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Adultery and Confession

Discussion in 'One Bread, One Body - Catholic' started by nyj, Apr 15, 2002.

Should someone who has committed adultery confess it to their spouse as well?

  1. Yes

  2. No

  3. Hrm... not even gonna attempt to answer this one

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  1. nyj

    nyj Goodbye, my puppy

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    OK, this subject contains adult material, so if you're not an adult, please do not continue further... you're on an honor system so I expect all you non-adults to comply. :)

    With that said... I am seeking opinions on the following subject:

    If someone commits adultery, was truly remorseful and confesses to a priest their sin and do their penance (which does not involve informing their spouse), should they also confess that sin to their spouse, are they obliged to confess their sin to their spouse?

    The reason I ask is because on another board I am on, a couple of people disagree with my stance (I'll elaborate in a followup post) that the confessor is not obligated to tell their spouse, and I wanted to see what others think about this very touchy subject.
     
  2. nyj

    nyj Goodbye, my puppy

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    On this, I voted no. If the penitent was truly remorseful for the act, has gone to the priest and confessed the sin, and has willingly undertaken the penance given to him/her, I do not feel that the penitent must then seek out their spouse and confess and seek forgiveness from them as well (if the counsel from the priest did not already give that as a penance... ie: family counseling, etc).

    Why? Because God alone is 100% merciful. Humans are not. Now, perhaps I'm just being liberal here, but I think that if someone has commited such a sin and were truly remorseful for it, part of their penance is going to be to carry that guilt with them for as long as they live (regardless of the fact that they confessed the sin in the sacrament of Reconciliation). Second, if it was an isolated event, it could have been a mistake never to be repeated, and people do have weaknesses and succumb to temptations. Third, this may cause an irrepairable rift in what could otherwise be a loving marriage.

    I understand the gravity of adultery (or at least I believe I do, being married) but I must admit that if my wife (God forbid!) cheated on me, and regretted it immediately and confessed it and knew she would never do it again, I would not want to know. I do not think I could ever put it out of my mind (perhaps given lots and lots of time I could, but knowing myself I probably would not be able to).

    Given that it was an isolated incident, it was promptly, remorsefully and honestly confessed to a priest and the penance was performed... I see no reason to rehash an already forgiven sin to someone else. I think it would cause unnecessary pain to all parties involved.

    Obviously I would make an exception in matters where the spouse was really a moron and had unprotected sex (hey, if you're going to sin... might as well go all the way and aggravate the procreative purpose) and then possibly could infect their spouse, I think the spouse has a right to know... but otherwise, as much as I hate to use this phrase... "Ignorance is bliss".

    Am I the only who feels that way?
     
  3. KC Catholic

    KC Catholic Everybody's gone surfin'...Surfin' U.S.A

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    I can't touch this.

    I know that in my heart I would probably have to tell my wife because I keep no secrets from her. I trust her completely and know that I would have to be honest and up front.

    But that is me.
     
  4. seebs

    seebs God Made Me A Skeptic

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    Of course! Without honesty and openness, there is no marriage. Living a dishonest marriage is worse than a divorce; it's not even *true*, let alone good. Confess, and seek forgiveness.

    (I also think the spouse is morally obliged to accept the apology.)
     
  5. seebs

    seebs God Made Me A Skeptic

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    Sure. But, at the same time, even if God can, should, and *will* forgive your sin against him, it is not necessarily the case that this means no one else has any cause for complaint.

    If I have embezzled, and confessed, does that mean the people whose money I stole have somehow been reimbursed? No. You must make amends, and you can't make amends honestly without admitting what you did.

    The rift is already there. If it is not acknowledged, it cannot be healed. God forgives all sins, but even He requires repentance, and repentance implies admission.
     
  6. nyj

    nyj Goodbye, my puppy

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    A person is not necessarily entitled to have full knowledge of all happenings. I will admit that if the adulterer has acted stupidly and has subjected him/her to an STD and then gone and exposed their spouse, then their spouse has the right to know, so they can seek treatment. Otherwise, if it was an isolated instance, I see no reason to place a wedge in what can otherwise be a healthy and happy marriage, with the adulterer learning from their mistake, being all the wiser for it.

    I believe we are comparing apples and oranges here. In an embezzlement instance you are damaging a persons ability to live as they should. In the case of adultery, if it was isolated, no such damage is caused. The damage would occur if confessed though (even after already having confessed to a priest).

    You can make amends without having to tell the spouse the ugly details. Amends are made by promising never to do it again, and being a better husband/wife and sticking to it. The spouse may notice the increased devotion to the marriage, but they don't have to know why. A person can be honest with themselves and not have to shout it from the rooftops.

    Repentance means admission to God, not to others. God, through the priest, will administer a suitable penance, and may if the situation warrants, expect more temporal punishment in purgatory... but if the penance is not to divulge the adultery to the spouse, then I do not think the penitent is bound to tell the spouse.
     
  7. jukesk9

    jukesk9 Dixie Whistlin' Papist

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    Well, I don't know what I'd do. Can a priest, as part of your penance, make you confess your sin to your spouse?
     
  8. MissytheButterfly

    MissytheButterfly Back and Better than EVER!

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    DISCLAIMER: This is my PERSONAL opinion, anyone offended that is your issue not mine and I will not debate about what I believe because that is all it is..my belief.

    Here is my 2 cents: First off I would like to say I am not Catholic and I don't have anything against Catholics but I don't believe in confession to a priest. But if one feels they would like to talk to a priest or pastor on matters in their life I see absolutely nothing wrong with that for them. Here is my scriptural reference for my belief on that issue : 1 John 2:1-2 "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."

