Does infidelity need to be confessed to the innocent spouse?

Porter ODoran

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James, there's no question of its being Scriptural. You're confusing higher criticism's attempt to unveil original authorship, and so forth, with what makes a writing canonical.

(However, even from the critical perspective of whether "X" wrote the story, your position is hardly inarguable. But why change the whole topic of the thread?)
 

Anna.T

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JamesR said:
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.
NM, too many posts behind. It seems you don't think the Church is able to protect the Canon of Scripture then.

As I said, we have nothing, in that case. You trust the "scholars" more?
 

minasoliman

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So the point of the story is not about forgiveness, but about anti-Semitism...gotcha.
 

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(In other words, when you can provide me with liturgies to compare, one with a reading about the adulteress, and another commemorating SS. Lachmann and Tischendorf, then I'll at least agree to be confused.)
 

Mor Ephrem

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JamesR said:
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.
Fixed it for you.  There's no such disclaimer in Greek or Syriac, so unless you've recently become some sort of Protestant, the Bible of the Church accepts this passage as canonical Scripture. 

Next time, don't blaspheme the Holy Spirit to score cheap points in a discussion of something you know little about.
 

JamesR

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Anna.T said:
NM, too many posts behind. It seems you don't think the Church is able to protect the Canon of Scripture then.
The Church has no Canon of Scriptures and still isn't.

Several of the Fathers had different opinions on what was Canon and what wasn't. Even to this day, there is some variance in different jurisdictions. The Ethiopians for example include the book of Enoch into their Canon whereas others don't.

The notion of a Canon isn't very Orthodox.
 

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Mor Ephrem said:
JamesR said:
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.
Fixed it for you.  There's no such disclaimer in Greek or Syriac, so unless you've recently become some sort of Protestant, the Bible of the Church accepts this passage as canonical Scripture.   

Next time, don't blaspheme the Holy Spirit to score cheap points in a discussion of something you know little about.
My Church uses the NKJV which includes the disclaimer.
 

minasoliman

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James, stop being obtuse, please.  Look at the forest of Anna's message.
 

Mor Ephrem

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JamesR said:
Mor Ephrem said:
JamesR said:
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.
Fixed it for you.  There's no such disclaimer in Greek or Syriac, so unless you've recently become some sort of Protestant, the Bible of the Church accepts this passage as canonical Scripture.   

Next time, don't blaspheme the Holy Spirit to score cheap points in a discussion of something you know little about.
My Church uses the NKJV which includes the disclaimer.
When I said "Church", I meant "Eastern Orthodox", not "JamesR's OCA parish in Sometown, CA".
 

Mor Ephrem

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JamesR said:
Anna.T said:
NM, too many posts behind. It seems you don't think the Church is able to protect the Canon of Scripture then.
The Church has no Canon of Scriptures and still isn't.

Several of the Fathers had different opinions on what was Canon and what wasn't. Even to this day, there is some variance in different jurisdictions. The Ethiopians for example include the book of Enoch into their Canon whereas others don't.

The notion of a Canon isn't very Orthodox.
Keep digging, you're halfway to China.
 

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JamesR said:
Anna.T said:
NM, too many posts behind. It seems you don't think the Church is able to protect the Canon of Scripture then.
The Church has no Canon of Scriptures and still isn't.

Several of the Fathers had different opinions on what was Canon and what wasn't. Even to this day, there is some variance in different jurisdictions. The Ethiopians for example include the book of Enoch into their Canon whereas others don't.

The notion of a Canon isn't very Orthodox.
Surely if it's appointed to be read, it's canonical in the Orthodox sense. What the Scriptures do not exclude is well-known; all they include may be a different subject.
 

JamesR

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minasoliman said:
James, stop being obtuse, please.  Look at the forest of Anna's message.
What?

I'm just pointing out that the story in question is absent from the Church for a very long time until I'm not so sure when. And even then, I see no proof or evidence to suggest that it professes truth or was really added by the Church. To be honest, I don't know where that story came from. So isn't it better to be skeptical of it than to accept it when our Church has been silent on it and logical reason tells us it's fishy?
 

