Blossom76

Confession Questions

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Does the LDS church require confession? How often do you have to go to your bishop for confession? I know that for some sins it is necessary to confess to a bishop what what sins are they?  Is the bishop obligated to keep any confession confidential or are there circumstances where confidentiality is not kept?

All answers are appreciated, thanks for reading

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I am not entirely sure how the Catholic's handle confession but my impression it is kind of like a Spiritual Wellness Check done on a regular basis even if there is not really anything wrong.

I can see the appeal of such a system, but it takes alot of the priest's time I would image.  In LDS circles the Bishop usually has a full time Job and a family and generally does not have the same kind of time that a Catholic Priest does.  So an LDS Bishop is more of a Spiritual Surgeon or Specialist that is call on when the services are needed.

While I am sure that a Catholic Priest can handling spiritual emergency, and an LDS Bishop can do a "Wellness Check"  the focus is different because of the difference in time they have to tend to their flock.

LDS bishop's (and other leaders) are expected to keep things confidential.  Some times they fail, this is not really acceptable but it happens. Also certain circumstances might require sharing a certain amount with other leaders.  For example if a woman is struggling the bishop will probably give the Relief Society President a task to help and support said woman. And they will need to know enough to properly give that support   

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5 hours ago, Blossom76 said:

Does the LDS church require confession? How often do you have to go to your bishop for confession? I know that for some sins it is necessary to confess to a bishop what what sins are they?  Is the bishop obligated to keep any confession confidential or are there circumstances where confidentiality is not kept?

All answers are appreciated, thanks for reading

@anatess2 is probably busy with Thanksgiving, but she could give the best comparison, having been Catholic before becoming Mormon.

That, said, it's nothing like what you see on TV involving confessionals (the extent of my exposure).  If you have a sin that requires confession to the bishop, you set an appointment (you don't say why, just that you need to meet), and go into his office and talk face to face.  If you're married, you may or may not take your spouse.  If you're a minor, you may or may not go with a parent.

Also, we don't confess every little sin to the bishop - those are between the individual and God, to whom we are expected to confess all and repent.  Only  serious sins require confession to the bishop.  These are generally things which involve sex (such as adultery or fornication or porn), things which involve addiction, and whatever might rise to similar levels.  If there's a list somewhere, I don't know it.  A good rule of thumb would be to consider whether it's related to a question asked in a temple recommend interview.  If it is, you should probably talk to the bishop about it.  Also, if you can't give up the sin on your own (you keep repeating and trying to repent), it's probably best to go get help.

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This comment is based on my almost complete lack of exposure to Catholicism, but I believe that a significant difference is that Mormons don't believe that a bishop can forgive sins. They can assist with the forgiveness process, and are usually an essential part of the process, but only God can forgive. 

A bishop is expected to keep confessions confidential, and almost always does, but I believe that the obligation for a bishop to do so is not quite as great as what priests are under, where it seems to be an absolute requirement. 

 

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6 hours ago, Blossom76 said:

Does the LDS church require confession? How often do you have to go to your bishop for confession? I know that for some sins it is necessary to confess to a bishop what what sins are they?  Is the bishop obligated to keep any confession confidential or are there circumstances where confidentiality is not kept?

From our Gospel Principles manual:

Quote

Our sincere sorrow should lead us to forsake (stop) our sins. If we have stolen something, we will steal no more. If we have lied, we will lie no more. If we have committed adultery, we will stop. The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them” (D&C 58:43).

We Must Confess Our Sins

Confessing our sins is very important. The Lord has commanded us to confess our sins. Confession relieves a heavy burden from the sinner. The Lord has promised, “I, the Lord, forgive sins, and am merciful unto those who confess their sins with humble hearts” (D&C 61:2).

We must confess all our sins to the Lord. In addition, we must confess serious sins—such as adultery, fornication, homosexual relations, spouse or child abuse, and the sale or use of illegal drugs—which might affect our standing in the Church, to the proper priesthood authority. If we have sinned against another person, we should confess to the person we have injured. Some less serious sins involve no one but ourselves and the Lord. These may be confessed privately to the Lord.

