It really hurts to revisit my past. Do I have to tell the bishop everything?

Dear AMG:

I am a 26 year old California-grown Mormon girl.  I struggled with personal anxiety and depression issues throughout my young womanhood which caused me to stray from the church and live a much more “worldly” existence.  I left the church completely after I graduated from BYUI in 2009, and never really anticipated returning.

I went from a social drinker, to a binge drinker, to the beginning stages of an alcoholic, which led me to AA, (in which there was NO getting around this God character whatsoever).  I put my heart into the program because I really wanted this disease that was plaguing me to be gone and I knew I couldn’t use my own strong self-control to fight this demon.  I tried for years.  Going to AA actually led me back to reading the scriptures and praying and eventually to church. I have found this peace that I have sought everywhere in the world for and could never find.  I have been so excited to actually want to attend the temple and possibly get married there.

I met for the first time with my bishop last Sunday and after I felt like absolute crap. The spiritual high I have been riding was cut off as he alluded to the fact that I need to come clean for every single sin that has not been forgiven.  I had years and years of living in the world and don’t even remember so many terrible things I have done. When he told me this I broke down.  I feel like he is wanting me to go backwards and delve into a past I have left in the past and have tried to move on from.  I feel like it would be necessary for me to go that route had I been attending church or taking the sacrament when I shouldn’t have been.  I am so torn about this and I really do not feel it is necessary for me to reveal all that I did in my time of apostasy to be forgiven and prepare for the temple.

I don’t feel a sense of guilt for a majority of the things I have done because they led me to where I am today. 

Do you have any advice?

Thank you,

Repentant

Dear Repentant:

Welcome back, brave soul.  Welcome back with open arms.  And congratulations on your sobriety.

Every week I get l mail from people who are either too terrified or too scarred from negative experiences to go see their own bishops.  To each one, I say:  I am not a bishop.  I can’t speak for your bishop.  I can’t discourage you from going to see your bishop.  I’m reiterating the same here.

What I can do is say what I would say if I were your visiting teacher: I am so sorry your first meeting with your bishop left you feeling so desolate.  You have already done an enormous amount of work to come back. If you’ve been working your AA steps, you have already made the searching inventory of your mistakes, confessed them to someone else, and tried to make amends.  I can totally understand your desire not to revisit the painful past.

You say that your bishop “alluded to the fact that [you] need to come clean for every single sin that has not been forgiven.”  What I’m not clear on is what the bishop is really asking of you.  Could you get him to clarify?  Is he really asking you to give the play-by-play on the most transgressive moments of your past?  Is he aware that you’ve already done this kind of soul-searching?  Would it suffice to give him a general overview of what’s happened and how long it has been since it happened last?  For example, could you go in and say, “Yes, I lived a pretty worldly life for about five years, I slept with many partners—at least a dozen—some of whom I don’t remember due to inebriation.  But I have been sober for two years and completely lived the law of chastity for the last twelve months.” Would that be enough for him?

If it’s too painful even to think about saying things out loud, perhaps you could write the bishop a letter.  Let him know that the thought of having to review past transgressions one by one is so discouraging to you it makes you want to give up.  Ask him if he could be a bit more clear on what kind of confession he thinks is necessary.  Make an appointment and hand him the letter.  Let him read it. Let him answer. Take your time in figuring out how to respond.

You might also go talk to your Relief Society President.  To tell the truth, I know a thousand women who would much rather confess to the Relief Society President and not have to talk about personal matters with the bishop.  That’s not the way things work, of course, but the Relief Society President can probably be an excellent ally and support for you.  Perhaps she can even give you a bit of insight into how this particular bishop works.

Finally, don’t forget prayer.  Tell God exactly how impossible this feels and how much you need help.

Now, I’m going to turn you over to my AMG readers.  I’m suspecting there may be a bishop (or former bishop) or two out there.  They might have additional insights to share.  I’d love to hear them.  Readers?

Send your query to askmormongirl@gmail.com, or follow @askmormongirl on Twitter.

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89 Comments

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89 responses to “It really hurts to revisit my past. Do I have to tell the bishop everything?

  1. No, you don’t have to go back in and detail every transgression. I was baptized at 29 after a normal life as a non-member. The key is “sins for which you have not been forgiven”- this is about your personal relationship with God, and it’s not necessary for you to be explicit. You can admit, as Alma, that your soul has been harrowed up. You can use whatever imagery you need and find useful. My bishop told me there were only a handful of sins that required confession to a bishop- the rest were between you and God.

    As Joanna said, I’m not a bishop- I can’t speak as one. But, I had a very kind and compassionate one when I was joining the church, and I will always be grateful for his forgiving and open heart. I hope you can find the same, and approach him with confidence in your own repentance process and your relationship with God.

    All the best to you. And welcome back.

    • Kelley G. Tedd

      I would caution, if I may, that there is a difference of the repentance needed when someone has sins in their past, but has not yet been baptized and when someone has to repent of sins committed after baptism. The need and role of confession before Baptism for most sins is much less significant than it is after baptism.

    • Misssionary

      “Frequently our conscience reminds us that we are doing something wrong. Feelings of guilt can be beneficial when they cause us to repent of our wrongdoing. Repentance is the second basic principle of the gospel. It is a marvelous opportunity that the Lord has extended to us through his atonement. Through continual, sincere repentance we can overcome all of our weaknesses and begin to become like our Father in heaven.
      Most of us will try to repent sometime in our life, in one way or another. We must repent to be free from sin. Total repentance requires much effort on our part. We must recognize our sin. We should feel genuine sorrow for having done something displeasing to God. Perhaps you can recall an occasion when you became sad after having disappointed your parents (or your wife, or your children). This feeling of remorse is similar to the feeling we should have when we recognize that we have sinned.
      We must always confess our sins to God in personal prayer. If a sin has injured another person, we must confess to that person also. Certain serious sins are offenses against the Church and required confession to our bishop or other proper Church authority. As we confess our sins, we need to ask for forgiveness from the Lord, from any persons we might have offended, and from the proper Church authority if the sin has been of a serious nature.
      You will notice that repentance requires genuine humility, or humbleness of spirit and absence of pride and arrogance. The person who cannot be truly humble cannot repent of his sins. He will not be able to recognize that he has sinned, feel sorry for it, confess his sins, or ask forgiveness, all of which are necessary to repent. Since we all must repent to be saved, each of us must cultivate a humble attitude.
      Constant prayer and diligent obedience to the Lord’s commandments help us become more humble.
      Several things help strengthen our commitment to repent. One of these is restitution. This means sincere effort to restore anything that was lost as a result of our sin. For example, if we have stolen something, we must replace it if we can. If we have lost the trust and confidence of another, we must restore that trust and confidence.
      We also have to forsake the sin and never repeat it, not even in our mind. If we have done all we can to repent, the Lord acknowledges our efforts by forgiving us of our sins. When the Lord forgives us of our sins, he will “remember them no more.” (D&C 58:42.) This means that the sins for which we truly repent will be forgotten when the Lord judges us.
      Before he was called to be a prophet, a Book of Mormon leader named Alma committed serious sins against God. Consequently, he had to pay the price of contrite repentance. Later, he described the joy he felt when he knew that the Lord had forgiven him.
      Repentance is not only a prerequisite to baptism, but a lifelong process by which we become more like our Heavenly Father.

  2. Anonymous

    I really appreciated hearing this question and response. I, too, had to have the awkward talk with my Bishop about past trangressions. I am a convert and I didn’t quite understand that certain sins still needed to be confessed to Church authority (I was Catholic and I thought I was able to leave that embarrassing confession of sins behind me). The reasons I committed such sins after being baptized were not nearly as simple as to say I just wanted it, but rather stemmed from an assault that happened after I was baptized. I struggled very long alone with self-worth issues and feeling that it no longer matter if I followed the Law of Chastity.

    After I finally came to a better place and left many of those demons behind me, I decided to get a temple recommend and go to the temple not realizing that I technically couldn’t due to my past transgressions. During that interview, I felt as if God wanted me to go to the temple and continued to do that. When I learned that I was considered unfit to go to the temple, I decided to talk to my bishop about it. Interestingly, he almost seemed unwilling to take away my recommend given my situation (he told me that if 12 months had passed, then it would be ok and that an assault wouldn’t be considered breaking the Law of Chastity), but once he realized that it had been less than 12 months, he asked me to review my transgressions and reflect on them for the time I had to wait.

    Honestly, at first, I was so upset that I admitted to it. I felt that I couldn’t grow spiritually because I couldn’t go to the temple and I saw all the hard work with the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity that I had accomplished starting to erode as time went by without the temple. I really struggled to get over the growing anger I had at the church for isolating me in such a way when I really felt that I needed the spiritual strength of the temple more than ever (it didn’t help we were doing an institute class that focused almost entirely on going to the temple). Slowly, though, I realized that I needed to forgive the church for these perceived insults, forgive others at church that had insulted me, and forgive myself for the past not to mention accept my past and move on. I learned more about the importance of the temple during this time than I ever had before.

