My mother (bless her heart) has been posting these new “helpful” videos put out by the Church that promotes the Church’s 12-step program, which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. The Church’s program is targeted toward those with drug or sex addictions, and some with eating disorders.
I like what AA has done for people. I think the 12-step program is a GOOD program, at least its principles are good, even inspired. The videos are good. I thought it was very brave for a person to get up and tell their story that way, until I noticed that the people confessing on camera also had a camera following them around showing us their sinful ways and the repercussions of their sins. Yes, they were actors. I wonder of that sends the wrong message. I get that people are ashamed, but I also wonder how powerful it would be if a real person said these things, raw, in front of a camera, then stated . . . and I’m a Mormon.
Full disclosure, I have had a mild addiction to pornography. The joke is . . . who hasn’t, at least among us men. I get a little sensitive to people (like my mother) who have no such addictions, being pre-occupied with such things, worrying about the beams in others eyes. OR . . . a Church full of men who have never made the kinds of mistakes that would embarrass the Church (the shameful “heinous” kind), having been fully vetted, now setting themselves up as a light to help heal those of us that have as if they have it all figured out. None of them have had sex or drug addictions. They were able to escape such holocausts, or hide them enough to escape the Church vetting process. Can they really help us bear that burden? I don’t think we contemplate enough the mystery of how Christ can succor our pain. Perhaps there is more to this than we think, being the only perfect being, yet feeling the weight of every sin upon His shoulders.
It made me think about sin in general and how it relates to shame, to culture, to the idea that in the LDS world, we rank sins according to their heinousness through a misapplication of Alma 39. One wonders why we don’t have 12-step programs for anger, indifference, pride, arrogance, vanity, selfishness, greed, or self-righteousness. What does it say about the state of the Church that the very things that are keeping us from Zion are the very things that we care little about in terms of repentance? What does it say about a church that keeps tallies on its members to vet them so that they won’t get into the kinds of leadership positions that would embarrass the Church, as a missionary, or for a future leadership assignment.
We all know certain priesthood leaders that take their calling this way–spending more time worrying about “protecting the flock” than saving the stray sheep, but again, only from certain “heinous” sins. Come, confess to the bishop . . . share your pain and lighten your burden with a servant of the Lord . . . , to disallow you the opportunity to serve, or deny you ordinances because the Lord needs you to suffer and scrub your heart completely clean (on only some sins) before you can have that temple recommend back, or so we can quietly annotate your record if you have crossed certain lines. Talk about ulterior motives. No Alma the Youngers allowed. Do you think that encourages MORE repentance, or less, especially among men who subconsciously rank their righteousness with how many priesthood keys they hold? I believe this to be anti-Christ and an abuse of the priesthood that God has given men. It’s no wonder signs and miracles are not seen in our day . . . too many of our priesthood holders have had it “amened” quietly by the Lord, and they have not repented in order to get it back; they feel they are justified by a secret handbook that has no power to save. They heap judgments upon their brother, many against their own promptings, but feeling they have to be obedient to the handbook. They then rush to give the widow a blessing, but there is little power in this blessing. Why have miracles ceased, says Moroni, because of unbelief (unbelief in God’s ways, belief in man’s system of obedience to handbooks or the written order of things).
37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.
38 For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made. Moroni 7: 37-38
I enjoyed reading his perspective. It was a good read. I wonder if he has been unwittingly placed in a position he is not supposed to be placed. I wonder if one of the problems we have in the LDS community is caused by “confession” to a bishop or stake president.
Confession in our culture, is upheld often as the most necessary part of repentance. We have this shame and guilt of sin, we are told to bear it to our “judge in Israel” and we feel lighter. I understand this is a cultural understanding and not a doctrinal one. The Church’s official position would disallow such things. Nonetheless, when we go the bishop, we often feel we are forgiven, particularly if he is sympathetic and kind, like this good man. I wonder if this is a false forgiveness–all of those who leave the bishop’s office feeling better. And . . . since we only confess “heinous” sins, one wonders if we don’t get ENOUGH repentance. We stop short of what is required of the Lord, to give away ALL our sins to know Him. I get that confession can help, so who better to confess to, than your own spouse! If we would also spend more time in our closets crying unto the Lord for forgiveness and a change of heart, instead of crawling to the bishop, perhaps we would qualify for that mighty change of heart, and lose the disposition to sin. I know in my life, as I have cried unto the Lord, and have taken the time to give away all my sins, and have received the Baptism of Fire, that I lost the disposition to sin entirely. That’s not to say that I’m not perfect, but that I am a changed being. The light is quicker to embrace, and it’s quicker to return. I know the Lord and that He is quick to forgive, so in turn, I am quicker to forgive myself and worry less about the guilt and shame, and worry more about embracing the light. It’s changing me for the better.
Let’s give bishops less sleepless nights and rely more upon the Lord!