Shouldn’t a public sin be publicly confessed?


Hello, brother in Christ!

I am writing to you as this has been bothering me for months, and I'm still wondering how I would approach this problem. We have a sister in the Church, my close friend, who suddenly got married. I knew she had a boyfriend, but being her close friend, she could've told us about her marriage since it's an important occasion and we have always shared many things, even secrets together. That's how things go in many friendships, although of course, it's not always the case, and I really don't feel entitled to it. If that was the problem alone, it wouldn't even be a problem in the first place as I understand that not everything has to be shared even with your close friends.

But the problem is that I know why she did it. Prior to her marriage, her boyfriend (a non-Christian) posted that my friend was pregnant with his child on social media. That post accumulated hundreds of likes and congratulatory comments from various people. My friend committed fornication. She didn't tell me about this. She didn't post this on her wall because, for obvious reasons, the church would find it. Although it's weird that she allowed her boyfriend to post it (maybe because he's not friends with the church members so we wouldn't see it). Unfortunately for them, one of the church members saw it and informed me. I was shocked and surprised. Disappointed. I didn't know her to be such a kind of person, and I had the impression that she was a principled person. I understand that Christians can stumble at times and that they can repent as well.

The problem is, the church hasn't done anything about this. One of the church's preachers knows about this and has said nothing about the incident. Most of her family, who are members, also know of this and have said nothing. I would like to believe that she and her family have talked about this, and I believe that she has been repentant.

The problem for me is if this is enough that only she and her family talked about this. But there are members who know of their secret and even more so that there are others who don't know of this. It feels like a lie to me, especially since the wedding was held just shortly after her pregnancy announcement.

Should I demand that she come forward and confess her sins to the church, or is it enough that the matter is not touched anymore, under the assumption that this has been resolved internally within her family who are church members as well?

I am honestly confused and conflicted, not because I am angry at her but because I believe there is a process for church discipline. Since this is a public sin, known to other members, this ought to be confessed and repented publicly as well, in front of the church. Also for me, there is more pride in confessing your mistakes and owning up to them, and being accountable. In other words, there is a sense of responsibility upon knowing that you have done something wrong that could potentially discourage and confuse some members.


Upon which passage do you base your insistence that a publicly known sin must be publicly confessed before the church? See Does sin require a public confession before a congregation? If you can't cite scriptural reasons for demanding a public confession, then you are attempting to bind a tradition on others (Matthew 15:3, 7-9).

Your friend committed fornication, which is a sin. Forgiveness for all sins comes from God and not men (I John 1:9). Some sins impact other people, such as a thief's sin of stealing impacts the people he stole from. But fornication is a sin against the person. "Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body" (I Corinthians 6:18).

The goal must always be to get your fellow Christians out of sin and to heaven. She did the proper thing. She got married. "But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion" (I Corinthians 7:9). She is no longer committing fornication. There is nothing here for the church to deal with.

Now, if you are concerned that she hasn't asked God for forgiveness, you can always gently ask her if she repented and prayed for forgiveness.

By the way, people don't control what other people post on social media or tell their friends. Clearly, he was proud of his sin but that is common among non-Christians. That she didn't publicly announce her sin tells me that she knew she had sinned and was embarrassed by it. So why do you want to further embarrass her by insisting that she confess that she sinned before the church?

"My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins" (James 5:19-20).


Hello Brother,

I have read and prayed over the response that you gave. I am humbled and relieved to have found the right attitude toward this situation. It feels like the weight on my shoulders has been lifted. Thank you so much for the insightful words.

I have sent this to you because this has been a notion implied in our congregation and there have been instances that this has been applied and so this “disciplinary action” has become ingrained in us. I will try to correct such a mindset, not only for myself but for others in the congregation as well.

God Bless you and your work.

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