    This week I am up for a temple recommend interview and I can admit that I am not picture perfect in all the commandments, but I know that I have reached the threshold that God wants me to reach. If you still have time left from when the last time you trangressed, then it may be important to admit to it and use that time to find whatever fogiveness you need to. If not, your bishop won’t penalize you for years of trangressions if for the last year you have followed all the commandments necessary to get a recommend. I suggest you pray and find out what Heavenly Father wants and please don’t take my word for this, but I can say it helped me grow and gain a stronger testimony,

  3. mslonelyhearts

    Heavenly Father already knows everything anyway — we cannot hide anything from him. Express your hurtful feelings to your Bishop of revisiting these events. Part of repentance is a broken heart and as healing as it may be, it is not comfortable nor should it be on day one. And might I add, while I completely see the logic of enlisting the RS president, she simply may be overburdened depending on what you disclose to her — dangerous for her and you. Your are simply following the steps in order to fulfill your end of the baptismal covenant which is to confess all to the Bishop. Remember, he is only human, but his direction is divine. Perhaps you might be overlooking the greatest blessing that can come from this — you gain closure and learn to forgive yourself and move on. I’ve seen too many people leave this kind of baggage packaged neatly away on a closet shelf only to find it blow up in their face when some unforeseen event or challenge arises. Remember, until you undergo true repentance which involves full confession, you wont be able to move on, but you will be ok. You will get through this and it is imperative that you do. Get it out now and deal with it, it will only strengthen you. Don’t wait until you are being interviewed for a temple marriage because I tell you it will completely ruin that time for you — baggage can’t stay hidden on shelves forever. I speak from experience. Let my mistake be your advantage. Please read this: http://www.lds.org/new-era/1989/10/qa-questions-and-answers?lang=eng

  4. Mark

    Every Bishop has a different personality and way of doing things. Remember these guy didn’t seek to become bishop and they haven’t had any formal training on how to counsel individuals. They try to follow the spirit and in the majority of cases they are sincerely doing the best they can. Lets just say some Bishops have some room for improvement when they start. I sincerely hope your Bishop is compassionate and encouraging towards you. My only real thought is try to trust in God that things will work out for the better as long as you keep working at it. Go to God in prayer and sincerely ask with a willingness to confess all if He asks you to. Express your concern to your Bishop and he may expand a little on what exactly he wants to hear. He may not need to hear about each and every bad choice you have made but only every type of bad choice. I have no idea what his response will be but it doesn’t hurt at all the be honest and tell him your thinking and why you are hesitant.

    • anon

      I can’t agree that it doesn’t hurt to be honest with a bishop. You have to be ready to disclose the past experiences. I found myself in front of a bishop, not yet decided in my feelings regarding my own actions, but understanding they were against church requirements. That bishop pushed me into confessing my actions. I left feeling empty and unsupported. I wasn’t ready.

      I agree that these individuals did not seek to become bishop. I think most important is to point out that they are human and are capable of making judgement without seeking the guidance of the spirit.

      Before confessing the spirit should be present in your heart and your mind. You should feel at ease. You should feel as though you are confessing to your Savior through your bishop. If that feeling is not present then you should wait. Repentance should not be painful, it should be peaceful and humbling; overflowing with love and compassion.

  5. I was baptized at the age of 20 as a member of the LDS church. That was almost 15 years ago. I have only come to understand this principle because I was called to work with the youth and I was referred in my lessons to the book True to the Faith. It is a very straight to the point book and I appreciate that. All our leaders are different. Some are better at communicating than others. There is an entire section on repentance that I LOVE. It is pretty clear and left me feeling like I was finally on the right track with regard to repentance.
    Another section worth reading is under the heading Temples. In that section it specifically speaks of worthiness to enter the Temple.
    You can get True to the Faith at The Distribution Center or even your ward. Our Ward Clerk has extras in his office. Maybe you can get a copy this week on mutual night.
    On a personal, gospel of Christa note, I have also learned that you will know when you need to confess to the Bishop. It took many years of listening and not arguing with the Spirit, but eventually I learned to “hear” even when I didn’t want to.
    Congrats on staying sober. I hope you can continue to stay healthy in journey!

  6. RachelJL

    AMG covered everything I’d thought of, but said it much better. Sometimes when I’ve had things I needed to discuss with priesthood leaders, my interpretation of what they said scared me so much more than what they actually meant. I heartily second going to the RS President or some other leader that you feel comfortable with to go over what you think the bishop might have meant. I think the letter idea is also brilliant. It could give your Bishop time to think about and ponder what you’ve said on a deeper level, if he has the time. Bishops and other leaders aren’t perfect. I’ve had a couple say things that were a little insensitive. But 98% of the time they’ve been extremely helpful and loving, even if it hurt sometimes.

    Hang in there! I don’t know you, but I want to hug you. (((((hugs))))) And you are brave. Don’t give up.

  7. Here is my favorite quote on forgiveness (Truman Madsen) and an experience with confession from the perspective of an ecclesiastical leader:

    “We say to people who have hurt us: ‘If you will change, I will forgive you—but not until. If you deserve forgiveness, you shall have it.’ But Christ said to the woman taken in adultery…’Where are thine accusers?’ You remember her reply. He said: ‘Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more’. The offer of forgiveness before we have changed in order that we may change—that is the power of Christ.”
    Truman Madsen, I Am the Life in The Highest In Us.
    ———————-
    SOME YEARS BACK, I held a Church position that required me to hear confessions and make judgments about worthiness. A young woman from one of the outlying wards of the stake sought me out to confess sexual transgressions…. Her voice hung with tears as she began, and they ran down her cheeks as she continued. She clearly was uncomfortable, not wanting to tell me these things that became despicable to her as she worked her way through the past in that cold cell of a room. Her husband had joined the Church, and they had two little tow-headed boys. The couple attended meetings, had callings, and were deeply involved in the ward community, which included her large and active extended family. And she suffered… Her only hope was to confess this ugliness to the proper priesthood authority.

    What did I say to her? I told her it was in the past. I told her to forget it (hoping she could). I tried to assure her that from the perspective of the Church (and I was the Church at the moment), her repentance was complete. I wanted to erase it for her and to not see her scoured raw… I cried because of what we do to one another and the things we heap upon each other. I cried because Church repentance requires such a big dose of pain. I cried because she had to prostrate herself before me. Too many had…I hadn’t had her experiences, but I could have. I think I cried because she couldn’t choose to whom she
    would like to tell her story—or even whether she needed to tell the story.”

    https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/issues/143.pdf p. 50
    SCARLET THREADS IN THE LINEAGE OF JESUS: FOUR WOMEN OF THE OLD TESTAMENT, By H. Parker Blount

    • Joe Kerby

      That is a story of truly following the Spirit. Sometime one goes through the pain and suffering of repentance for a long long time on their own and they are faithful in what they are doing in the Church. They would give to anyone, help anyone. Then they think why am I still hurting and realize they missed one thing and that was the confession part. The pain the suffering the humbling of ones soul is complete and they confess at this point and much time has gone by. This above story was so handled by the true following of the Spirit. I hope that if you find yourself in this position that you experience much of the same.

    • Diana

      Interestingly, the story you alluded to about Jesus and the woman taken i adultery, is found in the Gospel of John. However it is not found in any of the earliest manuscripts and was most certainly not in the original Gospel of John.

    • Wendy, in your quote, why does Madsen mention that the children were “tow-headed”? It appears that the whiteness of the boys’ hair is part of a list of the family’s admirable qualities. Isn’t this precisely the unfortunate sort of racist value that Mormons should leave on the scrap heap of history and not continue to bring forward in 2012? One can say, “Oh, it was an unimportant detail,” but I think we know the history of how fervently whiteness has been admired within LDS.

  8. Max

    Let the Lord tell you what to confess. If something troubles you, harrows up your soul, you need to tell the bishop about it. If you are simply aware of something that happened long ago, but it isn’t making you uneasy, the Lord has likely forgiven you.

    Pray for this guidance, and the Lord will show you what is important. This may take more than one visit. If after you’ve talked to your bishop, you find that something still gnaws at you, you need to talk about that. When you are at peace, you have said enough.

  9. Kelley G. Tedd

    Dear Repentant,

    I am serving as a Branch President (a quasi Bishop, but the congregations are smaller) for the third time and I have had the chance to meet with similar desires such as yours to repent of their sins and be clean before the Lord. From my experiences every situation is different. As I’ve watched caring Bishops and Branch Presidents throughout the Church for many years, each are striving to understand the Lord’s desire for the individual child of God that is trying to receive forgiveness.

    It has been my experience, that every situation is so different, it would not be possible to say that one ‘has to wait a certain number of months and then they don’t have to confess’, or ‘if one does this and that, everything will be okay’. Even with the same Bishop and say two friends who committed similar sins at the same time and had been baptized together, it could be that the steps needed to be taken to receive forgiveness would be completely different for each. The Lord knows and he works through His Bishops. Bishops, as you know, do not give forgiveness, but assist us to receive it from the Lord and help us through the steps and yes many times one of those steps in confession.

    I would just finish up by agreeing 100% with AMG by saying that you need to get clarification from your Bishop on what he is asking of you. I would add, however, that you certainly cannot confess what you don’t remember. But as to the things that you remember and your Bishop feels that there is a need for you to confess, I can tell you without a doubt that there is a tremendous cleansing power to confessing our sins to the Lord’s Bishops. It isn’t easy, but it isn’t meant to be easy. You may or may not feel the cleansing right after, but after you’ve confessed what is required, after a time, you will feel power that comes from that step.

    And finally (no seriously, this is my last thought) at some point you may want to read the book from President Kimball called “The Miracle of Forgiveness”. Ask your Bishop about that too.

    At the end of this journey, called repentance, you will find a joy and lightening of burdens unlike anything you have experienced in your life and your Bishop can help you every step of the way. I wish you many great spiritual experiences on your Path!

  10. I really feel the emotional desperation & humiliation of this woman’s situation.

    As I resigned from the position of Bishop only last year, I’ve had some time to contemplate how I used to think whilst I served in this office & calling for almost seven years.

    The position of assumed authority carries a great deal of responsibility, which can be abused. Most members will listen to the advice of a Bishop as if it came from the Lord Himself. This should not be overlooked as a potential for possible ‘unrighteous dominion’!

    The ordinary lay ministry of the LDS Church is not adequately trained for the responsibility they are expected to perform. It is ‘wrongly’ assumed that the ‘Spirit of The Lord’ will guide & direct them, so ministerial training is unnecessary.

    When newly called myself, I asked our Stake President for training in counselling skills. Most of the Bishops were appalled that I should ask for this & some expressed shock that I didn’t just ‘rely on the Spirit’! Their reasoning was that any formal professional training would distract from the ‘Spirit’ & handicap the will of the Lord!

    Gladly our Stake President agreed with me (he was a management consultant by profession) so arranged two hours of training by the Church Family Services Counsellor.

    This, I’m afraid, is grossly inadequate!

