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Friday, October 30, 2015

Getting Up the Courage to Confess Sexual Sin

Dear Bro Jo,

I have a long history of sexual transgression.

I would rather not go into all the gory details but I would really love your advice on a few things.

First of all, I haven't been able to admit my sins to the Bishop. I haven't participated in any kind of sexual sin in six months and I've been trying to be as worthy as a I can.

Honestly, I feel as if I am fully forgiven.

I don’t feel guilt or pain anymore.

But I've always heard that you must report any and all sexual sins to a priesthood holder to be truly forgiven. Is this true?


If so, how do I find the courage to talk to my Bishop?

How do I resist the urge to commit sin?

I always tell myself that I'll never do it again, and I haven't!

But I'm afraid that one day I will fail and then I'll be right back where I started.

Thank you for all you do.

- A Friend

Dear Friend,

First off, let me commend you on your efforts to put your life in harmony with Temple Worthiness. 

That's excellent!

Turning away from Sin is certainly one of the "steps of repentance", and it's very important.

(I've written about it, and you can find it in multiple locations, but for the sake of clarity, here's a link to the subject in the Gospel Principles book HERE) I don't know that I'm willing to say that "you must report any and all sexual sins to a priesthood holder to be truly forgiven", however . . . since your Bishop is the person whom you need to interview with to receive a Temple Recommend, and because "things that should have been resolved with priesthood authority" is one of the questions in the Recommend Interview, and since you should have gone to your Bishop for help when you first started having chastity issues . . . and didn't . . . then one must conclude that in order for you to go to the Temple you'll need to honestly answer "no, I have not resolved all of my issues with the proper authority", right?

Otherwise you'll be lying in your Temple Recommend Interview . . . and I don't recommend doing that.

See, a Bishop is a representative of the Savior, and as a Called Judge in Israel he has an eternal obligation to speak on your behalf when judgment comes.

I envision it going like this:

It's time for my Celestial Kingdom interview. On one table is a list of everything I did good (sadly, I fear, much shorter than it should be) and on another table a list of every sin; the stuff I did wrong and the stuff I didn't do that I should have.
As I look at the second table I'm worried that it's too big.
Then all of my Bishops will enter the room. One by one they'll go to the Sin list and erase the ones they know I've repented of.
The Savior will be there to confirm what the Bishops say is true, and I know he'll do some erasing of his own.
My hope is that when it's all over the Sin list is much smaller than the Did Good list. 

I'm not here to judge you. But your Bishop has been called to exactly that calling. You want him to be on your side, not looking at the list saying: "Wow, that's a big one, she never told me about that at all".

Consider your Bishop as a bridge that helps you overcome sin, to put it behind you and move on.

I submit to you that one of the reasons you've had repeat transgressions and still worry about committing the same sin in the future is that, while you have made excellent progress, you haven't fully repented.

I also want you to know that I think that often the reason people don't talk to their Bishop isn't fear . . . it's Pride, and that lack of humility keeps them from full repentance.

Your Bishop can help you be successful so that you won't be "back right where you started". He's the one called to help you mend things with the Savior; that's not a calling you can "take unto yourself". 

So . . . go call your Bishop.

Make an appointment to see him today.

It may be hard.

It will be humbling.

But I promise you'll feel TONS better after you meet with him.

Trust in the Lord,

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you SO much for replying quickly. I really value and respect your opinion.

Thank you for your advice.

You are right.

I need to fully repent and simply stopping the behavior isn't enough. I have more questions though if you don't mind.

When I said before that I "haven't been able to tell my Bishop", I mean that literally.

I went to see him about a month ago and I told him that I had sexual sins to repent of.

However, when he asked for details, I froze.

The words would not come out of my mouth.

So he gave me a General Conference talk to read and sent me on my way.

I've rehearsed what I want to say to him over and over again but when the moment arrives, I just can't seem to do it.

Is Church Disciplinary action usually taken with this sort of thing?

I'm not worried about that part, just curious.

Thanks again,

- A Friend

Dear Friend,

You could try writing down what you want to say, in outline form or a letter . . . Or start by telling your Bishop why you're having a struggle telling him.

Pray for help before you go to talk to him.

And realize that when he asks for details, he's not asking for a play-by-play, but the basic what's and whens . . . and remember that a Disciplinary Council, if called (and they aren't always) will only be called because it will be part of the process in helping you to mend things with the Savior.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you, Bro Jo,

You have made me feel so much better about all of this.

I will let you know how it goes.

- A Friend

Dear Bro Jo,


I wrote my Bishop a letter that said everything that I needed to confess.

We both cried and shared the sadness of my sins as well as the joy of the full repentance to come.

Thank you so much for your incredible faith and advice.

I hope the best for you.

- A Friend,

Dear Friend,

Good for you!

Press ever forward, and may the Lord bless you always,

- Bro Jo


Katelin Rogers said...

I loved this post and the spirit in which the advice was given. The end result was achieved, so in that regard it probably doesn't matter what I'm about to say. I just wanted to mention something that struck me for your future reference on the matter.

I attended a YSA Q&A in Manhattan about 4 years ago. In the process of answering another question, Elder Bednar explained the judgement process. He said that when we get to the moment(s) of judgement, there will not be a chalkboard with a tally list of good deeds and a tally list of bad deeds. We won't be admitted or not admitted depending on which side has more tallies (even if some tallies were erased as we repented). He said that the entire board would be erased, and Christ would look simply at one thing: where our heart was. How good our heart is. Who we have become. So the idea of a "list" sometimes worries me, especially when working with the youth, because it sends the message that this life is a series of good deeds or bad rather than a process of becoming more like Jesus Christ, more committed to God, through utilizing the Atonement to continually mend our hearts. I know too many LDS who think they are qualifying for the Celestial Kingdom because they "do" or "don't do" all of the right/wrong things. But their hearts are far from God. Anyway, I appreciate the illustration, and apparently for this person it was helpful in getting him to work out his sins with the Lord's servant. Thank you for your blog and the help you are giving to many.

Bro Jo said...

Excellent point!

You're right, simply trying to do more good than bad does not necessarily tell where our hearts are at. That's why I added to the "list" concept the imagery of the Bishop's involvement and the erasure done by the Savior.

Thank you for the kinds words,

- Bro Jo