Confession is a part of the life of a Christian. The Bible talks about the importance of confession to be free from our sins. Each Christian denomination conceptualizes confession in a different way. As far as I know only the Catholic Church has a structure way of conceiving confession. In this structure the person reviews their conscience, goes to their priest, tells them all their sins, the priest assigns them a penance and once the penance is accomplish the sins are forgiven.
I’m not against confession, or technology for that matter, but I’m pretty baffled by the new I-phone/I-Pad confession application that Apple has recently released. The position of the Catholic Church is that they approve of it, but that it’s not a substitute for face to face confession. What does that even mean? If it’s not a substitute, those using the application would still have to do the face to face? Then, what’s the point!
I also question the potential legal implications for those using the application. Maybe I need to layoff my crime shows but, how confidential will that application be? We know that priest are the only ones covered under legal privilege of any conversation from someone confessing to them, which I think is unfair for other religious leaders, but that’s another conversation. At the same time it’s known that if someone commits a crime or an indiscretion it would be covered under the traditional confession, but if the phone is tapped, could the police potentially have access to that information or even a private investigator?
From the spiritual standpoint, I think it would miss the purpose of confessing to another human being. We confess to God for the purpose of forgiveness, but as indicated in James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” Confession to another human being is for the person’s own healing. How much of the counseling, prayer and healing can occur during this electronic process?
As much as I favor technology to compliment with information our spiritual walk, this is one of those occasions were in my opinion you can’t substitute human contact.
Just my humble opinion, comments agreeing or disagreeing are all welcome!
- Bless me, Apple, for I have sinned (guardian.co.uk)
5 thoughts on “Forgive me Father for I have sinned”
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Thank you for a very useful discussion here! Last year on my own blog (iamgraham.blogspot.com) I did a few posts related to this: one on the Pope’s “World Day of Communications” address,” two on the danger of cyber-confession. Though I’m clearly more pessimistic about the use of technology to fulfill our Christian calling than you, I think we both agree that any appropriation of technology should be preceded by careful/critical/Spirit-led examination. And I find the post, the comments, and the links useful in doing just that.
Graham, thanks for your visit and comments. I went back to your blog and read a few of your posts including the one related to the cyber confession. I admit that I learned a lot. I knew about the IPhone application because it just came out, but I didn’t know that there were already websites attempting to do this. While researching for my own blog post I learned that I-Confess is not the only application out there, there’s actually an I-repent and another one that escapes my mind now. As enthusiastic as I am about technology, I do believe is for educational, informational purposes; as an aid not a replacement. I also agree with one of your postulates in your last post about technology being a great distraction and that it would defeat its purpose if it substitutes human contact, which goes against what God intended.
Hey there! My understanding of the application is that it basically leads someone through the Examination of Conscience to help you figure out what your sins are. It’s something that one should do prior to entering the confessional, so the app would simply provide another means of doing this. Instead of sitting in a pew with a little booklet that takes me through an examination of conscience, I can use my phone. Supposedly, the questions on the app are even “age appropriate” (so an 8 year old won’t be asked if he’s slept with someone outside of wedlock…I would hope!). One nice thing about using the app is that it will basically keep a list of your sins for you that you can then reference when you enter the confessional. The app is password protected, but you’re right…if someone uses the app, any info they have in there is not legally “covered” by the sacrament of confession. It could be used against you in a legal proceeding.
This is the article I read: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/confession-app-roman-catholic-church-sanctions-iphone-app/story?id=12866499&page=1
Thanks for the visit Carrie and the clarification. If it’s just for the Examination of Conscience I can see the use of it as with any many other Christian applications. The legal and privacy concerns are still something to think about as it allows people to record their sins in the application via voice or typing them. Imagine if you lose your phone. If people can get into other people’s bank accounts, e-mails imagine someone being able to figure your password out and finding out your more intimate situations.