At what point do I need to confess to my bishop as far as the law of chastity? I know you can repent on your own, but serious sins need to be confessed to the bishop. Where is that line? Thanks.
There are basically two reasons that people ask this question. Either they have already violated the Law of Chastity and want to know if they have gone “too far” or they haven’t done anything yet and want to be careful not to go too far. I hope you are in the latter category, but I will try to answer both questions.
For those in the previous category, i.e. if you are worried about something you have done, and wonder if you need to talk to the Bishop…then just go talk to him. Sometimes I think we equate going to the Bishop like going to the Principal’s office in school or in other words as punishment. But I don’t believe that is what the Lord had in mind when He gave us this process of repentance. When one violates the Law of Chastity, that is a serious sin, and represents a serious deviation from the “straight and narrow path”. I like to think of the Bishop as a loving guide who will help you find your way back to the path, and get you headed down it again. His purpose is not to “beat you with a few stripes” but to lovingly guide you and walk with you back to the Savior. Yes, it is true that sometimes that path might include being disfellowshipped or even in extreme cases excommunicated. But these too are intended to help and not to punish.
Consider a doctor who cuts off a patient’s toe because it has gangrene. The doctor is not punishing the patient; he is saving him. Gangrene can spread and kill the patient if it is not stopped. Sin is like a spiritual gangrene, and sometimes things like being disfellowshipped or excommunicated are needed to stop the sin (disease) from spreading.
For those in the latter category, the most important thing is to listen to the Spirit. As King Benjamin said there are diverse ways to sin. These days with social media, pornography, etc, I probably can’t name all the things you could do that would necessitate talking to the Bishop, but the Holy Ghost can be with you every moment and warn you before you make a mistake. Keep in mind that there are some activities that, while they may not be things you need to confess to the Bishop, they will make it more difficult for you to feel the Spirit. Those things are pretty clearly outlined in the Strength of Youth Pamphlet, so be familiar with it…even if you are a new convert that is not a youth, it can be a great resource. The most basic way I can answer your question is don’t look at pornography, and don’t touch someone else (or allow yourself to be touched) where clothes are normally worn. You can take that to a modest bathing suit if you wish, but you get the idea. Does this mean you can’t change a baby’s diaper? Of course not. As I said, listen to the Holy Ghost. Also, I would caution you against making out and kissing with tongues as that sends signals to your body that more activity will follow. The further down that path you go, the harder it is to stop. Our bodies are designed to want to procreate. Don’t mess with that powerful design prematurely.
Finally, I would tell you that when kept within the bonds of marriage, sex, is a beautiful way for a couple to bond and become closer to one another. When kept within the proper boundaries, it is indeed a wonderful part of our lives.