Thursday, 29 July 2010


Last week we had a few cases in the clinics that had to do with the belief of “confession.”  The belief of many people here is that if they or a family member is sick, they need to confess all of their sins.  This sounds okay, but if we dig deeper, this belief causes some problems.


First of all, the confession isn’t even directed at God much of the time.  Rather it is confessing among family members.  Also, the confession often is not accompanied by repentance or change in behavior.  For example, in one of my cases, a man who came in with a neurological problem that could be life threatening confessed that he had been unfaithful with his wife.  However, he didn’t express that he planned on fixing the relationship.


Secondly, this belief often negatively affects medical care.  We had a case about a month ago where we found a 9 year old girl with a severe blood problem--possibly leukemia.  A ministry offered to pay for the family’s expenses to take her to the city to get a diagnosis and treatment.  Last week, we found out that rather than taking her, the father performed “confession.”  After this, he though the girl was improving so he didn’t take her.  By not following though with the offer, the family has forfeited any further help from this ministry for the girl.  This is a professing Christian family.


Another example is regarding obstetric care.  Often times, the husband will not let his wife deliver in the hospital because he will not be allowed to be present for the labor and hear his wife’s “confession.”  The belief is that the delivery and recovery will not go well if she doesn’t “confess” everything during labor.


What does the Bible say about confession?  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 )  For the Christian, Jesus is able to forgive confessed sin although we can’t take this as a license to sin (see Romans 6:15).  I think the belief of “confession” may come from James 5:13-16.  But I don’t think how it is practiced is consistent with what God intends.


Is sin related to sickness?  Obviously, it can be.  For example, sexual promiscuity can lead to sexually transmitted diseases among other problems.  Alcohol abuse can lead to liver problems.  But often times, sickness has nothing to do with sin (see John 9).  God can even use sickness for his glory (as seen in John 9) and his direction (Galatians 4:13).


Just some thoughts.  This is an example of a Guatemalan cultural belief that is not Biblical.  We are thankful for those who work training pastors in the area to shed God’s light on issues such as these.