In the south, if you open a sentence by saying “Bless her/his heart” you are given a much broader spectrum of what people will let you say.
You can say, “Jason is jerk.” And you can get some dirty looks.
You can say, “Bless his heart, Jason is a jerk.” And you will a couple of eyes closed head tilted nods.
There is a Church version of “Bless his/her heart” and it is this – “Can I tell you something in confidence?”
Confidence is a unique sort of thing in the church. It is like a mix between “Bless his heart” and the Cone of Silence and “What happens in Vegas” and speaking anonymously on the internet.
And this formula gives people a great deal of freedom to be total and absolute jerks.
I understand we all have things that we “need” to say and it is good to have a person you trust to say these things to. It has been my experience that much of what is said to a confidant should really be said to the person for which there is a disagreement. And because of this, it is quickly clear that the confidant is there to affirm the speaker and take their side.
There are times when we need to talk with someone in confidence for all sorts of reasons, but just because you are “in confidence” does not give you a license to let all Love go out the door and speak like a wheels off crazy jerk.
I have met a great number of jerks in the church by way of the “cone of confidence”. We all can be jerks. I would love to be able to share just a fraction of the stuff I hear in confidence in order to defend my on pride and justify my actions/words. But I cannot. And I am okay with it because I know respect and know the value of confidence.
However, the environment of speaking in confidence is an environment in which our “jerk sides” can easily come out and dominate. This is in part why we practice the disciplines of the faith so that are better equipped to speak in the beautiful (and abused) environment of confidentiality.