Repentance Process and Steps

washing hands to get cleanA frequent question I receive from young readers is regarding the repentance process. In many of these cases, the young people have developed their testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and they desire to serve a mission. Upon reflection of their past actions, though, they realize they have committed serious sins that need to be cleared up, so they can be worthy to go. In many cases, they are wondering if they will ever be able to go on a mission. In either case, they are seeking encouragement to begin the repentance process.

Some serious sins can prevent you from ever serving a mission. Your bishop is the one who determines that. But whether or not you have committed serious transgressions, like serious violations of the law of chastity, we all make mistakes and need to utilize the repentance process. The ability to repent and become cleansed of our transgressions is a wonderful gift from our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Because the Savior performed the great atoning sacrifice and suffered for our sins in the garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, we can repent, change our ways, be forgiven, and be made clean and worthy before God. We all need to repent in order to be worthy to return to live with our Heavenly Father.

Missionaries are called to teach faith, repentance, and baptism, so you future missionaries will need to be familiar with the steps of repentance in order to teach them effectively. Here is what God requires for full and complete repentance, as taught in the scriptures and by living prophets:

Steps of Repentance

  1. Faith to rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. You must have faith that through prayer you can communicate with God and receive your Heavenly Father‘s help to repent and know that He has forgiven you. You must have faith that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, you can be cleansed and forgiven. “Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you” (Alma 34:17).
  2. Sorrow for committing the sin (godly sorrow). Sorrow for sin comes from acknowledging that you have sinned and feeling godly sorrow for having committed the sin. Godly sorrow means that you feel such remorse for having sinned that it causes your heart to break with sadness for what you have done. You realize that you caused the Savior to suffer and bleed at every pore, and you are heartbroken for that. Godly sorrow gives you a sincere desire to change and a willingness to submit to every requirement for forgiveness. It is different from the natural consequences of sin or fear of getting caught. Alma counseled his son Corianton: “Let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance” (Alma 42:29).
  3. Confession. Confession is telling Heavenly Father through sincere prayer all that you have done wrong and expressing sorrow and a desire to repent and receive His forgiveness. You must confess to those you have injured or wronged. Serious sins, such as breaking the law of chastity, need to be confessed to your bishop or branch president. 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).
  4. Abandonment of sin (forsaking the sin). You must abandon the sin by turning away from it, never doing it again, and regretting that you ever did it. Forsaking the sin is to cease sinning, to resolve never to commit it again, and to stay away from the situations where you may be tempted to repeat the sin. 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).
  5. Restitution (seeking to restore the damage as far as possible). You must seek to restore as far as possible all that has been damaged by your sins. For example, a thief should give back what he has stolen. A liar should make the truth known. As we do these things, God will not mention our sins to us when we are judged (see Ezekiel 33:15-16).
  6. Righteous living (living a life of obedience). It is not enough simply to stop sinning—you must have a change of heart which brings a desire to fill your life with righteousness and engage in activities which bring spiritual power. You must strive throughout your life to obey all gospel teachings, not just the commandment you broke. The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that “he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven” (D&C 1:32).

While I have given a list of six specific steps here to help young people begin the process of repentance, please remember that to repent is not something that you can superficially do by checking off some boxes in a checklist. This is what Elder D. Todd Christofferson said in General Conference a few years ago: “Repentance requires a seriousness of purpose and a willingness to persevere, even through pain. Attempts to create a list of specific steps of repentance may be helpful to some, but it may also lead to a mechanical, check-off-the-boxes approach with no real feeling or change. True repentance is not superficial.” (The Divine Gift of Repentance, D. Todd Christofferson, October 2011)

May the Lord guide you and direct you through the promptings of His Holy Spirit as you go through the repentance process. Forgiveness is a supremely wonderful blessing for those that repent. And remember that because of the death and suffering of our Savior Jesus Christ, by following His prescribed ordinances, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

98 replies
  1. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    I have a question. Let’s say you broke the law of chasity for about a year, then you decided to go on a mission and started a repentance process, but after 6 months you started comittimg the same sins again for about 7 months. Then you don’t tell your bishop about it cause you still want to go on a mission but now you have stopped comittimg the sin. What happens is this situation?

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Andrea, you really need to go speak with your bishop as soon as possible. You don’t want to enter the MTC and begin your mission with this sin hanging over your head. It is best to go tell him everything now. It is likely that your mission will be delayed, but with complete, sincere repentance, you will probably still be able to come on a mission. A person simply cannot properly serve the Lord when they have a serious, unresolved sin in their life. The spirit of the Lord will not be able to be with that person in full measure like he will once they are clean and pure. Good luck. Have faith. And may God bless and be with you.

      Reply
  2. Non
    Non says:

    When repenting to the Bishop, if I am 18 years old do I need to tell my parents the sin if it is more serious such as the Law of Chastity or can I keep it between the Bishop and I?

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      That is a question you will want to take to the Lord. If in prayer, you feel like you should tell your parents, then you better follow those spiritual promptings.
      Your bishop will also be able to give you good advice on this subject. Many bishops I know encourage young people to tell their parents what is happening.
      Good luck and may God bless you.

      Reply
  3. dillon
    dillon says:

    As a recent convert in April, I was planning on waiting my year then leaving for my mission the next April… Having recently breaking the law of chastity, would I still be able to go in April??

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      This is something you will need to discuss with your bishop. You will likely have to wait a year from the time you broke the law of chastity. Have courage and don’t get down on yourself. Heavenly Father loves you and has provided His Son Jesus Christ as a sacrifice so that we can repent, change, and become clean again. Good luck and God bless you and I hope to see you on a mission a year from now.

      Reply
  4. Diaz
    Diaz says:

    I broke the law of chastity but i want to serve a mission. Im a female and just recently turned 18. After repenting and waiting the year can I serve when I turn 19?

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      It’s impossible for me to say whether or not you’ll be able to serve. This is something you will have to discuss with your bishop. But I believe most young people who make mistakes with the law of chastity are able to repent and then go on a mission. Law of chastity violations are very serious, and in some cases these sins can prevent people from serving a full time mission. I suggest being completely open and honest with your bishop. He will love and support and help you. Have courage and don’t get down on yourself. Heavenly Father loves you and has provided His Son Jesus Christ as a sacrifice so that we can repent, change, and become clean again. Good luck and God bless you.

      Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Andrew, If your sins are not too serious and do not require confession, then it is possible to repent and go on your mission without ever telling the specifics to your bishop or parents. But if your sins were serious, such as sexual transgression, you will need to talk to your bishop about those before sending in your mission application. Good luck and God bless.

      Reply
  5. Logan
    Logan says:

    I’ve had some recent problems with serious sins and I’ve talked to my bishop and stake president and they said I have to wait three months. I know this is how it needs to be, but it’s hard when so many people are asking me about my papers. What should I say to them?

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Garrett, I’m sorry but you’re going to need to go talk to your bishop about this again. D&C 82:7 says “Go your ways and sin no more; but unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God.” I pray that the Lord will strengthen you to follow through with the repentance process and become clean through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Good luck and God bless.

