For my first post (hi!), I’d like to continue the discussion started by Jessawhy’s excellent post about the appropriate role for confession of sexual sins in Church, particularly regarding young adults.
Even though I was lucky enough to have supportive youth leaders and bishops as I grew up, I dreaded the semi-annual worthiness interviews, and the bishopric interviews before we went on temple trips to do baptisms for the dead. I dreaded these interviews because (1) I felt uncomfortable being in a room as the sole center of someone else’s attention and scrutiny, and (2) I never had anything interesting to confess. I felt really awkward answering the vague questions about being “morally clean”, as the bishop peered at me intently, expectantly. I always felt I was disappointing him by not coming up with at least something for him to counsel me about.
Except once. The Young Women and Young Men had just come back from an awesome “Super Activity” trip to Yellowstone, and some of the youth had used NoDoz to stay awake goofing off and talking all night.
I, not being part of the cool crowd, did not partake in the NoDoz binge, but the YM leaders got wind of it and we were all hauled into the bishop’s office one by one to discuss the incident. (as a side note, wouldn’t it be nice if teen experimentation started and ended with NoDoz?)
Again, I had nothing to confess. But this time, the bishop kept asking me the same questions over and over again about how much NoDoz did I take, and didn’t I realize that taking caffeine pills to stay awake was dangerous, and I soon got the feeling that he didn’t believe me. Maybe he had never believed me.
So, confused and upset, I eventually admitted to taking a NoDoz, even when I hadn’t. This seemed to satisfy him, however, his mood immediately lightened and he told me that he cared about me and wanted me to be happy and keep the commandments, and that I should try just a little harder to resist temptation.
Recalling this incident worries me about the personal worthiness interviews for my child(ren). I checked out the Church Handbook of Instructions, and it’s fairly vague about what bishops are supposed to ask during these interviews, particularly about sensitive topics such as sexual behavior.
The CHI says:
When discussing moral cleanliness, the bishop adapts the discussion to the understanding of the youth. He also ensures that the discussion does not arouse curiosity or experimentation.
It seems that there is a lot of leeway for inappropriate lines of questioning. Because the CHI provides very little guidance to bishops here, it depends on the individual bishop to determine the specific questions he asks during youth interviews. I’m assuming boys get more questions about their sexual behavior, but I could be wrong.
Looking back, however, it seems to me that many of these interviews with the bishop were about asserting control and consolidating authority.
What do you think about the relationship of the bishop to the youth of the Church? Would you encourage your children to confess to the bishop? Do you think it’s important to have another adult in the room?