JOEL - In the LDS Church at least three confessions may need to be made to help the sinner repent: To the Lord, to proper ecclesiastical officers, and to the injured party.
In one way, confession in the LDS Church is somewhat similar to that in the Catholic Church in that those who have committed sins must confess them to the Bishop, much like the Catholic confesses to the Priest. However,we do not confess every single sin we have ever committed; only the more serious ones. Also, the Catholic faith believes that the Priest has the power to act for Christ and declare that the sin has been forgiven(absolution). The Mormon Bishop has been ordained as a "Judge in Israel" to hear the confession and through inspiration from God, decide on how to help the person repent, but he does not pronounce forgivess on the person. The acknowledgement of forgiveness from God is a private thing between the repentant sinner and God. The sinner will know he has been forgiven after he has fully repented and has received the peaceful confirmation of his forgiveness from God through the Holy Ghost.
The severity of the sin will dictate which sins should be confessed to the Bishop and which ones can be privately confessed to God. The following is a list of the more serious transgressions that should be confessed to the Bishop:
Attempted murder, rape, forcible sexual abuse, spouse abuse, intentional serious physical injury of others, abortion, adultery, fornication, homosexual relations, other sexual perversions, deliberate abandonment of family responsibilities, robbery, burglary, theft, embezzlement, sale of illegal drugs, fraud, perjury, false swearing, other serious transgression of civil laws, and dishonesty in business transactions.
Following confession the bishop will firmly and lovingly help that person repent. Depending on the severity of the sin, repentence may involve a restrictive probationary period, disfellowshipment, or excommunication from the Church.
Transgressions of lesser gravity that have offended others should be confessed to God and the injured party, often resolving the matter without involving ecclesiastical authority. Public confession is not required unless the transgression has been against the public.
True repentance includes having a broken heart and contrite spirit, recognizing and forsaking sin, seeking forgiveness, making restitution, and demonstrating a renewed commitment to keep the commandments.
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