      Reply
  6. Cami
    Cami says:

    Hi. I break the Law of Chastity but is starting my Process of Repentance. I just want to ask regarding the Confessing of things to my Bishop, Do I tell Him in Details, or degrees on what kind of actions are done, Or just simply tell him that I break it? I wouldn’t say that my sin is any lesser than anybody else thats why I ask, But because I just want to receive the kind of help with regards to what I did. I am hoping to serve soon but I am willing to face the consequence of my actions because I know I wouldn’t be able to teach something that I am not found spotless on. I just want to ask in what way I need to confess, especially because I don’t find it comfortable to talk to a man about this stuff. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Cami, I know it is embarrassing to talk to your bishop about this, but trust me when I say that it is the right thing to do. You can start by telling him the generalities of what happened, and he will ask for additional details as he considers them relevant. Confessing these things to your bishop is part of the process the Lord has given us to be forgiven of our sins and become clean. We are all indebted to our Savior for His Atonement which makes repentance possible. May God bless and be with you.

      Reply
  7. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    Hi so when I was 12 I was sucked into the addiction of pornography for 5 months, I knew it was bad but I didn’t understand how bad. When I started learning how and it was in young women’s I started freaking out and repenting. It’s been 3 years and I want to go on a mission in 4 years. Am I still eligible to go? If so do I need to talk to the bishop of I’ve prayed about it?

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      If your repentance is sincere and complete, there is no reason why this would make you ineligible to go on a mission. Whether or not you talk to your bishop about this is something between you and the Lord. If the Holy Spirit is prompting you to talk to the bishop about it, then you definitely should. The last thing you would want is nagging feelings about whether or not your repentance is complete. Your bishop will understand your situation and he will treat you with love and kindness. You need not fear discussing the situation with him. God bless you, and good luck with all your mission preparation.

      Reply
  8. Sol
    Sol says:

    Hi, I have been a member of the church for 6 years but before that I broke the Law of Chastity.
    Do I still need to confess to the bishop even though it has been 7 years and my mistakes were before I was baptised?
    I want to serve a mission but don’t want to go and have my sins always on my mind.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      If it is on your mind and bothering you, then I would recommend talking to your bishop about it. It is not my place to say that you must confess it to your bishop, it just sounds like it would put your mind at ease. It is most likely that the Lord has forgiven you and those sins were resolved when you got baptized. But as you indicated, you don’t want to go through your mission wondering and having the issue in the back of your mind. You need not fear discussing it with your bishop. He will support and love you and help you. Good luck and God bless you.

      Reply
  9. Brett
    Brett says:

    Hey,
    so around 4 years ago I broke the law of chastity. Im now at the point where i want to serve a mission. i never repented of that sin. I kind of pushed it away from my mind. will my mission get delayed if i tell my bishop or am i inligible to go because i never said anything?

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Brett, I can give you my thoughts, but they would be just that, my own opinion based on what I have seen and heard. You will, of course, need to talk to your bishop to determine if he, as the Lord’s representative, feels you are worthy and able to serve a mission.

      From what you have said, I would guess that a mission is still a possibility. If your law of chastity violation was a one time thing four years ago and your sorrow is sincere, then the repentance process may go relatively quickly. If you have had continued violations of chastity over these years, then the repentance process will be longer and you may not be able to go on a mission.

      I’m glad you have the desire to serve. Whether or not you can serve a mission, keep yourself worthy before the Lord and he will bless you now and forever. Good luck, and God bless you.

      Reply
  10. Tyler
    Tyler says:

    After breaking the law of chastity, and having to wait a year, is it a year till your availability or a year till you can turn your papers in at all??

    Reply
  11. Scott
    Scott says:

    Hi Jimmy,

    I’ve been a hard working members of the church my entire life. I’m 18 and have received my mission call. A week prior to reporting to the MTC, I was flushed with temptation to masturbate. After stumbling upon pornographic material online, I unfortunately touched myself while viewing the material.

    The whole time I was sinning, I did not feel good. Afterwards, I was confused and disgusted in myself. It has been such a negative experience, and I know I will never do something so awful again.

    I will confess these sins, but unfortunately my leaders are out of town.

    When I go to the MTC and confess, will they send me back home? I know personally it’s a nonhabitual problem, and my remorse for this sin is so extreme that I have stopped eating.

    The hardest thing I’ve done in my life is to prepare to serve a mission. I also am not able to push my mission dates back any further because of obligations with schools and scholarships. Delaying my mission will cause severe problems with everything.

    I’d love your advice on the matter, and your opinion on what is going to happen to me. I love the church and will accept the outcome no matter what, but I can’t think of anything more painful than being denied this mission.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Scott, The day before you leave to go to the MTC, you will be given a final interview by your stake president and set apart as a full-time missionary. In that meeting, be sure to tell your stake president what has happened. I doubt he will delay your mission, but it is possible, and only your stake president can say for sure what will happen. Good luck and God bless.

      Reply
  12. Korban
    Korban says:

    Jimmy, I’ve been struggling with whether to go on a mission for some time now, I turned 25 in May and have struggled with pornography. I’ve talked to the bishop and confessed, but I’m worried I won’t be able to go on a mission because I’ve had unclean thoughts since then and I know you must submit your mission papers five months ahead of your availability date, which for me will be in January. I’m just not sure I’ll be able to go. I really want to go, I’ve also been afraid of accepting the oath and covenant of the priesthood, because if someone breaks the oath and covenant there is absolutely no forgiveness in this life, or in the next. I just don’t think I can be perfect enough to have the Melchizedek Preisthood. I worry about making mistakes. Sometimes, I’ve wondered if I’ll ever be able to go on a mission. Why is the cut off age for men 26?

    Reply
      • Jimmy
        Jimmy says:

        Korban, I applaud you for your desire to serve a mission. But whether you end up going on a mission or not, the most important thing is to get yourself worthy before the Lord. And it sounds like you have already talked to your bishop about the pornography problem, so that is good. Continue to talk with him on a regular basis. Tell him of your desire to serve a mission and see what he says. I just might be doable. And also remember that reaching perfection is a process that takes a long time, throughout this life and beyond. All sins can be forgiven, except for the extremely rare sin against the Holy Ghost, and for that we owe our gratitude to our Savior Jesus Christ. Be humble, be prayerful, strengthen your relationship with God, and I know he will heal and bless you.

        Reply
  13. Cameron
    Cameron says:

    I feel like a correction needs to be made. Godly sorrow does NOT come from feeling guilt that you caused Christ to suffer additional pain. Where as worldly sorrow comes from the fear of worldly punishment or consequence that we may find unpleasant, Godly sorrow moves us to repentance when we realize that God is offended by sin, that we have made a mistake, and that we need to repent if we want to live with Him again. The mindset of “How many blood drops was I responsible for?” completely undermines the purpose of the atonement. Christ paid for our sins willingly. He had his agency throughout the entire process of the atonement, but chose to go through with it because he loved his Father in Heaven. We should repent for the same reason. The mindset of “How many drops of blood were for me?” is incorrect and focuses more on the COST of the atonement than the actual GIFT that was freely given. “[repentance] is motivated by love for God and the sincere desire to obey His commandments.” Not by guilt that comes from the feeling of causing additional pain to the savior.

    Reply
    • Cameron
      Cameron says:

      I focus on this line alone, “You realize that you caused the Savior to suffer and bleed at every pore, and you are heartbroken for that.”

      Reply
  14. Sarah Park
    Sarah Park says:

    I am 18 years old and have broke the law of chastity. I got baptized when I was 15 and first had relations when I was already a member. Throughout the years I have had sexual relationship with 2 people and I feel terrible. I finally have come to my senses and I want to repent and never do this again. Will my process be long or will I be excommunicated? Do I have to tell my Bishop every detail?

