The following is part of an answer I gave to a woman in response to a question dealing with “Do I need to tell the bishop?” I get this type of question often:
Whether or not you want to discuss this with your bishop is your own personal decision. It’s important to remember that the purpose of confession is that of cleansing and lifting a burden from yourself to a source that is willing to support it for you – that of Jesus Christ. I would hope that the repentance process would not elicit feelings of fear – but rather feelings of love and support. We are all in need of it. It’s normal to feel embarrassment or even shame when we fall and make mistakes. But I hope that the knowledge that we all fall can help you understand that you are not alone. This situation is not unique to you. If you are uncomfortable talking with the bishop because he is a male, you can always consider talking with one of your female leaders instead (i.e. Relief Society President). You can also request that a female be present with you in a priesthood interview if that would help put you more at ease.
I hope you will easily forgive yourself and free up your energy for much more positive aspects of your life.
- What are your thoughts about the purpose of confession?
- When is it “necessary” to confess to a bishop versus going to the Lord directly in prayer?
- Why is it that confession and even repentance seem to have such negative connotations associated with them?
- How can we best do a re-frame so that we can each better benefit from the gift of the atonement?
- What gender issues are there for women who go to confess to a male holder of the priesthood – especially when the sin is sexual in nature?
- What about disciplinary action? Is this where the fear comes from? And what are its purposes? Are its purposes legitimate? Do you see any conflict between disciplinary action and Jesus’ words about being forgiven?
Natasha Helfer Parker is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist and a member of the Church with 13 years of experience working with LDS members. Here she shares with us representative cases from her practice and insights she has gained from her work as a therapist. She blogs at mormontherapist.blogspot.com.