Question: In Mormonism, how do I know when I should confess a sin to my bishop?

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Question: In Mormonism, how do I know when I should confess a sin to my bishop?

When in doubt, it is wisest to make an appointment to discuss any matters of concern with our bishop

I understand that some sins need to be discussed with my bishop, and other sins can be resolved on my own with the Lord. How do I know when I should talk to my bishop?

When in doubt, it is wisest to make an appointment to discuss any matters of concern with our bishop. He is best situated to give inspired guidance about what issues need addressed in each member's specific case.

Bishops are set apart as judges in Israel, and as such they have the responsibility to administer that portion of the kingdom of God within their stewardship

Bishops are responsible for discerning and judging regarding member worthiness to partake of priesthood ordinances (such as baptism, sacrament, priesthood ordination, and temple ordinances) and to serve in the Church. In their capacities as judge in Israel and presiding high priest they also minister to people who are struggling with sin and other issues. Bishops also aid members who find themselves in a circumstance in which they may have difficulty being guided by the Holy Ghost (e.g., after serious sin).

Bishops do not forgive sins or absolve the sinner in the eternal sense—that is an issue for the Savior. However, if a person is unwilling to confess sins to his or her bishop, who is Christ's authorized representative charged with such things, then the person is probably drifting somewhat away from Christ, which could itself have eternal ramifications.

You need to talk to your bishop about any issue that would affect your worthiness to participate in priesthood ordinances or to serve in the Church. You should talk to the bishop if you need special counsel about problems, concerns, and questions in your life. It is probably wise to conclude that if you are wondering about whether or not you need to talk to your bishop, then it is probably a good idea to do so, even if the result is nothing more than a better understanding of your bishop's role and closer relationship to him.

No one should be permitted to usurp the bishop's role, since he holds the keys to such matters for the members of his ward.

Sins to confess

The list below is not exhaustive, but prophets and apostles have consistently taught that any difficulty listed below should be discussed with our bishop:

  • criminal activity
  • adultery, fornication, or other violations of the law of chastity
  • homosexual behavior
  • encouraging, performing, paying for, or submitting to an abortion
  • use of pornography
  • violation of the Word of Wisdom: use of coffee, tea, alcohol, tobacco, street drugs, or the misuse or abuse of prescription medications
  • violence, abuse, neglect, or mistreatment of family members
  • failure to comply with court-mandated child-support payments
  • failure to pay an honest tithing

Other items to discuss

In addition, some non-sin issues should be brought to the bishop's attention:

  • those struggling with the consequences of other people's sins (e.g., those who have been sexually abused).
  • those who need help from Church Welfare (e.g., bishop's storehouse)
  • those wishing to serve a mission
  • those wishing to receive the priesthood
  • those wishing to be endowed or sealed in the temple


Notes