Thoughts on Openness

I’ve had more than a few conversations about openness in our Christian walks. I want to clarify one thing that might seem confusing: the degree and scope of our openness does have reasonable limits.

Not long after the incident went public, I was at a show with my friend Derek Webb and he said to me, “What a joy it must be to be free of the depth of his sins, to have them shown on the TV for all to see.”

It’s not optimal for us to have our sins on TV, even though it might be beneficial for us. [Shame goes a long way, man, and secretly, we all have that shame if we’re really honest with ourselves.]

But we’re called to be in community with each other—preferably in small communities, I think. Would I admit my deepest, darkest sins here on my Weblog? Probably not. Would I make those admissions to a pastor, a church elder, or a member of my church with whom I have an established friendship? You bet. I can also think of a couple of friends I could sit down and have these confessional relationships with, too.

You know, as wrongheaded as I fear that Catholic confessional ends up being—that it seems to symbolically place the parish priest in an intercessory position between the parishoner and God—there’s some value to confession. That much is wholly clear to me.

In my last church, we had prayer cards that we submitted every Sunday during worship, and if you had a private request, you simply folded your card in half, and the only people to read the requests were the pastors. I found great comfort in those confessions I made on my private prayer cards, the same or stronger relief as I found when I’d submit public cards for intercessory prayers for friends, family, and self.

I hope I’ve clarified my thinking here. Either way, I’d love to know your thoughts.

2 comments

  1. I think you’re on the right track here, Geof. I’ve always been a bit uneasy with that quote of Derek’s; not that there wouldn’t be relief involved that the sin no longer “had” to be hidden, but there would also be enough public shame involved that it would take a lot of time, I think, to count the whole situation as “joy”.

    That being said, there is value in confession, I think you’ve nailed that part.

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