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      I am glad you have the desire to repent. You’re Heavenly Father loves you and has provided the way for you to change and improve through the Atonement of His Son Jesus Christ. The process of repentance may seem long at times, but I think you will look back at it as time well spent.

      You should go talk to your bishop right away. It is unlikely that you will be excommunicated, but what you have done is serious and all the steps of repentance that you will need to take will be determined by the Lord through the bishop he has called to preside over your ward.

      Your bishop will need to know all that happened, but I wouldn’t classify his questions as an effort to know every single detail. He will ask enough questions to understand the situation and how serious it was and what will need to be done to fully repent. Please look to your bishop as a friend who is there to help you, which he really is.

      Good luck and God bless you.

      Reply
  15. Charlotte
    Charlotte says:

    I am 18 years old and have been a member of the church since I was 8. But whem I was young I made a mistake and got involved in pornography at a young age, I think I was maybe 11 or 12. It was by complete accident and it felt wrong at the time, but still I couldn’t stop myself. Eventually I was able to stop involving myself with it, and I prayed and asked for forgiveness, but I still was taking the sacrament and was too embarrassed and afraid to tell anyone because I didn’t want them to be disappointed. Later though I was involved with a guy, non member, who I went a little too far with. We didn’t have sex but close, and after I ended things for that reason, my mindset changed and for some reason I thought it was ok to break the law of chastity. I’ve since realized how terrible of a decision it has been and I regret everything. But that doesn’t change the fact that it happened. I understand that if I am to talk to my bishop and begin the repentance process that it would be a year until I could serve a mission or possible that I might be ineligible to serve at all. I’ve wanted to serve since I was little, but I’ve procrastinated the day of my repentance so that is something I’ll have to accept. My question though is this, how long is it after you begin the repentance process until you can take the sacrament again? I haven’t talked with my bishop yet, but I’ve stopped taking the sacrament. Just wondering how long it is before I can take it again.

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Charlotte, The sacrament is a sacred ordinance and it should be partaken of worthily. In my opinion, if I were you, I would wait until talking to the bishop before taking the sacrament again. In talking to him, the two of you, together with the Lord, will be able to figure out the seriousness of your sins and how long the repentance process will take. You should be able to take the sacrament again soon, but as you indicated it could be as much as a year before you can go on a mission. It may be less time than that, though. Regardless of the time frame, please always strive to move forward, keeping your covenants, and following the path of our Savior Jesus Christ. “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9)

      Reply
  16. Matt
    Matt says:

    I’m 18 and its currently January, I hope to put my mission papers in April. I have watched porn for over 2 years but just stopped on my own 3 months ago and haven’t even thought about it since. I just got a girlfriend 3 months ago and I love her a lot and she’s gunna wait for me when I get of my mish. But me and her have broke the law of chasity 3 times. I’m scared to tell my bishop because of what everyone is gunna think when I don’t take the sacrament anymore and there is only two priest in my ward and when I can’t bless then that means there’s only one and everyone will think so thing is goin on what do I do?

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Matt, I commend you for your desire to serve a mission. I pray that you can continue to prepare and that you’ll make an excellent missionary some day. But before you turn to full-time missionary work, your efforts are probably better directed at putting your life on the right path. First let the words of God sink deep into your heart and let them be reflected in all your actions. “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.” D&C 11:21

      The recent law of chastity violations you describe are a very serious situation, one not to be taken lightly. As hard as it will be, you need to talk to your bishop right away about this situation. He will love you and support you through the repentance process. The repentance process may seem long and difficult, but with the help of the Lord and your family and friends, I know that you can do it.

      As for your concerns about what others will think of your, I will remind you that the Lord told Joseph Smith on multiple occasions, “fear not what man can do” (D&C 122:9, see also Moroni 8:16 and D&C 3:7). God loves you. He sent His Son to die for us and show us the way back to His presence. Good luck and may God bless and be with you always.

      Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Yes, that is generally true. Usually, any waiting period imposed by your bishop or stake president will be from the time the last sin was committed. But there are a lot of factors involved, so the precise length of time is something that your bishop will decide.

      Reply
  17. Autumn Smart
    Autumn Smart says:

    What if I broke the law of chastity 5 years ago and I have a change of heart and I stopped doing that? Do I still have to tell my bishop?

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Autumn, The Lord has said, “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.” (D&C 58:43) If you stopped 5 years ago, then it sounds like you have done the forsaking part of the process. Now, to make the repentance complete, you need to also confess. For serious sins, such as sexual intercourse outside of marriage or other serious violations of the law of chastity, I strongly encourage you to confess both to the Lord and to his representative in the Church, your bishop. He will keep your confession confidential and lovingly help you with anything you need to be clean and worthy before the Lord. Good luck, and God bless.

      Reply
  18. Stephen
    Stephen says:

    I’m 18 years old and I’m graduating this May. The past four years have been spiraling out of control. First it started with porn then when I started dating I did everything I shouldn’t have. For the longest time I’ve been lost. And for a while I hated the church and wanted to break free from it and my parents rules. A few months ago my mom was talking to me about surving my mission and whether or not I want to go, that it was my decision. She also said that she would still love me just the same if I didn’t go. So I took that and said to myself I’m not. But scence then everything has been pointing me to go. Up until about January I was still doing the same things I thought knew was wrong. What changed that and why I’m looking for a way to change was my girlfriend and had a pregnancy scare. And while it was happening I’ve never prayed so hard in my life. It was also the first time I prayed in four years on my and for myself. Everything has changed since then the out look on my life and what I’ve been doing. For the longest time I thought the life style I was living was making me happy. And for a time before I really feel away I thought I would never be able to repent fully. I know that a mission is something that would be amazing for my life and my future. But I’m still not sure if I can go on a mission. I just need some advice on what to do and get my life back on track. I’ve already talked to my girlfriend and told her we cant do those things anymore. Just please help me. And I’m sorry if I shared to much for this page. I just don’t know what to do anymore and I need advice. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Stephen, I applaud your righteous desires to repent and serve a mission. Like you said, a full-time mission will be an amazing event in your life, and bless you throughout your future.

      The first thing you’ve got to do is to halt the inappropriate behavior. The Savior said to the Nephites in the Book of Mormon, “Behold, it is written by them of old time, that thou shalt not commit adultery; But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery already in his heart. Behold, I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart; For it is better that ye should deny yourselves of these things, wherein ye will take up your cross, than that ye should be cast into hell.” (3 Nephi 12:27-30 )

      While these sins are very serious, full repentance is possible. Our Savior Jesus Christ gave his life that we might repent and be cleansed of our mistakes. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”(Isaiah 1:18) Study the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and come to understand the power of the Atonement and how to apply it to your life. Then you will be eternally blessed, whether or not you serve a mission.

      Only your bishop can determine if you’ll be able to serve a mission. So please call him and make an appointment to see him right away. He will love and support you and help you through this difficult period in your life. Also, consider talking to your mom about this situation. It sounds like she is a great support. She loves you and will be able to help you in ways you may not now comprehend. Good luck, and may God bless and be with you.

      Reply
      • Stephen
        Stephen says:

        Thank you I’ve been looking for someone to talk to for a long time. I’ve just been to scare to, I’ll do what you suggest. Thank you again.

