Things to know

Regularly read by 50,000+ readers in over 140 countries around the world, "Dear Bro Jo" is published several times a month.

This is column is just one guy's opinion, and while he does his best to keep what he thinks, says and writes in-line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, "Dear Bro Jo" is not an LDS Church website. (And Sister Jo thinks you should know that he's sometimes wrong, and often way too opinionated for his own good.)

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Mediums and Psychics, Paranormal Activity and the Occult

[Readers - The following letter is from the same writer that asked about "prayer beads" in a column I posted August 29, 2011. You can jump to the previous post HERE. - Bro Jo]

Dear Bro Jo,

What is the Church's view on mediums & pschyc's? Communication between our world and the next(not through wuigi boards, those are just dangerous).

What are the churches /your view on the paranormal?

- Wondering

Dear Wondering,

Happy Halloween.

My personal opinion is that the human mind is a very powerful and creative thing. I believe in Feeling the Spirit, and that when it's God's will we may have impressions, promptings and visions.

I think mediums and psychics are at best nothing more than entertainment, and at worst charlatans, liars and crooks.

People can convince themselves of an awful lot of things, some of which may be (by coincidence) true, but most is not.

Stick with God. Stay away from things that purport to be otherworldly but aren't in tune with the Gospel. They're a waste of time, and can be Spiritually very dangerous.

And often are.

- Bro Jo

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Boyfriend with the Tattoo

Dear Bro Jo,

So you were right, as always, and everything is still going good with this guy :) He is actually getting baptized this Saturday! What my question is about is his tattoo. He got a tattoo on his chest when he was 18 in the shape of a cross to remind him of all that he has been through, he nearly died a few times and was saved, and the tattoo is to remind him to thank God everyday for his life. Now that he is 21 and getting baptized I’m just curious to know what the church policy is about tattoos. I know being a member they are not allowed but what about people that get them before they join?

Thanks a bunch for all the advice so far!


Dear Butterfly,

I wouldn't say that there's a Church "policy", but there have been many talks and articles about what a bad idea it is to get a tattoo (you can find them easily by going to the Church website,, and typing "tattoo"), and the scriptures often give counsel against marking and tattooing yourself.  (If one is going to apply for a mission, any tattoos need to be disclosed, potentially visible tattoos need to be documented, and visible tattoos can preclude any opportunity to serve.)

One of the best points I've seen made about tattoos is that, in addition to defiling the body, they're a trend that is, unlike other fads, permanent and risky. (And I'll never understand why someone who can't keep the same haircut or color, who is constantly changing their image and their style, would want something so permanent.)  I just read an article where a famous man is having his children witness his tattoo removals. He wants the pain, expense and remorse he's enduring to teach them not to get tattoos.

Getting a tattoo is a huge mistake, and it could be considered sinful insomuch as it defiles the temple in which our spirit lives. In that regard I suspect that it would be treated like any other sin, and like other sins would be washed clean with baptism.

Sister Jo and I can’t help but laugh – in a sad way – and wonder how all of these young people are going to feel when their grandchildren and great grandchildren notice the smeared ink blotch (very few people understand that tattoos need to be redone often because of fading, smearing, and time) that used to be a “tramp stamp” or some “art” on grandma or question why grandpa has huge holes in the middle of his ear lobes. Ridiculous!

Ours is not to judge the sinfulness or worthiness of others, but to accept all as fellow children of Heavenly Father.

The bottom line?

Don’t get a tattoo, they're dumb.

Avoid excessive and extreme piercings. Also dumb.

BUT . . . if you meet someone who has already made those mistakes, leave them alone about them!

ALL of us do dumb stuff.

Sure, not all of us do them to our face, arms, or back, but no one should be comfortable if their mistakes were hung out there for all to see, so let’s give everyone as much courtesy and kindness as possible.

Life is more about where you're going than where you've been or how close you are to your destination.

- Bro Jo

Friday, October 21, 2011

Flashbacks of Abuse

Dear Bro Jo,

About two years ago, I was sexually abused by a boy in my Stake. While we weren't on a date, or dating, or anything like that- there was mutual interest. I won't get into much detail, because it's not really that important to my question- but one night he and my best friend and I were hanging out. She left the room for a little bit, and in the short time she was gone- I was really taken advantage of.