JamesR

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Mor Ephrem said:
JamesR said:
Mor Ephrem said:
JamesR said:
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.
Fixed it for you.  There's no such disclaimer in Greek or Syriac, so unless you've recently become some sort of Protestant, the Bible of the Church accepts this passage as canonical Scripture.   

Next time, don't blaspheme the Holy Spirit to score cheap points in a discussion of something you know little about.
My Church uses the NKJV which includes the disclaimer.
When I said "Church", I meant "Eastern Orthodox", not "JamesR's OCA parish in Sometown, CA".
Oh.

Well in that case, I'm unsure. But I can tell you that historically this story was absent from the Church for a long time.

Here's a good question: are there any days of the year where that story is officially read, in either the Western or Byzantine rite? And if so, when/where did it become included? In my OCA parish, I do not recall ever hearing that story read in either the Gospel reading at Liturgy or in any of the other services.
 

Mor Ephrem

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JamesR said:
minasoliman said:
James, stop being obtuse, please.  Look at the forest of Anna's message.
What?

I'm just pointing out that the story in question is absent from the Church for a very long time until I'm not so sure when. And even then, I see no proof or evidence to suggest that it professes truth or was really added by the Church. To be honest, I don't know where that story came from. So isn't it better to be skeptical of it than to accept it when our Church has been silent on it and logical reason tells us it's fishy?
My ecclesiastical Gospel book from Greece says your logical reason is fishy.
 

JamesR

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Mor Ephrem said:
JamesR said:
minasoliman said:
James, stop being obtuse, please.  Look at the forest of Anna's message.
What?

I'm just pointing out that the story in question is absent from the Church for a very long time until I'm not so sure when. And even then, I see no proof or evidence to suggest that it professes truth or was really added by the Church. To be honest, I don't know where that story came from. So isn't it better to be skeptical of it than to accept it when our Church has been silent on it and logical reason tells us it's fishy?
My ecclesiastical Gospel book from Greece says your logical reason is fishy.
I don't think trusting the Church's infallibility and guidance by the Holy Spirit doesn't mean that she can make a mistake in regards to the Bible. The Johannine Comma is also a well known later addition to the epistle and yet the Church accepts that as well.
 

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JamesR said:
Mor Ephrem said:
JamesR said:
Mor Ephrem said:
JamesR said:
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.
Fixed it for you.  There's no such disclaimer in Greek or Syriac, so unless you've recently become some sort of Protestant, the Bible of the Church accepts this passage as canonical Scripture.   

Next time, don't blaspheme the Holy Spirit to score cheap points in a discussion of something you know little about.
My Church uses the NKJV which includes the disclaimer.
When I said "Church", I meant "Eastern Orthodox", not "JamesR's OCA parish in Sometown, CA".
Oh.

Well in that case, I'm unsure. But I can tell you that historically this story was absent from the Church for a long time.

Here's a good question: are there any days of the year where that story is officially read, in either the Western or Byzantine rite? And if so, when/where did it become included? In my OCA parish, I do not recall ever hearing that story read in either the Gospel reading at Liturgy or in any of the other services.
Three are a number of passages that escape liturgical reading. There is even a separate MS tradition that comprises the Gospels that were only for liturgical reading.

Unless you can show Fathers condemning the passage, you're just not right about its not belonging in the Scriptures for Orthodoxy. But if you want to pursue the textual critical angle (without condemning the Church in the process), maybe if you start a new thread I'll lob some of the very early witnesses at you.
 

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JamesR said:
Mor Ephrem said:
JamesR said:
minasoliman said:
James, stop being obtuse, please.  Look at the forest of Anna's message.
What?

I'm just pointing out that the story in question is absent from the Church for a very long time until I'm not so sure when. And even then, I see no proof or evidence to suggest that it professes truth or was really added by the Church. To be honest, I don't know where that story came from. So isn't it better to be skeptical of it than to accept it when our Church has been silent on it and logical reason tells us it's fishy?
My ecclesiastical Gospel book from Greece says your logical reason is fishy.
I don't think trusting the Church's infallibility and guidance by the Holy Spirit doesn't mean that she can make a mistake in regards to the Bible. The Johannine Comma is also a well known later addition to the epistle and yet the Church accepts that as well.
Define "mistake." And start a new thread.
 

