Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?

Porter ODoran

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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.
 

minasoliman

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William said:
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.
 

Apples

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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.
 

minasoliman

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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.
 

ialmisry

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William said:
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
 

minasoliman

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ialmisry said:
William said:
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.
 

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jah777 said:
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. 

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.
 

JamesR

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JamesRottnek said:
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.

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.
 

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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.
 

Mor Ephrem

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JamesR said:
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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Papist said:
ialmisry said:
Mor Ephrem said:
Not necessarily. 
it would, however, have to be some serious extenuating circumstances.
Could confessing that infidelity do more harm than good?
What does it matter if it's going to come to light someday anyway? Might as well do it fast like a band-aid instead of letting it build up and get worse. I imagine most spouses would feel more angry and betrayed if they found out years later that their spouse was unfaithful to them than if that party confessed right away.

Of course, maybe they'll never find out. But you never know. I'd rather confess it than to risk it coming out years later and having to be paranoid forever about that partner finding out the truth.

Plus, it seems very dishonest and jerk-ish to keep such a secret from someone. Treat others as you'd like. I certainly wouldn't want infidelity kept a secret from me; that being said, I'd feel morally pressured into confessing it.
 

TheTrisagion

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There isn't much more to be said here that mina has not already said.  At some point, you young fellas will come to realize that very little is black and white in the world. Absolutes are easy to pronounce but destructive to live by. I think in the VAST overwhelming situations that arise, the spouse should be made aware and a counseling priest would urge in that direction. Counseling isn't math though. This isn't 2+2=4.  If a counselor or priest gives everyone the same exact advice for the same situations, you wouldn't need a counselor, you need a computer.

Input problem.
Problem = infidelity

Please wait while we process this problem...

Response = divorce him and sue him for all he's got.
 

Mor Ephrem

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JamesR said:
Guilt isn't a natural feeling.
Aren't you the one toting around the idea that "everything that happens in nature is natural"?  Or is that only when talking about masturbation, fornication, drugs, tobacco, guns, etc.?
 

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For myself, if my wife ever did cheat on me, I would prefer she never tell me.  If any of you become her confessor when she eventually converts to Orthodoxy, please keep that in mind.  ;)
 

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JamesR said:
... Guilt isn't a natural feeling.
True guilt is a natural psychological pain analogous to physical pain -- it serves an important purpose. Another important natural pain people nowadays seem to try to deny is shame. If a guilty person had been receptive to shame, he would often have avoided guilt. The Apostles and Church offer teachings on these subjects.

Of course there are artificial counterfeits of both these, and they can even be commoner than the true, but this does not prove guilt and shame are "unnatural."
 

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TheTrisagion said:
There isn't much more to be said here that mina has not already said.  At some point, you young fellas will come to realize that very little is black and white in the world. Absolutes are easy to pronounce but destructive to live by.
Except when it comes to being anti-LGBT marriage and anti-abortion, right?
 

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TheTrisagion said:
For myself, if my wife ever did cheat on me, I would prefer she never tell me.  If any of you become her confessor when she eventually converts to Orthodoxy, please keep that in mind.  ;)
Are you saying this in the Spirit or as an idea that struck you?
 

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Mor Ephrem said:
JamesR said:
Guilt isn't a natural feeling.
Aren't you the one toting around the idea that "everything that happens in nature is natural"?  Or is that only when talking about masturbation, fornication, drugs, tobacco, guns, etc.?
Perhaps I worded myself wrong.

I think that a person has to choose to feel guilty. When I do something deemed "wrong," I usually don't feel any guilt or remorse about it until I dwell on this religious stuff and in a way, have to "make myself" feel guilty. That being said, I don't think we necessarily have to feel guilty because the feeling of guilt is something we choose more often than we think.
 

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TheTrisagion said:
For myself, if my wife ever did cheat on me, I would prefer she never tell me.  If any of you become her confessor when she eventually converts to Orthodoxy, please keep that in mind.  ;)
Well I'd certainly want to know. And truth be told, I'd probably divorce her.