 

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43 minutes ago, askandanswer said:

A bishop is expected to keep confessions confidential, and almost always does, but I believe that the obligation for a bishop to do so is not quite as great as what priests are under, where it seems to be an absolute requirement. 

On the contrary, a bishop is under a sacred obligation to keep all such interactions private -- not merely confessions, but all confidential communications. Even with his two counselors in the bishopric, a bishop will share information only as needed. If a person talks with the bishop about a problem, normally no one else should ever know. The exceptions are when the bishop needs to counsel with the stake president (his immediate superior in Priesthood authority) about the issue, and occasions where the bishop asks for assistance from a third party, e.g. someone tells the bishop about an issue of personal need and the bishop tasks the Relief Society president with meeting with the family and finding out welfare needs for the bishop's storehouse.

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4 minutes ago, my two cents said:

What about when someone has committed a crime or is a safety risk to themselves or others?

Depends on the crime. If a person has smoked pot, I don't believe the bishop is under any obligation to report that. If the person confesses to rape or molestation or some other such crime, I'm pretty sure the bishop must contact the police. Never having been a bishop, I'm not sure.

Your larger point is that my proclamation was overly broad. You are right; there are conditions under which a bishop must contact authorities or otherwise break a confidentiality. These instances are rare and small in number, so their existence doesn't really disprove my point, except in a sort of picky technical way. Generally speaking, bishops are not to violate confidentiality by discussing such issues with others, unless there is a mitigating circumstance.

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7 hours ago, Blossom76 said:

Does the LDS church require confession?

Yes, but not in the Catholic sense.

When a serious sin is committed (like fortification), a person should go to the bishop and confess the sin, as part of the repentance process.  The bishop is not a "person in Christ" as Catholic believe (pardon me, I know I'm totally forgetting the actual proper phrasing here) and cannot forgive sins as Christ would.  Rather, the bishop is to counsel the person, and guides them through seeking repentance with Christ.  Part of this counseling role does involve making judgment calls as Christ's servant, but again the bishop is the servant and not Christ Himself. Also, the big goal here is to repentant- to turn your life around so the sin does not occur again.  The goal is not to just say "I'm sorry" and to do the sin again, but to turn your life around*. .  Because the focus is turning your life around, the bishop working with you on this frequently isn't just a one time thing, but frequently involves "how you doing" check ups afterwards.

LDS do directly differ from Catholic in that LDS do not view such a confession to be a sacrament (to use the Catholic term here).

*Obviously Catholics also highly value the life-turning-around part

7 hours ago, Blossom76 said:

How often do you have to go to your bishop for confession?

It is not a "do this regularly" thing, but rather specifically sought when a major sin has been committed.

7 hours ago, Blossom76 said:

I know that for some sins it is necessary to confess to a bishop what what sins are they?  

Note: LDS don't divide sins categorically into vernal and mortal.  Sin is sin.  That being said, some sins are harder to combat than others.   The bishop comes in with the sins that are super hard to combat yourself, such as those involving chastity violations, abuse of another person, abuse of a substance.  If there's a question of "is this something I should talk to the bishop about", you can just ask.  

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1 hour ago, my two cents said:

What about when someone has committed a crime or is a safety risk to themselves or others?

The law defines a "mandatory reporter".  There are some federal laws, and maybe some state or local laws depending on where you live.  I'm no expert, but I think mandatory reporters must report child abuse or elder abuse, and not much else.  

Bishops have the job of helping a person avail themselves of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Confession is a part of repentance, but as we read above, different things get confessed to different people.  A bishop may or may not urge someone to go to the authorities if a crime is involved.

Anyone this is an issue for, I wholeheartedly suggest starting with going to the bishop.  Speak generally, and go from there.

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14 hours ago, askandanswer said:

This comment is based on my almost complete lack of exposure to Catholicism, but I believe that a significant difference is that Mormons don't believe that a bishop can forgive sins. They can assist with the forgiveness process, and are usually an essential part of the process, but only God can forgive. 

Ok I'm confused again! (its not hard so please be patient with all my questions!)

So an LDS bishop can't forgive sins on behalf of Jesus Christ?  But an LDS Bishop does hold the Priesthood right?  But if an LDS Bishop sees fit depending on your confession and how bad the sin is he can take church privileges away from you? And that's how you atone for your sins? 

