Things to know

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Monday, August 8, 2011

The Morning After

Dear Bro Jo,

I love your blog btw. It is pretty awesome.

The reason I'm emailing you is not awesome. In fact, its pretty downright terrible.

I'm just going to get into it: I'm in YSA and have been on a few dates with some guys in the ward. Good, wholesome dates. Yeah, maybe we stayed out a little too long but there wasn't anything bad done (no kissing or even physical contact) and nothing inappropriate was said/implied in any of them.

However, I went on a date with someone recently from my ward that I don't really know all too well and we started talking about how I am working on taking the sacrament again (I transgressed a few months ago and have been working on getting my worthiness back) and he said he was doing the same.

We got back to my house and sat in the driveway just talking about things...until the conversation turned to kissing and more. We mutually concluded that we wanted to kiss each other. So...because kissing in front of my parents (still live at only 20) house is awkward, we went to his house. I KNOW: BAD IDEA.

But I (naively) thought all we were going to do was make out. He even said that all we were going to do was make out. But when we got to his house and went to his room, the first thing he did was push me on the bed, put his hand in my shirt and started kissing me. The transgression I mentioned before was a VERY close situation to sex. This situation I am emailing you about turned INTO sex. I didn't want it. I also didn't say no (I wanted to..but I was afraid he'd get I let him). I lost my virginity to a guy I barely know on a first date.

I guess what my question to you I "damaged goods"? Even if I am completely repentant (because I will be... it will just take some time..again), will guys in my YSA, or any YSA for that matter, not want to date or possibly marry me because I'm not a virgin anymore? It wasn't my choice.. I didn't go into the date looking for sex with this guy. Yeah I wanted to make out with him, I won't deny that. I've read some of your other postings about similar things to this, and it was said you don't need to say anything until you're serious with someone-serious to the point of marriage.

I'm just worried because in Mormon culture, virginity and not having sex before marriage are so stressed and I messed up. Big time. I'm afraid the only guys who will be willing to go out with me are sleaze-bag Mormons who want to "get some" from me because I've already done it.

I know this was a long-winded message. And probably really confusing. But thats kind of what my brain looks like right now. Confused and all over the place.

Also, how could I have known he was going to do that to me? My previous transgression-guy was also LDS but he was really inactive, so it made sense to me. This guy is active in the ward. I thought I would be safe with him...and not have to worry too much about boundaries because we have the same boundaries. AND I had even told him that I was working on getting my sacrament and temple worthiness back. So shouldn't he have been like "oh ok she's trying to be good. im not going to take off her pants tonight" instead of being like "oh ok well she knows how to to this, this and this so i am going to take her pants off tonight." ??

I feel betrayed.

And sexually assaulted.

---what to do, what to do?

ps is it possible for you to just reply to this email? not post it online? i don't mind, ultimately, if it goes up...but i would prefer to just get an email back with your insight into the matter...

Dear What to Do,

I typically email those that write in long before I publish their letters. As you might imagine, I get tons of letters, and while I try to answer them all as fast as I can, many don't get posted in the column, and those that do generally (although not always) get posted quite a while after I receive them. A letter like yours will likely get posted because I believe it will help many who have found, or may find, themselves in a similar situation.

Now, I'm going to be very straight with you. Part of that is my style, and part of that is because I love my readers too much not to tell it to them straight; at least as I see it. What follows isn't meant to bring you down or put you down, but my honest assessment given to you in hopes that a dose of honesty and reality will help you mend things with God. Please know that I wrote these things with love and sincere caring for you, my sister.

Here we go.

You weren't sexually assaulted.

You look back now with regret and remorse, and I agree that this guy took advantage of you, but there's nothing about your behavior that would have suggested to him that you didn't want to have happen exactly what happened. A girl who is guarding her virtue, even one who is incredibly naive, does not do what you did. And, let's face it, you're not exactly naive.

Look at what happened.

You talked sexually with a guy at the end of a date while you were alone with him in his car.

You confessed to a man you're not in a relationship with that you'd previously gotten pretty close to sex.

You left your home to go somewhere that you could "make out" with him without getting caught or being seen.

You went back to his house.

You went into his room.

And look at what you didn't do.

You didn't protest at any time. Not when he suggested all of those things, not when he pushed you on the bed, not when he put his hands in your shirt, not as clothes were removed . . . not at any time!

At no time did you in any way communicate your lack of willingness to have sex.

Frankly, my dear, given your behavior, what else was he (or any guy, for that matter) supposed to think?

