BROOKS COLUMN: On public confession of sin

Published 8:30 am Saturday, August 28, 2021

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By Michael Brooks
Pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster

Years ago, revivals had “quitting meetings” when people vowed to quit smoking, drinking, playing cards or the like. Pastor Alex shocked his congregation when he came to the pulpit one Sunday to announce he was quitting X-rated videos. He’d come clean with his wife, he said, and they’d sought God’s forgiveness.

“And I want you to restore me to fellowship with God,” he said and sat down.

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This was in the days of rental video stores. Netflix has a documentary called “The Last Blockbuster” about the last franchise in the nation. Now, sadly, one doesn’t have to find a video store to feed porn since three of the top 14 most visited websites in the nation are “adult” sites.

I can only imagine the atmosphere that morning in Alex’s church. He’d given them something they’d not expected, nor especially wanted to do. In fact, he was relieved of his job that day.

I’d received a call previously from the church when they were talking with Alex about the position. I told the caller I knew him as a committed Christian and a faithful Bible teacher. And his wife was as sweet as sugar. However, Alex had a secret sin I didn’t know.

Can the sin of pornography be forgiven? Yes. God’s grace is sufficient for every need. We confess to God first of all and ask for his healing power.

But sometimes our bad choices affect others. The Bible teaches confession among believers: “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed,” (James 5:16). And Jesus said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother” (Matthew 18:15).

Jesus further talked about bringing a matter before the assembly if the erring brother was unrepentant. But what about Alex who was repentant and in full confession mode? I rather doubt any good purpose was served with his courageous, but impulsive, confession. I can imagine the heinous nature of this sin was more openly discussed in that city than the nature of God’s forgiveness.

Since he and his wife and God dealt with the issue, perhaps a better course was to find a counselor to ensure he faced down this sin, and a confidential support group, like Alcoholics Anonymous, to offer accountability. Alex could’ve taken a few days of vacation while he and his wife determined whether they needed to begin the process of moving to another church, or not.

It seems to me that public and specific confession of sin should be rare, and only if the mission, fellowship and reputation of the church is in jeopardy.