    I’ve come to the conclusion, based on some small understanding of psychology & from personal experience in the ‘job’, that the way different individuals react in Church callings of leadership, where they have responsibilities for counselling others, is based primarily on their own individual sense of humanity & internal feeling of compassion for others, as well as how judgemental & rigid their thinking.

    However, the desire to serve a role of ‘the leader’ & ‘protector of the good name of the Church’ can sometimes over-power their own natural, innate characteristic of human decency & consideration for others. This happened to me when I, as Bishop, verbally & emotionally attacked my brother and his wife when they left the Church, for being apostate & trying to teach others about the ‘uncomfortable origins & history’ of the Church. My role as ‘protector of the Church’ became paramount & all my compassion for my brother was over-powered by the emotion driven thinking of the amygdala response. A flight/fight primitive brain function.

    Many priesthood leaders exercise unrighteous dominion over the members, because they are relying on ‘inspiration’ from God & ‘feel’ justified in their actions because they are acting on God’s will. After all, God is guiding them!!!

    They nearly always have, what they think is, the best interests of the individual at heart, but without professional training they are often grossly unprepared & offer inadequate and sometimes inappropriate advice & counsel.

    Often, as Bishops, we look for signs of humility & despair from those who confess their sins, as a sign of full repentance.

    I was taught by the Stake President to create moments of awkward silence during personal interviews, in which the interviewee could reflect on their own personal worthiness & confess any sins. In effect, to encourage a feeling of discomfort & humiliation, leading to feelings of abject despair & desperation so that the sinner would feel totally at the mercy of God & His servants.

    To facilitate this I used to ask members to read aloud verses of scripture which focused on the nothingness of man & how we are at his mercy, like Alma 36: 12-21.

    I felt that God was directing me to do this in order to help the individual trust in the Lord & feel His compassion, love, mercy & forgiveness. I had to witness for myself the person going through the steps of repentance!

    I now believe that this ‘inspiration from God’ to the Bishop is just the individual’s own intuition or sub-conscious mind feeding him this ‘inspiration’. So it’s from himself, but he’s convinced it’s from God, so can be completely confident it is the correct thing to do, & arrogantly force his will on others.

    My Stake President ‘bigged’ me up so much that the ward members were told to follow me just like they would the Prophet, because God was leading me & I was receiving revelation to lead the Ward! And they were told that the Lord wouldn’t allow me to lead them astray!

    That probably explains why the Church got so worried when I resigned as Bishop (out of a sense of honesty and integrity) because of my change of beliefs with regard to the Church.

    The role of Bishop as a Judge in Israel is fraught with potential for spiritual & emotional abuse. I don’t blame the Bishops, I blame the system!

    I wish that woman, who was humiliated by her experience with her own Bishop, all the very best. I would advise her that she needs to trust in her own sense of self-esteem & spiritual approval.

    With best regards,
    Steve Bloor
    http://stevebloor.wordpress.com

    • Jan Montes

      Thank you Steve for your comment. I am interested in reading your future comments. I appreciate them.

    • Chris

      Very well said Steve.

      • TMS

        Thank you so much for saying this. As someone with an over-developed sense of guilt, feeling like I needed to keep going to the bishop(s) over my lifetime for different things about destroyed me. They were good men, but often clueless and sometimes harmful. My current bishop in no way, shape or form can understand my soul. Nor was he trained to handle the marital problems for which I sought counsel recently. In fact, he often made things so much worse. After a lot of reflection, I realized that God did not want me distraught and despairing and that going to this man who was my bishop was only exacerbating said feelings. It took a real counselor to tell me to stop listening to my bishop and trust my own revelation about the situation.

        That is just my own experience, that of my daughter and her supposed sins was a nightmare and enough for me to stop going to church since the beginning of this year in order to protect her from a man whose supposed authority would not honor a mother’s requests for healthy boundaries.

        I feel very deeply that we need to teach individuals that they will know when God wants them to go to the bishop if they search their own souls. The church needs to quit teaching helplessness. We are not beholden as individuals to another mortal’s sanction of worthiness. We are here to work out our own spiritual autonomy and anyone who tries to override that with presumed authority is not, in my opinion, doing God’s will.

    • I have been a reader of AMG for only a short time now. And I have wanted to comment on many posts but never have. Mainly because I am in the process of leaving the church, and so I am still in a bitter stage, not yet comfortable in my own skin, and I very much wish to not inadvertently pass on any of my hurt and pessimism to AMG writers who are only asking for help, and most of whom are looking to actually stay in the church church they receive said advice and find some peace and assistance. Basically, I don’t want to scare or scar anyone. Don’t want to spread my distaste for the church, its leaders, and the institution.

      That said, I had to comment on this topic. But I will attempt to be as objective as possible.

      Steve, it was your comment that prompted me, so I will start there. Basically I just want to thank you. It is refreshing to hear a church leader not only admit he made mistakes or was wrong, but that the church system and training is flawed as well. I noticed you stated you have resigned as bishop, but little to know mention of your current church standing, so I am assuming you are still an active memberand the issues you had were not with the church church general. I respect that. While I don’t agree with the gospel anymore, my sister whom I love and respect is a whole hearted temple recommend carrying member. I am also netting you don’t want your words mistaken as a battle cry for us dissidents. Please trust me that this is not my attempt. Again, I am just simply wanted to thank you for your honesty.

      To the original writer seeking advice– all I can say is I wish you the best of luck and all happiness. The curch is obviously where you want to be, so please “don’t pay no nevermind” to me and my personal feelings about it. But why I wanted to respond is two part: 1) If only to say that bishops and other priesthood leaders like you are describing are just one of the many reasons I got fed-up and left. Yet I take no pride in that. So if you can overcome your fear, anger, and feelings of low self-esteem when in his office and around him, I say more power to you. For your sake I hope you can. 2) Personally I believe the biggest problem in your situation is that many Mormons, especially those “born and bred” do not have any real understanding of AA programs or other addiction programs. It is my firm belief that, as AMG alluded to, if you have completed the program, you have already searched your heart, relived your wrongs, come closer to God, and been forgiven. But I doubt many bishops and other church leaders (including a RS president) understand what truly goes on inside those meetings and how the program works. Part of this may be a feeling that they don’t need to (unfortunate and wrong in my opinion), but part of this ignorance may be innocent. After all, why would a life long member know about AA programs and the like? So in addition to the advice already given to ask your bishop for more clarification first, my advice would be to as politely as possible provide him some clarification as well– bring him copies of pamphlets or printedo articles explaining and detailing the addiction programs you have venturesome through and completed. Try to help him understand the repentance process you have already gone through. Perhaps this will open his eyes and/or heart and change what he believes is still required of you. Hopefully, it was also help him in the future should he need to counsel anyone else who has gone through a 12 step program.

      My above words are sincerely sent in love and respect,
      Juliet

    • While we all have sympathy for “Repentants” comments, this response is suspect. There is a new, subtle technique used by anti-Mormons. They post as a bishop, stake president or other person in authority, then subtly move the reader in the direction of the same tired, ridiculous, anti-Mormon claims and websites that have been used for some years. I don’t know who Steve Bloor is or if he’s ever been a bishop, but I doubt it because he uses this same technique. Notice also that he has others post in support of whay he says. Are the members or former members of the Church? I doubt it. It is very deceitful. I would not put any stock in a word he says. His post and website follow too familiar a pattern.

      • Lew Craig, you may mean well, but I don’t know. Same way you don’t know who and what “Steve Bloor” means. But I personally take offense to your assumptions and accusations, because you also accused those of us that commented and supported his statements as trying to deceive, being just anti-Mormon and never having been an actual member. (When you stated above “Notice also that he has others post in support of what he says. Are they members or former members of the Church? I doubt it.”) I don’t want an argument because I respect this blog, I respect the other readers and commenters, and I just honestly don’t feel like wasting my breath sinking to your level, because I think you are the type actually seeking to work someone up and start “something.” (Oh wait, I just did stoop because I made an assumption without knowing you! *Whoops!*) But I can tell you this. “Steve Bloor” didn’t “have” me comment in support of him. I’ve never met him. What I wrote and how I feel is my own personal statement and regards. I was raised LDS, baptized at age 8, had doubts at 18, and went completely inactive at 22. Call that member, call it former member, call it inactive, call it jack-Mormon, call it whatever you please, but you DO NOT GET TO CALL ME A LIAR. If you don’t believe me and/or any other commenters as to who we say we, that is your own personal problem. Not a reason to spread doubt like wildfire and make hurtful claims, assumptions, and accusations.

      • M

        Here I had dismissed Steve’s comment because he referred to “Repentant” as “that woman” which really gets my feminist goat, and you called my attention back to it. Not to flame out on you, but your comment brought me back to something that really frustrates me about many “good” members. While you may have a point about him not being genuine about who he claims to be (there are enough scare quotes and anti-mormon jargon to support your claim, and this is the Internet, after all), I find it ironic that you’re cautioning a group of readers who follow an unorthodox Mormon, many of whom who have crossed over into the anti-mormon camp themselves, to dismiss a dissenting voice. Not only does the tired old “be ye not deceived” rhetoric insult the intelligence of anyone with the courage to question, doubt and probe the depths of their faith, it promotes a dogmatic religious monoculture.
        Furthermore, regardless of whether Steve is genuine, many of his points are valid and observable. And I think the subsequent comments are more reflective of that fact than they are of some conspiracy where he’s had a cadre of minions promote him.

      • Juliet & M,
        I am not trying to be judgmental or to hurt anyone’s feelings. I certainly wouldn’t classify myself as a “good” member of the Church. That’s some one else’s decision. I do my best and would label myself also as an imperfect source.

        Regarding Steve Bloor, I don’t know if he is legitimate or not. As I mentioned in my previous post, I see subtleties that I’ve seen in a number of anti-Mormon writing and websites. I certainly would not label everyone who posted with comments as his ringers. I apologize if it came across that way. I do not question your sincerity nor did I mean to label all posts that responded to him.

