Repentance, confessions, and letting go of the past

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Heber13
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Repentance, confessions, and letting go of the past

Post by Heber13 » 08 Aug 2018, 14:12

I'm trying to study and better understand how to give someone else the best advice possible.

What if someone breaks the law of chastity. They feel bad about it, but never confess. They move on with life and over the years feel it is unresolved, but don't worry about it.

They are married. There seems to be no lasting repercussions...other than what they have been taught in church that it is unresolved, which makes them feel bad about themselves for messing up. They know other couples that confessed and went through the disciplinary process...which seemed kinda harsh to them. They aren't sure they need to do that for something years in the past.

If they ask the bishop, they know the answer they will get, and don't really agree with what they feel the bishop would always say to that kind of question. So they avoid it. In fact, it makes them not want to go to church much. It seems at church they hear it over and over again. Almost like a reminder that it was bad and unresolved. If they didn't hear that at church, it wouldn't be bothering them now. But...church keeps reminding them of their past.

What kind of advice could you give them?

I want to help them move towards peace, put the past behind them, not be prisoner of the past. But they seem to not hear that message and are considering not going to church anymore rather than going to talk to a bishop about something years in the past.

What do you all think? What is the gospel principle to cling to? What helps move to peace, what helps let go of the past? What brings peace? Should they try to nuance what they hear at church to what feels right to them, or just submit and go confess and let the process carry them forward?

Is it manufacturing the guilt that requires confession to remove the guilt manufactured?


Your thoughts on this are appreciated.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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dande48
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Re: Repentance, confessions, and letting go of the past

Post by dande48 » 08 Aug 2018, 18:52

I think there is healing to be found in confessions, but I think the LDS Church does them all wrong. I think it's important to tell someone, someone respectable, someone close to God that's you've made a mistake. And then to have them tell you, in essence, "I understand. I love you. God loves you. You're going to be ok." It's absolutely therapudic.

I'd send them to do a Catholic confession. They do it much better than we have.

In the Church, we place our identity in our "Spirit", as the constant "me" throughout our lives. We also tend to pretend those things we "repented of" never happened. I don't think that's very helpful in moving on. We can't change the past. We made mistakes, and should own up to them. But we can change. We can look on who we were, and say "That's not me. I'm not that person anymore."

Repentance is not pretending you've always been perfect. As the D&C tells us "By this ye may know if a man has repented of his sins. Behold, he will confess them, and forsake them". That's all there is to it.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

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Minyan Man
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Re: Repentance, confessions, and letting go of the past

Post by Minyan Man » 08 Aug 2018, 20:48

In 12 step recovery programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous & Narcotics Anonymous, we talk about
making amends
.
The steps include the following:
Step Eight: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Step Nine: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others


We do the steps with a more experienced member that is called: A Sponsor.
A Sponsor is similar to a coach who has been through the steps & walks you through the process with no judgement.
Only compassion & understanding. A good Sponsor needs to be very thorough & even tough sometimes.
It is not meant to be a quick series of asking for forgiveness & moving on. It can be a slow process over many months.
You do it individually, one at a time until you get through your personal list.

If you do it right, your Sponsor can become a life long friend as a result of shared experiences like this.
Confidentiality is the cornerstone for the success of programs like this.

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Heber13
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Re: Repentance, confessions, and letting go of the past

Post by Heber13 » 09 Aug 2018, 07:49

Thanks dande. I just don't trust the leaders. My daughter did that process and it seemed so harsh, and so long and so unnecessary, almost like they just needed to be fair to people who didnt mess up before marriage. Idk. But it seemed harsh and my daughter was told by the bishop to read "Miracle of Forgiveness" and afterwards basically accepted that even though she repented, it would never be the same, through eternity. Not just the chewed piece of gum analogy (stupid) but the unworthiness to have the highest degrees of heaven. I have tried to help her see otherwise. I wanted to try to help this friend avoid the same trauma. But maybe confession is just needed.

I will keep studying.

MM....great thoughts. I think the bishop should be the coach role you talk of, more than the judge in Israel. But that's not their role, it seems. Or at least, not their primary role.

With their situation...if it is a private thing between the two of them and God...there isn't really anyone to go make amends to. I think that is part of my feeling on this. If they just let it go, it goes away because no one was impacted or needs amends from them.

But church manufactures the guilt for them, it seems, then wants to sell them the antidote for a painful price.

