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Dear Gramps,

Lately I’ve been unsure about something regarding sin.

If you’ve committed a lets say sexual sin by viewing pornography and eventually masturbating, is that a serious enough sin to have to speak with your Bishop/Stake President? Or would it be okay to keep it between you and the Lord?

I personally feel like it would do more harm to that situation than good. Especially if its not a problem and just a one time slip up.



Dear Spencer,

It would be very difficult for someone other than your Priesthood Leaders to help you determine when you need to confess your sins to your Priesthood Leader.  There are certain sins however, such as breaking the law of chastity, where it is necessary for us  to confess them to our Priesthood Leader.

I am confused though, as to why confessing your sins to your Bishop would “do more harm to the situation than good”.  Your Bishop is there to help each member of his congregation, he is the shepherd of his flock.  He has been called as a “Common Judge in Israel”.  You will find great strength coming from him as you confide in him.  One of the steps of repentance is to forsake your sins and do them no more.  This is a step where assistance  from your Bishop will play a tremendous role in forsaking your sins and committing them no more.

The two sins that you speak of are ones that are very habit forming and very difficult to stop.  As pornography lead you to commit the sin of masturbation, pornography and masturbation often lead to more serious sexual sins.  Pornography is a growing problem that is effecting men and women of all ages.  President Hinckley spoke of this problem in the Priesthood session of October Conference 2004.  He stated:  “While the matter of which I speak was a problem then, it is a much more serious problem now. It grows increasingly worse. It is like a raging storm, destroying individuals and families, utterly ruining what was once wholesome and beautiful. I speak of pornography in all of its manifestations”.    He further counseled us:  “If there be any within the sound of my voice who are doing so, then may you plead with the Lord out of the depths of your soul that He will remove from you the addiction which enslaves you. And may you have the courage to seek the loving guidance of your bishop and, if necessary, the counsel of caring professionals”.

President Kimball told us that:  “Masturbation, a rather common indiscretion, is not approved of the Lord nor of his church, regardless of what may have been said by others whose “norms” are lower. Latter-day Saints are urged to avoid this practice. Anyone fettered by this weakness should abandon the habit before he goes on a mission or receives the holy priesthood or goes in the temple for his blessings.  Sometimes masturbation is the introduction to the more serious sins of exhibitionism and the gross sin of homosexuality”.

We find in the fist section of the Doctrine and Covenants the following charge from the Lord: 31 “For I the Lord cannot look upon asin with the least degree of allowance;  32 Nevertheless, he that arepents and does the bcommandments of the Lord shall be cforgiven“.  And in Isaiah 1 He states:  18 “Come now, and let us areason together, saith the Lord: though your bsins be as scarlet, they shall be as cwhite as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool”.


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