        There are many who come to this blog searching and desiring honest answers to difficult questions. As Joanna and others of us give answers as best we can, I feel there ought to be an awareness of those who may tend to represent certain positions in the Church, but never have held them or may not be members of the Church. I do NOT know if Steve Bloor is one of these, but we ought to be aware that it is a possibility and reason carefully.

        I am all for the exchange of ideas, the courage to ask difficult questions, doubt and probe the depths of one’s faith. I doubt that many in the Church have done that more than I. I am the only member of the Church in my family, a well educated family that has confronted many issues regarding the Church. This process has challenged my faith and caused me to seek countless answers. Although my faith is intact, I enjoy blogs like this one that help stimulate my thinking and realize that many in the Church and who have left the Church have honest questions and crises of faith that are heart wrenching in their own lives and to those of us who read.

        While I like to examine things from all angles, I do not think it is intellectually or spiritually dishonest or narrow to recognize the POSSIBILITY that some who may comment here who are neither sincere or honest. I wish both of you well

      • Hi Lew,

        I’m real & have real human feelings too.

        It hurts when people accuse me of being an imposter, especially as I’m striving for authenticity.

        It is difficult, if not impossible to understand my viewpoint now as a believing member. I couldn’t as a faithfully serving Bishop.

        But I found, surprisingly, that life is far more wonderful, beautiful & joyful outside of the psychologically crippling belief system of Mormonism.

        I encourage all people everywhere to investigate the possibilities of life without the constraints of superstition & fear.

        http://stevebloor.wordpress.com

        Wishing you all the best,
        Steve

    • SRP

      Someone finally said it! Thanks, Steve.

    • Larry

      Despite your service in the church you seem to have a skewed view of the role of leaders. I disagree with much of what you wrote though there are some valid points as well.

  11. Dear,

    Welcome back. We all are very happy that you’re back. Every soul counts and you have a special soul. Somebody who has the courage of returning… Remember the story about the lost son? i know for sure that our Heavenly Father had a great moment at the split second you decided to come back to church.

    Your bishop is right: you have to get clean, but you have to do it before our Heavenly Father. And to me it seems as you have done this, i certainly hope so.

    I’ve been a convert: living 37 years in the “outside” world… If I really need to think to every sin… Pfew, my life would be too short. I can testify that I have prayed to God and said to him how I feel. I don’t even felt really sorry about all things I’ve did: they were not wrong to me at the moment I did them. I do now regret them, but as a total package: regretting that I didn’t get to know the truth earlier. Before being baptised, I told this in prayer to our Heavenly Father and I felt the confirmation that He knows and He has forgiven me.

    I guess it’s the same for you: your actions prove how you repent. I would tell that to your bishop and ask him of he really needs to know more. he too will feel the love of our Heavenly Father.

    Once again: you’re so brave and I admire you and I am happy that you’re back.

  12. glenreemore

    Yes, there are bishops and there are bishops. Some are very ‘letter of the law’ and others are more insightful, discerning, and cognisant of the fact that you are genuinely repentant of all transgressions. Was the Prodigal Son quizzed by his father when he returned to his home? The overpowering message of that parable was the love his father expressed when is son returned and the acceptance the son felt when he was unconditionally and without inquest forgiven.

    You must take control of your situation and not be dragged through the long-abandoned back-streets and alleyways of your past which your repentance, expressed by your return to the Gospel, has pronounced well and truly forsaken. If you have committed murder, yes, you must confess that event specifically. If you’ve robbed a bank likewise. If you’ve been involved in sexual transgressions then a general non-specific confession is perfectly sufficient for your bishop’s needs. As you increase in spirituality your present level of repentance will increase and produce further gentle and cleansing healing. Repentance is not about lists but rather about being genuinely sorry for all your sins and returning to your Father. You’ve done that. Welcome home!

    PS – I served as a branch president for three years.

  13. Dave Kleyh

    Confession is good for the soul and the Bible says that is so,as far as details I think the Bishop is playing games as the D&C says by this you may know if you have been forgiven you will confess and forsake your sins. Enos prayed for 3 days and was forgiven and he asked God to confirm it, I say leave the LDS and become Christian because they are too legalistic. Ask God if he has forgiven you eliiminate all these middlemen and do as Book of Mormon Prophet Enos did,forget the praise of men in this private matter.Best of luck and may the Lord’s peace be with you and comfort you.

  14. Jan Montes

    Hi. I am going to write what I think prior to reading anyone else’s post because I have extremely strong feelings and insight on this one. When I was 29 yrs old I came back to the church with a baby in my arms. Having my oldest son, going through counseling and a church called The Church of Christ led me back to my roots as a member of the LDS church. I am not ashamed of my past life even though by LDS standards it may have been a little rocky and I did have a baby out of wedlock. When I went and talked to my bishop at the time seeking repentence, etc, I actually was ready to give him a play by play of my “past life” without the church. I remember fully being cut off and by him saying to me tenderly and lovingly that I didn’t need to tell him the details. I expressed to him that I thought that it would be very difficult to ever have a relationship and not express my “wrongdoings” to my new partner. He told me clearly that it wouldn’t be necessary to repeat any of it to that person. THEN, he whipped out that scripture about .. “..though your sins be as scarlett they are now white as snow”. I have never looked back in disgust at my past actions since that moment. On the contrary, I look at those years as building blocks to who I am now. I loved those years. They were actually some of the happiest moments of my life. I really do not believe that we are required by God to convey all of our sins to a bishop or anyone else. I believe that we can seek and receive “forgiveness” with God when we are ready.

  15. You are an adult and it is your responsibility to protect yourself.

    If you abdicate your judgement to a man without any training as a counselor, you are bound to get hurt.

    Instead of obeying well meaning but unqualified advice, you need to determine what is best for yourself. When things go wrong, the bishop may not be there for you. Take care of yourself.

  16. Craig French

    Has anyone suggested counseling to accentuate other advice? Even if the counselor is not LDS, she/he can provide a sounding board that may help you to address issues of shame/guilt that get people stuck. It may help you to put the past in the past in a way that will allow you to hold your head regardless of the company.

  17. I feel specifically qualified to speak to this, based on my experience. As I approach my 65th year I’ve discovered that one of the traits I have developed is, just not giving much of a crap about a lot of things that use to bother me. I was excommunicated at the age of 27. I was re-baptised when I was 57. At that point I really didn’t care about my past sins, so I had no trouble confessing them in detail if asked. I think 20 years of analysis helped in that department. It just was part of my life experience. Wasn’t proud of it, in fact, shame was an appropriate description. But I feel we came to earth to experience sin. It’s unavoidable and part of how we gain consciousness. As I understand it sin, is sin. There is no rating system. Now make no mistake, Bishops and Priesthood holders have varying degrees of handing and judging you and I. Some can’t care less, others might drop jaw or two, and send you packing. I found that being truthful was more psychologically and spiritually interesting then dodging issues. I mean after 30 years what’s the worse that can happen?

    OK, now make no mistake, I suffered and and paid mightily for my behavior. The long dark night of the soul was really dark and really long. But owning it, and leaving it was the cure. The legalistic process’s of the church were more a nuisance, but the retelling of the story over and over again became more a routine then a crucible. I’d done the repentance. I went submissive.

    The real horror began after my re-baptism. I thought the ordeal was over. Wrong. Shortly after my re-baptism I heard there was going to be a youth Temple trip to do baptism for the dead. I was longing in the deepest part of my heart to go and just be in the Temple again. I went to the branch president and got the recommend. The following week he called me in and told me he was wrong. I could not go to the Temple, until my priesthood blessings were restored. He asked me to turn back over my recommend. I was deeply hurt. Being found worthy of baptism, I didn’t have the privileges of a 12 year old. I fought off being offended and becoming more submissive to the will of the Priesthood and waited for my year of probation to end so I could apply for the restoration of blessings. Well, lo and behold what a lesson. After spending many many years repenting and becoming clean by way of baptism, I discovered that the process was not only, not over, it was about to go into hyper drive. In order to receive a the restoration of blessings I needed the OK from the First Presidency. The process required a letter to the First Presidency, not only reiterating all offenses, now I needed to apply exact dates, names, details, and the addresses of all who were a affected or offended by my sins. I was told without the permission of those offended, I would not receive my blessings. I was also required to list all offenses not related to my excommunication. Being obedient I began the letter. Well, it struck me down in a way I cannot describe. I felt dirty and rotten to the core, all over again. Only this time it was a oppression beyond my ability to carry. I never finished the letter and never submitted it. I was told in no uncertain terms that my ex wife would never give her forgiveness, so what the hell. I now consider myself a devout inactive member. There is not much to do without the priesthood in the church for men. I pray, I read, I serve whoever I can, and work to love and be a good husband and father. If God wants me in the Priesthood, he knows where to find me.

    • jan

      Wow Stephen that is complete and utter BS in my opinion. That is just wrong! I love you.

      • Stephen, congratulations for having the courage to tell your moving story. I am sorry you were treated so badly. For “jan” to come along here in this blog now and dump on you for having told the truth must feel like the same thing all over again. This abuse is coupled with “I love you” as if to say that the jan is actually a good and loving person and therefore has the authority to deny your experience. Jan does not have that right; nor does the bishop, or the President have the right to judge you, or place others in a role of judgment of you.

      • jan

        aH OH. I think I was misunderstood or mis-spoke or something. My comments were directed differently. My comments were meant to be directed towards the experience that was experienced not the person. geez. wow.

      • Kiliman, I believe that Jan was referring to the hoop jumping, rather then to my sins. Either way my skin is thick.

      • Lesley

        Kilimanjournal, I think Jan was showing support for Stephen and saying the way he way treated by the church was BS, not that his story was BS.

      • That was a complete and utter misinterpretation, Jan. (I mean how I read your comment.)

  18. Chris

    How very sad for this young lady to be put through this by a supposed “man of god”. The past is just that, the past, and as has been said there is little reason to go into details.

    My first instinct is to believe this bishop has some odd human need to hear details for his own salacious desires. Short of murder there is no reason to get into the details.