I need help to know how to see it better or how to help them if I can, or they may just walk away from the church all together.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Holy Cow
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Re: Repentance, confessions, and letting go of the past

Post by Holy Cow » 09 Aug 2018, 08:27

I see a few variables in this situation.
1. Is this past event impacting this couples marriage at all? Is the partner holding onto it or hurt by this past event?
If this event is still troubling the spouse, then it may more valuable to talk about it with a marriage counselor to help them both move past it and start looking more at the future than the past. If the spouse is feeling hurt by the past, then they may also be feeling that by not confessing and facing the consequences their SO is trying to sweep it under the rug. However, if the spouse isn't bothered by this and it isn't affecting their marriage, then I would think that dragging it up with a bishop would only stir up things that are better left in the past. It really depends on how this is impacting the marriage and whether or not both parties feel like they can let this go.

2. Does this person feel that confessing to a bishop is the only way to get resolution?
If this person is feeling like their only options are a.) confess to a bishop and go through a disciplinary action that feels overly burdensome, or b.) leave the church, then I can see why they would be feeling stuck. The church teaches that the bishop is the judge, and that confession is required, so it's easy to see why they're feeling this way.

3. How orthodox is this couple? Are they black/white thinkers, or are they willing to think outside the box?
If this couple is completely orthodox, then it will be hard for them to get past feeling like confessing to the bishop or leaving the church are the only options. I look at it differently, though (as do most of us here). I see the church as a tool that is available for us to use to develop a relationship with God. It's there to facilitate the process. And, the bishop is one piece of facilitating that. However, my relationship with God is MINE. Nobody NEEDS the church to have a relationship with God. If this person feels like they can find resolution by going directly to God to confess and seek His advice, then perhaps that would be a way to cut the church/bishop out of the equation. They can still go through the repentance process, without relying on the bishop to intercede. That's an unorthodox perspective, and not everyone would agree with that, but I suppose if you ask a group of unorthodox folks for their thoughts, you're going to get some unorthodox answers. :smile:
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Re: Repentance, confessions, and letting go of the past

Post by Curt Sunshine » 09 Aug 2018, 09:18

My response might not appear to answer the post's questions directly, but I think it does. I think it is important to get to the heart of the issues, as a whole.

I think the biggest issue in the LDS Church relative to repentance, confession, and letting go of the past is the fact that possible punishment is tied to EVERY formal confession.

Yes, I know not all confessions result in punishment, and I know many mistakes, transgressions, and even sins almost always will not lead to formal punishment, but the implicit or explicit threat always is there. Leadership roulette makes this threat even greater, especially before a Bishop or Stake President establishes a reputation in regard to how he (always he) approaches formal discipline. Add ridiculous roulette elements like women being disciplined by leaders who view ALL sexual activity of ANY kind as sin (like being victims of sexual aggression, for example, or breastfeeding in public - even though breastfeeding is not sexual in nature and becomes sexual only to people who make it sexual), and the threat grows in the minds of the membership.

I believe there must be situations where confession includes elements of punishment. For example, I don't believe someone should be able to confess to sexual abuse, assault, coercion, etc. and be told, in practical terms, "Thanks for confessing. See you in church next Sunday." I don't believe people should be able to gain organizational forgiveness or absolution for commiting crimes without facing the legal consequences of those crimes first. However, in the vast majority of situations, tying potential punishment to confession only drives issues underground, turns many into obsessions, and literally hinders true repentance.

Finally, I believe FAR more things are only between each individual and God than we tend to believe in the Church. Confession is critical to most things, but confessing to an ecclesiastical leader often isn't.

In the couple's specific case, they have repented. There appears to be no question of that. The fear of organizational punishment is a recognition that our system forces formal confession to an ecclesiastical leader to be part of accepted repentance - but it also is a recognition that truly repentant people can be punished LONG after the fact - that punishment too often becomes punitive only and not therapeutic or rehabilitative.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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dande48
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Re: Repentance, confessions, and letting go of the past

Post by dande48 » 09 Aug 2018, 11:25

Heber13 wrote:
09 Aug 2018, 07:49
I just don't trust the leaders.
Me neither. I guess what HC asked, about how orthodox or black and white believers there are, affects whether they should talk with the Bishop. But like Curt pointed out, it's probably not going to be very psychologically and emotionally healing. But unless the couple is willing to give up the idea of confessing to the bishop as a necessity for repentance, I don't know if there is any other way.

