »
There is no biblical requirement that we confess to priest's only.

It only makes sense, if you steal something, to confess to the one you stole from.
If you lie, you right your lie through confession to whom you lie to.
If you cheat on your spouse, you confess it to them.

On biblical standard, we are forgiven by God based on how we forgive others.

Christianity is a horrendously hard and difficult faith to be in.  It means we have to carry a heavy cross down a narrow path.  Confessing things to a priest is child's play compared with confessing to a victim.  Been there, done that, and have experienced both.

The churches would like to convince you that absolution exists only in their clergy, when in reality, biblically, it is from those who have received the holy ghost.   Of course this is handy for the church as it gives monopoly control over forgiving sins.

As Yeshua stated in the Lord's prayer "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us".     We must forgive others who confess to us of their sins and wrongs towards us if we want our heavenly father to forgive us.

Absolutely, a person who has wronged a spouse, should confess their sins to their spouse.
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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #66 on: July 11, 2014, 12:17:48 PM »
I suppose that when sit-coms have a higher morality than your religion, something is wrong.

Orthodoxy has taught me a lot, and I'm glad to have learned from it. But I cannot have any part with a faith that can justify this. Thanks to everyone for their help over the years.

 :-\

God bless you William.  I hope one day you grow out of your teenage emotional logic.
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Offline ialmisry

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #67 on: July 11, 2014, 12:21:24 PM »
There is no biblical requirement that we confess to priest's only.

It only makes sense, if you steal something, to confess to the one you stole from.
If you lie, you right your lie through confession to whom you lie to.
If you cheat on your spouse, you confess it to them.

On biblical standard, we are forgiven by God based on how we forgive others.

Christianity is a horrendously hard and difficult faith to be in.  It means we have to carry a heavy cross down a narrow path.  Confessing things to a priest is child's play compared with confessing to a victim.  Been there, done that, and have experienced both.

The churches would like to convince you that absolution exists only in their clergy, when in reality, biblically, it is from those who have received the holy ghost.   Of course this is handy for the church as it gives monopoly control over forgiving sins.

As Yeshua stated in the Lord's prayer "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us".     We must forgive others who confess to us of their sins and wrongs towards us if we want our heavenly father to forgive us.

Absolutely, a person who has wronged a spouse, should confess their sins to their spouse.
If you can come up with any evidence in the Bible that outside the Church laying hands on you, you can receive the Holy Spirit to grant absolution, we can have a discussion. Otherwise, you lack standing, as you have nothing to stand on.
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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #68 on: July 11, 2014, 12:21:41 PM »
And the train wreck continues...

There is no biblical requirement that we confess to priest's only.

It only makes sense, if you steal something, to confess to the one you stole from.
If you lie, you right your lie through confession to whom you lie to.
If you cheat on your spouse, you confess it to them.

You're conflating two different matters.

Quote
On biblical standard, we are forgiven by God based on how we forgive others.

No.  "On biblical standard", we are forgiven by God because we have already forgiven everyone else.  Doesn't anyone pray the Lord's Prayer anymore in your religion?

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Christianity is a horrendously hard and difficult faith to be in.  It means we have to carry a heavy cross down a narrow path.  Confessing things to a priest is child's play compared with confessing to a victim.  Been there, done that, and have experienced both.

Agreed.

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The churches would like to convince you that absolution exists only in their clergy, when in reality, biblically, it is from those who have received the holy ghost.   Of course this is handy for the church as it gives monopoly control over forgiving sins.

Where in Scripture does it say that "those who have received the holy ghost (sic)" are the ones from whom "absolution" comes?  

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As Yeshua stated in the Lord's prayer "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us".     We must forgive others who confess to us of their sins and wrongs towards us if we want our heavenly father to forgive us.

You added that restriction.  It is not what Jesus said.

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Absolutely, a person who has wronged a spouse, should confess their sins to their spouse.