    I too have had a strange encounter with a new bishop who accused me of having a extramarital affair. He heard this through the gossip channels in the ward and believed them to be true. He was clearly disappointed when I didn’t “confess” my sins and hesitantly did a temple recommend interview on the spot when I requested it.

    I’d recommend that this young lady find a new ward or new church that is more understanding and forgiving.

  19. MikeInWeHo

    Heck, you could almost use your letter to AMG (with a few edits and changing “He” to “You”) and just give that to the bishop.

  20. StillConfused

    Forgiveness only comes from one person — God. Can you say “I have confessed all of my sins to God and received his grace and forgiveness.”? If so, then I wouldn’t worry about the bishop thing at all. If you need to go through the nightmare of a bishop’s confession session in order to feel better, then do it… for your own good.

  21. I won’t comment on the differing approaches of bishops. Joanna has already given “Repentant” great advice.
    Here are a few thoughts that have occurred to me since reading this earlier:

    1) Whenever someone has confessed a sin to me before, I haven’t, so far, felt it necessary to ask for all the details. In an example of a sexual sin, I ask is it continuing and/or do you intend to do it again? If no, then we don’t really need to go into any great detail. I’d much rather concentrate on what we do next (temple blessings etc..)

    2) I’ve dealt with a few cases of past alcohol and drug abuse, some of which have lingering psychological effects. In these cases, I’ve always made the point that I am not a qualified counselor, I’m just there to offer spiritual advice and uplift and for specific advice regarding their past addictions they would be better served also seeking professional help. It seems like “Repentant” has already sought this extra advice through AA.

    3) Maybe most importantly, these sins are in the past. It seems like “Repentant” has already done most, if not all, of her repenting. Sometimes the hardest part will be letting go of them but by keeping worthy, great blessings will lay in store for her. Usually, the person who is wronged the most as a result of our sin is ourselves, so when you learn to forgive yourself, great comfort comes from it.

    Generally when someone comes to me having righted past wrongs, looking to the future, the battle is pretty much won. So, why bother talking about the specifics of the past, let us look towards what we need to do to make ourselves a better future.
    In Luke we read: “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7)
    So, my message to “Repentant”: Well done. I’m proud of you. I can guarantee your Heavenly Father is as well.

  22. VirginiaDC

    I agree that every bishop might be slightly different in approach, but in general a bishop is trying to understand that full extent of the situation. A person can talk of having done horrible things, that upon disclosure are not as severe as the person confessing may have thought or just the opposite where the person downplays the severity of the past actions that are only known upon disclosure. I may be wrong, but I do not think that the bishop (or any bishop) wants a detailed day by day accounting of all past acts. He just wants to assess where he may need to provide assistance. If the woman can provide some high level information (such as that suggested by AMG) and being open to answer some questions, it will most likely be enough. I understand that there is a reaction here to not make this woman (or anyone) disclose these things to a bishop. However, I think this may be needed. If a person goes to bishop and confesses having broken the law of chastity many times over many years, a bishop may want more information. For example I think a bishop should know if these were acts between consenting adults, or were there other issues involved in the sexual behavior. Understanding some level of detail is necessary in order for a bishop to provide the proper counsel.

  23. Eva

    I’m not a bishop, but I do know that for a bishop to be led of God he needs humility and love in his heart for the people under his stewardship. A bishop can rely on the Spirit alone if he is humble enough to do so, just as we can rely on the Spirit to guide us in our choices and to tell us when what we do pleases God. I echo what some others have said to pray and seek inspiration as to what you should share with your bishop.

    No one is perfect, but we can all be perfect together in Christ, our perfect Exemplar. Love is the answer to many things, including imperfections. Judging each other is not, including judging bishops. The Lord can work through imperfect bishops just as He works through imperfect Saints, and He teaches us all to love each other and forgive each other.

  24. patatomic

    I am about to begin my 4th year of serving as a bishop and I’d like to commend and congratulate the writer on getting her life back. Sadly I have seen addiction of many forms damage many lives and relationships. I am so happy to hear that you got a handle on it before it became a larger and more dominant part of your life. In my life experience, not many people are able to wrangle it like you have. I pray that your sobriety continues.

    The only suggestion/reminder that I have to add is that repentance is a process. Yes, your past has brought you to where you are today and is a part of who you are, which is a good thing if you learn from it (isn’t that free agency?). Guilt is often a misunderstood emotion/feeling. While you may not feel guilty, know that life is long and often times events and emotions can come to the surface at unlikely times.

    Not knowing you and not knowing your bishop and not being in the room when you met I don’t really have much to go on except that I wouldn’t get discouraged after just one meeting. Repentance/change is a process and not a one time event. Just as the bishop uses the spirit, you need to use the spirit as well. In my experience, all things will come to your memory that need to be addressed and confronted. In the future, if you have something that weighs you down then flush that out as well. Time is on your side and you don’t have to hurry through the process.

    As someone who has worked through the repentance process on both sides the best advice that I can share is to give it time and trust in the process. What your bishop has asked you to do is for you, and not for him (I am amazed at what I have forgotten about details/events/etc…any accusation that this is a solicitous experience for a Bishop is greatly misguided and completely false in my experience). If you do have plans to go to the temple then the last thing you want to do is to take that sin with you into the temple, and into your life (i.e. relationships with your mate and children). Take advantage of this time and momentum to get it all out. I have a family member who has gone through a similar experience recently and he did get it all out. It’s amazing to see the transformation taken place in him.

  25. Tricia

    Confess to God. Ask for forgiveness. Receive it. Ask God if you need to talk to anyone else about this. I don’t have good feelings about a bishop who left you feeling worse than you have in a while. That’s not a good sign. You’ve been traumatized by your life events of the past few years. Don’t allow yourself to be re-traumatized. I can’t imagine that God would want that for you.

  26. Repentant–There are hundreds of religions and many branches and sub branches of each….and millions of individual opinions about matters such as the way heaven “must” be or what people “should” confess to their bishop.You can seek others’ input, but how should you decide which one to follow when nobody has proof of ANY “spiritual” belief?

    Ultimately, people make up their own version of religion, based on what makes them comfortable. Of course, many people aren’t comfortable until they have given themselves some discomfort, but the solution to your situation is entirely up to you. In the end, the person painting the picture of God and writing his rules is you, so why not custom-fit your faith to your own desires?

  27. Aged Observer

    When I first saw this post this morning, my mind went back to the hundreds of conversations that I had with repentant individuals while serving as a bishop in a singles ward for many years.

    First thought: I’m thrilled for you, Repentant, and I’m grateful that the Atonement is working in your life. Stay focused on the Savior, always, and what you feel in your heart. That’s the best guide, as the rest of us imperfect souls that attempt to give guidance will always fall short, in some way. I agree with everything that @ldsbishop said.

    Repentance is as individual as is Christ’s atonement for each of us. The process that we go through in seeking forgiveness is likewise individual. The purpose of repentance is to approach the Savior in humility and reverence, and to meekly ask that He redeem us from our sins and help us change our heart. We all need that. In the LDS church, the bishop/branch president’s role is to support any who need assistance in approaching Jesus. The bishop does not grant Christ’s forgiveness, that is an individual communication from the Lord. While your impression is that your bishop wants you to confess everything, you need to feel comfortable in what you tell the bishop, and there are many components to developing that comfort. You will know if, when, and how much to discuss as spend time with your bishop.

    Sometimes we think that the confession part of repentance is all that there is to the process. I think that’s an oversimplification, simply due to the fact that it takes time to change our heart. The most senior church leaders recognize this, in fact, instructions to the bishops and stake presidents clearly state that, at times, the confession of an individual’s sins is the completing part of the repentance process for a sin or set of sins, rather than the beginning of the process. Since you have been working on changing for so long, my thought would be in line with those instructions, i.e.; it’s over, it’s done, you are complete. The Lord’s words in the D&C are very clear – “By this ye may know if a man (woman) repenteth of his (her) sins, behold, he (she) will confess them and forsake them.” This defines repentance, but does not specify the order in which those two things need to occur.

    Nor does this scripture specify exactly who the confession needs to take place with. If you are uncomfortable sharing with your bishop, the Lord is always willing to listen. God is always willing to express His perfect love and gratitude that we want to come to Him for assistance in changing our hearts.

    The events of one’s life, one’s personality, or many other contributing factors may make it very difficult or unwise for an individual to confess everything in excruciating detail to another human. I’ve had numerous conversations with repentant individuals where I’ve said, “I don’t need to hear any more,” (and really didn’t want to) and yet the individual deeply felt the need to completely unburden themselves of every occurrence, and so the conversation continued. Other times, I’ve felt impressed to say, “Do you have more that you think I should hear?” which led to more conversation. I’ve also had countless conversations where we’ve talked in general terms without getting into specifics, simply because it wasn’t called for – and the mere fact that we were meeting was clear indication that great humility had brought us together. Like others have expressed, each conversation, each process, each individual is different. Listen to what God tells you in your heart, weigh carefully your bishop’s (perhaps imperfect) counsel and stay on your path toward the Savior. I was once a part of a very brief conversation that went like this: “Bishop, you know, I haven’t confessed every detail of every sin in my life.” The bishop’s reply was, “The Spirit tells me that you need to move on in your life, it’s time to put those things in the past.”

    My prayers are with you, Repentant. Keep your eyes and your heart focused on Christ. You’re on the right path, please don’t let anyone dissuade you from following Him. The ultimate promise is “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I the Lord, remember them no more.” Don’t let the process (or any of us commenting here) overwhelm you or knock you off that path because Christ is thrilled that you’re coming to Him.

    • mslonelyhearts

      @aged observer… very insightful comment. thank you from someone who wasn’t even necessarily looking for an answer to this but learned a great deal from all these posts, but especially yours.

  28. D. Michael Martindale

    Well, I may not be your bishop, but I am going to answer. The answer is, no, you don’t have to.

    There is no church donctrine or policy that you have to confess every sin to your bishop. Only egregious ones. Your bishop has a warped concept of what it means to be a bishop, and he is overstepping his authority. Unless you;lve murdered or committed adultery or a felony or somethign serious liek that, it’s none of his business. Certainly drinking too much doesn’t fall into any of those categories.