Like I said, that was two years ago, and since then I've taken the steps necessary to move on from that and forgive him for what happened. Now I've got a boyfriend. And he really is the most phenomenal person in the world. We've been dating for a year and some change, and I really, genuinely love him. The only thing is, sometimes, and only on very rare occasion, I can't help but getting blasts from the past.

Not that my boyfriend makes me feel taken advantage of again- but just that I'm so worried of that happening again, that it's hard for me to get close to people. It isn't fair to my boyfriend, and I'm lucky that he's so patient and understanding of my emotions. He wants to help me overcome this as much as I do. I just don't know how. I'm not sure I'm making sense, because this is difficult to explain, but I'm just confused as to why I still struggle with the past on occasion.

I've forgiven myself and the people involved with what happened, I've found the person I want to be with- who loves me, and doesn't push me to do anything that we shouldn't do, or that I don't want to do... yet sometimes I still feel scared and insecure and helpless, like I did two years ago.

Is something wrong with me?


Hard To Forget

PS: I'm 19 now, if that makes any difference.

Dear Hard to Forget,

There's absolutely nothing wrong with you.

Some things just take time. You will get over this, I promise. Be patient, and as more time passes you'll be more able to trust others. It sounds like you've found a good man; if that's true, hang on to him.

One thing that can help someone who's been through what you have is a self-defense class (or if you feel you need to go a step further, join a martial arts studio). This kind of attack leaves one feeling venerable and even guilty (you may be haunted by thoughts and feelings like "why didn't I stand up for myself?" and "why was I so powerless?"), and those types of classes and programs can help you to feel empowered, help you to realize that you never have to fear being attacked that way again.

My prayers are with you,

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so much. That is exactly what I needed to hear. :)

- Forgetting

Dear Forgetting,

You're welcome.


- Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Crazy Stalker Guy?

Dear Bro. Jo,

I am 18, almost 19, and currently just finishing up my first year of University. I've made some wonderful friends here, both members and non-members, and both at school and at church.

In the fall I had a group of friends, most of which for whatever reason no longer really ALL hang out together. My best friend here is a boy. (No, this is not about "dating" or having feelings for him.) We'll call him "Sven". There is another guy in our little group who we will call "Joe". Joe was always a little strange, but I mainly pegged him for not having very good social skills. As the year progressed though, his behaviour got weirder. He basically was stalking Sven. Like, one day, in the space of a couple hours, Joe texted Sven 19 times, even though Sven didn't reply to any of them. Joe has called him at ridiculous hours of the night wanting to talk, or go get coffee. He has even admitted to driving around Sven's neighbourhood just in case he might see Sven so that he could drive him to school.

Joe has become "friends" with all of Sven's closest friends, tried adding family members and family friends of Sven on social networking websites even though he doesn't know them... He even has all of our class schedules memorized, and knows when and where we all hang out so that he can "accidentally" run into us there.

There are a few of us that are just so terrified of running into him, that we have to plan our hangout times accordingly. There are also speculations that Joe is gay, because he has admitted to being attracted to Sven. I don't really know what to believe, because I was raised not to judge people. But because of this, and because of personal experiences in his early life, Sven is terrified, not only that Joe is stalking him, but also that something bad could happen if they are ever alone together.

My friends always come to me for answers because they know I care enough to listen. I've been dealing with this and with my friends hurt for a long time. Last weekend, I persuaded Sven that he needed to tell Joe to back off and that his behavior made him uncomfortable. He did so, and it was hard, but so far Joe has left him alone. I don't know how long it will last, because this is the third or fourth time he has been told to leave us alone, so I doubt it will have a long-standing impact.

I am trying to be Christ-like. I am trying to love everyone, and be kind, but I don't know what to do about Joe. On the one hand, his actions, and the fact that he is scaring some of my best friends so badly makes me really worried and a little angry. I don't feel comfortable around him. I get strong warning bells when he's around, and I know I need to trust that.

I also know that I need to treat him with respect, and I don't want him to think that I hate him. What troubles me is that one of my friends said that if Jesus had a stalker, he would still love and be friends with him. I looked all through the scriptures and I couldn't find anything that really pertains to this situation. My parents are not always the most helpful either, because they are EXTREMELY protective of me, and I have told them everything. They are not exactly kind in their thoughts towards Joe. They don't have very nice things to say, which makes trying to be Christ-like difficult.