Like William, I have extraordinarily high personal standards and I don't think I could be with someone who didn't share the same standards. I'd never stay with an adulteress and similarly I'd never commit adultery on my partner. Again, ask for nothing you yourself aren't willing to give.

If she kept this a secret from me...well, that's even worse than the act itself. It's dishonesty, which I really despise. You become the fool out of the entire thing.
 

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Porter ODoran said:
TheTrisagion said:
For myself, if my wife ever did cheat on me, I would prefer she never tell me.  If any of you become her confessor when she eventually converts to Orthodoxy, please keep that in mind.  ;)
Are you saying this in the Spirit or as an idea that struck you?
What does that mean?
 

JamesR

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Mor Ephrem said:
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".
You don't think the Golden Rule would apply here? As well as St. Paul's bit about your body not being your own but your spouse's?

In light of those passages, I'm not sure how many folks there are out there who wouldn't want to know if their spouse cheated on them. I'm not saying them don't exist, but they certainly seem rarer. And if you wouldn't want it to be kept a secret from you, wouldn't it become your responsibility to make sure that you don't keep it a secret from your partner? Especially when your body which you defiled is not your property but that of your spouse?
 

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William said:
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.
If you only wrote on this thread alone, then by all means, no one needs to see your past to see what's wrong with your thinking.  It's okay to have some flaws. Who doesn't have flaws?  The point is to be humble about it.  Sometimes, not everything in this world fits so perfectly in your imagination.

Forget about Christianity or religion for a moment.  Just common sense with some wisdom-based experience can help you achieve a lot of understanding.  Having a saint or a priest tell you some advice does not mean you cannot disagree or cannot change your mind.  A priest telling you advice is a matter of trying to help you elucidate the world better for you, to deal with things in a way you never thought about (in fact, most priests today I understand do take counseling lessons, not just mere patristic wisdom).  Same thing with any therapist or physician.  It is not a matter of infallibility.  It's a matter of practicality to help resolve a problem within a society.

 

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JamesR said:
TheTrisagion said:
There isn't much more to be said here that mina has not already said.  At some point, you young fellas will come to realize that very little is black and white in the world. Absolutes are easy to pronounce but destructive to live by.
Except when it comes to being anti-LGBT marriage and anti-abortion, right?
I think there are grey areas to both of those as well.

I think civil unions should be permitted. I think there are situations where abortion is unfortunately a necessity, particularly when the mother's life is at risk. I am not going to go out of my way to trumpet them as wonderful things, but rather accept them as things that are the result of fallen mankind.
 

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JamesR said:
TheTrisagion said:
For myself, if my wife ever did cheat on me, I would prefer she never tell me.  If any of you become her confessor when she eventually converts to Orthodoxy, please keep that in mind.  ;)
Well I'd certainly want to know. And truth be told, I'd probably divorce her.

Like William, I have extraordinarily high personal standards and I don't think I could be with someone who didn't share the same standards. I'd never stay with an adulteress and similarly I'd never commit adultery on my partner. Again, ask for nothing you yourself aren't willing to give.

If she kept this a secret from me...well, that's even worse than the act itself. It's dishonesty, which I really despise. You become the fool out of the entire thing.
I already told my wife if she cheats on me that I don't want to know about it.  Of course, I'm not too concerned that it would ever happen, but if it does, I would prefer to be oblivious to the fact.  Further, I think if she did tell me, I would prefer it be years later.  If she came to me now and said that she cheated on me a year after we got married, but she cut it off and it never happened again, I would be pretty tore up about it, but I would not divorce her.  We have built up too much since then to throw it all away.
 

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JamesR said:
...

Perhaps I worded myself wrong.

I think that a person has to choose to feel guilty. When I do something deemed "wrong," I usually don't feel any guilt or remorse about it until I dwell on this religious stuff and in a way, have to "make myself" feel guilty. That being said, I don't think we necessarily have to feel guilty because the feeling of guilt is something we choose more often than we think.
You're not a natural case. For that matter, none of us Westerns is. We are continually conditioned to ignore most impulses that are not materialistic and satisfy a certain set of narrow purposes.
 