Edited by Blossom76
still can't spell

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21 hours ago, estradling75 said:

I am not entirely sure how the Catholic's handle confession but my impression it is kind of like a Spiritual Wellness Check done on a regular basis even if there is not really anything wrong.

I can see the appeal of such a system, but it takes alot of the priest's time I would image.  In LDS circles the Bishop usually has a full time Job and a family and generally does not have the same kind of time that a Catholic Priest does.  So an LDS Bishop is more of a Spiritual Surgeon or Specialist that is call on when the services are needed.

While I am sure that a Catholic Priest can handling spiritual emergency, and an LDS Bishop can do a "Wellness Check"  the focus is different because of the difference in time they have to tend to their flock.

 

Good analogy! The Sacrament is one of healing. Many Saints are said to have gone to daily confession. I have no idea how often most Catholics go to confession. No one tracks or reports.

Confession isn’t like in the movies, where you just show up and a priest pops into the confessional. I don’t even know how that could work, since a priest isn’t hanging around the confessional all day waiting for a penitent to show up. Confessional times are set. My parish is every Saturday from 4-4:45. People line up outside the confessional, and it doesn’t take long per person.

But yes, confessing our sins is an important part of being Catholic. It’s a sign of our faith.

Edited by Blueskye2

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9 hours ago, Blossom76 said:

So an LDS bishop can't forgive sins on behalf of Jesus Christ?  But an LDS Bishop does hold the Priesthood right?  But if an LDS Bishop sees fit depending on your confession and how bad the sin is he can take church privileges away from you? And that's how you atone for your sins? 

An LDS bishop does not and cannot forgive sin*, nor can any other man (or woman). Only God can forgive sin. This is always true, in every circumstance. No exceptions.

An LDS bishop does indeed hold the Priesthood, and exercises it for the benefit of others. Part of that exercise is the administration of God's kingdom on earth, which is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These administrative duties include the responsibility to determine a person's worthiness to participate in activities in God's kingdom, such as temple attendance, or even (in extreme cases) membership in the Kingdom itself. In such situations, the bishop acts as a judge, discovering the individual's spiritual status. He does not and cannot forgive sin, but he can and does determine if a person is clean before God or if s/he needs to repent. As the presiding high priest of his ward, his duty is to counsel and help the disciple of Christ. If more discipline than simple counseling and suggestions is in order, the bishop consults with the Lord to determine what should be done with respect to restricting ecclesiastical privileges. This extends to excommunication**, which is cutting a person off*** entirely from the Priesthood covenants available in the Church.****

*A bishop or other Priesthood leader might, on the occasion of a Priesthood blessing, be inspired to proclaim a person clean before God. But this is not any sort of forgiveness of sin; rather, it is an inspired proclamation of how God considers a person's standing before him.

**Except in the case of a Melchizedek Priesthood holder, whose excommunication is determined not by the ward's presiding high priest -- the bishop -- but by the presiding high priest of the Priesthood holders in his stake -- the stake president.

***Note that this "cutting off" does not mean that the person cannot participate at Church as a congregant. On the contrary, except under unusual circumstances, those who have been excommunicated are invited with the rest of the world to attend meetings and partake of the Spirit as much as possible. The idea of "shunning" forms no part of LDS beliefs.

****Sorry for all the asterisks. Post-Thanksgiving haze.

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23 hours ago, askandanswer said:

This comment is based on my almost complete lack of exposure to Catholicism, but I believe that a significant difference is that Mormons don't believe that a bishop can forgive sins. They can assist with the forgiveness process, and are usually an essential part of the process, but only God can forgive. 

A bishop is expected to keep confessions confidential, and almost always does, but I believe that the obligation for a bishop to do so is not quite as great as what priests are under, where it seems to be an absolute requirement. 

 

For a Catholic, Jesus is our great High Priest. A Catholic priest acts in the person of Christ. It is Christ who forgives us of our sins, not the priest. John 20:19-23.

Edited by Blueskye2

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9 hours ago, Blossom76 said:

Ok I'm confused again! (its not hard so please be patient with all my questions!)

