We Orthodox Christians hear again and again our our services that God is good and loves mankind.
But doesn’t every Christian group believe that? I very much doubt that they believe it in the same way — the way illustrated here, where an experienced Orthodox Priest describes how the rubber of sacramental confession meets the road of God’s love:
Among the more interesting experiences for a priest is the confession of children. The one thing I am certain to avoid is trying to teach children about sin when it is not part of their conscious existence. Convincing a child that there is an external parent (God) watching and judging their every thought and action is almost certain to create a certain distance from the soul itself. The question, “Am I ok?” is the language of shame, of broken communion, even communion with the soul. But, having done this now for 40 years, I can say that I see a gradual awakening in each child, an awareness of broken communion. The role of a confessor is not to widen that gap, but to help a child learn how it is bridged in Christ. I tell parents, “The only thing I want a child to know at first is the absolute certainty of God’s unchanging and unconditional love.” It is only in the context of such safety that, in time, an older adolescent can find the forgiveness and healing that they will inevitably need.
Fr. Stephen Freeman (emphasis added)
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