(If it means anything, Sister Jo is much harsher on this subject than I am. She absolutely loathes when "morning after regret" turns into false claims of sexual assault. In her words: "it mocks and marginalizes actual rape victims and has become an all-too-frequently used excuse when girls don't what to face the sins they've committed". She's not wrong, you know.)

Now, are you damaged?

Well . . . yeah. You are. You've had sex outside of marriage against the commandments of God and the advice of His Prophets.

HOWEVER, and this is very important, through the Atonement of the Savior this kind of damage can be repaired.

You'll never be a virgin again. That which should have been saved for your husband is gone. Yes, there may be many young men out there who hold that as important enough that (when and if they find out) will take you off of their "potential spouses" list. And yes, if this becomes public (and I pray for you that it does not, but you and I have no control over the mouth of the young man that you had sex with) you may find that people treat you differently (they shouldn't, but they may).

But the spiritual damage can be repaired. And that, my dear little sister, is what's really important. Making things right with Heavenly Father is one of the best feelings in the universe, and worth every effort we need to make.

So here's what you do: go see your Bishop today. Tell him everything, including the name of the boy (he'll need to talk to him, too). Get back on the path of repentance, and use how you feel about this event to motivate you in the right direction.

Learn from this situation. Learn about standing in Holy Places and about temptation and about keeping yourself honorable and pure.

Learn that not everyone who is active in our faith is what they pretend to be. Some very bad people use their Church membership (this happens in all faiths, by the way) to mask their addictions and bad behavior. You might be as shocked as I was disappointed to learn just how many people are addicted to pornography (which, as a side note, I'm very confident is one of this young man's problems). And, come on, how righteous did you think this guy was when he told you why he wasn't allowed to partake of the Sacrament either?

Learn that you're not alone, that we're all imperfect and make mistakes, and that through the beauty of the atonement we can be made spiritually whole.

Learn to take responsibility for your actions and inactions.

Learn that rape is an act of violence and control, not simply having sex when you shouldn't have.

Learn what you should and shouldn't do on a date. Learn that you can't be alone with this guy in his car or house again.

Learn that forgiveness is for everyone.

And learn that just because you made this mistake, no one says you have to make it again. YOU are in control of your destiny.

Begin your repentance today.

Don't delay this process. Satan will be working very hard on you (through temptation, embarrassment, and feelings of inadequacy) to keep you from the Love of God that you, yes you, and yes even now, are so deserving of.

You are still a Daughter of God, you are still a good person. You can become Temple worthy again. You can work your way back to partaking of the sacrament again.

And if you follow your Bishop's counsel, and make things right with God, I promise that you will feel wonderful. You'll likely never forget this incident. The Lord forgets our sins, but we don't (that's part of why we don't do them again).

I want you to know that even though we don't know each other, through the Spirit I have love and concern for you. Know that I know that Jesus is the Christ, and that through his atonement we can all be made whole again. Know that I have a testimony of repentance, and that I know that you are now and have always been a Daughter of God who loves you, that you are one of his choice and elect Spirit Children whom he wants to come live with him again.

I pray that all will go well for you, that you'll have the strength you need to make things right. That as you accept forgiveness in your own life and discover your Divine Nature and Individual Worth, that you'll be able to forgive others, even he who treated you with such disrespect.

My heart goes out to you.

Please see your Bishop right away. No excuses.

And know that I'll always be here to help in any way that I can.

May the Lord bless you with what you need,

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you. Frankness is oftentimes the best.

I spoke to my bishop today and I told him everything (including his name). I've been relatively calm since I spoke with my bishop, which I consider a good sign. At least I'm not freaking out or hysterically crying everywhere.

I was really nervous about it because I didn't want the guy to know I talked to the bishop...because, like you said, I didn't do anything to tell him I didn't want it. But the bishop knows what’s best and I trust him. He said I needed to speak with the guy and tell him how this has affected me. And I just don't know if I'm ready for that yet. I feel angry at him for using me like that and I'm angry at myself for allowing myself to be used. I feel myself getting hostile when I think about forgiving him.

I've never had to deal with anything like this before (and hopefully never again) and so I just don't know how to even go about forgiveness..I know about the scripture reading and the daily prayers and avoiding bad situations and whatnot, but to actually forgive?

Thank you,

*new name: baby stepping through the atonement

Dear Stepping,

I'm so proud of you!

You're entitled to be angry, at him and at yourself. I think that's part of the process.

Things take time.

Trust in Christ; you'll never go wrong there.  Never forget that you will always be a Daughter of God, and as such are entitled to the Love and Blessings He has for you.

Keep stepping forward.

- Bro Jo


Rob Neu said...

