16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.
James 5:16, NRSV
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
Confession is a term that points us in the direction of a number of spiritual practices. We can’t confess until we’ve done rigorously honest self-reflection, for instance. We can’t confess without surrounding ourselves with community who are willing to hold us accountable to our certain way of seeing, who we, for our part, trust to do so.
The 12 steps provide us the mechanics required to carry this process out (in step 5 and its surrounding steps). We take a moral inventory, we share it with God and a trusted accountability partner.
The Bible casts a more obviously spiritual vision for confession (though, of course, the 12 steps are profoundly spiritual), a vision which includes healing, forgiveness, acceptance, redemption, restoration, and community up-building. That's a powerful list. We can't over-emphasize the importance of confession.