Mor Ephrem

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JamesR said:
Well in that case, I'm unsure. But I can tell you that historically this story was absent from the Church for a long time.
Do tell.

Here's a good question: are there any days of the year where that story is officially read, in either the Western or Byzantine rite? And if so, when/where did it become included? In my OCA parish, I do not recall ever hearing that story read in either the Gospel reading at Liturgy or in any of the other services.
It is a good question.  A cursory review indicates that it is in the ecclesiastical text of the Gospels in the Byzantine rite, but is not appointed to be read in the Lectionary.  It does appear in the traditional Roman Lectionary (and, I presume, the other Western rites) on the Saturday after the Third Sunday of Lent:



As to when it was included, I'd have to look into that.  I suspect it is at least pre-Schism because it appears in the Lenten services, and my understanding is that Roman Lent is rather old.  
 

Mor Ephrem

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JamesR said:
Mor Ephrem said:
JamesR said:
minasoliman said:
James, stop being obtuse, please.  Look at the forest of Anna's message.
What?

I'm just pointing out that the story in question is absent from the Church for a very long time until I'm not so sure when. And even then, I see no proof or evidence to suggest that it professes truth or was really added by the Church. To be honest, I don't know where that story came from. So isn't it better to be skeptical of it than to accept it when our Church has been silent on it and logical reason tells us it's fishy?
My ecclesiastical Gospel book from Greece says your logical reason is fishy.
I don't think trusting the Church's infallibility and guidance by the Holy Spirit doesn't mean that she can make a mistake in regards to the Bible. The Johannine Comma is also a well known later addition to the epistle and yet the Church accepts that as well.
So then where is the mistake? 
 

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JamesR said:
Anna.T said:
NM, too many posts behind. It seems you don't think the Church is able to protect the Canon of Scripture then.
The Church has no Canon of Scriptures and still isn't.

Several of the Fathers had different opinions on what was Canon and what wasn't. Even to this day, there is some variance in different jurisdictions. The Ethiopians for example include the book of Enoch into their Canon whereas others don't.

The notion of a Canon isn't very Orthodox.
Point of order: Ethiopians are not Orthodox in the same sense that you and I are.
 

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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?
I don't think so.  If she finds out later and he didn't tell her about it, it will be worse.  The spouse would feel even more betrayed if she wasn't told about it and then found out.
 

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OrthoNoob said:
JamesR said:
Anna.T said:
NM, too many posts behind. It seems you don't think the Church is able to protect the Canon of Scripture then.
The Church has no Canon of Scriptures and still isn't.

Several of the Fathers had different opinions on what was Canon and what wasn't. Even to this day, there is some variance in different jurisdictions. The Ethiopians for example include the book of Enoch into their Canon whereas others don't.

The notion of a Canon isn't very Orthodox.
Point of order: Ethiopians are not Orthodox in the same sense that you and I are.
:-X
 

vamrat

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I think concentrating on the gray areas can lead to as much fallacy as looking at the black and white.  The black & white understanding may be immature and unnuanced, but I remember Christ saying something about the Kingdom of Heaven and childlike faith.  Looking for the 512 times that adultery can be justified (because it's less damaging then 'fink abowt da childrenz') does nothing to condemn the offense that led to the possibility of the compounded sin that itself led to divorce, murder, and starving babies.  For laypeople the best advice we can give (after 'thou shalt not commit adultery') is that in most cases the souse should be told.  Trying to hide it reeks of trying to cover one's nakedness before God.  After we have condemned the sin (since we are not talking about a specific instance here, we should be judgmental of the sin as the only condemnation is of the Tempter) we should hope that the priest, acting as an icon of Christ, will use his better judgement in specific instances as Christ did with that specific adulteress. 
 