        Reply
  19. Susan
    Susan says:

    About 3 years ago my boyfriend and I began to do some things that broke the law of chastity. We never had sex, but we did do some other things against the law of chastity. That went on for about 2 years, on and off. I would feel so guilty for it, and I would tell him I didn’t want to anymore, but he guilted me and pressured me and basically forced me into it, and I let him because I was so naive. We broke up, and I started dating another guy. Him and I started doing sexual things too, but we also haven’t had sexual intercourse. I feel so guilty for it, so I told him we aren’t doing that anymore, and we haven’t for about a month now. I plan on going to my bishop to confess about it, but I’m just wondering the time frame and everything. I want to go on a mission in January, and I don’t want this is delay my mission. I have repented on my own for the things I have done with both boys, but I don’t feel like I’ve been forgiven, and I know that’s because I still need to talk to my bishop. So will this delay my mission at all? Will I have to stop taking the sacrament for this?

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Susan, It sounds like you know what you need to do. I think it is a major step of faith to go talk to your bishop and confess your actions, not knowing if it will delay your mission or not. Only your bishop will be able to tell you the answer to this and many of your questions. Please know that the worth of your soul is great in the sight of God (D&C 18:10). He loves you and wants you to return to live with him.

      I’m glad you want to be a missionary. That is a good and righteous desire. Preparation for a mission is essential. Remember what the Lord told Hyrum Smith, “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.” (D&C 11:21)

      As you talk to your bishop, and complete all the steps of the repentance process, you will be preparing yourself for a mission, temple marriage, and eternal life with Heavenly Father. Good luck and God bless you.

      Reply
  20. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    I’m a junior in college and last weekend things went too far with my boyfriend. We didn’t have sex, but we definitely broke the law of chastity. I know I’ve had a change of heart. I’m talking with my bishop tomorrow. And I ended things with the guy because I don’t want to end up messing up again. I’ve never had the desire to serve a mission, but yesterday the idea came to me. Obviously I would think about it and pray about it a lot more before making that decision. But I was wondering is that even still a possibility for me? If it is something where I would need to wait a year, I would rather not ask or tell anyone I had the idea and I would stop considering it in the mean time. Just curious.

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Michelle, I hope the conversation with your bishop went well. I’m proud of you for having the courage to go talk to him. “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Deut 31:6

      That’s wonderful that you have a desire to serve a mission. I hope you mentioned this to your bishop. Only he would know for sure if a mission is still a possibility for you, but I image it would be. Of course it is better not to be involved in sin, but the Lord provides a way for us to repent and improve our lives through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Good luck and God bless.

      Reply
  21. Josiah
    Josiah says:

    Hi,
    I recently returned home from my mission…..I and my companion went to watch Soccer in a viewing centre on a P-day.
    We went to the Apartment about 10PM,but we got reported that we came back by 11PM,I accpet my transgression that I shouldn’t have gone and watch a soccer match at all.
    We went to the Mission Office together and we were placed on a repentace process,we spent about 7days reading the Book of Mormon and having interviews with the Mission President,he said that he has forgiven us since we have the desire to change,but the 8th day,we receive our flight ticket to go home…..Infact I have been in a shocked state ever since.
    I had spoken with my Bishop and Stake President,they seem to be confuse as I am…
    Do I have any chance of returning to the field?
    The reason I was told we got sent home was “we refused to repent”.
    How can I go about this?
    I have never act in misconduct on the field before.
    What steps do i need to take?

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Josiah, I’m sorry about what happened. It does seem like a confusing situation. I’m sure your bishop and stake president will be able to call your mission president or the missionary department at church headquarters to figure out what is going on. Follow their counsel and hopefully, you will be able to return to the mission field soon. Good luck and God bless.

      Reply
  22. Lupexis
    Lupexis says:

    i have been breaking the law of chastity for sometime and i have come to realized that it is a grievance sin. i want to repent but i am afraid that i will fall into the same sin again. my partner in crime wants to marry me in two years from now. what should i do? should i repent or wait when our wedding is about some months?

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Lupexis, It’s always best to repent right away, as the prophet Alma said, “Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance.” (Alma 34:33) I advise you to go talk to your bishop as soon as possible. This will help you in ways you may not now realize. I know it will be hard, but I promise that confessing to your bishop without delay is the best thing to do. “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” (Joshua 1:9) Good luck and God bless.

      Reply
  23. Camie
    Camie says:

    If you broke the law of chastity before, and talked to your bishop. And did it again, but moved wards because of a move with homes. Can you go back to the bishop from the old ward who understands what has been going on? Or do you have to talk to your new bishop? Basically, does it matter which bishop it is. I want to serve a mission, but know this sin from a couple months ago is holding me back.

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Camie, If you have moved, you will need to talk to your new bishop. The bishop of the ward where you are currently living has the keys of the priesthood to preside over you and he has been given the gift of discernment from God (see D&C 46:27). Your new bishop will most likely call your old bishop to learn and understand your history. Please have faith and trust in your new bishop. He has been called of God and will love and help and support you. Remember what the scriptures say about bishops–they are “apt to teach” (1 Tim 3:2) and “able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince” (Titus 1:7). Good luck with your mission prep and we’ll pray for you to resolve these issues quickly and completely so you can be in the full-time missionary force soon. God bless.

      Reply
      • Livvi
        Livvi says:

        This might be a long story hehehe

        When I was around 10 years old, I had this girl best friend and we always play everyday outside our homes. Then one day, she invited me to go to their house and play with their computer. To make the story short, she invited me to watch videos, let’s just say “videos that are not pleasing to God”. At first, I wasn’t really tempted, but then later on I was tempted to watch it. (But watching these videos don’t happen each and everyday, as far as I remember we only watched it for like less than 4 days not consecutive) From that day on, I started to think unwanted thoughts in my mind and have this feeling of arousal in my body, a way so l can put myself to sleep but I never tried to masturbate. But then, I’ve repented about it. I stopped watching those kind of videos and started to control myself. Through the years, I strive myself to repent. Though there were times that I had unwanted thoughts again or had watched movies with romance, I did still really control myself and repent until the time came that I’ve seen myself change and started to make things better with God. Now I’m 18 years old, but still, those things I made in the past kept on bothering me, like every time I pray and ask for forgiveness, that sins I’ve made before are flashing back through my mind and I just can’t help myself but to cry and say things like “I’m so unclean, unholy, I’m not a virtuous woman etc.”. I always ask myself “Am I forgiven? Am I still virtuous in the sight of God?”. Because of that, I’ve searched lds articles about the ways to be truly repentant or how do we know if we are forgiven because I had this burning desire to be forgiven and endure righteousness in my life. The only problem is, I always remember this past problem or mistake I’ve made. I’ve read a phrase in an article and said “confess to your bishop”, but I’ve also read saying that “God will not judge us by the things we did in the past, but will judge us for what we’ve become”. At this era of my life, I’ve also seen how I become closer to God– I received the y.w. medallion, had church and institute callings, attend baptism for the dead and the like, which is kind of related to the second quoted phrase I wrote. But, I’m still bothered by the mistake before even though I’ve repented about it. I planned to talk to my bishop but I guess the things I did happened so long ago already and they had meeting last Sunday so I wasn’t able to approach him (or I’m just not that ready too hehehe) So, I just discussed this burden I had with one my close friends and I’m happy that it did lighten my heart and she completely understands me 🙂 But I always think that my repentance is not enough. So my questions are: Is this a serious sin? Do I still really need to confess to my bishop about it or would it be okay if I’ll keep this between me and the Lord and continue myself in righteousness? Do you think I’m still virtuous? Hoping for your positive response, thank you 🙂

        Reply
        • Jimmy
          Jimmy says:

          Livvi, I’m sorry about those things that happened when you were younger. It sounds like you have taken many of the right steps to repent and be clean. Ultimately, your spiritual cleanliness and worthiness is between you and the Lord. I wish I could offer more help than that. But there is someone who can help more, and that is your bishop. If you are unsure of your standing before God, then I recommend you go talk to your bishop. He has been called and set apart by priesthood authority “to be a judge in Israel” (D&C 107: 72) and as such, he is granted the gift to “discern” (D&C 46:27) things such as the worthiness of the church members in his congregation. Good luck and God bless.

