18 October 2008

Absolution update

Father Rick weighs in with his usual pastoral wisdom on the question of the confession of sexual sins raised below. Thank you, Pastor.


Joy said...

I read the whole article. Really well-written, insightful and confessional.

I know I must be missing something about Preus' argument. As Rebekah so aptly put it, I need to hear "that rotten thing I did." So if I lie or blaspheme, should I be afraid that confessing it would tempt the pastor to lie or blaspheme? Perhaps, instead of saying that women as a race shouldn't confess sexual sins privately, a few pastors (and only they know who they are) should acknowledge where they are not above reproach and make it their policy to not hear such confessions.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

I post the following at the request of Pastor Rolf Preus, as he does not have a blogger account and this blog does not allow "anonymous" comments:

Erich Heidenreich has been kind enough to share with me comments posted in response to these paragraphs in a paper I gave this past June:

“But a deaconess can be a tremendous benefit to the church specifically in serving women in a way that a pastor cannot. While private confession and absolution is a great blessing to the church, there are matters that are simply inappropriate for a woman to discuss with a man who is not her husband. God only knows how many pastor / parishioner relationships that began with a woman confessing her sexual sins to her pastor were concluded by the two of them sinning sexually together.

“A woman can speak from within herself to another woman in a way a man cannot do. No, this is not the ministry of the word, but it is a blessing from God. A woman can listen, understand, and give woman to woman counsel that no pastor can give.”

The respondents have interpreted my words to say that I do not believe that a woman should confess her sexual sins to her pastor. I did not say that. After saying that private confession and absolution is a great blessing I added that there are matters that a woman should not discuss with a man who isn’t her husband. I was not equating confessing with discussing. In fact, I was attempting to distinguish between them. It is one thing to confess. It is another to discuss. All Christians should feel free to confess to their pastor all of their sins, especially those they know and feel in their hearts, and that includes women who suffer the guilt from having committed sexual sins. We confess our sins and God forgives us our sins through the voice of his minister. Confessing and discussing are quite distinct, in my view. Confession may entail further discussion. It may not. As I said, there are some matters that are inappropriate for a woman to discuss with a man who is not her husband. This is not to say that a woman may not confess her sexual sins to her pastor and receive absolution from him as from God himself. It is to say that in certain circumstances one Christian woman can give to another Christian woman the kind of counsel that a man either cannot or should not give. The “mutual conversation and consolation of brethren” may be offered by women to women.

I thank Erich for posting this for me.

Pr. Rolf Preus

Rebekah said...

Aha. Thank you. I will post this post haste.