  29. Repentant

    WOW! The responses I have read have been amazing! I want to thank each and every one of you for expressing your honest opinions and I really value them all. I have only met with this bishop one time, and though he does know my family, he doesn’t know me personally. In his defense, Im sure I was rambling and trying to get my life story out in a 20 min interview and it was overwhelming for him, as it was for me. I just really thought that having left the church 100% with no desire of ever returning, made me more similar to someone who had never been a member, rather than someone who was a member all their life and needed to repent for every single sin. I thought the repentance process would be different, and when he alluded to me being responsible to be fully repentant of all sins from my last confession to now is when I freaked out! I pictured the Bishops Court that I had had to do years ago and how degrading of an experience that had been. I feel like I have already been punished by making the decisions I did, not being able to take the sacrament for years, and not having the Spirit with me at all. I was a lost soul wandering through the world, avoiding God and religion at all costs. I used alcohol to block the promptings of the Spirit and allowed Satan to really convince me I was nothing special and was just existing and blending in with society.

    I felt like I was finally moving forward, beginning to realize my worth as a Daughter of God, and the light bulb had finally gone off in my head; that needing God was not a sign of weakness, but of strength and would enrich my life eternally if I would surrender my stubborn will to Him. I have a huge testimony in the Gospel and accept the fallacies of men that come into the church. He is a loving and wonderful bishop, and I will be open and honest with him and write down my feelings so that it is more coherant and I know that I say all that I need to. I will also pray and turn to the Lord directly for guidance on this matter.

    For those who commented on Bishops not being trained as therapists, that is where the amazing Church Services come into play. I have taken advantage of the counseling services in the past, and that is where the help beyond spiritual answers is given.

    “Repentant”

    • mslonelyhearts

      wow repentant! You are going to make a great leader! So articulate!! Come to my ward! :)

    • ScottC

      Good for you! I’m glad that you figured out your bishop is a great guy. 99.9% of them are.

      Repentance isn’t an easy process and rightfully so. If Christ shed drops of blood for our sins it’s only reasonable that we suffer to whatever degree we suffer in our repentance process.

      The Spirit is your guide and will direct you into knowing things that you need to detail to your appropriate priesthood leader. One of the temple recommend questions asks you if there is anything amiss in your life or that you haven’t taken care of prior to the current interview you are in. I asked my stake president how one really knows the answer to this question. He simply said that the Holy Ghost will let you know if you need to bring anything up and to follow that prompting. What wisdom!

      The Lord knows when we are clean in our repentance process and have confessed the sins we need to confess. The Holy Ghost is our guide in this process. (D&C 121:45-46)

      Enjoy the feelings and promptings of the Holy Ghost today and always!! Being clean is a great feeling and one that no one can take away from you.

    • ScottC

      Repentant,

      If you are still out there, I’m curious as to what caused you to write to this blog about your meeting with your bishop. How did you find out about this site?

      Just curious…..

      • Repentant

        That is a good question. I had actually recently read Joanna’s book “The Book of Mormon Girl” and reached out to her via email, not thinking I would ever even get a response. Writing for me is the best way to express myself, so I found in my email to her I was able to really express the concerns I was having that I was struggling to express to anyone verbally. I never expected the response that was given and wasnt even familiar with her blog before having reached out to her. Since this post I have begun the process of preparing for the temple, have becoming much more involved in my ward and have a pretty important calling. I am so thankful for Joanna’s words of encouragement and helping me focus on the Gospel itself and not get derailed by the issue I was having. The repentance process is a beautiful thing and a HUGE aspect of the Gospel and I am blessed that Jesus Christ atoned for all of my sins so that I could repent when I made mistakes and be made clean again.

        -Repentant

  30. Repentant.

    I’m going to tell you exactly what I would say to my own child, so imagine my arm around you or imagine me being firmly encouraging (whichever you prefer :)

    Repentance is not supposed to be painful, it’s supposed to be healing. The painful part is realizing you need to repent. You’ve already been there, done that.

    You should tell your bishop that you have committed errors in judgment and walked the path of the prodigal but that like that younger son you have also “come to your senses” and recognized that grace and goodness are to be found in your Father’s house.

    Tell him that revisiting every detail of your sins would be a gratuitous look back at Sodom and that you feel, given scriptural accounts, that such would be both unhealthy and unwise. List for him which specific commandments you broke but completely devoid of detail. If he asks for details, tell him that as you are no longer the person who committed those sins – being born anew by the cleansing power of the atonement – that your memories are hazy.

    Provided it is true, tell him that you are confident of your standing with God and that you have made amends where such was necessary. That you have come into his office to formalize, for the sake of the church, what both you and your Father have already realized – that you are his beloved daughter and that in His house is where you belong.

    Peace in the journey!
    Cate

    • Cate–where do you get the idea that Repentant’s memories are hazy BECAUSE she was born anew? Is atonement known for an Alzheimer’s effect? In any case, the problem isn’t just what she doesn’t remember; it is clearly much more about what she DOES (and/or could) remember, but doesn’t want to get into. It seems that you are suggesting that if the bishop insists on details, she should lie by slanting the story in the “I forget” direction. Well, there is at least one bishop who might appreciate those spin tactics. He’s now a politician who has become pretty famous lately for shifting directions and always telling people what he thinks they want to hear. I hope he is not establishing some norm of acceptable dishonesty and influencing your suggestion here.

      • Actually, an explicit part of the atonement is choosing not to remember. (D&C 58, Jeremiah 31) The Lord actively chooses not to remember our sins when we repent. Likewise, you can’t let go of the person you once were if you continue to replay the sordid details over in your mind.

        It’s clear you want to make this about politics but acknowledging the specific sins she committed (confessing) without sorting through the sordid details (gratuitously revisiting the behavior) is not spinning and it’s not dishonest.

  31. I think Joanna’s advice about asking specifically what the Bishop wants is fantastic.

    I am a member of Al-Anon, and so while it’s not AA, I am going through the 12-step process and have some thoughts about “the spiritual high (Repentant has) been riding” that was “cut off.” I don’t have much experience confessing to a Bishop, but I can lend some perspective from the other side

    Anonymity and the AA model provide for an incredible spiritual journey. We have much more flexibility in creating a Higher Power of our own understanding than we do at church, and when people get vulnerable and real in a meeting, the connection to God that we experience can be amazing.

    There is no anonymity–no leveling of the playing field at church. While I’d love it if we got as real and vulnerable in a Fast and Testimony meeting like we do in my Al-Anon meeting, the reality is I know so many more of the superficial details about a person that almost make it impossible any one to get really real (what kind of house they live in, what their kids are like, what job they have). I do not know if my Bishop, in fact, has dealt with the same pain that I have experienced with alcoholism like I know about those who sit in a meeting with me, so there’s not the same level of “I’ve been there” feeling. Additionally, in AA/Al-Anon, there is but one ultimate authority, while in church, even though we have a lay minister in whom we trust to serve us, there is a large measure of administration that the Bishop assumes. The Mormon church is incredibly organized and often it is us who are responsible to our leaders (I don’t mean this as a criticism–I mean this like, sometimes we are asked to do things by our RS President, like do our visiting teaching, and we are responsible to report back to those in leadership positions about what we did).

    My thought, then, from the 12-step perspective, is to consider applying the 12 steps to this situation. If, in fact, after clarifying with the Bishop the extent to which he wants you to confess, you find that he really does want you to go backwards, you might consider some of these as possibilities a) talking to your sponsor; b) figuring out what you have control over, what you don’t; c) recognizing that you can be open with your Bishop about what you’re feeling–telling him what you’ve told us and talking to him from a place of inner strength (rather than a 3rd grader in the principal’s office like I always feel I’m doing with those in authority over me–see 20-question “Did you grow up with a problem drinker” pamphlet from Al-Anon (wink); d) trusting in God to help you navigate your experience with the Bishop; e) talk with your Bishop about the repentance work you have done/are doing with 4th-11th steps; f) pray for knowledge of God’s will and for the power to carry it out.

    I usually feel way more spiritual in my meetings than I do at church, so I can totally relate to the letdown of meeting with a Bishop and feeling like crap. I find it helpful to remember that church is only one way that I express my spirituality–it’s an organized structure that allows me to be reminded of His will, and gives me the opportunity to serve and receive saving ordinances. I would guess that if you keep working your program, you will have the serenity that you need to make it back to the temple, should that be your desire.

  32. Annonymous

    I think Joanna’s advice about specifically asking what the Bishop is looking for is fantastic.

    I don’t have experience confessing to a Bishop, but I am a member of Al-Anon and would like to offer some thoughts from that perspective.

    First, Al-Anon and AA are incredibly spiritual programs. Anonymity levels the playing ground–not so at church. Not only is there no certainty that the same thing that brought you to this (12 step) meeting is the same thing that brings me to this meeting (so I know you know my pain), we often know too many details about those with whom we attend church for us to get really real. I love my Al-Anon meetings way more than I love Fast and Testimony meetings, I feel so much more connected to my home group than I do to my home ward. I totally relate to feeling like absolute crap after leaving church, compared to how I feel when I work my program.

    It’s helpful for me to remember that church is only one way to express my spirituality–that I go in order to receive saving ordinances and to have opportunities to serve others. Also, because it’s helpful to be reminded of His will.

    There are other ways that the church differs, too. In 12-step we have much more flexibility in how we define our Higher Power, allowing for us to have a personal relationship that, even though it mirrors many aspects of Mormonism, is not dependent on the various personality differences that intrude upon doctrine (differences in what two different Bishops might ask of you to get to the temple, for instance). While we have a lay minister in whom we trust, a Bishop very much governs the ward. The Mormon church is incredibly organized and we are often responsible TO those who so govern. (This is only an observation, such as when a RS President asks us to visit teach, then we are responsible to her for fulfilling this obligation). So I think it’s totally understandable that for someone who is in recovery to feel like having to come clean for every single sin would be a step backwards–it’s a much more authoritarian way of experiencing forgiveness than in AA.

