Coming Clean…The Critical Step of Confession (part 2)

In the last post I talked about the struggle of confessing our failures. Regardless of whether they are sexual failures or just more of the general “I was wrong” variety, many men have a very hard time confessing their wrongs. But when the failures involve behavior that has betrayed the trust of our wife/fiancee/girlfriend, it can be paralyzing.We know that confession will be accompanied by consequence, and we desperately want to avoid that. However, there is no other way to find and keep trust within a relationship except through a commitment to honesty – in all things, good and bad.

I mentioned (in part 1) that this post would give some practical suggestions on ways to confess that are honest but also considerate of her feelings. But upon more thought, before doing that I want to look a little more closely at some of the reasons why we DON’T confess.

So when we’ve failed sexually, what excuses do we use to avoid confessing and taking responsibility for what we’ve done?

“I don’t want to hurt her.” The problem here is that you already have. Whatever you’ve done is a violation, and to add to that violation with dishonesty will ultimately be even more hurtful.

“She’s going to overreact. All I did was ______.” Although you may be able to accurately predict her response to your confession, it’s not really your place to determine what response is appropriate. When your trust has been violated, it’s kind of not cool when the offender wants to tell you what feelings are appropriate.

“I’m scared that she’ll leave me.” For many men, this is a legitimate fear. Sometimes the failure we need to confess is a betrayal of an extreme nature; and it is always a possibility that she will choose not to stay in the relationship. But the more appropriate time to consider the consequences would have been before the failure. The problem with keeping it silent for fear of divorce is, are you building anything healthy and lasting through adding dishonesty to the betrayal? What kind of relationship do you ultimately want?

“God has forgiven me, and I’ll never do it again, so what would be gained by telling her?” Yes, if you’ve confessed to God He has forgiven you, but Scripture also tells us to confess to one another, so by not telling you’re only being partially obedient to God’s Word. Also known as disobedient.

All of these objections to confession share a real danger as well. All of them are attempts to protect secrecy. For the man struggling with sexual sin, secrecy is one of our greatest enemies. Why? Because…

Keeping secrets is basically making the decision to continue failing.

I’ve never met a single man who overcame an addiction to porn/sex through private, individual efforts. What I have seen, over and over again, are men who believed that they could fix themselves in secret and then failed again. This stuff always escalates, always gets worse, and eventually comes out. The longer we wait, the more devastating the impact.

In recovery meetings that utilize the Twelve Step approach that originated with AA, there is a reading that is often included called “How It Works.” One of the things we acknowledge as broken people struggling with addiction is that “many of us have tried to hold on to our old ideals and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.” We also read the challenge, “If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.” We read that “Half-measures availed us nothing.” 

This is consistent with what Jesus said about the level of determination and commitment we must have when seeking to surrender our sin struggles. In Matthew 5, Jesus told the crowd If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell (Matt. 5:29-30, ESV).” I don’t think Jesus was advocating self-mutilation, but rather the necessary attitude of doing whatever it takes. Our enemy hates us. Sin is trying to kill us. We have to realize that. We must stop making excuses and justifications. We must come clean. But even as I write those words, trust me that I know how hard that is to do.

When you believe you are ready to take the step of owning your actions and confessing them, there are certainly some helpful suggestions about how to go about it. That’ll come in part 3’s conclusion.