Print Friendly, PDF & Email




Why must I confess sin to the ‘arm of flesh’ (sinful man) when God is sinless and is the only one that could possibly understand my particular situation.  No man has not walked in my shoes and for that matter no man knows my history?





Dear Josey,

If I understand you correctly, you are uncomfortable with the idea of confessing to a man who is also himself less than perfect and may judge you more harshly than necessary.  I will share a few things that I hope you will find helpful.

First, God has always called on men to do his work.  Since the time of Adam, the Lord has called upon men to do his work.  When Christ was on the earth he called 12 apostles to help in His work, and to carry on the work after He was gone.

In our dispensation, we also have Bishops, Stake Presidents etc, who are good men called to do the Lord’s work here on the earth.  Since you mentioned Bishops, let’s talk about their role in the church.  Elder Robert D. Hales (when he was the Presiding Bishop) gave a talk called The Bishop in April 1987 Liahona.  He said in part:

“And also to be a judge in Israel, to do the business of the church, to sit in judgment upon transgressors upon testimony as it shall be laid before him according to the laws, by the assistance of his counselors, whom he has chosen or will choose among the elders of the church.


“This is the duty of a bishop. …


“Thus shall he be a judge, even a common judge among the inhabitants of Zion. …” (D&C 107:72–74.)


The bishop’s role as a common judge is not merely to hear our confessions and determine what action should be taken with regard to our transgressions. The bishop serves as our counselor if we will listen to him. He can help us repent or turn away from transgression so that we may feel better about ourselves and so that we will feel comfortable in the presence of the Holy Ghost, who will guide us and comfort us. Ultimately, it is the Lord who will forgive us when we have overcome our transgressions.”

I think this part of Elder Hale’s talk is particularly applicable to your question.  Notice that he says the Bishop can help us repent, but it is ultimately the Lord who will forgive us or not.

Perhaps you can imagine a Bishop as sort of a “mentor,” someone God has put in a position to help you on your journey back to him.  The Bishop’s role is to assist you in your repentance process, but again it is the Lord who will judge you.  It might also be beneficial to remember that Bishops don’t volunteer for the position.  They are called by God to do His work  for a time.

Finally, I would counsel you to be as Nephi and pray and ask the Lord about this.  I’m impressed that when Nephi prayed and asked the Lord about Lehi’s dream, Nephi’s prayer was not only answered, but he was given so much more.  May it be the same for you.






Copyright © 2021 Ask Gramps - Q and A about Mormon Doctrine. All Rights Reserved.
This website is not owned by or affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called the Mormon or LDS Church). The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the position of the Church. The views expressed by individual users are the responsibility of those users and do not necessarily represent the position of the Church. For the official Church websites, please visit or

Pin It on Pinterest