Anna.T

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vamrat said:
I think concentrating on the gray areas can lead to as much fallacy as looking at the black and white.  The black & white understanding may be immature and unnuanced, but I remember Christ saying something about the Kingdom of Heaven and childlike faith.  Looking for the 512 times that adultery can be justified (because it's less damaging then 'fink abowt da childrenz') does nothing to condemn the offense that led to the possibility of the compounded sin that itself led to divorce, murder, and starving babies.  For laypeople the best advice we can give (after 'thou shalt not commit adultery') is that in most cases the souse should be told.  Trying to hide it reeks of trying to cover one's nakedness before God.  After we have condemned the sin (since we are not talking about a specific instance here, we should be judgmental of the sin as the only condemnation is of the Tempter) we should hope that the priest, acting as an icon of Christ, will use his better judgement in specific instances as Christ did with that specific adulteress. 
I don't think anyone at all has justified adultery. I agree with your point that adultery is adultery is adultery.

The question seems to boil down to an individual deciding to give up any notion of faith in God (essentially, since all religion is rejected?) - on the basis of the statement that in a very rare case, it might be kinder not to confess the adultery to the offended spouse.

I usually see this kind of argument in a much simpler form - that being something along the lines of "there can be no loving, all-powerful God because evil exists in the world". There's not that much difference between the two mindsets.

My prayers are with the OP.
 

Apples

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Having taken a cursory look at therapists' recommendations online, it looks like quite a few insist upon disclosure. Of course, they don't hold themselves up as moral authorities like a church does, so they can't be expected to be as forceful as a priest would be. I don't have any sort of statistics about it, but those who urged the necessity of complete honesty as an ethical obligation and as the only real hope of salvaging the relationship seemed to outweigh those who recommended keeping this a secret. So it looks like some secular therapists are more moral than the Orthodox church. I can safely reject the appeal to secular therapy as a proof that my standards are wrong, since some of them clearly agree with me.

Interestingly, I found this statistic that 93% of offended spouses considered disclosure the right thing to do after a period of time: http://www.jenniferschneider.com/articles/surviving_disclosure.html

The above is not surprising, but even if it were just 1% I wouldn't have a different ethical view. People are autonomous and have certain rights in their relationships, rights which are clearly not acknowledged or respected by the Orthodox church. Marriage and family as abstractions, "salvation and healing," "therapy," the belief in the efficacy of religious rituals in atoning for sins - all of these are more important than the people actually involved.

Some of you have made the argument (without proof) that this is only a rare exception. As I have said, this is not negotiable for me anymore than free consent upon entering a marriage is negotiable or can be excepted. But I'll respond to the point anyway. Every single source I have seen either implicitly or explicitly says that the innocent spouse will remain in the dark while the offending party is cleansed via various religious rituals. These sources include the canons, a monograph, several contemporary articles, and some citations from this thread. This is consistent with traditional Orthodox treatment of other sins - remember my earlier example of Elder Porphyrios helping a murderer escape from the police because he had repented. It's also consistent with pastoral treatment in other religious bodies. I've found literally dozens of examples on CAF of people relating how their priest insisted that this be kept a secret, making me suspect that this is the "standard" seminary instruction. Maybe pastoral psychology is similar across religions, and this is standard in Orthodox seminaries, too, and that is why every Orthodox source I've seen on this seems to lean toward nondisclosure?

In short, it does not seem to be an exception. It seems to be the norm. I'm in the middle of doing further research on this point, and it's the main thrust of the thread, so if anyone has anymore information, I'd appreciate it.

The process of realizing that the institution I've held as my primary moral authority for years can allow for something so outrageously immoral on an official level has actually made me physically ill.
 

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Several points you bring up, and I will not be able to address them all.

Firstly, if you have canons that state adultery should not be confessed to the offended spouse, I'd like to see them?

Secondly, is one of your complaints that forgiveness is possible without confession/absolution from the offended party? Are you bothered by the fact that God can forgive even if the offended party does not forgive?

Remember that Scripture in general does advise us to go to an offended person and try to reconcile. That IS a Biblical principle.

However, God does not hold our forgiveness hostage to the whims of the other person. If that were true, one could never be forgiven if perhaps someone they had once offended was now dead. Or if they ever offended a particularly bitter person, even in some small way, who then chose to keep the power of unforgiveness over the person.

