Church brother wants to confess before marriage, but this could make me look bad

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Dear Koren,

I’m feeling very anxious because of a situation that is brewing. A brother in my church and I made a big mistake. I always felt attracted to him and he was really nice to me and came to my home once to talk to me and bring some groceries to help me out, and from sitting next to each other and him comforting me, we got a little intimate but didn’t go all the way. He has a fiancée and now he is telling me he has to confess to her before they get married in December. He feels guilty and think it is wrong to go into marriage with a secret, but this would make me look bad because the lady knows me as we are all in the same church. I have apologised several times and asked him to not say anything but he seems as if he won’t feel at peace until he confesses. What more can I say or do?

Anxious

Dear Anxious Lady,

I’m truly sorry to hear that you’re going through such a challenging situation. It’s completely natural to feel a sense of anxiety given the complexity of the situation. I don’t get why you need to apologise to him though. Yes, you felt attracted to him but that is neither a sin or a crime. It is a normal human impulse to feel attracted to someone. The problem came when it was acted upon, but you did not do it alone. He came to your home to talk to you and bring some groceries. I don’t know who initiated the physical contact, but it sounds like it was a mutual activity.

It’s understandable that this gentleman wants to be honest with his fiancée before they embark on their marriage journey. It’s important to remember that people’s decisions are often guided by their own values and sense of integrity. Truth be told, sometimes even subconsciously, people do things to sabotage a relationship they no longer want but are too coward to end. But that’s a topic for another time. Suffice it to say, we will have to figure this one out without necessarily knowing his true and deepest motives for wanting to ‘come clean’.

Recently, a friend mentioned to me that it is enough for certain sins to be confessed to God alone and it helps no one by confessing to another person. The jury is out on this debate, but this guy should also consider the impact his actions will have on you, your reputation, your peace of mind and your ability to comfortably continue as a member of that church. His obligation to respect your wishes and protect your privacy should not be less important than his desire to purge his conscience. 

Remember that you can’t control others’ actions, but you can control your own response. So, if you have asked him not to breach your confidentiality and he continues and does so, you then have to deal with the consequences. You would have learnt a valuable lesson on consequences of actions made without a lot of thought, you will likely have a stronger sense of self-restraint and you will learn that not everyone can be trusted and, more than anything else, everyone makes mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up. If the lady confronts you, you can decide if you want to have a discussion with her or not.

Forgive yourself, make different choices on how to deal with your vulnerability, embrace the lessons learnt and see how best you can move forward in a way that aligns with your own values and feelings. You will be okay.

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