My questions are these:

1) What are your thoughts on the situation?

2) How can I be Christ-like and nice when I hear the warning bells and I know what he's doing is wrong?

3) What should I do when Joe asks to hang out? How can I handle the situation without hurting anyone?

Sorry this is so long. I don't know who else to ask.

-The Student Counselor

Dear Student,

1. I think Joe is one mixed up guy.

2. Being Christ-like does not mean putting yourself in bad situations or danger. Those warning bells you hear are promptings of the Spirit; heed them. You can be polite to people and still not invite them into your home. Does that make sense? Just because there are people in the pub, that doesn't make it a good place to proselyte; just because someone is one of God's children, that doesn't mean you should marry them. Be nice, but keep your standards high.

3. If Joe wants to hang out and you feel it's a bad idea (now write this down) . . . say "no thank you".  And that's it.  If you're nice and he feels hurt, that's his problem, not yours.

- Bro Jo

Monday, October 17, 2011

Excommunication Clarified

Bro Jo,

In response to your article of July 29 ("Excommunication's Value Questioned"):

1. Should the LDS church have the ability to excommunicate? Absolutely, but in my experience they largely won't. It usually takes some pretty serious and/or harmful PUBLIC steps to trigger excommunication. None of my siblings nor I have been active in the church for more than two decades and we all can count actions that probably would have gotten us excommunicated but the church still counts us amongst its rolls. To do anything less would tarnish the church's claim of being the world's fastest growing religion.

I take issue with the phrase "harm done or potentially done to the Church and her membership"... Is the church not the membership? The church as an institution is only of value to the extent that it serves the people - the actual church, as used biblically. Jesus did not once refer to protecting the institution. The church is the bride of Christ and I can assure you that He was not referring to the institution.

2. One should turn to Jesus' words and actions as a guide - start with Judge not lest ye yourselves be judged... going back to the Aramaic the meaning is closer to thou shalt be judged according to the standards that you have judged others. How many would fare well to be held up to their own standards? Jesus repeats this message in the parable about the man forgiven by his lenders only to hold his debtors feet to the fire. You have been shown grace, you are to show grace to others in return. Jesus himself shows us the path when he comes across a woman being stoned for adultery (which I do believe will get you excommunicated in the LDS church). Let he amongst you who is sinless cast the first stone. Jesus, the only one to meet this standard, chooses grace over law. None of us are sinless and Jesus died to cover all of our sins. It is not our place to call out our fellow travelers to say that their sins are greater than ours or are too great to have been covered by Jesus' sacrifice. Jesus said it best on the cross... It is done.

Name Withheld

Dear NW,

1. You're right: excommunication initiated by the Church is rare. Just like you said, someone has to be pretty public about their transgressions and their Church membership. (Think polygamists and psychos.) That's the "harmful to the Church" stuff. A few years ago a Stake President near where I live was busted getting off an airplane in Boise carrying lace panties and condoms thinking he was going to meet his 14-year old internet girlfriend, not the cop who was posing as a 14-year old on-line. That guy was out of the Church in a heartbeat. "LDS Church Official busted with panties and porn" is not a headline that the Church ignores.  (Nor should any faith.)

But in almost all situations excommunication is more about a path towards repentance. It may be fun to talk about Church growth, but it's really not what's important. Heck, at only 13 million members the LDS Church is still quite petite! Sure, that's over a relatively short period of time, but if you want to impress me add a zero at the end, then we'll talk. So excommunication has nothing to do with bolstering membership numbers.

Frankly, having 50% of the Church inactive creates a lot of work for those of us that go all the time; if it was about making things easier we'd cut the membership rolls this weekend. Your Church membership is in your hands, not anyone else's. If a person did something that required re-baptism in order for them to enter back into full fellowship with God, then excommunication would be part of that process.

One thing not mentioned is that, to be honest, lot's of stuff that I think people think would qualify them for immediate excommunication, doesn't. In fact, while I'm sure I don't know everything about you, given what I do know about you, your life and your character, I'd be real surprised if a meeting with your Bishop or Stake President resulted in a removal from you from the Church unless that's what you wanted.

I'll let you ponder that.