So an LDS bishop can't forgive sins on behalf of Jesus Christ?  But an LDS Bishop does hold the Priesthood right?  But if an LDS Bishop sees fit depending on your confession and how bad the sin is he can take church privileges away from you? And that's how you atone for your sins? 

Christ atoned for our sins. We bring into our lives the effect of His atonement by humbly acknowledge our sin, confesssing and apologising to the person we sinned against, and when necessary, to Priesthood leaders, asking for forgiveness from the person we sinned against, and from God, and from refraining from the sinful action in future. When these actions are done with prayer and a broken and contrite heart with a sincere desire to be forgiven, then Christ's atonement can have effect in our lives.

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Again, our Gospel Principles manual  chapter on repentance does have a pretty good chapter on the whole thing.  Repenting involves the following (read the little blurb in the chapter for more details and scriptural justification):

Quote

We Must Recognize Our Sins

We Must Feel Sorrow for Our Sins

We Must Forsake Our Sins

We Must Confess Our Sins

We Must Make Restitution

We Must Forgive Others

We Must Keep the Commandments of God

It often is an inward, self-directed process that searches out God, and doesn't rely on any human to tell us "congratulations you're clean".  It's the way we avail ourselves, individually, of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

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3 hours ago, Vort said:

An LDS bishop does not and cannot forgive sin*, nor can any other man (or woman). Only God can forgive sin. This is always true, in every circumstance. No exceptions.

Okay, I think I understand now.  LDS don't believe man can forgive sins on behalf of Jesus, because they don't beleve Jesus can forgive sins only God?  I was raised to believe that Jesus is the mediator between man and god and can forgive sins, and that he gave that authority to forgive sins to his apostles.  

Matthew 9: 1-6 says Jesus has the authority to forgive sins and in John 20: 21-23 Jesus gives that authority to his apostles (there are more places in the bible that talk about priests forgiving sins etc, this is all I can remember of the top of my head, its early in the morning here!). 

Is there a passage in the Book of Mormon about this that I could read? Its just really hard for me to understand when the bible says something completely different, I know there are times when the bible is not taken as divine in the LDS church (as far as translated correctly I think is how its worded), which is a new concept for me also, is this one of those times?

Matthew 9: 1-6

And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.

And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.

And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?

For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?

But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.

John 20: 21-23

21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

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51 minutes ago, Blossom76 said:

Okay, I think I understand now.  LDS don't believe man can forgive sins on behalf of Jesus, because they don't beleve Jesus can forgive sins only God?  I was raised to believe that Jesus is the mediator between man and god and can forgive sins, and that he gave that authority to forgive sins to his apostles.  

 

Almost.  It's not that we think man can't forgive sins on behalf of Jesus, we think man can't forgive sins on behalf of anybody.  The Lord forgives sins.  Through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we are made clean, when we avail ourselves of it.  The mechanics of the thing, whether they involve Christ or our Heavenly Father, don't have a mortal doing the forgiving.  Other humans can be involved, those with priesthood stewardship over us (bishops and whatnot) are there to help us gain forgiveness.  But other humans are not the ones we have to gain forgiveness from. 

I rather think Catholics and LDS agree on this point - at least this article from Catholic.com would seem to indicate so.   The article gets into stuff about the trinity that the LDS don't deal with, but the overall point is that only The Lord (whether Christ or Heavenly Father or both of them) forgives sins.

Of course, we are called upon to forgive those who do us wrong, but when we forgive another, we're only partly doing them a favor - were mostly doing us as the injured party a favor.   Our lack of forgiving another won't keep them away from salvation, but it might very well keep us away.

Edited by NeuroTypical

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32 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

 

I rather think Catholics and LDS agree on this point - at least this article from Catholic.com would seem to indicate so.   The article gets into stuff about the trinity that the LDS don't deal with, but the overall point is that only The Lord (whether Christ or Heavenly Father or both of them) forgives sins.

Thanks that helps, I think the difference is that the LDS church don't believe Jesus Christ gave the authority to forgive sins on his behalf to the apostles and that authority was handed onto further leaders of the church (so it is still Jesus forgiving the sins, they just act for Jesus with authority), where as the Catholic Church does  (John 20: 21-23).  