Personally, I understand and lean in this direction, but I know enough to know that such situations have multiple complications, and such a black and white solution isn't always necessarily the best one if the goal is healing and saving and not merely laying it all on the table and seeing what happens.  
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Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #69 on: July 11, 2014, 12:23:19 PM »
YiM,
No one has ever claimed that we only need to confess to priests. Of course we must seek forgiveness from those who we have wronged. That being said, Christ specifically gave the Apostles and, by extension, their successors the power to forgive sin.

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Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Otherwise Christ's statement makes no sense. If He was talking to any Christian, why would He give the allowance to withhold forgiveness?
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Offline ialmisry

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #70 on: July 11, 2014, 12:25:07 PM »
The question was not 'should the person confess this to their spouse'
But rather
'Should the Priest require that they do so'

That is the distinction I think Mor is addressing.

There might be situations where the Priest would not 'require' it.

I tell you what; you are one sharp, logical person. I had been coming to that realization as I read your posts, but this one caused me to cement my opinion. Are you perhaps in the legal profession?
LOL. Carl, don't confuse logic with casuistry with logic (I'm accusing the legal profession, not Denise).
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Offline minasoliman

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #71 on: July 11, 2014, 12:30:33 PM »
There is no biblical requirement that we confess to priest's only.

It only makes sense, if you steal something, to confess to the one you stole from.
If you lie, you right your lie through confession to whom you lie to.
If you cheat on your spouse, you confess it to them.

On biblical standard, we are forgiven by God based on how we forgive others.

Christianity is a horrendously hard and difficult faith to be in.  It means we have to carry a heavy cross down a narrow path.  Confessing things to a priest is child's play compared with confessing to a victim.  Been there, done that, and have experienced both.

The churches would like to convince you that absolution exists only in their clergy, when in reality, biblically, it is from those who have received the holy ghost.   Of course this is handy for the church as it gives monopoly control over forgiving sins.

As Yeshua stated in the Lord's prayer "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us".     We must forgive others who confess to us of their sins and wrongs towards us if we want our heavenly father to forgive us.

Absolutely, a person who has wronged a spouse, should confess their sins to their spouse.

Nvm
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 12:31:53 PM by minasoliman »
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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #72 on: July 11, 2014, 02:40:55 PM »
I suppose it comes down to this. I truly believe from the bottom of my heart that keeping this a secret from your spouse would be absolute, pure evil. Therefore, I cannot subscribe to a system of beliefs which can even occasionally justify this.

These beliefs that the consequences of terrible actions can just be done away with by well-wishing, by asking forgiveness from third parties...I just can't.

I'm sorry.

William,

You will of course do what you think is best, but what strikes me about this whole idea is your statement:

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Therefore, I cannot subscribe to a system of beliefs which can even occasionally justify this.

Frankly, I see a problem with this. OK, so you've found a situation where an Orthodox priest has "justified it". Strike Orthodoxy. Guess what? Go to a Lutheran priest and ask him if there might ever be a case where it was justified. If he thinks about it a while, I'm sure he will come up with a scenario to "justify it" as well. Strike Lutheranism. Now try a Baptist pastor, an Assembly of God pastor, and work your way through all of the denominations. I can imagine you will find in them church leaders who will say there CAN BE a situation that would be kinder not to disclose the infidelity.

OK, so strike Christianity? But you know what? I would imagine you will find the same if you ask Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, and atheists. No matter what "belief system" ... you are probably going to find someone who will say it is kinder - in some cases, not to disclose it.

What if you had a couple where the man had committed adultery shortly after their marriage. He felt bad, ended the affair, and never told his wife. Ten years go by, and he goes to his pastor/priest/therapist/whoever and tells them he's feeling guilty. Should he confess to his wife?

But the wife has cancer. She is in the hospital, dying. They don't have sexual relations anymore. The man is not that adulterous person anymore. He isn't going to be committing adultery anymore. Divorce at this point is a painful expense. She would only die, knowing that the husband she loved all those years had cheated on her when their love was new.

