September 1, 2006
The church that likes to watch:
On a Web site called mysecret.tv, there is the writer who was molested years ago by her baby sitter and who still cannot forgive herself for failing to protect her younger siblings from the same abuse.
There is the happy father, businessman and churchgoer who is having a sexual relationship with another man in his church. There is the young woman who shot an abusive boyfriend when she was high on methamphetamine.
Then there is this entry: “Years ago I asked my father, ‘How does a daddy justify selling his little girl?’ He replied, ‘I needed to pay the rent, put food on the table and I liked having a few coins to jangle in my pocket.’”
About a month ago, LifeChurch, an evangelical network with nine locations and based in Edmond, Okla., set up mysecret.tv as a forum for people to confess anonymously on the Internet.
The LifeChurch founder, the Rev. Craig Groeschel, said that after 16 years in the ministry he knew that the smiles and eager handshakes that greeted him each week often masked a lot of pain. But the accounts of anguish and guilt that have poured into mysecret.tv have stunned him, Mr. Groeschel said, and affirmed his belief in the need for confession.
… Mysecret.tv […] gives people at LifeChurch an easy opportunity to act on the sermons, said Scott L. Thumma, professor of the sociology of religion at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.
“It’s not what you typically expect when a pastor delivers his weekly sermon, and you hit the back door and forget what he said,” Professor Thumma said.
… Since its inception, mysecret.tv has received more than 150,000 hits and more than 1,500 confessions, Mr. Groeschel said. Absolution is not part of the bargain, just the beginning of release.
But doesn’t care to help:
Because the site is anonymous, the staff at LifeChurch cannot reach out to those who are in danger of harming themselves or others, Mr. Groeschel said.
Professor Thumma pointed out that the resources section of the site could be improved. It now lists mostly religious books rather than mental health services.
Although some of mysecret.tv’s confessions suggest that its flock is beyond help:
“I have a hard time not looking at my girlfriend’s anatomy. Not that we sleep together or that she intentionally exposes it before me, but I stare and imagine her naked all the time. I want to overcome this before our relationship goes any further.”
“Sometimes I struggle with masterbation. I know it is a sin… I go a long time with out doing it and then all of a sudden I just give in to it.”
All perfectly understandable. And unforgivable.
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