          Reply
  24. Sara
    Sara says:

    I broke the law of chastity about 2 years ago. I have pushed aside the repentance process and forgot about my sins along the way . I was wondering about how long the repentance process would be for that? & if I wanted to serve my mission in November, would that be too soon?

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Sara, I congratulate you on your desire to serve the Lord. This will bless you throughout your life and will help you become clean and worthy before God. The Lord said to early Church missionaries, “And in this place let them lift up their voice and declare my word with loud voices, without wrath or doubting, lifting up holy hands upon them. For I am able to make you holy, and your sins are forgiven you.” D&C 60:7 (see my post Missionary Work Cleanses Sin)

      The length of the repentance process will vary from person to person depending on a lot of circumstances. Your bishop will be able to help you know what must be done to repent and become clean and when it will be complete. Please be open and honest with him and I’m sure he will help you get ready and leave on a mission as soon as possible. Good luck and God bless.

      Reply
  25. Lora
    Lora says:

    Hello, i am 20 years old.. 2 years ago i entered a relationship with a nonmember until now we are together, we first broke the law of chastity when we’re on our 5th month and kept doing it… and just a week ago i felt very regretful about everything, i am really disgust and disappointed in myself. i really want to repent.. i already confessed this with our Heavenly Father.. i am ashamed and very embarrassed to talk about this to our bishop, i don’t have the strength to confess. But if i do, am i also going to tell this to my parents? I want to be cleansed again. I want to be married in the temple someday, is it still possible?

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Lora, I understand how embarrassing it can be to talk to your bishop about these things, but I hope “in the strength of the Lord” (Alma 46:20) you will find courage to do so. You may have already confessed to Heavenly Father and He may have already forgiven you, yet I still think that with the serious nature of these transgressions, you should talk it over with your bishop. He assure you that he will be loving and supportive and will help you in many ways that you do not now realize. What you tell the bishop he will definitely keep confidential, though he may encourage you to talk to your parents about the situation if he thinks they should know and could help.

      I can also promise you that being clean and worthy to married in the temple is within your grasp thanks to the healing power of our Savior Jesus Christ. Remember what the Jesus said in John 15: 3-4, that as we abide in the Savior, we are clean through his word. And also the words of Isaiah, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). Then you can like Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to whom the Lord said in D&C 110: 5 “Behold, your sins are forgiven you; you are clean before me; therefore, lift up your heads and rejoice.” Good luck and may God bless and be with you.

      Reply
  26. D
    D says:

    I have had a sex addiction prior to being baptized and fooled around with someone who introduced it to me very early. When I was 8, I didn’t tell my bishop and was baptized unworthily. I was was frozen with fear as the time came to be interviewed prior to my baptism and didn’t say anything. When I was 12 or 13, I left the Church after my dad stopped going after he stumbled on some information about Joseph Smith and Church history. I have heard some really surprising things about the Church and the Prophet Joseph and left when my dad did. I am 30 now and 2 years ago, I gained a sure testimony of the Book of Mormon and that the Prophet Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and I doubt not that he was. I am left with many unanswered questions and that is okay with me. I am willing to put those on the shelf for now because of my testimony. Since my re-conversion (if you will it that), I have been forsaking and repenting of many sins. I am obviously too old now to serve a mission anyways and this is not my question. I am having an extremely difficult time overcoming this addiction that is in violation of the law of chastity. I have been talking to my bishop and have told him everything. I literally have been marking each day on my calendar that I have gone in sobriety and I am desperately trying to overcome this one addiction. I have already quit smoking after 13 years, drinking coffee, watching any entertainment media and video games, and a few other things. The one thing I haven’t been able to kick is sexual purity. Its as if Satan is really working on me hard to keep my spiritually imprisoned so that I can not hold my head up in confidence when speaking to the Lord. I am going through online schooling through the Pathway program set up by the Church and this creates a problem for me because I am tempted to look at porn and violate the law of chastity. I really don’t have anyone to talk to anymore about this problem because the only person I trusted not to run their mouth about it was my bishop and he just got called to another position as 1st counselor in the stake presidency. I’m lost and don’t know who to turn to. I have asked repeatedly for help from the Lord and He does help me, but I not enough it feels like. I have prayed for the desire to follow Him to be greater than the desire to sin, but to no avail. I feel like He is trying to teach me something and I cannot figure out what that is. I have prayed, fasted, read scriptures and continue doing so. I hope that I am not too far so as not to be able to serve a mission in the future, as I have surpassed the age limit to serve. I have not received a calling in the Church yet after being there for 2 years now and I am wondering if I will be able to because of my addiction. Is there mercy for me? Am I allowed to be a missionary in my older age, to serve in the Church, or to even reach the highest degree of Celestial glory? Or is it too late for me?

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      With your former bishop now in the stake presidency, you can still talk to him to get encouragement, guidance, and support. When you speak with him again, you may want to ask him about the Church’s Addiction Recovery Program. Sex addiction, they say, is among the most powerful addictions that exist. You will need to draw power from your Savior, your family, and friends in order to overcome this. Be prayerful, drink deeply from the scriptures, and I know that through the power of God you will be able to overcome it and be able to return to live with your Father in Heaven in Celestial glory. May God bless and be with you.

      Reply
  27. Atlanta
    Atlanta says:

    Hi, so I converted to the church 2 years ago and have been living and doing everything to the best of my ability, I stopped drinking alcohol and coffee the moment the missionaries told me and I haven’t had sex for about 4 years now. But I was on Facebook earlier (on an LDS mom’s page) and they were having a conversation which included masturbation, I honestly had no clue about masturbation being against the law of chastity and now I feel awful and disgusting. I feel like I have let Heavenly Father down and broken my promises that I made in baptism. How do I get over this, if I go to the bishop will I get excommunicated or made to do some horrible thing? I am literally crying and I don’t know what to do, I feel very stupid.
    Thank you for any advice you can give me.

    Reply
  28. Charlotte
    Charlotte says:

    My boyfriend has just recently come back from his mission and he and I have been seriously talking about being married in the next year. We’ve both had problems with intimacy in the past, obviously he’s talked with his bishop before he served his mission and resolved things. But I have yet to do so. These issues include breaking the law of chastity, so My question is: how long would I have to wait after talking to my bishop before I am worthy to enter the temple again.? Thanks!

    Reply
  29. Angel
    Angel says:

    How serious is oral sex with a person of the same gender. Im not a homosexual. I know that now even more especially after what happened. I was just under the influence of marijuana and the person took advantage of my state. It was my decision either way but i wasnt thinking straight. I just want to know how serious it is compared to other transgressions

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Angel, Sexual sin, generally speaking, is among the more serious sins. The prophet Alma in reference to sexual sin said, “Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?” (Alma 39:5). There are, though, many factors the Lord, and the bishop, will consider when determining the length and specifics of the repentance process. So be sure to talk to your bishop as soon as possible. He will love and help and support you through this process and through the grace of our Savior Jesus Christ I know you can be made clean and pure. Good luck and God bless.