Do you still think she must be told? That to refrain from telling her is wrong, and you want no part of any belief system that would endorse letting her die in peace without laying that horrible burden on her in her deathbed?

If you do .... then well ... give it a few years. Maybe you will see things differently someday.

I'm NOT a moral relativist. But pastoral wisdom is something I greatly respect within the Orthodox Church (and within any church where I see it). To me, this question embodies the "spirit of the Law" above the "letter of the Law".

God be with you.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 02:44:48 PM by Anna.T »
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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #73 on: July 11, 2014, 03:00:19 PM »
I heard a story once about a husband who was cheating on his wife for many years but repented on his death bed.  She sat next to him as he lay dying holding his hand and he was overwhelmed with guilt.  He looked into her eyes and told her he loved her but he had to admit his crime to her.  She told him to be quiet, that whatever it was she forgave him and loved him as much as she always had.  He tells her that he just cannot go with this still on his conscience, but again she tells him that all is forgiven.  Finally he just blurts out that he'd been boffing the neighbor's wife for the past few years.  She tells him that she knew and forgave him.  He is incredulous, and asked her how long she knew.  She said that she saw them a few days ago through the window, and that is why she decided to poison him.

Moral of the story is, don't cheat on your spouse. 


As for what the priest should do, I would hope that he would at least withhold communion until the spouse admitted their crime.
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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #74 on: July 11, 2014, 03:21:46 PM »
Here is a scenario worth considering.  Perhaps there is a married couple where one spouse cares a great deal about their faith while the other is rather indifferent or perhaps not even Orthodox.  Now, the person who is faithful in praying, fasting, giving alms, and everything else nevertheless still struggles intensely with lust on a regular basis and on one occasion gives into adultery.  We know from the lives of the saints that someone can be extremely pure and even be able to cast our demons and heal the sick and yet still fall into such a sin (i.e. St. James the Faster below).  If the spouse found out, who is weak in faith, they may reject Orthodoxy and turn their back on God altogether.  "It did no good for my spouse", they might say or, "I would never do that and I don't even care about religion, I guess Orthodoxy really is a sham."  That spouse may also take the children and file for divorce, then raise the children without any Christian and Orthodox influence.  Or, if they do not divorce they may still insist that the children not be raised in the Church.  

If the spouse who fell into the sin confesses and sincerely repents, they may become a much better spouse, the family is preserved and kept together, and the children are raised in the Faith with two parents.  Divorce can have very tragic effects.  

Of course, there can be many different contexts and situations where adultery might occur, but the above scenario is given just to say that I can understand how or why a spiritual father might consider it best for the soul of the person confessing, as well as the souls of the spouse and children, for the confessed sin to be not only stopped immediately but also never spoken of again.  A responsible spiritual father will fully explain to the person confessing how terrible such a sin is and the damage that would come if the spouse found out.


St. James the Faster

He lived in the sixth century. He was so perfected in pleasing God that James cured the most gravely ill through his prayers. But the enemy of mankind lured him into great temptations. At one time, an immoral woman was sent to him by some scoffers. She misrepresented herself to James, pretending to be crying yet all the while luring him into sin. Seeing that he was going to yield to sin, James placed his left hand into the fire and held it there for some time until it was scorched. Seeing this, the woman was filled with fear and terror, repented and amended her life. On another occasion, James did not flee from his temptation, but rather he succumbs to a maiden, who was brought as a lunatic by her parents to be cured of her insanity. He, indeed, healed her and after that, sinned with her. Then in order to conceal his sin he killed her and threw her into a river. As is common, the steps from adultery to murder are not too distant. James lived for ten years after that as a penitent in an open grave. At that time there was a great drought which caused both people and live-stock to suffer. As a result of his prayers, rain fell; James knew that God had forgiven him. Here is an example, similar to that of David, of how twisted is the demon of evil; how by God's permission, the greatest spiritual giants can be overthrown, and through sincere and contrite penance, God, according to His mercy, forgives even the greatest sins and does not punish those when they punish themselves.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 03:24:41 PM by jah777 »

