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 Post subject: Sin and Forgiveness
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 4:13 pm 
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This topic had been split off from Lali's thread, Church, Prayer and Loneliness and this first post marks the beginning of a discussion on Christian forgiveness and sin:

My husband had trouble accepting that the people in a church were just as flawed as people anywhere else. That's why he stopped going. He especially was upset when those in leadership showed their 'feet of clay'.

He had been deeply hurt by the church in the past, and that was at the root of his withdrawal. The pastor of the United church he attended did nothing to stop his own father from having an affair with Roger's (soon-to-be) ex wife.

When the divorce became final, he officiated over her marriage to his father.... :shock:

I't kind of hard to trust those in leadership after something like that! :cry:

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Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows,
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Last edited by Sunsilver on Fri Nov 04, 2011 7:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 2:46 pm 
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I am curious. How could the man have stopped his father from doing anything? Ground him? Take away his car keys?

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:13 pm 
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Quote:
I am curious. How could the man have stopped his father from doing anything? Ground him? Take away his car keys?


vison, I was going to ask the same thing. And he may have talked to his father about it, for all anyone knows. His father, being a grown man, may have told him to MYOB. If Roger and his (soon-to-be) ex-wife were separated...I mean, it might have been uncomfortable, but I don't know what the pastor should have done, beyond (perhaps) a private conversation.

And if the divorce was final, I guess my question would be - why shouldn't he have officiated at the wedding?

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:21 pm 
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Wow Sunny, I can understand why your husband would be hurt by the church. :shock:

Vison, I am not exactly sure what the pastor should have done, but the sort of behaviour Roger's father did, at the very least, would be frowned upon by churches I have been to. Officiating the wedding would be like approval of the father's betrayal of his son in a very serious way. Many pastor's and ministers, have the option to refuse to perform marriage officiating services for many reasons.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:26 pm 
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ETA: Wilma, it was not Roger's father who was at fault, but the MINISTER'S father.

Why should he (the minister) have intervened? :shock: I'm shocked you would have to ask that!

Well, maybe because there's this commandment that says "Thou shalt not commit adultery??

Roger and his wife were still together when this happened. Or began happening. For a long time he thought she was having an affair with the minister. He never dreamed it was the father until after the divorce, when his step-mother told him they were married.

Those in leadership of the church should be examples of the sort of life that Christians are called to live by the Bible, and should speak out against sin, even when it is a family member who is in the wrong.

And performing the marriage was putting his blessing on what had happened.

The lesbians in this church who were part of the women's group also told Roger's wife she should take her wedding ring off, because it was a sign of 'ownership'. She actually listened to them, and removed it. Roger was upset.

The church played a huge role in the breakup of his marriage. No wonder he eventually decided to turn his back on it, though he remained a firm believer.

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Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows,
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:34 pm 
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Without knowing the actual people involved, I have to say I cut them all a lot of slack.

First, I don't know if the minister "talked to" his father. Maybe he did, and maybe the father said MYOB.

Second, maybe the minister loved his father and doesn't it say somewhere to "hate the sin and love the sinner"?

Third, why shouldn't he have officiated at the wedding? Maybe he knew it was going to be the best thing his father ever did.

I don't see at all how the church "played a huge role" in the breakup of this marriage. Reading what you've posted, it seems to me that the marriage wasn't that great to start with.

As I say, I didn't know any of these people. I could be wrong.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:36 pm 
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:shock:
Whoa. For some reason, the ministers father seems worse. Yes, the minister should have been an example rather then approving his father's adultery!. That is so ugly what that church did. Had anyone else within the church have noticed some of these things? It's stuff like that, that turns people off of any form of organized religion. :(

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:46 pm 
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Wilma wrote:
:shock:
Whoa. For some reason, the ministers father seems worse. Yes, the minister should have been an example rather then approving his father's adultery!. That is so ugly what that church did. Had anyone else within the church have noticed some of these things? It's stuff like that, that turns people off of any form of organized religion. :(


Hm. Not sure what all this adultery had to do with the Christian religion?

Wilma, you don't know that the minister "approved" of his father's adultery. The fact that he officiated at the wedding doesn't mean that he approved - perhaps he had forgiven his father?

What should he have done? Said, "You vile sinner!!! Get out of here!!! I'm not going to have anything to do with this!"?

Without knowing more, we shouldn't be judging too harshly.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:41 pm 
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vison wrote:
Hm. Not sure what all this adultery had to do with the Christian religion?



Vison, as I quoted above, it has to do with the Ten Commandments. I'm sure you know adultery is considered a sin, so I am not sure why you are saying this.

I do know more about the situation, and the minister's moral standards left an awful lot to be desired. I don't want to drag this thread off topic any more by going into details, though. They leave no doubt that the minister approved of his father's behaviour.

The church eventually became a dead church, and was sold and converted into condos. One of my highschool friends now lives there. I don't know why the church went into decline, but people DO hold priests and ministers to a higher standard than the rest of the population. A former minister of the Anglican church I attended as a child deserted both his first wife and his second wife for another woman. There isn't a church in the diocese that will hire him as a priest. So, the minister's lack of morals could be one of the reasons this church eventually failed.

Ironically, in its heyday, it was one of the largest United churches in the Toronto area, and was used to groom the next moderator of the United Church. (The moderator is the equivalent of the archbishop in the Catholic and Angican churches. )

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Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows,
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:32 pm 
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Sunsilver, you've talked about this church before, if I recall. It sounds like the church community was (or became) quite dysfunctional. I have been in churches (and non-religious communities) like that. And I admit that it can be quite insidious. It creeps up on you gradually and you don't really notice the poison until you're already quite sick.