      Reply
  30. Greda
    Greda says:

    Hi, I am 16 years old and I broke the law of Chasity. This is the first serious sin I have ever broken. I have tried my best to keep all the commandments in the church and the fact that I did this is killing me within. I am currently away from home and my ward. I don’t know what to do. When I get back home I want to talk to my bishop, but I now my parents will go crazy. Everyone in my church looks up to me and I don’t want them to see me not taking the sacrament and think differently of me. I am scared and I know I have disappointed a lot of people. Will the process be long? It’s only been a day since everything happen. I feel like I’m losing my mind.

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Greda, I’m sorry about the hard things you are going through right now. I have a couple of thoughts in response to your situation. Your decision to go talk to your bishop is right on. He will help and support you and he has the keys of discernment to know the will of the Lord regarding the repentance process. God loves you and his servants on earth, such as your bishop, love you and want the best for you.

      I know you don’t want your parents or friends at church to be disappointed in you, but remember that what God thinks is more important than what other people think of you. “Fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever” (D&C 122:9). The repentance process may be long, but it is a path that leads to cleanliness and peace and joy. Remember the words of Isaiah, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18) and what the Lord told Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery “Behold, your sins are forgiven you; you are clean before me; therefore, lift up your heads and rejoice.”

      No bishop and none of your friends and family who truly know you, will think ill of you because you are working towards full repentance. From my experience, people who have truly repented, truly changed, are deserving of our greatest admiration and respect. I hope everything goes well for you. I know it will take a lot of courage to do all that you need to do, but you can do it. The Savior suffered infinitely more than anything we can imagine, and He lends us His strength, if we will only ask for it in faith. Good luck and God bless.

      Reply
  31. Helga
    Helga says:

    Hi jimmy, your answer to my question will be a definitely big relief….. when a returned missionary broke the law of chastity will he still be able to have a calling at church? Like be a ward mission leader or a sunday school teacher?

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Helga, The answer to your question is that it depends. I can’t tell you definitively because there are a lot of factors involved. Whether or not he can still hold a calling will depend on the seriousness of how he broke the law of chastity. For example viewing pornography and having sexual intercourse with someone you’re not married to are both violations of the law of chastity, but the sexual intercourse is a much more serious violation. If it is a relatively minor law of chastity violation, he should be able to continue to have a church calling. But with more serious sins, transgressors are often not given a calling for a time until some repentance steps have been completed. Only his priesthood leaders, like his bishop and stake president, can determine how serious the transgression is and if he should or should not have a church calling. Therefore, he should make plans to speak with his bishop as soon as possible. I hope this answers your question. Good luck and God bless.

      Reply
      • Helga
        Helga says:

        Thank you so much Jimmy.. thank you for taking the time to answer.. what a relief! But i have another question i’m sorry, i promise this will be the last.. if it’s a sexual intercourse violation, do you have an idea how long or how many months his repentance process might be before he becomes a ward mission leader?

        Reply
        • Jimmy
          Jimmy says:

          Again, it’s impossible for me to say. It could be a month. It could be a year. The bishop is the “judge in Israel” (D&C 107: 72) to whom the Lord will give inspiration regarding the length of time for the steps in the repentance process.

          Reply
  32. Laura
    Laura says:

    Hi, so about a year and a half ago i broke the law of chastity (but not sexual intercourse) with this guy who is currenlty serving a mission. However, i’m not sure if he resolved things about it with his bishop because i’ve never really had the courage to ask him about it but i’m assuming he did. So anyways, i have repented of this sin but every now and then it keeps coming back to me. I have also asked the Lord in prayer if this is something that I should tell my bishop and my parents about but i’ve never really felt the urge to do it. Why does it still come back to me? How do i know that the Lord forgave me?

    I am also planning to apply for a mission by next year but would i have to open this up for my mission prep? And if i did confess to my bishop, would it affect the guy while on his mission?

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Laura, like you said, let’s assume the guy has resolved his transgressions, because even if he didn’t, that’s between him and the Lord.

      You said you repented for braking the law of chastity a year and a half ago. May I asked if your repentance included confessing your actions to your bishop? Most law of chastity violations are serious sins and require confessing to the bishop. If you did not do that, perhaps that is why your former transgressions continue to bother you. Remember what the Book of Mormon missionary Aaron taught King Lamoni’s father about fully repenting, “if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest” (Alma 22:16). I believe the blessing of a clear conscience is part of the hope that comes when we completely repent, and complete repentance means to confess our sins (D&C 58:43) to God and to our priesthood leaders when they are very serious.

      Even if your sins were not serious enough to require you to confess them to your bishop, it certainly doesn’t hurt to talk to him about them. If you are planning to go on a mission anyway, you will have several interviews with your bishop in the mission application process. Take that opportunity to discuss with your bishop how you can know if the Lord has forgiven you. You can also take advice from Joseph Smith on that subject. He taught that we can know our standing before the Lord through prayer and personal revelation from God. Joseph Smith said, “After I had retired to my bed for the night, I betook myself to prayer and supplication to Almighty God for forgiveness of all my sins and follies, and also for a manifestation to me, that I might know of my state and standing before him; for I had full confidence in obtaining a divine manifestation” (Joseph Smith—History 1:29).

      I hope this helps. Good luck with your mission prep. I hope you have a wonderful mission. May God bless and be with you.

      Reply
  33. Jacob
    Jacob says:

    Hi jimmy. So I broke the law of chastity a while ago but never confessed about it. I did tell one of my bishops but I still had this addiction. It started with masturbation and pornography. I continued to have this struggle for a while until just a week ago I stopped because I really want to go on a mission. I had never had oral sex or intercourse with anyone until about 7 months ago when I met this girl who I dated for a while. We’ve been having those sexual relations a lot during the whole time we dated. I broke it off with her a week ago because the temptations were too strong when I was around her. So there goes another broken law of chastity. I feel absolutely terrible right now knowing that I probably can’t serve a mission. I am currently 22 and I turn 23 in January. I know the age limit is 25, but I’ve read that it can be a year from the last time I broke the law of chastity. Before I met that girl, I received the melchezidak priesthood 9 months ago and felt good about it, but then went back to the porn and masturbation addiction; and then sexual relations with her. I haven’t been to church since before dating her because I felt so guilty. I just really want to serve a mission now and I feel terrible about these sins. I know I need to confess to my bishop but right now I just moved to another state 2 days ago so I don’t even know my ward yet. I don’t know if I should tell him right away even when we don’t know each other. I just don’t feel comfortable. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Jacob, I’m glad you have the desire to serve a mission. Missionary work will be good for you. As it says in James 5:20, missionary work “shall hide a multitude of sins”, both of the converted or the converter.

      You may not be able to serve a mission, but it is quite possible that you could still go. Talk to your bishop as soon as possible. He will help you repent, which is the most important focus for you right now, and also he will be able to tell you if a mission could still be in your future.

      Since you recently moved, perhaps this is a good time to start fresh with a new life and leave your sinful past life behind you. I suggest going to your new ward tomorrow and talk to the clerk right away and ask for an appointment to meet with the bishop. Like the prophet Alma, I strongly suggest that you “do not procrastinate the day of your repentance” (Alma 34:33-35).

      Good luck, and may God bless and be with you.