Offline William

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #75 on: July 11, 2014, 03:28:31 PM »
I am not a utilitarian. A spouse has certain rights which simply cannot be violated for the sake of a false, lying peace. I believe that evil is real, and things can't just be the same because something is a secret. I will NEVER agree with the "well what if..." scenarios no matter what depressing sob story you come up with. The consequences exist because of what the spouse did, not because he decided to tell.

This opinion of mine, it's not voluntary; that's just what I know is right. I couldn't change my beliefs even if I wanted to do so. The only case I can think of is if the spouse has explicitly expressed a desire to not know. And that is because THEY have made the decision, as is their inviolable right, not that of the adulterer and his third-party confidant.

Anna, you are right. I don't expect any other religion to agree with me. I believe religion is vital to man's well-being, especially in modern society. The community, the values, the worship, the consolation, the meaning, all are completely irreplaceable by anything the irreligious can offer. That does not mean that it is moral, or that I can compromise. It's a shame that I will have to go without it.
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Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #76 on: July 11, 2014, 03:30:59 PM »
I am not a utilitarian. A spouse has certain rights which simply cannot be violated for the sake of a false, lying peace. I believe that evil is real, and things can't just be the same because something is a secret. I will NEVER agree with the "well what if..." scenarios no matter what depressing sob story you come up with. The consequences exist because of what the spouse did, not because he decided to tell.

This opinion of mine, it's not voluntary; that's just what I know is right. I couldn't change my beliefs even if I wanted to do so. The only case I can think of is if the spouse has explicitly expressed a desire to not know. And that is because THEY have made the decision, as is their inviolable right, not that of the adulterer and his third-party confidant.

Anna, you are right. I don't expect any other religion to agree with me. I believe religion is vital to man's well-being, especially in modern society. The community, the values, the worship, the consolation, the meaning, all are completely irreplaceable by anything the irreligious can offer. That does not mean that it is moral, or that I can compromise. It's a shame that I will have to go without it.
Did this morality come from a sit-com?
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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #77 on: July 11, 2014, 03:42:38 PM »
I am not a utilitarian. A spouse has certain rights which simply cannot be violated for the sake of a false, lying peace. I believe that evil is real, and things can't just be the same because something is a secret. I will NEVER agree with the "well what if..." scenarios no matter what depressing sob story you come up with. The consequences exist because of what the spouse did, not because he decided to tell.

This opinion of mine, it's not voluntary; that's just what I know is right. I couldn't change my beliefs even if I wanted to do so. The only case I can think of is if the spouse has explicitly expressed a desire to not know. And that is because THEY have made the decision, as is their inviolable right, not that of the adulterer and his third-party confidant.

Anna, you are right. I don't expect any other religion to agree with me. I believe religion is vital to man's well-being, especially in modern society. The community, the values, the worship, the consolation, the meaning, all are completely irreplaceable by anything the irreligious can offer. That does not mean that it is moral, or that I can compromise. It's a shame that I will have to go without it.

Very well. So what shall you choose? Will you disbelieve in God, and be an athiest? A humanist?

I fear you will find among those ones who will be able to imagine some situation where to withhold is kinder and more merciful.

I can't speak to whatever it is that is making you think this right to know is always right, no matter what. I have heard of situations where someone took that point of view and "unburdened" themselves, to the detriment of the one they wronged. That means you justify further harm on the injured party, for the sake of the "right" of the abuser to unburden their conscience.

Seeing as how confession in the Church to a priest is expected for absolution, I find this very curious. We've had to create some rather convoluted scenarios in order to justify not telling. I would think that in nearly every case, the priest would require the adulterer to confess to their spouse. It does not seem to be in any form the "standard procedure" of the Church to encourage the covering of sin.

