A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret (Prov 11:13).
The Bible teaches that Christians should carefully guard any personal and private information that others reveal to them. Protecting confidences is a sign of Christian love and respect (Matt 7:12). It also discourages harmful gossip (Prov 26:20), invites confession (Prov 11:13), and thus encourages people to seek needed counseling. Since these goals are essential to the ministry of the gospel and the work of the local church, all members and adherents are expected to refrain from gossip and to respect the confidences of others. In particular, counselors will carefully protect all information that they receive through pastoral counseling, subject to the following guidelines.
Although confidentiality is to be respected as much as is possible, there are times when it is appropriate to reveal certain information to others in the process of helping a counselee. In particular, when, with the help of our leadership, a counselor believes it is biblically necessary, they may choose to disclose information to others that will help the counselee, in the following circumstances:
- When a counselor is uncertain of how to counsel a person about a particular problem and needs to seek advice from the leadership of Provo Bible Church, or, if the person attends another church, from the leaders of that church (Prov 11:14).
- When it is believed that the person who disclosed the information, or any other person, is in imminent danger of serious harm unless others intervene (Prov 24:11-12).
- When a person refuses to repent of sin and it becomes necessary to promote repentance through accountability and redemptive church discipline (Matt 18:15-20).
- When the leadership is required by law to report behavior that is against the law (Rom13:1).
To allay any concerns, the leadership wants to be clear that, in divulging this information, the intent is to help, never to harm. The counselee’s name will be withheld, and the issues will be discussed only in generic terms, unless it is absolutely necessary to divulge the specifics.