      Reply
  34. Jon
    Jon says:

    Hi Jimmy,

    I appreciate the sensitivity in which you address your commenters. Thank you. Recently, a good friend “came to himself” on his mission and confessed indiscretions to his mission president. The mission president wanted to keep my friend in the mission field, but he counseled with the mission department which ordered the missionary home. He is eligible to return to the mission field in 1 year. No sooner. My friend has accepted his fate and is looking to return.

    In my opinion, these policies almost make a mockery of the atonement. First, the mission department never talked with my friend. How could they ascertain his contrition and godly sorrow? How could they make judgments on his heart? My friend didn’t confess to the mission department, rather to his priesthood leader. Apparently there is a policy (not doctrine) that says when a line is crossed, this punishment (a one year waiting period) must be exacted. Having a defined, universal waiting period is akin to offering up 30 “hail Mary’s” and 50 “our Fathers”. Once everything has been crossed off, you are done. I find a defined waiting period repulsive. Aren’t individuals different? Isn’t repentance an individual act that is different for different people? Isn’t repentance between God (the Bishop as His representative) and the individual? The mission department should have nothing to do with it.

    How do we know a person has repented? The scriptures tell us a person has repented if he confesses the sins and forsakes the sins. If these steps have been accomplished, where does a 1 year waiting period fit in? Forsaking = 1 year? God has told us that when we repent of our sins, He remembers them no more. While God might forget the sins, the Church has a long memory. For example, if a person has been excommunicated and then rebaptized, he cannot serve as a bishop. This tells me that with the Church repentance is very conditional. God will forgive and forget, but the Church will not.

    When Jesus was confronted with the woman taken in adultery, he seemed moved with compassion upon her. His final words to her were “go and sin no more”. She must have been so relieved at the mercy shown to her. It seems there has been little mercy shown my friend. A suffocating boot has been placed upon his throat. Yes, my friend sinned. He did some terrible deeds. I am not absolving him of responsibility. But when mercy could have been extended by a loving mission president, policy kicked in, and that mercy was withdrawn. My friends life was dramatically altered because of the sins he committed and the heavy hand of justice by the church. It seems that “raising the bar” means one has to repent differently than normal. I am trying to reconcile that in my heart. I know the Book of Mormon is true. Not all church policy is “true”.

    Reply
  35. Molly
    Molly says:

    From the ages of around 12-14 I was struggling with an addiction to pornography. I repented for it personally, have told my parents, and have received guidance from them, but I didn’t ever tell my bishop. I have heard that a serious violation of the law of chastity requires that you confess to your bishop in order to fully repent. Is pornography included in this? It never involved masturbation, if that makes a difference. However, since this was several years ago (I am now 18) and something that I feel forgiven for and have left completely in the past, do I still need to talk to my bishop? I want to submit my papers about a month from now and leave in May, and I am a little worried that I won’t be able to stay on that same timeline if I talk to the bishop about this.

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Molly,

      I do know of any statement from the Church or any general authority of the Church stating whether or not pornography addiction specifically needs to be confessed in order for repentance of it to be complete. If you have any reservations, I think it is better to be safe than sorry, so if you’re not sure what to do, it’s best to talk to your bishop and tell him everything.

      Having said that, personally, I don’t think confessing a pornography problem from several years ago would be required. If you haven’t had any problems in that area in four years, I’m sure the Lord has forgiven you and you need not let it bother you any more. But again, that is my opinion. The most important thing is that you follow the promptings of the Spirit of God. If the Holy Ghost is urging you in your mind and/or heart to tell your bishop, then you should definitely follow that prompting.

      Perhaps, re-read section 58 of the Doctrine and Covenants and then see how you feel. Pay particular attention to verses 42 and 43 “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more. By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.”

      Good luck with your mission preparation. I hope you have a wonderful mission.

      Reply
  36. Nick
    Nick says:

    If anyone is reading this, I need help right away. I have been struggling with masturbation almost every night since early 2012 (when I was 17), and I want to stop. It has ruined my life to the point that I couldn’t go on a mission or attend Brigham Young University-Idaho (I actually attended but dropped out) because every time I tried to go to the bishop for an ecclesiastical endorsement, he denied it because of this “gross sin” that needs to be resolved. He told me that I had to be “clean” for three months, but it is “extremely” difficult for me because it is really hard to control myself. I want answers to learn how to be morally clean from this gross sin. How do I learn to keep myself from masturbating as well as swearing like a “drunken sailor” that Gordon B. Hinckley cautioned? Should I go to support groups or should I learn how to discipline myself to prevent any more instances of masturbation.

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Nick, I’m sorry to hear about the difficulties you are having. Please know that this is something many young men struggle with, so you are not alone. And also please know that God loves you and with strengthen you and support you. Get on your knees and pray each morning for strength beyond your own to resist sexual temptation, and I know the Lord will bless and help you in miraculous ways.

      The world is full of temptations. Satan and his devils are trying to persuade us to make bad choices. The battle against Satan is real. And when you go into battle each day, you should prepare yourself. Just like when the Nephites went to battle against the Lamanites and prepared themselves with defensive armor, you must be prepared to defend yourself from Satan’s temptations each day. “Moroni had prepared his people with breastplates and with arm-shields, yea, and also shields to defend their heads, and also they were dressed with thick clothing.” (Alma 43:19)

      You too must “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). You will be able to do that with constant prayer, scripture reading, and studying the words of the living prophets. You may also ask your priesthood leaders what ideas they have, and that could include some kind of addiction support group. I have heard that sexual addiction is one of the most difficult types of addiction to overcome. You will need Heaven’s help, and I know that help is available to the humble followers of our Savior Jesus Christ.

      Reply
      • Nick
        Nick says:

        It gets worse. My father was excommunicated from the LDS church over adultery as he was too weak to overcome the temptation not to do it, and he has no desire to repent and come back to the LDS church because of this incident. Basically, he has trained himself to think that the LDS church is not the foundation to build on. Because of this, a divorce happened and my mother remarried to a more “faithful” spouse. When I first experienced this tragedy, I thought that there was no hope for repentance at this point. I am afraid that I will meet the same fate as my father and be desensitized to the evils of the world, and I don’t know what will happen to my father in the afterlife if he is too stubborn to repent and come back even though he remarried to a non-LDS person.

        Right now, I am forced to attend a college that I don’t like due to issues at my other college aka BYU-Idaho. This college doesn’t have LDS principles which makes it more difficult for me to not be desensitized to it. I don’t know how I can train myself to think in LDS ways as I have been dealing with desensitization for some time now. Why does the LDS church claim to be the one true church on this earth when there are so many other foundations to build upon?

        Reply
        • Jimmy
          Jimmy says:

          There’s always hope for repentance for you and your father. The power of the atonement of Jesus Christ is greater than your realize, and extends beyond the grave and into the eternities. You may try reading a book called “Will Power is Not Enough.” It was written by an LDS author and talks about tapping into the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to overcome addictive behavior. Using will power to effect change in life is often not effective. There is a better way and that is tapping into the power that our Savior freely gives us. Good luck and God bless.

          Reply
  37. Non
    Non says:

    What happens when you have went a certain amount of months without pornography and masturbation and receive a mission call and you report in let’s say 2 weeks and you violate the law of chastity and you’ve already talked to your bishop? Does your call get postponed? Do you get a different call? Do you still even enter the mtc and just work through it with? Would you have to go start over and go that certain amount of months again?

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      So much depends on the person involved, the nature of the transgressions and the inspiration of the church leaders (your bishop and stake president). The best thing is to always “do what is right, let the consequence follow” (Hymn 237). I believe that if a missionary has a problem with masturbation while in the mission field, they try to work it out there without sending him home. But if the missionary hasn’t left yet, I’m not sure what they will say. Good luck. Stay strong. God loves you and needs you.