Thank God He is not limited in this way.

Of course, Scriptures do say that we must forgive others. And God knows us. I'm sure He understands intimately how difficult this can be in certain cases. IMO, it's not about "feeling" forgiveness toward someone, but a conscious choice to put any revenge - or lack of - in God's hands.

Also, you admit this is only a cursory survey of secular therapists' websites. I can almost guarantee you that, if engaged deeply in conversation, most or all of them will in fact admit that there may be certain scenarios which might dictate confession to the offended spouse be withheld.

And if they begin touting the need for confession to the offended spouse as a necessary step for the adulterer's sake in order to absolve their own guilt, please understand that this is the secular world's response to the sacrament of confession and absolution. The sacrament is for the sake of the adulterer. If confessing would damage the one offended, and it is done for the sake of "clearing the conscience" of the one who committed adultery, then what that really amounts to is a selfish act on the part of the adulterer, further damaging the one s/he sinned against, for the sake of their own comfort. Such an act is heinous, in my mind, if damage can truly result.
 

TheTrisagion

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William said:
The process of realizing that the institution I've held as my primary moral authority for years can allow for something so outrageously immoral on an official level has actually made me physically ill.
Before you get too sick, where do you get the impression that the Church has EVER taken an "official" position on not recommending an adulterer to confess to the innocent spouse?  Is there ANY teaching you have found ANYWHERE that has sanctioned that as "official"?  Moreover, do you know of ANY priest that has EVER given that advice to an adulterous penitent?

Honestly William, you need to look to an actual priest to get proper perspective on the Church's teachings and stop relying on an internet forum.
 

minasoliman

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I've seen some therapists claim that if a spouse desires to confess out of self-guilt, they should hold off on confessing and learn how to deal with guilt, not getting rid of it, but learning to live with it.  Otherwise, it becomes a selfish reason to confess.  If you confess because you feel it's the spouse's rights, then it seems fine.  There are a lot of factors that go into cheating.  Some psychologists simply don't recommend it if it's a slip-up, on the basis that there is ultimately more harm than good being done in confessing.  The point is there are varying opinions from therapists depending upon the situation and the mental health of the parties involved.  I suspect also that not every priest will give the same advice.  It's been alluded to you that some priests agree there are a few exceptions to confessing infidelity.  Your problem is that it completely taints your view.

Getting opinions from what spouses believe, which is what you purported to show from your link isn't the same as what therapists believe.  Furthermore, your link is about sex addicts.  Not every infidelity is due to sex addiction.  I can see why with sex addicts, it's more beneficial to confess than to withhold confession, and I would be hard pressed to find any priest that would disagree on that point.

Furthermore, this is telling from you:

The above is not surprising, but even if it were just 1% I wouldn't have a different ethical view.
This is why the world seems to revolve around you rather than taking an honest approach and jumping to conclusions and judgments.
 

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Nothing you've said refutes what I've posted. I acknowledged the variety of opinion, which is different from the unanimous front you implied earlier in the thread.

Okay mina, I get it. You do not respect the rights of spouses within a union that is supposed to be based on unconditional trust and honesty. There's no need for the continued, moronic insults.

I'd like to note that so far, in this thread, only mina has seriously attacked the ethical point behind my contention. However, he has not done this with arguments, but by repeatedly issuing pathetic insults and assumptions about me.
 

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Of all the reasons I've ever heard to leave a religion, this is the most ridiculous I've ever come across.  ::)
 

minasoliman

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William said:
Nothing you've said refutes what I've posted. I acknowledged the variety of opinion, which is different from the unanimous front you implied earlier in the thread.
Your problem is overgeneralization.  I simply acknowledged that there is no such thing as everyone thinking that you have to confess no matter what (whether religious or non-religious), which is what you hold to.  Your black-and-white approach, mixed in with the fact that you continue to take my stating the obvious as insults only proves to show that you do not want to have an open mind about it.

