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.