    I voted that the cheating spouse should tell his or her spouse. And here is why I believe that : James 5:16 "Confess your faults one to another and pray for one another, that ye may be healed. The effectual ferverent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

    Also since the sin is directly against God and the spouse that was cheated on, I believe in this : Proverbs 28:13 "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."
     
  9. seebs

    seebs God Made Me A Skeptic

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    No, damage has been done. You have made the spouse's belief in your fidelity a lie. Falsehood is Satan's game; it should not be endorsed or condoned. "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."


    No one's talking about any rooftops, but if you aren't being honest with your spouse, you aren't married, you're just living together and having sex.


    That would be a very poor pennance to assign. Repentance is not only something you can do for God; you can repent to the people you have harmed.
     
  10. GreenEyedLady

    GreenEyedLady My little Dinky Doo

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    That was a great post! and awesome verse posted along with it!
    Lets turn this around...
    If your spouse cheated on YOU, would YOU expect them to tell you? OR would you rather not know? Remember, a vow, is broken, a promise is broken, your spouse cheatedon you....would you want to know? What would you do if you heard it from someone else?
    hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
    GEL
     
  11. nyj

    nyj Goodbye, my puppy

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    Oh, I suppose people are going to call me Pharasee-ical here, but by reading those verses, a confession to the priest (and not the spouse) seems to indicate a proper action. By confession, the sins would not be covered, but they would be confessed to a proper authority (The priest has the authority to bind and loose).



    And to GEL's question... No, I would not want to know. If it was an isolated incident and my spouse intended to never do it again because they felt so guilt-riden over it, I would not want to be told. To do so would serve no point because I know how I would react, and I know I would have a very hard time forgiving her, if I ever could. To say "Well, you'd have to forgive her if you're a Christian" would be a silly response to my comments as well because to say that would show a lack of perception of reality. Just my opinion.
     
  12. nyj

    nyj Goodbye, my puppy

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    Jukesk9,

    I honestly do not have an answer to that, though I would imagine the answer would be "Yes". I suppose it's off to ask Father Joe Horn another question. :)
     
  13. nyj

    nyj Goodbye, my puppy

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    First off, can we please get something straight... we're not talking about me, nor any situation I currently find myself in (other than the fact that I am discussing this issue on another board), so please don't say "You have made..." and other such things please, I don't want others to get the idea if they jump late into this thread that we're discussing me... thanks.

    Everyone falls short of the mark now and again. Some fall away from the mark a lot worse than others, however... if they have learned from their mistake, and are all the wiser for it, I do not see the point in having the penitent confess their sins to someone who may or may not find it in their heart to forgive them for it (especially after the lesson has already been learned).

    To confess the sin to the spouse at this point will cause harm to the relationship, and may cause the spouse to act uncharitably, which would in and of itself be a sin (saying the spouse is obligated to forgive the penitent is idealistic).


    Given human nature, I think it would be prudent actually.
     
  14. seebs

    seebs God Made Me A Skeptic

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    It will not cause harm; it will acknowledge harm already done. And you can't *cause* someone to act uncharitably; you can simply find out how they choose, of their own free will, to act.

    The harm was done. Unackowledged, the wound can only fester, it can never heal.
     
  15. nyj

    nyj Goodbye, my puppy

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    We should not be a stumbling block for others, and in this case, admitting a sin already confessed (and forgiven by God) will act as a stumbling block.

    In addition, the confession to the priest (acceptable to Catholics and Orthodox) is acknowledgement of the sin.

    But in the sacrament of confession it HAS been acknowledged. The penance given by the priest is for healing purposes, allowing us to make reparation to God.
     
  16. seebs

    seebs God Made Me A Skeptic

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    That's great for healing the relationship with God, but it does nothing to heal the relationship between the husband and wife.

    Marriage is founded in honesty; if it's not honest, it's no longer a real marriage.
     
  17. nyj

    nyj Goodbye, my puppy

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    As far as one of the spouses is concerned, there is nothing to heal though. Admission of an already forgiven sin is only going to make a wound, not heal one.

    I understand and accept the fact that marriage is founded in honesty, having been married for five years now. However, with that said, there are things in my past that I will never reveal to my wife, and I know there are things in her past that she will never reveal to me (we've talked in general terms about our lives before coming to Christ and getting married). So, is that being dishonest? Heck no! It's knowing that there are limits to what the human psyche can handle, especially when a dearly loved one is involved.

    If the case of adultery was an honest mistake (the adulterer professes a true remorse over the situation, promises to never do it again, confesses it to God in front of a priest, takes the lesson to heart and shows a conversion of heart in both word and deed), I see no benefit coming from revealing the sin all over again and subjecting both parties to a new set of trials. It will ruin the trust in the marriage (in one case the trust has always been there, in the other case the trust has been reaffirmed and vowed to remain there with no exceptions ever again) and will bring a new victim onto the scene (the unsuspecting spouse).

    Like I said, if it is an isolated incident, in this case... ignorance would be bliss. If it is a continuing problem, it is obvious counseling is needed and the spouse would need to be informed... but if it a single lapse in prudence and judgement, I think it would cause undue stress.
     
  18. seebs

    seebs God Made Me A Skeptic

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    Sure, and if someone has never heard of God or sin, so far as he knows, he's not missing anything. There *is* something to heal, but he can't even start until he knows about it. (Using "he" to simplify the sentence, not because I'm making either assumption.)

    Ignorance doesn't make the world a better place.
     
  19. nyj

    nyj Goodbye, my puppy

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    It is obvious at this point that I do not agree with you. :) So, rather than continue to dominate this thread with idle talk amongst ourselves, I am going to agree to disagree for the moment and allow others to chip in their two cents.
     
  20. seebs

    seebs God Made Me A Skeptic

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    I was about to say the same thing. Hey, at least we agree on something.
     
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