    Nevertheless, from the AA/Al-Anon viewpoint, I find it’s helpful to apply 12-steps to any of my challenges. Maybe some of these might help: a) figuring out what you have control over, and what you don’t with respect to talking to the Bishop; b) Relying on God to help you navigate the process with the Bishop–letting go and letting God; c) Talking to your Bishop about the work you have done/are doing through steps 4-10. d) Remembering that you can talk to the Bishop (your letter was fantastic!) from a position of inner strength (maybe even talk about your feelings as you wrote them to Joanna) (and, for what it’s worth, usually when I’m dealing with authority it’s especially tough, I feel like I’ve been called into the principals’ office–see Al-Anon’s 20-question “Did You Grow Up With a Problem Drinker” pamphlet–that’s totally me!); e) Pray for knowledge as to what you should do and for the strength to carry it out; f) talk to your sponsor.

    I have every reason to believe that as you continue to work your program (congrats on the sobriety, by the way!), you can find serenity with respect to your Bishop, and you can get to the temple as you see fit.

  33. Anonymous

    First I just want to say, I empathize with you. Reviewing the past is never easy. We want to to leave them behind and never look back. And at a point we should.
    I’m currently working through LDS Family’s 12 Step program which, as you know, is based on AA’s 12 steps. I’m on step 4 (the personal inventory). I began coming to group meetings to support a loved one, but I have found I have my own addictions and issues the program has helped me work on. There are aspects of my past I really don’t want to relive. However, I also know that it is only by acknowledging my past — both good and bad — that I can finally move forward.
    There are some things that you will probably need to confess to the bishop, but I, personally, don’t think think he needs to know every detail. I agree with Joanna in that it might be enough to say I’ve broken such and such commandments but have now been sober for x amount of time.
    While terrifying, this step allows us to to fully put these events behind us. The Lord remembers it no more, and neither should we.
    I love this quote from the LDS Addiction recovery guide about destroying the negative parts of our inventories, “The destruction of these writings can be a symbol of your repentance and a powerful way to let go. The Lord promised Jeremiah concerning His people, “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” ( Jeremiah 31:34). We should follow the Lord’s example in forgiving our own sins and the sins of others.”
    Finally, I just want to commend your courage to change. I’ve watched as dear friends and loved ones have pulled themselves out of addiction. It takes courage and humility and is an inspiration to all of those around you. Keep up the good work!

    • Karen

      Thanks, Anonymous for bringing up the LDS Family Services Addiction Recover Program (ARP). I immediately thought of this program when I read your original post-Repentent. I think answers for your question and many more that are bound to come in your journey of sobriety in the LDS church can be found in this program.
      I began my journey through recovery from alcohol and drug addiction 6 years ago with the help of this amazing program. I have served as a facilitator off and on for the last 3 years, and most recently in a county jail facility. It is a spiritual experience every time I attend a meeting.
      This program is based on LDS principles combined with the 12 steps of AA. I love the meetings and I love being edified by others who share my faith and my struggles. It is a place that has helped me realize that life in the LDS church is not black and white. It is a continuum of all colors, and every individual is finding their own way to the light of Christ. Some of the strongest testimonies and most inspirational people I have encountered in the LDS religion are locked up in jail, or struggling with addictions, ironically not the people sitting next to me on the pew each week in Sacrament meeting.
      I recommend ARP to anyone, even those not struggling with addictions, but especially to people with LDS perspectives and addiction struggles. Also, the ARP program is always in need of strong recovering addicts/alcoholics to strengthen those who are not as far along in their recovery. Repentant, you can be a blessing and inspiration in the lives of others struggling with trials and addictions.
      Here is a link to the website about the program. I recommend not judging the program by the website alone, but try and attend a real meeting and see what you feel.

      http://arp.lds.org/?lang=eng

  34. mark england

    this is the easiest question to answer. Find a new bishop. Go to a different ward. As far as I am concerned, the statute of limitations is six months

  35. M

    Dear Repentant,

    I couldn’t help but notice you said this: ” I feel like he is wanting me to go backwards and delve into a past I have left in the past and have tried to move on from.” If I said “tried to” my paid professional would be all over it like a massage therapist on a knot. Painful. Perhaps you’re being more honest with yourself than you realize.

    Or maybe you need a little more time to trust your bishop. Sometimes they’re called to grow, too. Trust your judgment.

  36. Sam

    Disclaimer, I am a believing Methodist (former Mormon), so I want to put that out up front, so don’t take this as formal LDS doctrine, but rather from another Christian perspective.

    The only person you need to confess your sins to is God. 1 John (the whole book of 1 John) has a great sermon about this. Romans 6 is also a great chapter to read. God is the one who provides forgiveness. Now, I’m not saying clergy has no role at all, but I’m saying it’s an optional role, not a mandatory role, for if you are more comfortable going that route.

    All of us need forgiveness, for all of us are sinners. So, who are we to decide who is and is not worthy of God’s atoning sacrifice for all of us? I’m not worthy of it, nobody is…that’s the entire point. That’s the reason for Communion (Sacrament). That’s why Christ suffered for our sins, was wounded for our transgressions, bled for us, and died for us. Yet, the story doesn’t end there — He overcame and rose again. The point isn’t to feel unworthy…none of us are. The point is to feel God’s amazing grace, which inspires us to live a more Christian life. Just like a child isn’t loved or treated as holier-than-thou because of their works, so too God doesn’t base his love for us on our works…but God feels joy when we live a more Christian life.

    Most of all, I hope you find peace and joy in Jesus. God bless you!

  37. Bryan

    He clothes the lilies of the field,
    He feeds the lambs in His fold,
    And He will heal those who trust Him,
    And make their hearts as gold.

  38. skeptikel

    I had a bishop begin our appointment by saying, “I have a feeling you are going to tell me something I have never heard.” So instantly I was racking my brain trying to remember the worst most possible thing I had ever done that no one else no one else could possibly ever do. It was mental and emotional abuse. His follow up questions were, “and what was the frequency?” Seriously, did he really need to know that detail. I regretted so badly telling him anything. I never felt “forgiven”. Just shame and guilt every time I made eye contact with him at church. And, I know for certain he did not keep confidences after our meeting because of the things the Relief Society president would say to me during our visiting teaching visits.

  39. I’m not sure my comments have much value or weight, but they come from my experience and to me, it’s been very real.

    Growing up I did go to my bishop and confess my sins on more than one occasion. I felt shame, I felt like I had let myself and God down. However, when I confessed, I felt proud that I had done what Heavenly Father has asked me to do (because I do believe serious sins require a Priesthood holder) and this released me from my guilt. Maybe my bishop didn’t need to know, maybe I just needed to prove to my Heavenly Father that I could do it. I had a wonderful bishop tell me that sometimes it isn’t about the fact that you ‘must confess’ it’s about sharing a burden with someone who can help you carry the load. We all make mistakes. People are not perfect, and last I checked, bishops are people too.

    There have also been times where I have felt conformation from Heavenly Father that I have been forgiven. At that point, I felt it unnecessary to go to my bishop.

    I also compare the times where I did feel I needed to go like being held down by an enormous weight and going and confessing feels like a thousand people jumping up and down on the already heavy load. However, when I felt clean again, it was a thousand times more wonderful than that horrible embarrassment of confession. Nothing can compare.

    Something that also helped me is when I would ask my bishop to please ask me yes or no questions, and I could respond, rather than delving into details that were uncomfortable and embarrassing.

    I’m glad you came back. Not because we have one more member on the list, but because I know the reason you did is because you feel peace and I’m so happy that you can feel that in your life. Truly, I’m so happy for you to feel that love.

    Just remember that sometimes all we need to do it be willing, use our judgment, pray sincerely, and do the best we can. We cannot do more, and that’s ok.

  40. Dear Repentant, welcome back, you are a brave soul! many members can forget that repentance isn’t a back up plan for those who messed up. It IS the plan! And for Everybody. I highly recommend http://www.amazon.com/Forgiving-Ourselves-Wendy-Ulrich/dp/1590388577 I feel it needs to be required reading for every Bishop, every member. I also recommend that you examine if your actions were sins, or consequences of abuse. It can be easily mixed up. Alcoholism and promiscuity are often masks, “painkillers” and ineffective coping/survival techniques, rather than sins of direct rebellion against a loving heavenly Fathe that gives us commandments and the Gospel as a resource for when mortality lets us down. Be kind to yourself. Trust yourself. Ask to speak to an LDS therapist or couselor. I read between the lines some pretty intense pain, and untapped tremendous strength and spirituality. If you had a rebellious spirit, you wouldn’t have come back. But you did. God spoke to you. You know it, He knows it. Share your Aa journey and steps with the Bishop. If he is unteachable, move on. Confessing our sins is supposed to be for your benefit, our peace. Your feelings after your meeting are signaling you that something is not right. Pray to find out what it is and how to proceed. May God bless and comfort you on your journey.

