luke1092

I think I need to talk to my bishop, but...

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I'm a male teenager who is struggling with masturbation. I've been reading online and the general consensus is that someone with this problem should talk to their bishop. However, I have some questions and concerns. One thing I'm wondering is how to even set up the interview. Do I have to talk to the ward executive secretary and set up a "confession appointment"?

Second, I'm terrified of talking to him. I've had this problem for years. In Boyd K. Packer's "To the Young Men Only" it says, "If one of you seems trapped in that, escape. Go to your father or bishop, please." I've talked to my father, but I still haven't gotten over the problem. I would really like to not encounter the bishop if possible, however, I am willing to if it is necessary for repentance. I'm also scared that he will say I can't perform any priesthood duties or partake of the sacrament. But then everyone in the ward will know! I'd like some advice.

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Hi Luke -

There shouldn’t be any need to tell the executive secretary anything more than “I’d like to set a meeting with the bishop whenever he has an opening”.

As far as the bishop’s reaction—I don’t know your bishop, obviously; but of the twenty-odd bishops I’ve had they were all warm, compassionate men.  I remember being in your position as a teenager, and I *didn’t* go to my bishop, for many of the same reasons you’ve cited.  (I wound up going much later, under much more difficult circumstances.)  In hindsight, *not* going to my bishop as a teenager was the single most counterproductive decision of my life (and I’ve made some doozies).  My experience is that this sort of thing doesn’t just go away on its own; and as much social pressure as you feel to be going through the external motions of worthy priesthood service—those pressures only increase as you get older.  Right now really is the best time to get all this squared away.

Best of luck to you—

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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Luke, I agree with Just_A_Guy's post.  People see the Bishop for all kinds of reasons, once when I was struggling with my testimony, I met with my Bishop twice a month for a few months.  I'm sure there are others who met with the Bishop for a variety of reasons, so the Executive Secretary likely will not make any assumptions about you. 

I think that unfortunately we often think of going to see the Bishop as similar to going to the school principal's office---as if we are in trouble and going to be punished.  But that has not been my experience, not that of family and friends I have talked to.  I believe that Heavenly Father gives us commandments so that we can be spiritually safe (sometimes physically, and emotionally also.)  He knows that there are some sins that are harder to overcome than others, and some sins have more potential for damaging us than others.  Because Christ can't be here physically to help us with those things, He has provided us each with a "spiritual coach" - the Bishop.  

Think of the Bishop, as a coach, who wants to help you in your goals to be closer to the Savior (not a school principal there to punish you.)   As Just_a_Guy said all the Bishops I have known have been very loving.  

Also know, Luke that the Savior is willing to walk this path with you.  He is not waiting at the finish line with a stop watch, tapping His foot and asking what is taking you so long?  No, He wants to run the race beside you and help you, lifting you when you fall, encouraging you when you get tired, giving you pointers on technique.   He does this in different ways...through the Holy Ghost, through the scriptures, through Ministering Angels (family members on the other side of the veil) and through your Bishop.   

Luke, the Lord loves you more than you can imagine.  He understands your struggle and wants to help you be happy and spiritually healthy, but He con't force you ever.  YYou need to invite Him in through prayer and through making that appointment with the Bishop.   You can do this.  I"ll be praying for you. 

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9 hours ago, luke1092 said:

I'm a male teenager who is struggling with masturbation. I've been reading online and the general consensus is that someone with this problem should talk to their bishop. However, I have some questions and concerns. One thing I'm wondering is how to even set up the interview. Do I have to talk to the ward executive secretary and set up a "confession appointment"?

Second, I'm terrified of talking to him. I've had this problem for years. In Boyd K. Packer's "To the Young Men Only" it says, "If one of you seems trapped in that, escape. Go to your father or bishop, please." I've talked to my father, but I still haven't gotten over the problem. I would really like to not encounter the bishop if possible, however, I am willing to if it is necessary for repentance. I'm also scared that he will say I can't perform any priesthood duties or partake of the sacrament. But then everyone in the ward will know! I'd like some advice.

God bless you Luke for wanting to make a righteous decision! Repentance can be difficult, and I'm proud of you for wanting to get right with God. A couple of points.

First, you don't need to tell the executive secretary anything at all. When he asks why, just say something like personal reasons. I was an executive secretary once, and that's all we wanted to know to separate it from his other meetings (so the Bishop can have forms ready if it's for a temple recommend or welfare issue).

Second, don't be worried about talking to him. You will not be the first teen to struggle with this issue and you won't be the last. He will not think any less of you. Quite the contrary, he will appreciate that you want to get yourself right with the Lord! Remember, forgiveness is swift when you try to follow the Lord's commandments, and you will feel instant relief. The Lord tells us in D and C 48:42 that when we repent the Lord remembers our sin no more. In addition, if you feel more comfortable bringing your father in to the bishop with you, you can absolutely do that. 

Finally, you may have to stop practicing the priesthood for a little while, but that's ok. You don't have to tell anyone why, and you will feel better following whatever your bishop tells you to do. Don't worry, many of us on this forum have struggled with similiar issues and are doing well now because we talked to our bishop and you will soon be doing well too! God be with you brother.

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Welcome, @luke1092!  Glad you came seeking encouragement!  Let us be your cheering section. :)  You can do this.  Just set the appointment - it'll be OK.  No matter how hard it is to go see the bishop, it'll be easier and better than not going to see the bishop.  I second what everyone else has said above.

Going to see the bishop helps the repentance process more than not going to see the bishop because (1) it requires some serious humility and a sincere desire to repent - and both of these are necessary for repentance; (2) the bishop has keys related to repentance, only he can invoke the power of those keys in your behalf.

So, trust in the Lord, go see your bishop, follow his counsel, and things will get better.

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Yes, talk to your bishop.  You can even bring your father with you to talk with the bishop if that makes it more comfortable for you.

I'm just gonna add some tip to help you with your problem - 

Memorize your favorite hymn or primary song.  When the urge comes.. sing that hymn with all your heart.  Aloud if need be.  On the top of your lungs even.  That usually drowns out the sounds of temptation.  The hymn, The Spirit of God is perfect for these times.

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