I'm a bit confused about the LDS views on the Trinity with regards to this though, LDS faith stipulates that only God can forgive sins but you also believe Jesus can forgive sins, but you don't believe in the trinity.  Is that right?

Edited by Blossom76

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9 hours ago, Blueskye2 said:

Good analogy! The Sacrament is one of healing. Many Saints are said to have gone to daily confession. I have no idea how often most Catholics go to confession. No one tracks or reports.

Confession isn’t like in the movies, where you just show up and a priest pops into the confessional. I don’t even know how that could work, since a priest isn’t hanging around the confessional all day waiting for a penitent to show up. Confessional times are set. My parish is every Saturday from 4-4:45. People line up outside the confessional, and it doesn’t take long per person.

But yes, confessing our sins is an important part of being Catholic. It’s a sign of our faith.

Like I said, both faiths view confession as being important, but in different ways.

For LDS, we renew our baptismal promises/covenants with the Lord each week when we partake of the Lord's Supper.  That's a weekly cleansing and recommitment for us.  Going to the bishop to confess a sin is like going to the doctor with a broken leg: you're there because something went wrong, you set an appointment, your consulting the doctor on how to make it better and keep t from happening again.  

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1 hour ago, Blossom76 said:

Thanks that helps, I think the difference is that the LDS church don't believe Jesus Christ gave the authority to forgive sins on his behalf to the apostles and that authority was handed onto further leaders of the church (so it is still Jesus forgiving the sins, they just act for Jesus with authority), where as the Catholic Church does  (John 20: 21-23).  

I'm a bit confused about the LDS views on the Trinity with regards to this though, LDS faith stipulates that only God can forgive sins but you also believe Jesus can forgive sins, but you don't believe in the trinity.  Is that right?

From my limited understanding of Catholicism, they appear to have a subtly but very important difference in how the priesthood is viewed.  From my understanding of Catholicism, a priest is a "in persona Christi", in that he is viewed as acting as Christ Himself.  LDS don't have that concept.  In LDS view, Christ is Christ and we are we.  A priest is a servant of Christ, and the priesthood is the authority to act in His name, as He commands, but not to be Him Himself.  There are still miracles worked and lives changed, but it's stressed that it's all through Christ's power.  

Focusing specifically on confession now: both faiths believe Christ is the one who forgives sins.  Catholics believe a priest can forgive sins because he is Christ (in a sense, through in persona Christi).  LDS view Christ as being the one doing the forgiving directly (like everything else) and the priest being the servant by guiding a person through the process.

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Re: LDS views on the Trinity.

Like Trinitarians, LDS do believe that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are 3 different persons in ONE God.  The difference between the views is *how* the 3 are believed to be 1.  Trinitarians points to a shared substance, LDS through unity.  

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4 hours ago, Blossom76 said:

Okay, I think I understand now.  LDS don't believe man can forgive sins on behalf of Jesus, because they don't beleve Jesus can forgive sins only God?  I was raised to believe that Jesus is the mediator between man and god and can forgive sins, and that he gave that authority to forgive sins to his apostles.

No, you haven't quite understood me correctly. Jesus is God. Jesus can forgive sins; it is his atonement that reunites us with the Father. Man cannot forgive sins because man is not God, and only God can forgive sins. God did not -- indeed, in my opinion, God cannot -- authorize men to forgive sins. By the very nature of our mortal being and sinful state, such a thing is utterly beyond us.

You may ask for a differentiation between praying to the Father for forgiveness and somehow praying to Jesus (of which there are several recorded instances). The best answer I can give is that we do not pray to Jesus, because we have been taught that we pray directly to the Father. Our prayers do not "go through" Jesus, or anyone else. We are allowed, indeed commanded, to go boldly before the throne of God and directly petition the Most High in our own voice.

As to how Jesus' atonement effects our reunification with the father and grants us forgiveness of sin, that's a question of mechanics. As far as I know, such mechanics have not been revealed and never will be revealed to us in this mortal state. God doesn't typically tell us how he does things, only that he does things. The how extends only as far as we need to know to make such things operable in our lives. Beyond that, it's unimportant to us, even distracting.

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