And then you turn it into me not respecting the rights of spouses.  Okay, call it whatever you like since it makes you feel better about yourself.  I don't know what else I could offer to help you on this regard.  You want help, you need to ask without showing forth your snark against the Church or your pompous and stubborn attitude about it.
 

TheTrisagion

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William said:
I'd like to note that so far, in this thread, only mina has seriously attacked the ethical point behind my contention. However, he has not done this with arguments, but by repeatedly issuing pathetic insults and assumptions about me.
Except that you haven't even been able to demonstrate that the position of the Church is that infidelity does not need to be confessed to the innocent spouse. You have invented a non-existent problem and decided to leave the Church over it. You might as well leave the Church because it sanctions arranged marriage.
 

Mor Ephrem

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William,

I may be wrong, but I get the feeling that some people in this discussion are interacting with you as if they're trying to talk you back from a precipice and save you from going over.  Personally, I don't care.  That doesn't mean I don't care about you, but I believe you have the right to make this issue (whatever "this issue" is, because I'm not sure you're even sure) the reason why you walk away from whatever it is you're walking away from--OCNet, Orthodoxy, Jesus Christ, religion as a whole, etc. 

That said, some thoughts. 

It seems clear to me that you don't have enough information at your disposal, at least not at this moment, nor do you have the context to understand it.  That's not a "You're too young" or "You're not married" criticism (though that may be relevant).  It's a "Mor thinks you ought to take things one step at a time and not make yourself physically ill over stuff that requires some time and effort to understand well" suggestion.  If you want/need to put off converting indefinitely to do so, go right ahead.   

William said:
Having taken a cursory look at therapists' recommendations online, it looks like quite a few insist upon disclosure. Of course, they don't hold themselves up as moral authorities like a church does, so they can't be expected to be as forceful as a priest would be. I don't have any sort of statistics about it, but those who urged the necessity of complete honesty as an ethical obligation and as the only real hope of salvaging the relationship seemed to outweigh those who recommended keeping this a secret. So it looks like some secular therapists are more moral than the Orthodox church. I can safely reject the appeal to secular therapy as a proof that my standards are wrong, since some of them clearly agree with me.

Interestingly, I found this statistic that 93% of offended spouses considered disclosure the right thing to do after a period of time: http://www.jenniferschneider.com/articles/surviving_disclosure.html
When you pose the superior morality of secular therapists against that of the Church, I think you're making a false comparison.  Feel free to correct me if you know better, but "secular therapy" as a discipline is fairly young and almost entirely "Western".  I don't reject it for those reasons (I've studied under practitioners and also have benefited from their services), but it is what it is.  Western culture informs it, and it in turn informs the culture.  So if your morality and mine lines up with what they recommend, I wouldn't say that's because that is the only right way of doing things and something else is not.  It is not necessarily like that.

Much of the Church's "sources" for how to deal with these issues derive from another time and another type of culture, one which is foreign to those in the West unless they're a particular type of cradle or know them well enough.  I'm not sure how well read you are in the sources, but it doesn't sound like you're very familiar with them.  If you were, you would realise that the presuppositions are quite different from those in the contemporary West.  If you come from or have been thoroughly exposed to a traditional Eastern culture (as I am/have been), the presuppositions and recommendations you find in the canons and other sources (which are already nuanced) make more sense (i.e., you understand how they got to where they did).  Again, it's not the only right way of doing things, but it is what it is. 

What we see in the canons is the way the Church has tried to apply the gospel to particular situations involving real people in a particular time and place.  Like all canons, there are universal principles which are applied locally, and the results can look different depending on the where, when, whom, etc.  The way you're supposed to use the canons is to take those universals and apply them to the situation in front of you, which requires you not only to know what the universals are, but also what the situation in front of you is.  You need to know a lot about all angles before you can begin to try and move forward with a plan.  It's not so simple as to say "St John the Persian instructed penitents to shut up about it and move on, so that's what we must do" because you can also find secular therapy precedents for doing something in situation X that would totally not work in a different context even though you're still dealing with an instance of situation X. 

