This installment of “You’re the Bishop” is a little different as there is only one obvious answer. Many times when I was bishop, people would come in and confess “sins” that they thought were serious, but really did not need the attention of the bishop. One time a Sister in the ward came in to ask if she was still temple worthy after she unknowingly had a drink that contained “green tea”
Below is what I posted 5 years ago, with several choices that are obvious very inappropriate.
An elderly widow in your ward asks to talk to you. You bring her in your office, and she nervously tells you that she has been reading Kimball’s “The Miracle of Forgiveness” She says she got to the part on sexual sins, and says there this something she needs to tell you. You can’t imagine what in the world this sister (in her 80’s) could need to tell you. She has held many callings in the church during her life, and her now departed husband held many very high level callings while alive.
She then precedes to tell you that before she and her husband was married over 60 years ago, that she and her then fiancée did ” inappropriate sexual things”. You can tell she is very embarrassed in having to tell this to somebody young enough to be her grandson. She said that after reading Kimball’s book, she realized how serious this sin was. She said it was never confessed before they got their temple recommends. She has been feeling guilty for weeks now, and needed to tell you about it. She adds that after marriage, she was completely faithful to her husband.
What do you do?
- Ask more questions to find out what “Inappropriate” means, so you can find out how far they went
- You tell her that with the passage of time, and the service that she and her husband gave in the church, that all has been forgiven years ago, and that she has nothing to feel guilty about, and never needs to think about these things again.
- You counsel her on the seriousness of sexual sins, that they are next in seriousness to murder (quoting from the Book Of Mormon). You tell her that she should not take the sacrament for 4 weeks, after which you’ll meet again.
- You tell her that the book she read should more appropriately have been named “It’s a Miracle Anybody is Forgiven”, and that she should go home and burn it.
I went with number 2. I guess there could be a few bishops somewhere in the world that would select numbers 1 or 3.
Much has been written about the Kimball’s book, and how harsh it was. Some of the more well known quotes from the book referred to masturbation “as too often [leading] to … homosexuality,” gay sex as a “crime against nature” that sometimes leads to sex with animals, and premarital sex as “the sin next to murder.” Even Kimball seems to realize late in his life that he was too harsh. In the 2005 biography “Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball.” written by his son Edward, he says of his father that he, “later seemed to wish he had adopted a gentler tone.”
Would you have done anything different than number 3? What are your thoughts on the book “Miracle of Forgiveness”?