  41. Repentant, you are a brave and wise soul! I recommend you read this book. I recommend all members read it. I read between the lines there are deeper issues at hand. Alcohlism, promiscuity, among other “sins” are in reality symptoms of abuse or dysfunctional childhood. They are masks for deeper problems. Only you know How rebellious you were or weren’t. The very fact that you came back is proof of your humility and dedication. So you got tired and gave up for a while, now you are back in the ring. Good for you!! Find an LDS therapist specializing in women’s issues and trauma. I would almost bet you have been traumatized at some point in your life. Have your therapist help you navigate with the Bishop. He only needs to know the nature of your sins, not who when where why how. If the bishop is unteachable, find another. Trust yourself. God spoke to you, carried you. You know it. God knows it. No one should feel like crap after confessing! thats a signal that something is not right. Repentance isn’t about fear shame, it’s about love and acceptance,

  42. calmerthanyouare

    Thank you for your honesty. I grew up in Washington, and moved to Utah in 2000 for the wife, she was raised in Bountiful. The difference of experience in the world was vast. But I have a strong testimony and so does she, we had our waywardness and now we’re trying to get back, thanks for being so open, resourceful and honest. ;)

  43. Schmancy

    This is a really cool site. Anyway, in regards to Repentant. Good for you girl! I’m so happy for you, being a recovering alcoholic myself, I know the struggles you have had and are going through. There is so much good advice on here. However, I really want to share with you an amazing story of healing from spiritual sins. A dear friend of mine who is one of the most spiritual people I know had committed a serious sexual sin and then found a good man that she wanted to marry. She told him about her past and they decided to go to the bishop. He was ready to pass her through with her recommend after she told him the story. However, the Stake President didn’t feel she went through the proper amount of Godly sorrow. She was devastated and confused. She then said, “No, this can’t be. I’ve prayed, I’m clean. I know I’m clean. YOU need to pray about this, not me. God has forgiven me. I will not ask Him to forgive me again for something I know he forgave me for.” The Stake President was a little put off by this, but humbled himself to go and pray. 30 minutes later with tears still in his eyes, he told her she was absolutely correct. That she was forgiven. That he couldn’t stand in her way of getting married in the temple. I know this is a very rare story, but the thing is, the feeling you have is forgiveness and that peace is the Spirit. Keep nourishing your relationship with your Father in Heaven. If your progress continues to be “frustrated” by your bishop let God deal with it and you keep your chin up and know how much we all wish you success!

  44. If we were really required to confess every sin we commit, we would probably need several more bishops per ward.

    I recall a time as I was preparing to go on a mission, when I interviewed with a member of the stake presidency as part of the paperwork process. I was nothing close to a perfect kid and was always a little nervous in these interviews. He asked me if I had done anything in the past that I had needed to repent of with the help of the bishop. I told him about the one thing I had truly felt that I needed to talk to the bishop about (and had gone through the repentance process with my bishop). I was shocked at what he told me — that I would never have to discuss that transgression with a church leader again. And, despite my stumbles, I never have had to bring it up, even when I thought I would. As a missionary, I made a mistake I felt needed to be brought up with my mission president and I was told to put it in the past and move on.

    Revisiting a painful experience in my past was nothing less than horribly unpleasant, especially given the stage of life I was in, but it’s gone. I’m convinced that the confession process is one of the things that really lets our mistakes be gone after repentance. You already know the discomfort of it. The point — explain your feelings, discuss the mistakes you’ve made that you feel the need to discuss, and move forward with faith in the power of forgiveness for things big and small.

  45. Lew-Your suggestion sounds so good I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself. I’ll go online, posing as a reflective former LDS bishop, and suggest that “authority carries a great deal of responsibility, which can be abused,” like Steve Bloor. This is the perfect way to advance my amoral, atheist goals and bring down the LDS church! I’ll try to remember not to let “others post in support” of what I say because that technique “follows too familiar a pattern.” (Thanks for that tip!)

    Gosh, I sure hope nobody thinks I’m just posing now, and that I’m actually an LDS stake president trying to make anti-Mormons look bad.

  46. ScottC

    Having read all the posts on this thread it’s sad to see so many LDS folks give bad answers with their uninformed suggestions.

    1. You don’t even know if the letter is real and if it is real you have no idea if all the facts are being given.

    2. Unless you were actually in the room with the letter writer and the bishop then your advice is not really helpful because you don’t know the facts.

    3. Unless you’ve been a bishop or stake president you really haven’t walked in the shoes of a judge in Israel.

    4. All non-LDS responses are really meaningless because this is an LDS-issue question.

    5. Steve is troll on all these sites and posts pretty much the same thing. He’s been exposed as an impostor on other sites.

    6. The owner of this blog is not an authority on things LDS an often times injects her own bias and prejudices into answers. If I understand correctly she’s been in and out of the church due to her own issues with eternal doctrines not being in line with her philosophies of women beliefs.

    7. These types of sites do more harm than good since there is so much misinformation passed along as gospel truth.

    8. Unless you have a very firm testimony, stay away from sites like these, especially the LDS feminist sites as they are leading people away from the church with their own philosophies that contradict eternal doctrines.

    Since this is a moderated site, I’m sure this post will never see the light of day.

    • Scott,
      You make some good points. Some of your assertions are judgmental, but probably not as judgmental as some of the replies you’ll have here!

      I feel that it is good for some to have a different outlet for their questions, just like talking to a friend. Answers, good or not so good, mine included, should be viewed as general advice, but not take the place of one’s relationship with their bishop. Having been a bishop, I used to tell members if they disagreed with me, they had an appeal avenue to the stake president. I did not harbor a grudge if someone did that. It happened once or twice during my time of service as a bishop. It was a member’s right. Had the stake president told me I was mistaken in my judgment, I’d have apologized to the member and said with added light, let’s start again.

      I just hope all members with issues will talk to their bishops. If they do not feel right, they should make the problem a matter of prayer. If they still don’t feel right, they can go to the stake president. Unfortunately, some will try to justify their sins by conflict with their leaders. Others will over react and have trouble forgiving themselves. Any bishop in the Church will deal with both types as well as many others. So a blog like this may stimulate some new thinking,but should not replace the bishop’s counsel. The danger here is that some of us may impose our personal agendas, worthy or unworthy though they may be, on those who may be misguided or misdirected by them. I hope all of us who post here will give serious thought to what we say and who we are addressing.

      • ScottC

        Lew,

        Thanks for the reply. My experiences have shown that many people do take the words on blogs like these as gospel doctrine and are often misguided. I’m sure there is some good that happens on blogs like these but I would say more misinformation is disseminated than real and correct assistance is given.

        Many do try to justify their sins by conflict with their leaders and find solace on blogs like these for their disagreements with their leaders. You are correct in your comments about how someone can go to their stake president if they choose to. My wife and I actually did speak with our stake president instead of going to our bishop over a few things we were dealing with, having never talked to our bishop about them. We just felt more comfortable with our stake president and he gave great counsel and we followed up with our bishop.

        The problem with the internet is that people take what is written as truth and those who might be in a fragile state could be influenced by those who have motives that aren’t pure. People like Juliet and Steve have their personal agendas and troll sites like these to foist their agendas on others.

        If LDS folks have questions or concerns there are many avenues to seek assistance: Visiting/Home Teachers, Bishop, RS President, Stake President, other ward members etc.

        My 2 cents.

    • Scott C,

      If you are so against sites like these, and they do so much harm, why the heck are you even visiting it? Let alone taking enough time to read all the comments and compose one yourself? And apparently you visit a countless amount if you can attest that a particular poster has already been exposed as an imposter on other sites as well.

      Oh, and I wish to personally thank you for only further proving to me that for every open minded male (and female) member of the church, there are an equal number, if not more, of narrow-, small-minded chauvinistic males who get their kicks and power high off of belittling women and believing that “feminist” views have no place in the gospel. I don’t personally understand how “Mormon Girl” has the patience and fortitude to continue activity in this religion that doesn’t share many of her policital and social viewpoints, but more power to her. I am saddened for you who seemingly feels all members, particularly women, need to follow everything by the book and cannot be allowed to think for themselves. Do you realize that if every member, both male and female, was forced to live every dogma exactly and not be allowed to hold any differing opinion on any subject at all (even conservative ones!) not only would the LDS church extremely shrink as no two people’s minds are identical, but you’d be worshipping in a cult, not a church. And I know that “C” word scares devout Mormons to the core, and they fight it with every bone in their bodies. Heck, I fight it myself, because while I no longer believe myself (partly thanks to men/members like you, but I’ll save that…) I love my little sister and friends who are still members, and I understand it’s not truly a cult and will stand up for them. However, it is a cult you’re describing by not allowing members to question their faith, or instructing them to not read anything that isn’t straight from authorities/leaders, discouraging having differing views, or accusing any college educated forward thinking woman of being a feminist and leading people astray.

      The LDS church shouldn’t be afraid of feminism or blogs like this. It should be afraid of radical “crack the whip” conservatives like you. I bet my bank account folks like you have made more of “us” leave than an innocent woman, or a blog that allows members to vent, have.

    • Hi Scott,

      I’m no troll or imposter!

      I’m a real person who, until March of 2011, was a faithfully serving Bishop of Helston Ward in Plymouth, England Stake for seven years.

      My resignation as bishop in January of 2011 came as a result of my desire for honesty, integrity & ironically – authenticity!

      My story, of the painful realisation of truths about the Church, is partially written in my blog: http://stevebloor.wordpress.com

      Having swallowed the “Bitter Pill” of truth I can honestly & sincerely say that the world is a far more beautiful place than the Church would have us believe. And I am happier now than I ever dreamt was possible whilst a believing member.

      Hoping everyone finds their authentic selves!

      Love & best wishes,
      Steve

      • Steve,
        Thanks for your message to me and I did not intend to hurt your feelings. I cannot relate to you because as a convert to the Church I have found literally that the truth has set me free. I am free to question and be myself. I do not have to play any stupid role of going out drinking with the boys or womanizing to prove that I am a man. Those are the things I find confining. Observing the commandments and living that standards of the Church though inconvenient sometimes (and I’m far from perfect) liberates me with happpiness, joy and a clear conscience. I don’t know how you can do better than that. I think we get hung up with doctrines and practices at times and paint ourselves into a corner and our whole Church experience gets defined by the issues that trouble us. I’ve been there. There is so much more to the Church than our narrow frustrations. Any way, like I said, we don’t relate to each other.

        What I don’t understand is that you now have established a blog, which I have viewed, the purpose of which seems to be to encourage members to leave the Church. I can understand leaving, but not trying to take others with you. Members of the Church as a rule are happy and fulfilled with their Church experience. It seems you fulfill the statement of some of the brethren who say, “those who leave the Church cannot leave it alone.”

        I’m not trying to deliver a zinger, but just to help you think about what you are doing. I consider you my brother and only wish you well.

        Lew

  47. Cheryl McKeon

    My sympathies on the loss of your father. I read (and loved) the ARC of your book and feel I know how dear he was.

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