The above is not surprising, but even if it were just 1% I wouldn't have a different ethical view. People are autonomous and have certain rights in their relationships, rights which are clearly not acknowledged or respected by the Orthodox church. Marriage and family as abstractions, "salvation and healing," "therapy," the belief in the efficacy of religious rituals in atoning for sins - all of these are more important than the people actually involved.
Not at all.  I just think you have a limited notion of who the people involved actually are.  That limitation is itself Western.  Maybe that's how you are, that's how you live your life, and you will find someone to marry who has similar values.  And may God bless you never to have to confront this problem, but if you do, maybe you'll deal with it according to those values without hesitation.  But that doesn't mean it's the right thing for everyone else (or even for everyone involved in your life).  We are not all William. 

Some of you have made the argument (without proof) that this is only a rare exception. As I have said, this is not negotiable for me anymore than free consent upon entering a marriage is negotiable or can be excepted. But I'll respond to the point anyway. Every single source I have seen either implicitly or explicitly says that the innocent spouse will remain in the dark while the offending party is cleansed via various religious rituals. These sources include the canons, a monograph, several contemporary articles, and some citations from this thread. This is consistent with traditional Orthodox treatment of other sins - remember my earlier example of Elder Porphyrios helping a murderer escape from the police because he had repented.
Since "proof" is important, you go first.  Cite your sources.  I would like to know what you are reading (and therefore what you may not be reading) that is leading you to your conclusions. 

It's also consistent with pastoral treatment in other religious bodies. I've found literally dozens of examples on CAF of people relating how their priest insisted that this be kept a secret, making me suspect that this is the "standard" seminary instruction. Maybe pastoral psychology is similar across religions, and this is standard in Orthodox seminaries, too, and that is why every Orthodox source I've seen on this seems to lean toward nondisclosure?
I don't know about RC seminaries and the priestly training that goes on there, but I have enough experience with Orthodox seminaries to disabuse you of some of your ignorance.  I don't recall ever hearing in my classes "If situation X presents itself, it must be kept a secret at all costs", but neither did I hear "If situation X presents itself, it must always and everywhere be revealed no matter what".  Instead, we discussed all the different things that need to be considered, from an ecclesiastical perspective, a human perspective, a therapeutic perspective, etc., and how the issue might be addressed, with an emphasis on seeking advice from experienced priests (and bishops), therapists, and others to help inform the priest's discernment. 

And as I think Mina said above, secular therapy is like this as well.  You can find a website blurb that summarises an issue, but if you talk to professionals in detail, you will learn that even they are not so black and white as their blurbs might indicate.  I know from my own discussions with such professionals that their opinions on how to tackle an issue can and do change if they are given sufficient understanding of something as simple as ethnic and cultural differences: for example, the advice they give a Canadian couple will be different from that given to a Pakistani couple if they are sufficiently aware of the different cultural and religious dynamics that are at play.  That's not moral relativism, that's the recognition that people are people and are more complex than even William can fully understand. 

By all means, keep reading and studying this issue, and talk to people who actually have to do this in real life.  But keep an open mind.  You seem to have already decided that you feel a certain way and that will never change, and that's just foolishness.  Keep an open mind and let life confirm your beliefs for you.  Or let it challenge your presuppositions.  But deciding that you know better than everyone else about something other than you is just plain stupid.     
 

hecma925

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vamrat said:
I heard a story once about a husband who was cheating on his wife for many years but repented on his death bed.  She sat next to him as he lay dying holding his hand and he was overwhelmed with guilt.  He looked into her eyes and told her he loved her but he had to admit his crime to her.  She told him to be quiet, that whatever it was she forgave him and loved him as much as she always had.  He tells her that he just cannot go with this still on his conscience, but again she tells him that all is forgiven.  Finally he just blurts out that he'd been boffing the neighbor's wife for the past few years.  She tells him that she knew and forgave him.  He is incredulous, and asked her how long she knew.  She said that she saw them a few days ago through the window, and that is why she decided to poison him.

Moral of the story is, don't cheat on your spouse. 


As for what the priest should do, I would hope that he would at least withhold communion until the spouse admitted their crime.
Women always know and they never forget.
 
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