Monday, June 30, 2014

Secrets ...

Is it ever okay to keep a 'secret' from someone, such as a spouse? What if it's kept to protect someone? The problem is that if this 'secret' is told, two things could possibly happen: one person may go to jail and one may end up six feet under.

My mind goes wandering with this question ... and I thank you for asking it.

Secrets are an interesting matter. On one hand, the Bible speaks of the importance of keeping secrets ...

Proverbs 11:13 A talebearer reveals secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit conceals the matter. 

Proverbs 20:19 He that goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flatters with his lips.

But I am pretty sure the secrets spoken of here are the ones entrusted to you that are not sinful to keep.  

Secrets that are good to keep are those that are fairly entrusted ... truths that belong to the teller that are being entrusted to you to enter into a deeper understanding of their world ... these may bring joy ... or not ... but they are not negligent to keep.

Secrets that are wrong to keep are those that are unfairly entrusted ... truths that need to be known because the person is using the secret as a shield to do wrong, whether to others or to themselves.  Those types of secrets do harm to those who keep them trying to protect those who want to continue doing what they are doing without being caught or stopped.

Examples of secrets you are negligent to keep include but are not limited to suicidal or any self harm thoughts or tendencies, murderous thoughts, kidnappings, any violent tendencies, any violent criminal behavior, any sexually criminal tendencies or behaviors, robbery and thievery ... and the list goes on.  

I have heard speakers teach that no secrets should be held between husband and wife.  I cannot agree with that.  Some information in my wife's head that she has been told in confidence I don't want to know ... I don't.  And I really have to doubt the intelligence of anyone who thinks they need to know everything about everyone in their spouse's world.  Information always has a price .. it does.  So I think there are healthy reasons to keep secrets within a marriage.  But I also believe that, as will most things, the key is balance.

When I read this question, what comes to my mind is that someone has either been caught in an affair or someone has approached a spouse, knowing the other spouse, yet still soliciting an adulterous relationship. I also recognize that there are a zillion other possibilities but since we're being vague and I'm being honest ... that's what comes to mind. 

It is my opinion that a healthy marriage can weather any storm ... and if someone has solicited my wife, though it will anger me, she can let me know and through the candor of our relationship keep me from the prison sentence and them from finding themselves stuck in a pig's stomach somewhere.

It is my opinion that a person who is caught in an affair needs to make a decision.  I am not arrogant enough to mark every person who steps outside of their marriage as an animal ... there are some marriages that are the closest thing to hell a person will ever experience ... and my heart goes out to them.  But I think that if it has got to that point decisions must be made.

I cannot say that I would demand they tell their spouse or I would in that case ... but in other cases I have in times past told a person who entrusted information to me that they shouldn't have that they had till a certain time the next day to come clean or I was going to call ... and that I was going to call .. and that I did call.  In some cases it was coming clean to their spouse, yet in others it was coming clean to a licensed counselor who specializes in sexual issues ... I do not ... nor do I want to.  

I have also in times past counseled people not to inform their spouse ... to get it right before the Lord .. and die with it ... some spouses are not able to shoulder that info ... and if the reason for dumping it on them is to clear a conscience, then that is just absurd.

Now it comes to you, the questioner as a person.  One of the most important questions to ask yourself is how this knowledge is truly effecting you.  If it is hurting you, you are not sworn by God to carry another person's failures, nor your own.  At a minimum, give it to Him.  Remember ...

1Pe 5:6-7  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: 7  Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you. 

Also consider that we are not expected to keep foolish oaths (remember King Saul's foolish oath and how it affected Jonathan his son (1 Samuel 14).  If we make an oath in err ... confess and repent and tell the truth.  If someone you love may react wrong, get out in front of it.  Prepare vs repair ...

Also consider that God Himself promises that He will make sure that some secrets are made public ... 

Psalms 44:21  Shall not God search this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart. 

Daniel 2:28  But there is a God in heaven that reveals secrets ...

Numbers 32:23  ... take note, you have sinned against the LORD; and be sure your sin will find you out. 

But that's His business.  If God is exposing a matter, we don't want to be in His way ... that will not end well for us.  We can never protect people from the consequences of their actions when God is rooting them out.

