If I committed a serious sin before I was baptized, must I tell the bishop?

Posted on April 19, 2006 at 10:52 am


Follow Gramps:

Print Friendly

Dear Gramps,

This is pretty serious. I did something terrible when I was 18 (and BEFORE I was a member of the church) and have never told ANYONE. I have repented, begged for forgiveness and have felt a lifting of that burden, but will be getting married in the temple soon and question as to whether this is still “on my head” because I did not “come clean” and have not spoken with the Bishop. Do I need to do this? Even though the sin was prior to my being a member and worse, while I was young and not very bright. The sin was abortion. I want to do the right thing, but have wiped this act totally from my mind until I was proposed to . . . I remembered it then. Please help.

Beth, from Georgia

Dear Beth,

I can appreciate your concern, which seems to stem from “a broken heart and a contrite spirit.”

And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost. (3 Nephi 9:20)

When you were baptized, you were baptized for the remission of sins. You have felt “a lifting of that burden.” The purpose of confession is to work within us the contrition associated with and necessary for repentance, so that we may be forgiven–a precursor to baptism. If you did not go through the formality of a full revelation of your all your sins to the person who interviewed you for baptism, but, with a broken heart and contrite spirit, came to your baptism having repented from all the wrong that you had done, I’m sure that your baptism was not invalidated.

Having been baptized for the remission of sins, and having felt a lifting of the burden of sin, and as you live in accordance with the principles of the gospel, you must know that you have been forgiven. The severity of the sin doesn’t matter. The Lord said,

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)

Having repented and been baptized, if you believe that the Lord has forgiven you, you have the obligation to also forgive yourself. You mentioned that you had wiped this act totally from your mind. When the Lord said, and I, the Lord, shall remember them [former sins] no more, it doesn’t mean that he has a lack of memory, it means that they will not be brought up for consideration in your relationship with him. Since those things are no longer a part of your life, they don’t belong to you. You are a different person from the one who committed them. Why then should the Savior remember them? They are simply not you.

The experience of Alma when he repented is instructive as we consider repentant sin. Alma had confessed to being the vilest of sinners, (Mosiah 28:4). Before repenting he said that I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins (Alma 36:17). But after being forgiven by the Lord he remarked, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more (Alma 36:19). It is important to note here that it was his pain that he could not remember. He could remember his past sins, but that memory brought no further feelings of guilt-he was not “harrowed up”-because of the faith that he had in the validity of the great atoning sacrifice and in the saving grace of the Savior.

And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy (Alma 36:20-21).

So perhaps, with Alma, you could have a feeling of rejoicing in the Lord and be “harrowed up” no more.


Article Name
If I committed a serious sin before I was baptized, must I tell the bishop? - Ask Gramps - Q and A about Mormon Doctrine
This is pretty serious. I did something terrible when I was 18 (and BEFORE I was a member of the church) and have never told ANYONE. I have repented, begged for forgiveness and have felt a lifting of that burden

Follow Gramps:

Is God both our Father and Mother in Heaven?

November 20, 2014 8:09 am

Question Gramps, Forgive me for this question. I have many speculate that our Father in Heaven is our Mother in Heaven too. Can you please clarify this for (more)

What are the third set of scriptures spoken of by Elder Neal A. Maxwell?

November 19, 2014 7:49 am

Question Gramps, What are we to understand from these words spoken by Elder Maxwell in his talk “God Will Yet Reveal” when he said, “We would not even (more)

Will we still have our tattoos when we are resurrected?

November 18, 2014 7:31 am

Question Gramps, My brother is a tattoo artist. He does it for a living. My mom doesn’t like it though and therefore approaches him constantly about it. My (more)

Does the Church not want thinkers?

November 17, 2014 8:17 am

Question Dear Gramps, I joined the church in 98, raised Evangelical, so Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal,  I feel like when I question something the answer is always the same (more)

I’m too ashamed to talk to my Bishop, but how can I stop my skinpicking?

November 12, 2014 5:00 am

Question Dear Gramps, I have been struggling with skinpicking (Dermatillomania) since 10 years. I feel so horrible about my picking that I have really low self-esteem. I know (more)

Is saying “Oh my Lord” using His name in vain?

November 11, 2014 1:03 am

Question Gramps, Does saying “good Lord’ or “Oh my Lord” count as using the Lord’s name in vain? Marie   Answer Marie, I believe it does. I avoid (more)

Did the Nephites and Lamanites have access to the gold plates?

November 8, 2014 5:48 am

Question Gramps, Is it true that the Nephites and Lamanites did not have access to the writings on the gold plates? The writings of their prophets?  It is (more)

Will we, as Saints, ever have to flee to avoid being destroyed?

November 7, 2014 8:14 am

Question Hi Gramps, Since we live in the last days and there are alot of troubling things going on, I’ve noticed a pattern in the scriptures, Whenever things get (more)

What is the Mormon Church’ stance on the Mark of Cain?

November 6, 2014 1:49 am

Question Gramps, I’ve been told several times that the dark skinned people are descendants of Adam’s son, Cain.  Thus the ‘Mark of Cain’.  Moreover, in the Book of (more)

Why doesn’t the Mormon Church keep the Jewish Feast Days?

November 5, 2014 5:24 am

Question Dear Gramps, Why doesn’t the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints keep the Jewish feast days? The Apostle Paul stated in Acts 18:21 that he had to keep the (more)

How can I generate desire in my calling?

November 4, 2014 1:44 am

Question Dearest Gramps, I’ve currently serving in a tough responsibility in the church, and while I know exactly what it’s worth for me, it’s beginning to wear me (more)

Is the “Spirit of prophecy” and the “Gift of prophecy” the same thing?

November 3, 2014 5:00 am

Question Gramps, We know the “spirit of prophecy” is the testimony of Jesus.  Is the “gift of prophesy” the same thing as the spirit of prophecy, or is (more)