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Offline minasoliman

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #78 on: July 11, 2014, 03:46:28 PM »
This opinion of mine, it's not voluntary; that's just what I know is right.

William, if everyone thinks like this, do you think the world would be a better place?

I think you completely glossed over the fact that this has nothing to do with any religion whatsoever.  If you feel like the answer "depends" strongly contradicts your personal morality, you have to even reject secular therapist suggestions.  Again, your teenage emotional logic is not rational, it's merely inexperienced thinking.

If you feel that sit-com morality is better than religion's, you become a joke.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 03:47:00 PM by minasoliman »
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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #79 on: July 11, 2014, 03:55:31 PM »
Mina, do you think that your inane commentary is in any way helpful? You have not presented any logic at all, only a willingness to allow for the avoidance of the natural consequences of an action. I have never heard the categorical imperative called illogical, teenage emotion. That's certainly an interesting interpretation.

Why would I care about what secular therapists think? I can disagree with their moral evaluations with a clear conscience, just like I can disagree with a gynecologist who recommends a termination. I can't do that with a priest or a saint while belonging to their religion.
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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #80 on: July 11, 2014, 03:58:02 PM »
William, in this confusing world, I can be sure there's more to your ultimatums than the topic at hand. I'm praying for you.
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Offline minasoliman

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #81 on: July 11, 2014, 04:08:23 PM »
Mina, do you think that your inane commentary is in any way helpful? You have not presented any logic at all, only a willingness to allow for the avoidance of the natural consequences of an action. I have never heard the categorical imperative called illogical, teenage emotion. That's certainly an interesting interpretation.

Why would I care about what secular therapists think? I can disagree with their moral evaluations with a clear conscience, just like I can disagree with a gynecologist who recommends a termination. I can't do that with a priest or a saint while belonging to their religion.

That's precisely why you're so immature.  Your analogies reveal how much you do not know much.  You have every right to disagree, but that does not mean your disagreements are correct.  Your opinions are not "involuntary".  They're merely sophomoric.  Sure, don't get a termination, but you'll die.  Sure, don't go to therapy, but you'll suffer the consequences.

My opinions on many things have changed since I was your age.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 04:09:59 PM by minasoliman »
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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #82 on: July 11, 2014, 04:14:01 PM »
It is interesting how in the course of my deconstruction of your defense of secret-keeping, you end up defending abortion. I believe that speaks for itself.

Don't worry mina, if you're right, I'll grow out of my deeply-held, innate, lifelong moral sensibilities. In that case, I'll just come back to the church anyway, and your infantile arguments won't even have been necessary.
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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #83 on: July 11, 2014, 04:20:10 PM »
LOL...so you think there is not at least one reason why there should be a choice for an abortion?

I rest my case.  I hope you outgrow your stubbornness to think in the shoes of a therapist rather than in your own little lala land.
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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #84 on: July 11, 2014, 04:25:25 PM »
Mina, do you think that your inane commentary is in any way helpful? You have not presented any logic at all, only a willingness to allow for the avoidance of the natural consequences of an action. I have never heard the categorical imperative called illogical, teenage emotion. That's certainly an interesting interpretation.

Why would I care about what secular therapists think? I can disagree with their moral evaluations with a clear conscience, just like I can disagree with a gynecologist who recommends a termination. I can't do that with a priest or a saint while belonging to their religion.
If you are willing to harden your heart over something theoretical (and I take it the scenario at present is theoretical), we can't be sure that it just won't harden further
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Offline minasoliman

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #85 on: July 11, 2014, 04:27:22 PM »
Mina, do you think that your inane commentary is in any way helpful? You have not presented any logic at all, only a willingness to allow for the avoidance of the natural consequences of an action. I have never heard the categorical imperative called illogical, teenage emotion. That's certainly an interesting interpretation.