I definitely agree with Bro Jo in his advice and words of wisdom. I will offer some words that I hope will help.

I'm a guy in a Provo YSA ward attending BYU. I'm temple worthy, soon to be serving a mission. Yeah, virginity is a pretty big thing, but it's definitely not everything. As long as you are temple worthy, I would not find any problems dating you, regardless of history. Maybe I'm just a very understanding guy, but I would not hold this mistake against you for the rest of your life.

All I'm saying is, there's guys out there that can most definitely look past this. Don't tell us on the first date, definitely wait until the point of being almost engaged, but I'd still move forward with the relation.

I hope that gives you some hope for the future. Continue to work on repenting. God will forgive you, just make sure you can forgive yourself.

Anonymous said...

Gotta comment on what Bro Jo said about all sorts of people using their religion as a cover-up for their sinful behavior.
The principle to my brother's elementary school was a leader in the church he attended. Led the hymns and spoke a little. He was also found guilty of downloading child pornography and capturing pictures of boys in the school bathroom and producing the images for other people to buy.
Everybody was so shocked.
"He was such a good guy, very active in his church, always friendly."

It does happen all the time, and it is SO important to be careful and watch for the signs, and if even for a slight moment you feel a warning from the spirit, or an absence of the spirit, LEAVE. RUN. Get away and keep praying for the spirit until you feel the comfort of the spirit again. And most importantly, DON'T GO BACK! And don't push your limits, either. Stay FAR away from the edge of temptation and work hard to cling to the iron rod.

Danielle said...

My heart goes out to you, I understand the concern you have about other members treating you different. I too am 'damaged goods'. But I will tell you, any guy who won't date you, because you have a made a mistake, it's worth you talking to or worrying about. I have found there were many YSA who when they found out I was 1. 'damaged' and 2. inactive for a time, they would quickly find 'a friend they just needed to say hello to'.

I would suggest to keep it yourself, until the times comes to share it, and only share with the man who you will marry, hopefully in the temple.

Things will get easier now you have been to your bishop. You just have to resist temptation. Be strong.

Anonymous said...

My sister is going through that not taking the sacrament thing (although she has a more serious problem then this sister) She has had to go through it twice and just going through it the first time while she was finishing high school she was looked down by everyone. I fear it made her grow farther and farther away from the church because no one in the church tried to help her. But people can be very judgemental in the church and men might look down on it, but the important thing is that the right people will come along look past that and see the spirit that you have because you repented and are truly sorry. I would just warn this sister to be carefull not to get into the same situation and I'm so happy that she is working through it.

Dave Johnston said...


- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

Dear bro jo,
I just have a follow up question- I'm in a similar situation to this column. Though I did not lose my virginity, my actions definitely need to be confessed to the bishop. Unfortunately, I'm leaving for school in 2 weeks. My question is, should I go talk to my bishop now or wait and talk to my new bishop in my student ward so I don't have to split the repentence process between two leaders? I have no idea who to go to.

Dave Johnston said...


We should never delay repentance.

Go talk to your current Bishop right now.

Not to be gruesome, but I often teach this principle in my seminary classes as the "hit by a bus" principle. I try to introduce it with humor by reenacting an old "Got Milk" commercial.

(You can watch it HERE->

In the commercial it's a truck, not a bus, but the point is this: what if you "put off" talking to priesthood authority when you Know You Should, and today is your last day in this existence . . . perhaps through no fault of your own?

Be of good cheer - make the call.

- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

Really, switching from a bishop that knows the drill of your past or problems, whatever they may be, feels a little weird as a concept, but still works and feels awesome and right.

In response to the original emailer, you're not done for in the world of worthy LDS dating. I am not in your situation; I am dating someone who once was. The testimony you can gain from this experience will (tend to) mean more to those who believe in the Atonement of Christ than your sin does. Repent, become temple worthy, and develop your faith, testimony, and character. Someday you'll be able to give all of your whole and clean soul to a loving sealed spouse. That is so much cooler than the small little splinter you've given now. Don't forget how much more of yourself you have to give than what you've given.

Brother Jo, do you support this statement? Thanks as usual for the kind and wise words you give.

Dave Johnston said...

I do with two disclaimers:

- No one should EVER go out and screw up so that they can increase their testimony of the Atonement.

- When sharing your testimony of the power of the Atonement with others, you should not share information about your past transgressions, at least not in a context whereby people know who you are. When the sharing is anonymous, we can focus on the Savior, when its personal too many people think "I can do that too and repent later", which is of course very spiritually dangerous, and one of the main reasons why I keep the identities of those that write in private.

- Bro Jo