And yes, this kind of behavior can be quite hurtful and damaging, regardless of who did what when. Sounds like Roger's ex was also very susceptible to whatever was going on there. (I mean, just because some people tell you to take off your wedding ring doesn't mean you have to go ahead and DO it!)

Seems like the church met its demise, though...and I have found that is often what happens to communities that become twisted in on themselves.

And, well...if Roger's wife HADN'T become his "ex" - he never would have become YOUR husband! ;)

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:40 pm 
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There's nothing wrong with taking off wedding rings. I didn't realize how much mine bothered me until I quit wearing it. Removing it was quite a relief.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 7:02 pm 
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Maria, many nurses don't wear rings because it makes it hard to wash your hands thoroughly. Same goes for doctors, who have to remove rings in order to scrub for surgery. So, I have NO PROBLEM with not wearing a ring.

It was the REASON for removing it that makes me angry! If you choose to wear a wedding ring, it is a symbol of love, and the vows that were taken to love and to cherish, in sickness and in health 'til death do you part, NOT ownership! :x

I still wear mine on a chain around my neck, along with a Celtic cross Roger used to wear as a tie-tack.

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When the night has been too lonely, and the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed, that with the sun's love, in the spring becomes The Rose.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:07 pm 
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Sorry for dragging the thread. In response to Vison, though, I would not say "you are a sinner" etc... but at the same time, possibly a private talk discouraging adultery? Referring those involved to some sort of counselling not involving him? Forgiving and public approval of that sort of behaviour are 2 different things. Especially as a representative of the church, being a held to higher standard (which would come with the job), it does not look good. With his actions as a minister he basically said committing adultery is ok if you are a member of his family. No wonder that church fell into decline and got turned into condos.

About easing loneliness, I found when my mother died, the church my family hadn't visited for years were extremely kind, caring and supportive. I think it depends on the church.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:43 pm 
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Sunny, it's a symbol of the vows, but it's not the vows themselves. People break their marriage vows with their rings on, and keep them with them off. I could see one's thinking changing with the years about wearing a ring, without anything else changing.

Also, many straight married women see rings as a sign of ownership and don't wear them. And many gay women in committed relationships, or who are legally married, do wear them. It's all a rich tapestry of who thinks what and who does what about it, and sexual orientation doesn't really have a lot to do with it. :P

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:31 pm 
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Ironically, the ring originally was meant to provide security for the wife in case she was left alone, not a sign of ownership. In Jewish tradition it was a valuable object that the husband handed over to the wife, which is why the ring is traditionally plain gold so its value can be easily determined.

Now it's just a symbol, I guess, and as such it means what you want it to mean. Not wearing a ring because, e.g., you work with tools that can snag on it and tear your finger odd, is only sensible. Not wearing it as a symbolic gesture is, well, symbolic.

And of course a son cannot stop his own father (or any other adult) from having an affair. Presumably the wife entered into this of her own free will, as well. But it is one of the functions of a faith community to set up some sort of a standard for moral behavior, some expectations breaking which would bring the censure of the community on its member. It is really one of the most powerful tools for regulating human behavior.

Clearly, this can be abused by a particular community to discourage all sorts of harmless actvities. So long as everyone is free to leave, though, that should not be a terminal problem.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:43 pm 
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The church that mr. anth and I were married in had a similar predicament... the minister of music (married) had an affair with one of the (married) soloists.

I kind of like how the church handled it. They didn't preach from the pulpit, but they did finance a trip for each of the families to (separate :)) counseling camps. It wasn't a secret, but it sure wasn't encouraged as a gossipy topic.. our church had always said that the church was more of a hospital for people in need than a country club or a sanctuary for Those Who Are Perfect. I think they saw those families as people hurting, and were trying to help.

It didn't work, the two continued their affair after the counseling. They both left the church. It was all pretty sad.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:37 pm 
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It would only derail the thread if I responded to any more posts, but maybe someone (not me!!!) could start a thread on the topic.

I don't "approve" of adultery. But I have been around long enough to know that it takes 2 to tango, and another thing I know is that forgiveness is a Christian ideal.

I believe in forgiveness, and I'm not even a Christian. :D

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:50 pm 
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As Alexander Pope wrote, "To err is human; to forgive is divine."

I think this is important. As a card carrying atheist, it may be unwarranted of me to pass pronouncements on Christian actions, but I hope I am forgiven my impertinence...
Pope was, I think, absolutely correct in his interpretation. To forgive is to approach the divine, but it is crucial to realise that it is the provenance of the divine because it is so difficult. Forgiveness is an aspiration, the expectation of which is failure. God, created in man's image, but the best of man, has divine grace. We do not.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:58 pm 
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This is not news to Christians. :blackeye: "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

We're supposed to pick ourselves up and keep trying, though.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 2:03 pm 
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One thing non-Christians tend to forget is that forgiveness isn't as simple as it sounds. It involves something called 'repentance'. The root of that word means to turn around and go the other way, in other words to make a 180 degree turn, and abandon the sin. Without repentance, there can be no forgiveness, because God cannot sanction sin.

As for the minister, the Bible calls us to confront those who are sinning, and try to get them to repent. However, if we do not forgive them, our judgement rebounds on us. Forgiveness does NOT mean we approve of what they are doing or have done, however.

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When the night has been too lonely, and the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed, that with the sun's love, in the spring becomes The Rose.


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