Mor Ephrem

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JamesR said:
Mor Ephrem said:
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".
You don't think the Golden Rule would apply here? As well as St. Paul's bit about your body not being your own but your spouse's?
You are the one who referred to Christ's allowance of divorce in the case of adultery.  All I said was that it wasn't enough to defend your thesis.  If you are beginning to read more of Scripture than the occasional proof-text, great.  

In light of those passages, I'm not sure how many folks there are out there who wouldn't want to know if their spouse cheated on them. I'm not saying them don't exist, but they certainly seem rarer. And if you wouldn't want it to be kept a secret from you, wouldn't it become your responsibility to make sure that you don't keep it a secret from your partner? Especially when your body which you defiled is not your property but that of your spouse?
Keep reading.  "Property" is not the right lens through which to look at these issues.  If you think otherwise, you need a lot more help than anyone can provide in this thread.  
 

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JamesRottnek said:
Nicene said:
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?
Still, isn't it kind of unfair and exploitive to screw over an entirely innocent party by keeping it a secret just so that the family doesn't fall apart even though you're the one responsible for it? It seems like a form of outsourcing responsibility to another party like my family had no problem doing with me. I'm all for preserving the family, but if it means lying to an innocent party and thus screwing him/her over, I'm not so sure if it's worth it. Do ends justify means?
 

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So many "gray areas". So many reasons. So many circumstances that might affect opinions, even years from now.

If it is a requirement to tell the spouse of infidelity, with the expectation that it will probably lead to divorce, what about lust?

Christ said that to look at a woman to lust after her is the same as adultery.

Must every instance be confessed? Must it lead to divorce? Even if there are children? Even if it happened years ago and not since?

And as for saying "I would never ... "  There's a reason the saying goes "never say never". It's easy to look forward with eyes that only see a certain color, but then as you pass through life, things get more and more complicated, and you see that it is not as simple as you first expected.

That's not meant to be an insult. It's the human condition.

Again, it's another reason I'm thankful for pastoral wisdom.

What did Jesus do when they brought Him the woman who had been caught in adultery? The Law said she should be stoned. Did He mete out the proper punishment? Did He tell her she had to go confess to her husband?

No, He told her "Go and sin no more." Anyone who believes they know the moral thing to do, who would disagree with the heart of Christ, well ....

Let God be true and every man a liar. He IS truth, and none of our ideals or ideas are truth if they don't agree with Him.

I'm not sure of the point of the thread in general anymore though.

But the wise thing to consider is the eternal effect on everyone affected by the situation, and make recommendations based on that, whatever they turn out to be.
 

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TheTrisagion said:
There isn't much more to be said here that mina has not already said.  At some point, you young fellas will come to realize that very little is black and white in the world. Absolutes are easy to pronounce but destructive to live by. I think in the VAST overwhelming situations that arise, the spouse should be made aware and a counseling priest would urge in that direction. Counseling isn't math though. This isn't 2+2=4.  If a counselor or priest gives everyone the same exact advice for the same situations, you wouldn't need a counselor, you need a computer.

Input problem.
Problem = infidelity

Please wait while we process this problem...

Response = divorce him and sue him for all he's got.
quite a moral problem when he isn't the one committing the infidelity.
 

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William said:
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.
Since I speak with the voice of experience on this matter, I point out that drawing attention to making dogmatic statements on theoretical situations and justifying it with feelings isn't picking out personality flaws.  It is just pointing out the perils of building on a foundation of sand.
 

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JamesR said:
Anna.T said:
What did Jesus do when they brought Him the woman who had been caught in adultery?
That story is not true. It's an addition.
So is all of Orthodoxy to the biblical literalist (by which I'm not granting your assertion, by the way).
 

