Keeping Secrets

keeping secrets 8

Q. I want to share a problem about a teenager with our elder looking after youth, but he said he shares everything with his wife. I feel uncomfortable about that as it does not concern her. Is he right in doing that? Is it biblical?

A. There are at least two issues involved:
• Counselor-counselee confidentiality;
• Keeping secrets between spouses.

First, between you and the teenager. I assume the teen confided certain problems with you as her youth counselor.
• If she is being hurt e.g. abuse, you have a legal duty to report which overrides any duties of confidentiality.
• If she is not in danger, then has the teen consented for you to share with others in authority to resolve the problem?
• If you have promised her not to tell anyone and she has not relieved you of that promise, then you should not tell others, provided she is not being hurt in the mean time. Work with her to resolve the issue, or get her concurrence to involve others.

Concerning the elder in charge, while in general it is good for husbands and wives not to keep secrets from each other, this extends only to issues between them i.e. spousal relationship matters. It should not extend to everything as he had suggested, as there are matters which do not concern the spouse. I would consider it a breach of trust if, for example, what I shared with my pastor or doctor got passed onto his wife, then inadvertently through her to others.

What are the biblical principles involved? On the one hand, we should speak the truth:
Eph 4:15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,
• Eph 4:25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.

On the other hand, that does not mean there should be no secrets:
Deut 29:29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.
• Prov 11:13 He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.
• Prov 25:9 Argue your case with your neighbor, And do not reveal the secret of another,

God Himself does not reveal all things to us because we do not have the capacity to handle them. He wants us to obey by faith. The trustworthy are those who can keep secrets.

We are not required to disclose secrets to those who are not entitled to them e.g. military secrets to enemies, because to do so would breach national security and endanger the lives of many. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you, and use your judgment to discern what to disclose and what to conceal. Hope this helps.

Advertisements

Accepting Refugees (2 of 2)

(Continued from yesterday)

4. God expects us to love refugees as ourselves. We are to treat them like our fellow countrymen. Positively, we are to leave part of our surplus for them. Negatively, we are not to wrong or oppress them:
Ex 22:21 You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (See also Ex 23:9)
• Lev 19:10 Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God. (See also Lev 23:22; Deut 24:19-21)
• Lev 19:33-34 When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God. (See also Deut 14:28-29; 26:12)
• Lev 24:22 There shall be one standard for you; it shall be for the stranger as well as the native, for I am the LORD your God.
• Num 15:16 There is to be one law and one ordinance for you and for the alien who sojourns with you.
• Deut 10:19 So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.

Treating refugees the same way you treat natives presupposes we take them in, otherwise how can there be one law for all.

But what about the danger of bringing in wolves under sheep’s clothing? The danger is always there, but that does not mean we close our hearts and stand by and do nothing. There were spies and assassins in biblical times (“spy” and “spies” each appear 16 times in the NASB), but that did not stop God from including the above commands in the Bible. Yes the government has a duty to keep citizens safe and secure. What it needs to do is to make sure its security measures screen out terrorist suspects before they enter the country, while admitting genuine refugees so they can make a fresh start and have an opportunity to hear the gospel in their new home.

Churches in particular need to do their part in resettling this new wave of “boat people“. Because I believe in the end Mt 25:40 applies, “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”

Accepting Refugees (1 of 2)

Q. Our new prime minister wants to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees before year-end, and more later. Wouldn’t that jeopardize our national security in light of the terrorism in Paris? Shouldn’t the safety of the citizens be the primary concern?

A. This is a hot topic debated in political, social and religious circles. On the one hand, some see the plight of the refugees on national news and want to accept as many as possible on humanitarian grounds. On the other hand, some want to sound the alarm for fear of bringing in terrorists under the guise of refugees. What should the Christian stand be? While our feelings and government policy are important considerations, I believe the deciding criteria is what does the Bible say.

Although those who use the KJV claim that you don’t find the word “refugees” in the Bible, actually you do when you use newer versions like the NASB (5 times) or the NIV (2 times). Furthermore, you need to look up synonyms like “aliens” or “strangers”, which together present a more comprehensive picture.

Some, however, swing to the other extreme by including all aliens and strangers as “refugees”. Not every displaced person is a refugee, a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. Those who emigrate voluntarily in search of a better life are not refugees. And while most refugees are poor and helpless, not all poor and helpless are refugees. Now, what does the Bible say about how we should treat them?

There are at least four principles. The first three summarize how God deals with refugees, and the fourth what we should do on our part:
1. God loves refugees. He provides for them and protects them:
Deut 10:18 He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.
• Ps 146:9 The LORD protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow, …

2. God blesses those who care for refugees:
Deut 24:19-21 When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not go over it again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow.

3. He will judge and curse those who wrong refugees:
Deut 27:19 Cursed is he who distorts the justice due an alien, orphan, and widow.’ …
• Mal 3:5 Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,” says the LORD of hosts.

(To be continued)