Why would I care about what secular therapists think? I can disagree with their moral evaluations with a clear conscience, just like I can disagree with a gynecologist who recommends a termination. I can't do that with a priest or a saint while belonging to their religion.
If you are willing to harden your heart over something theoretical (and I take it the scenario at present is theoretical), we can't be sure that it just won't harden further

I think he made his decision before this theoretical issue.  He was fishing for a reason to disbelieve, only believing he is the sole source of all truth in this world without proper knowledge of every situation, every scenario, and even basic physical situations, let alone moral ones.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 04:28:19 PM by minasoliman »
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Offline JamesR

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #86 on: July 11, 2014, 04:33:00 PM »
Here is a scenario worth considering.  Perhaps there is a married couple where one spouse cares a great deal about their faith while the other is rather indifferent or perhaps not even Orthodox.  Now, the person who is faithful in praying, fasting, giving alms, and everything else nevertheless still struggles intensely with lust on a regular basis and on one occasion gives into adultery.  We know from the lives of the saints that someone can be extremely pure and even be able to cast our demons and heal the sick and yet still fall into such a sin (i.e. St. James the Faster below).  If the spouse found out, who is weak in faith, they may reject Orthodoxy and turn their back on God altogether.  "It did no good for my spouse", they might say or, "I would never do that and I don't even care about religion, I guess Orthodoxy really is a sham."  That spouse may also take the children and file for divorce, then raise the children without any Christian and Orthodox influence.  Or, if they do not divorce they may still insist that the children not be raised in the Church.

If their spouse still committed adultery, then maybe it's true that Orthodoxy didn't do anything for them and that parent would have a right to contemplate the upbringing of their children and whether they want them to be involved in such a thing. 

Quote
If the spouse who fell into the sin confesses and sincerely repents, they may become a much better spouse, the family is preserved and kept together, and the children are raised in the Faith with two parents.  Divorce can have very tragic effects.  

And what's it built off of? A lie. It becomes an artificial evil.

Plus, Christ HIMSELF said that adultery is the one ground for divorce. That being said, I don't care how many Canons, Fathers, or patristics are quoted. If Christ gave a spouse the right to divorce in the case of adultery, then I imagine that that spouse has the right to know and thus decide whether or not they want to continue the marriage.

This is especially true because adultery harms the innocent party as well. Married people become one flesh and so when one part of that one flesh uses it to sin, they are sinning against the flesh of their innocent partner as well.

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #87 on: July 11, 2014, 04:36:31 PM »
Really?  So God can forgive you on my behalf, if you wrong me?  That's an unusual thought.

For what it's worth, when I was kid in Protestant school they used to teach us that when an offending party sincerely apologized, that we had a God-given duty to forgive them. Not sure if it's true or not.

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But my real point in replying to this post is to say that people have a lot more control over their ability to feel guilty than you seem to think.

I'd agree with that. Guilt isn't a natural feeling.

Offline William

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #88 on: July 11, 2014, 04:36:48 PM »
It looks like we've gotten to the point of the thread where we go from attempting to help the doubter to picking out his personality flaws so to assure ourselves that nothing in his struggle is genuine or could ever affect us. Here is my posting history if you'd like to look for some ammunition: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=4091;sa=showPosts

That's fine. I've admitted that I can't change my beliefs here, and God knows I've done that myself plenty here on OC.net with others who have struggled. I'd prefer if we could just agree to disagree, but you can do what you need to do.
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Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?
« Reply #89 on: July 11, 2014, 04:39:14 PM »
Plus, Christ HIMSELF said that adultery is the one ground for divorce. That being said, I don't care how many Canons, Fathers, or patristics are quoted. If Christ gave a spouse the right to divorce in the case of adultery, then I imagine that that spouse has the right to know and thus decide whether or not they want to continue the marriage.

1.  Right =/= Duty

2.  Not that I don't believe such exists, but you'll need something other than the words of Christ to establish a "right to know".  The situation he addressed was one that was or became "public knowledge".  
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