      Reply
  38. Scott
    Scott says:

    Preparing for a mission and want to go in 5 months. The bishop knows about past masturbation problems now I’m trying to overcome the habit but temptation is always there. Any advice so I can have spirit with me and I never struggle with it again? I really want more anything to serve a mission in 4-6 months but am worried I can’t break the habit. Thanks for the help!

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Scott, I would give you similar advice that I have given other young men in your situation. First, have faith and confidence that God loves you and with strengthen you. Second, know that the battle against Satan is real, and when you go into battle each day, you should prepare yourself just like when the Nephites. “Moroni had prepared his people with breastplates and with arm-shields, yea, and also shields to defend their heads, and also they were dressed with thick clothing.” (Alma 43:19) You must “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). Do that by reading for a good amount of time in the scriptures each day. Get on your knees and pray each morning for strength beyond your own to resist sexual temptation. Do these things and I know the Lord will bless and help you in miraculous ways. Good luck and God bless.

      Reply
  39. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    I have been a part of the church my whole life and love it. I really want to serve a mission and I’m about to turn 19. I was in a relationship with a guy, an inactive member, for about a year and ended it 3 months ago. While in the relationship we broke the law of chastity (never intercourse) but we definitely went to far several times. We knew it was bad and we tried to stop many times. During this time, I also developed an addiction to pornography. I confessed to my bishop but then slipped back into my habits a month or so later. I have repeated personally and gotten rid of anything that will tempt me. I have been clean for 4 months now and feel much better. Do I need to go to the bishop about it still? He knows about my precious sins, but just not that I slipped again. However, I feel very good with where I am at, and I want to worthy to serve a mission this next year. What is the best thing for me to do?

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Jessica, To me, the best thing to do is the safe thing to do because I always think it is better to be safe than sorry…and that would be to talk to your bishop about it. If it’s true that you have had no issues with pornography for four months, then I don’t think it will effect your ability to serve a mission next year.

      You said you feel good where you are at, and that probably is because the Lord has forgiven you. “Behold, your sins are forgiven you; you are clean before me; therefore, lift up your heads and rejoice.” I pray that you can stay worthy as you continue to prepare for your mission. Good luck and God bless.

      Reply
  40. Lillian
    Lillian says:

    I want to clear something up. I feel like a lot of people get confused about this topic. So, is masturbation considered a serious sin? Is it concidered breaking the law of chastity and is it something that you need to confess to your bishop?

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      I don’t know how much I’ll be able to clear up, but I will try. Masturbation is certainly considered breaking the law of chastity, but how serious of a sin is a topic that is up to the discretion of local Church leaders (your bishop and stake president) through the influence of the Holy Spirit. The Church doesn’t give local priesthood leaders a lot of direct guidance on the subject, I believe, because they want leaders to let the Holy Ghost guide them.

      The more serious the sin the more time that the Lord, through his Church leaders, will require for the repentance process. For example adultery, a married person having sexual intercourse with someone other than their spouse, is among the most serious sexual sins. For adultery, the Church tells local priesthood leaders that there is a mandatory one-year repentance process, though it could be two or three years depending on the seriousness of the sin and what the priesthood leaders feel is the right thing to do. As far as I know, there is no mandatory repentance time for masturbation. The priesthood leaders I have known generally have felt that a month, maybe two or three, of refraining from masturbating would be necessary repentance for that transgression. For young people going on a mission, a bishop will want to know that the missionary candidate has been free of the sin of masturbation for a month and is committed to not doing it again before they turn in the mission application paperwork.

      As for requirements to confess masturbation, again, that is a matter of what the Spirit of God tells you to do. I would say that if you are ever unsure, it is better to be safe than sorry, so I would suggest talking to your bishop. If masturbation is a problem you have had in the past, but it has been many months since you’ve had a problem with it, you may not need to confess it. But again, be prayerful and seek the guidance of the Lord. Remember “by the power of the Holy Ghost” God “will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:3).

      I hope this helps clarify some of your confusion. Good luck and God bless.

      Reply
  41. Opal
    Opal says:

    Here’s my question: I’m terrified by the possibility of how long the repentance process could take. It is something I need to discuss with a bishop, I know that. I’ve had many nights and days where I’ve felt nothing but guilt and just this, unbearable sadness for what I’ve done. For myself, the people I love, and for what I’ve done to make the savior suffer. I have no excuse. I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed, and I could feel comfort and love coming back, the holy ghost becoming an influence again. Sometimes, it feels stronger now than it has before I made this sin. I’ve even fasted for forgiveness, and I don’t usually fast for medical reasons. But all thats left is seeing a bishop. I don’t trust the bishop I have now, he and I aren’t close and I really have a bad feeling about him. I’ll be going to a different ward soon, but I’m terrified with the possibility of “how long” the repentance process could take. 5 years? 1 year? I’m so terrified because I just want and crave forgiveness. I will confess as soon as possible, but…. Please, just, what is the LONGEST time for the repentance process? So I can anticipate the worst. My sin is pretty grievous with the law of chastity. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Opal
      Opal says:

      Oh and I forgot to mention: I stopped this sin 9 months ago. I’ve been doing all I can to stay away from it, and even telling my boyfriend to help me be strong and to expect me to be clean, no matter what. So I’ve been clean for 9 months, all the while praying and doing all I said above^

      Reply
      • Jimmy
        Jimmy says:

        Opal, The LDS Church Handbook for bishops and stake presidents says that a person who has been guilty of serious violation of the law of chastity must repent before they can receive a temple recommend. The bishop and stake president have the responsibility to confirm that the person is free from serious transgression for a sufficient time to make sure they have manifested true repentance. This period can be as long as three years for multiple serious transgressions and should not be less than one year from the most recent serious incident. Be prayerful. Continue to strive to be close to you Father in Heaven. Remember that God loves you, and that “perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18). “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son …that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)

        Reply
  42. Jake
    Jake says:

    Hey Jimmy, I’m 16 and a half and I have a problem. I have been struggling with pornography and masturbation for about 2 years now. I have been getting better and better at fighting and I have been talking with my bishop, but there’s something that worries me more.

    A few weeks ago I tried smoking marijuana for the first time and I have used it twice since then. Tonight I realized the serious if this sin and I now know that it needs to be addressed to my bishop. But I am worried as far as serving a mission, can I still serve a mission if I have used an illegal drug? I’d be happy to quit because smoking weed does not bring me joy, but I’m more concerned with the result of this sin. I know on one the mission interview questions asked about illegal drug use and that really worries me because I do not know what it mean for means for me.

    Anyways that’s all thank you

    Reply
    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Jake, I don’t think you have ruined your chances of going on a mission, but you need to stop this addictive behavior right away. You have been working with your bishop and you need to continue to do so. Please be completely open and honest with him and tell him of all these transgressions so you can begin the process of repenting and putting these things behind you.

      Two scriptures come to mind that may help:
      -Ether 12:27 “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”
      -Mosiah 3:19 “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”

      Come to God through prayer, scripture study, and religious devotion. Be humble and through the grace of God and his Son Jesus Christ. Seek to understand the atonement and to follow the example of Jesus Christ in all you do in life. As you do these things, you will be able to gain strength beyond your own to fight and conquer these temptations. May God bless you in your preparation for a mission and for eternal life.

      Reply

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