If they'll accept it, you can remind them that Christ is the only perfect judge, and will be the only judge at the last days. If they need to confess to the right authority, they can do it now through prayer, and at the judgement bar in person. I don't see why God would place a judgeship on any man who doesn't know our past, our future, or our hearts, to decide whether a perfect being forgives us. Confessions should be full of compassion and free from judgement. In the LDS Church, they are not.
Heber13 wrote:
09 Aug 2018, 07:49
But it seemed harsh and my daughter was told by the bishop to read "Miracle of Forgiveness" and afterwards basically accepted that even though she repented, it would never be the same, through eternity.
I don't believe it will ever be the same. Our mistakes make us who we are; and hopefully will make us into better people. We can change and improve. I think that's the heart of repentance. But to deny our past... to carry on pretending like it's never happened... to erase a part of our lives, because it isn't pretty, because it's painful... well, if that's the atonement, it might as well blot us out of existence. I'd hate to think the celestial kingdom is full of people with large chunks of their memory wiped, acting as if they were perfect from the beginning. Better to face our sins, accept them, take responsibility for them, learn from them, and carry on.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

AmyJ
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Re: Repentance, confessions, and letting go of the past

Post by AmyJ » 09 Aug 2018, 11:31

dande48 wrote:
09 Aug 2018, 11:25
I don't believe it will ever be the same. Our mistakes make us who we are; and hopefully will make us into better people. We can change and improve. I think that's the heart of repentance. But to deny our past... to carry on pretending like it's never happened... to erase a part of our lives, because it isn't pretty, because it's painful... well, if that's the atonement, it might as well blot us out of existence. I'd hate to think the celestial kingdom is full of people with large chunks of their memory wiped, acting as if they were perfect from the beginning. Better to face our sins, accept them, take responsibility for them, learn from them, and carry on.
This post reminded me of a similar post that resurfaced last year entitled, "The Gift of Being Broken".
viewtopic.php?f=5&t=7710&start=10&hilit=gold

It is our imperfect experiences once sanctified that cause us to mature and be more compassionate towards others.

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Heber13
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Re: Repentance, confessions, and letting go of the past

Post by Heber13 » 09 Aug 2018, 11:59

Thanks for the responses, I only have a minute now and will respond more later,

But...just to clarify (and thanks for the questions to help know the situation):

- Couple is young, in their mid 20s, transgression was between them not involving others prior to marriage, it does not bother the couple, until they go to church and feel the church requires confession or it will never go away. They don't attend church right now, but would like to.

- They are pretty orthodox black and white thinkers, went to BYU and served a mission and your pretty typical BIC life time members.
Curt Sunshine wrote:
09 Aug 2018, 09:18
Finally, I believe FAR more things are only between each individual and God than we tend to believe in the Church. Confession is critical to most things, but confessing to an ecclesiastical leader often isn't.
I wish they could grasp this.

My efforts to try to get them to believe in themselves and their relationship and the Atonement are not really fully received. They kind of feel like it will always be there until they confess to a bishop and don't want that. They're stuck.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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dande48
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Re: Repentance, confessions, and letting go of the past

Post by dande48 » 09 Aug 2018, 12:30

Heber13 wrote:
09 Aug 2018, 11:59
- Couple is young, in their mid 20s, transgression was between them not involving others prior to marriage, it does not bother the couple, until they go to church and feel the church requires confession or it will never go away. They don't attend church right now, but would like to.
Looking at this (and I'm surprised to be saying this), if they confessed, what's the worst that could happen? Punishing them by taking away their temple recommends or saying they can't take the sacrament? Not attending Church will do they same thing.

Honestly, I'd say tell them to confess. If they're black and white thinkers, and this is keeping them from activity, tell them to talk to the Bishop and jump through his hoops. If you feel prompted, maybe remind them repentance is between them and the Lord, that bishops misjudge and make mistakes, and sometimes say things the Lord would not have them say.

In other circumstances, I'd be more careful if the confession were to humiliate the spouse, dredge up old offenses against the innocent, hurt their social standing, etc. But if you're inactive in the Church and decide to return, it's almost always assumed by the Bishopric and fellow membership you have some stuff to confess. I think the whole process will go much smoother for them than for your daughter.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

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