It’s amazing that how over time Protestants are gradually discovering the truth that maybe the Catholic Church wasn’t wrong after all. First it was fairly little things like ashes on Ash Wednesday and palms on Palm Sunday. Then they discovered Lent and fasting. Now Mary is getting some attention in some circles. And the latest fad: Confession.
About a month ago, LifeChurch, an evangelical network with nine locations and based in Edmond, Okla., set up mysecret.tv as a forum for people to confess anonymously on the Internet.
The LifeChurch funder, the Rev. Craig Groeschel, said that after 16 years in the ministry he knew that the smiles and eager handshakes that greeted him each week often masked a lot of pain. But the accounts of anguish and guilt that have poured into mysecret.tv have stunned him, Groeschel said, and affirmed his belief in the need for confession.
“We confess to God for forgiveness but to each other for healing,” Groeschel said. “Secrets isolate you, and keep you away from God, from those people closest to you.”
What do you know? Confession, not just in my silent prayer to God, but to another human being—even if they are hidden behind the anonymity of a “screen” (computer or confessional)—is a need within the human pscyhe. However, a web site is less than half the good. It can give the illusion of having accomplished something, but what it lacks is the essential elements of accountability and absolution.
Confession without absolution is like contracepted sex between spouses. Not that it’s necessarily sinful, but that it is not life-giving and it can be self-serving.
Likewise, confessing to a web site is easy because there isn’t a human being there to dig deeper than the surface motivations and find out the real causes. How many times have I been to confession where the priest wanted me to go beyond the glib answers and look at my habits of sin? I’ll never forget the time the confessor snapped at me, “You don’t sound very sorry!” That drew me up short and I’ll never look at my sins and confession the same way.
Finally, anyone who thinks that any online forum guarantees his anonymity is kidding himself. The seal of the confessional is a much better assurance. Go to any web site and your IP address is logged. That’s almost as good as caller ID.
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