If this secret gets found out anyways, how will you look?  If someone has put you in a position to lie ... to shield ... to hide a matter ... where will that person be when the wall falls around you?  Often times, the collateral damage falls on the head of the secret keeper ... trust is damaged ... reputation hurt.  I don't know if it's worth what it will cost you if you've done nothing wrong.

However, if you are involved, then there is good counsel on both sides ... coming clean and letting it die with you.  I unfortunately, without knowing more detail, cannot suggest one or the other.  

I do know this: I have secrets that I will carry to my grave ... mostly involving others ... it is what I feel to be right and best.  Much of that information would cause grave damage to the people who have entrusted them to me ... but in all situations I demanded they get their heads on right.  

As per my life I try to be as transparent as I can be ... leaves nothing to blackmail.  Still yet, there are secrets that will go to my grave ... God knows all ... and if He were to lead me to share them, I would ... but that has not happened.  Don't try to be too imaginative, my secrets would probably cause yawns ... anything I have done wrong, I have opened up and told on myself ... most of my secrets involve reactions, thoughts, dreams, and hopes I have.  They are mine .. they will stay that way.

So to wrap it up, I think you need to be honest with yourself about whether this secret  qualifies as one worth keeping, what keeping this secret is costing you, what it may yet cost you, and whether or not you are able to deal with it.  Perhaps it's not even you ... maybe you're looking to counsel a friend ... the rules don't change.  

That's my take anyways ... awesome question.  So what are your thoughts?

Don't be confused.  LEARN STUFF!!!
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  1. in my personal opinion I think it is safe to say but secrets are bad for a marriage. Of course there are some things that we do keep to ourselves but if it is more important than our hopes in our dreams and what we expect for our future, if it involves other people but we are doing or exes I think that secrets are bad. Very bad. after all, your beloved is supposed to be your best friend and if you don't tell your bestfriend everything they're not your best friend. And even your best friend you don't tell everything, everything. I think that secrets between spouses is dangerous and it is something that one should tread carefully upon. I can honestly say that I do not have any secrets. I cannot wait to tell my husband things. He much like you probably doesn't want to hear everything that I tell him, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

  2. First, I'd like to say 'thanks' for taking the time to answer this question. Next, allow me to clarify that the 'secret' has no connection to a marital affair. However, it does involve someone making a terrible mistake, an error in judgement. I have been entrusted to keep a promise, never to tell my spouse. I am doing what's best to protect those I love the most. This means that I am to take some information to my grave, and I will. No laws have been broken, not yet, as long as I keep quiet.

    I've advised the person who confided in me to take the burden to God, confess any wrongdoing, and be free of this bondage. I honestly do not feel that I am hiding something from my spouse, I see it as protecting those that I care most about, from any further pain. In my line of work, I have numerous 'secrets' told to me. I cannot break that confidentiality, and I'll show the same loyalty to my family when they entrust me with their secrets.

    Again, thank you. I can think more clearly having these scripture references to ponder upon.

  3. Hey thanks for clarifying ... like I said ... there were a zillion possible scenarios ... glad you weren't in the position of dealing with someone approaching you ... thats tough ... it happened to us a few times when my wife ran the marketing for a group of suite and conference room hotels ... she wasnt sure what to do ... but we handled it ... and no one is dead.

    As per your situation ... I have shared things w my wife abt things I shouldn't have .. and vice versa ... and we both have learned that some things we need to protect from each other .. at least until they work themselves out.

    I believe you are doing the right thing ... intelligence sometimes says "don't tell me what you know I can't handle hearing if I am not needed to be a part of fixing it."

    Thanks for the great question and comment!

  4. It was interesting to come across this so soon after I had written about issues of privacy and secrecy. Sometimes people claim they are protecting someone else's feelings when what they are really doing is protecting themselves from the rightful consequences of their own actions. Knowledge is power, and knowing something that the other doesn't know may give us an unfair advantage. However, it doesn't sound as though that is the case here. There are times - rare though they may be - when it is legitimate to keep secrets from a spouse. One example is that people in some professions (doctors, psychiatrists, and lawyers, for example) have a legal and moral obligation to keep certain matters confidential. Their spouses know that this is the case, and don't (or shouldn't) expect otherwise. These are not secrets that affect the marriage, and so it's a very different scenario from someone who has a secret affair or who secretly takes money from their joint savings. When we decide not to tell our spouse something, it is important to very clearly understand our own motives and to be 100% honest with ourselves about what we are doing and why.