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Mor Ephrem said:
JamesR said:
Anna.T said:
What did Jesus do when they brought Him the woman who had been caught in adultery?
That story is not true. It's an addition.
LOL.  Just stop. 
Almost no scholar apart from the odd American Baptist fundamentalists consider it authentic and I'm unaware of any patristic commentary on it from the Ante Nicene Fathers and Nicene Fathers. Most commentaries on it come much later. Even St. John Chrysostom, whose homilies I've personally studied very much, says nothing about this story.
 

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JamesR said:
Mor Ephrem said:
JamesR said:
Anna.T said:
What did Jesus do when they brought Him the woman who had been caught in adultery?
That story is not true. It's an addition.
LOL.  Just stop. 
Almost no scholar apart from the odd American Baptist fundamentalists consider it authentic and I'm unaware of any patristic commentary on it from the Ante Nicene Fathers and Nicene Fathers. Most commentaries on it come much later. Even St. John Chrysostom, whose homilies I've personally studied very much, says nothing about this story.
That's not the point.  The prodigal son is not true, but it professes truth.  Really James, really?
 

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JamesR said:
Mor Ephrem said:
JamesR said:
Anna.T said:
What did Jesus do when they brought Him the woman who had been caught in adultery?
That story is not true. It's an addition.
LOL.  Just stop. 
Almost no scholar apart from the odd American Baptist fundamentalists consider it authentic and I'm unaware of any patristic commentary on it from the Ante Nicene Fathers and Nicene Fathers. Most commentaries on it come much later. Even St. John Chrysostom, whose homilies I've personally studied very much, says nothing about this story.
You will excuse me if I require a bit more substantiation for your claim of considerable scholarly research.  

Is this story contained in the official text of the Bible in your Church?  
 

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minasoliman said:
JamesR said:
Mor Ephrem said:
JamesR said:
Anna.T said:
What did Jesus do when they brought Him the woman who had been caught in adultery?
That story is not true. It's an addition.
LOL.  Just stop. 
Almost no scholar apart from the odd American Baptist fundamentalists consider it authentic and I'm unaware of any patristic commentary on it from the Ante Nicene Fathers and Nicene Fathers. Most commentaries on it come much later. Even St. John Chrysostom, whose homilies I've personally studied very much, says nothing about this story.
That's not the point.  The prodigal son is not true, but it professes truth.  Really James, really?
Who said that the story of the woman adulteress professes truth? It seems fishy all the way if you ask me. Not only is it not really a part of the original narrative, but we don't even know when it was added and who added it. Whoever added it may not have been the Church but could have simply been some weirdo or anti-Semite trying to make a point. I don't see proof or evidence that the story is authentic or true and I don't see proof or evidence that the story professes truth and was truly added by the Church and not just some weirdo or translator.
 

JamesR

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Mor Ephrem said:
Is this story contained in the official text of the Bible in your Church?
Yes, IIRC, however, it has the "earlier manuscripts do not include this" disclaimer.
 

kelly

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At this point I'm convinced that James is just an internet performance artist.
 

Anna.T

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Mor Ephrem said:
JamesR said:
Mor Ephrem said:
JamesR said:
Anna.T said:
What did Jesus do when they brought Him the woman who had been caught in adultery?
That story is not true. It's an addition.
LOL.  Just stop. 
Almost no scholar apart from the odd American Baptist fundamentalists consider it authentic and I'm unaware of any patristic commentary on it from the Ante Nicene Fathers and Nicene Fathers. Most commentaries on it come much later. Even St. John Chrysostom, whose homilies I've personally studied very much, says nothing about this story.
You will excuse me if I require a bit more substantiation for your claim of considerable scholarly research.  

Is this story contained in the official text of the Bible in your Church?  
That was going to be my question - is it canonical?

It is my understanding that the Protoevangelion of James was read in Churches (and was implicitly accepted) until it started being used by heretics to support errors, so it was no longer read, and not made part of the canon. But anything that DID make it into the canon (including additions) were necessarily regarded by the Church as being illustrative of Truth.

If we start undercutting Scripture, and thus the Tradition and Church that supports it - what do we have left to trust?

I'm not trying to be disagreeable, but do you think this story misrepresents the heart of Our Lord?
 
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