Not to be semantic, and I'm sorry if I wasn't clear, but "The Church" and "the membership" are, in my head, two different things. The Church is Christ's, exactly as you say; the membership are the people who are hopefully trying to do the best they can. Christ's Church is perfect, but we're not. I just hope I never screw up so bad that a heavenly messenger is sent.

I'm sure you can see how a person, particularly a person in an authoritative position, could harm Church members as well as the reputation of the Lord's Church. 1830's Kirkland ring any bells?

2. With respect, you're confusing two different principles. Certainly none of us is perfect, and each of us is directed to forgive, but justice and mercy have a balance to strike. To that end there are those that, even from the time of Adam, are called to be Judges in Israel; a tough job to be sure. And you need to understand that sitting in judgment is NOT the same as forgiveness. A Stake President may have to judge that a person's best hope for returning back into full fellowship with Christ is to be excommunicated from the Church. The decision is not made lightly. (I've seen it happen.) There's much prayer and fasting and counsel from councilors and the high council. He may even confer with those in higher church authority. Sincere tears are cried, hearts are broken; it is a very somber and serious occasion. If the person wants to come back to Christ it's a sweet and encouraging spiritual experience. If they don't it's gut wrenching.

But because he is called, by authority, as a Judge in Israel, he has to do it. Is he perfect? Of course not. And, yes, as mentioned before, some ought not be there; not many, but too many.

But that "judgment" has nothing to do with "forgiveness". It will hopefully help a person repent and through doing so gain forgiveness, but the Lord's forgiveness is his to give.

"Grace" is the wrong word. Jesus extends "mercy" as the great mediator between us and justice. It is because of His grace and goodness that we can receive that mercy, but only if we're willing to do that which he requires. Unwilling, and our spiritual atonement will be our own. No one gets to walk around being an unrepentant sinner and go unpunished.

Now, it is true that through Christ's grace and the resurrection that each of us will have eternal life, but exhalation is up to us. The Resurrection and the Atonement are two different things. They happened just a few days apart, though.

Always good to have you keep me on my toes!

- Bro Jo

Friday, October 14, 2011

When Parents Drive You Crazy

Dear Bro Jo,

I know every single person on this planet and their brother has issues with their parents. Maybe it's a small issue, and maybe it's a huge issue, but everybody has them, so I know I'm not the only one.

Lately, I've been having so much trouble actually fully obeying my parents. Sure, I do what I'm asked, but sometimes I'd really like to know why I have to do some of the things they ask me to do, because a lot of the time they seem pointless. Sometimes, I have an idea for a way something could work a bit easier, and I'd really like to voice that suggestion, but I can't because they already have it so set in their minds that I'm just a child and can't be smart enough to possibly solve a problem a little bit better or faster or easier than they can.

My mom actually uses that phrase "set in [her] mind". They can find it in themselves to leave me and my brothers and sisters home for the weekend while they go off to heaven knows where and don't come back for days, but they can't seem to let me say "Hey, this might be easier" or let me drive to our destination using the route I know and am familiar with (this happens a lot, them telling me where to drive, when I already know where we're going, and one way to get there. Lots of almost car accidents because of that one...) I just get so frustrated with them I can't even look at either of them sometimes.

I know I should be grateful, because they give me everything I have and I'm so blessed, and I really am grateful...most of the time. I get all ungrateful and mean and yucky on the inside (you know that super guilty, gross feeling you get when you know you're doing something wrong? yucky.) when their requests start getting more pointless, and I'm just gonna say it-- stupid, and when they stop listening to what I have to say.

A lot of that was all over the place and not organized at all. I guess my questions are Why do parents not like to listen to their kids suggestions?, and What can I do to maybe make it easier on myself to obey what they ask me to do and to improve my relationship with them?

Thanks.....and sorry for the in general not-niceness of this e-mail... :( I've been struggling with this for a long time now.

(I'm about a month away from being 17, just because I know you'll probably ask)

- Driven Crazy

Dear Driven,

You're right; I would have asked.

Look, I know this is going to sound like a cop-out, but it's true: a large part of what you and your parents are going through is just part of being a teenager. It sucks, I know, and it's really frustrating . . . you're smart and want to be independent, they're afraid of losing you and of you getting older, so you both do irrational stuff. Sister Jo preaches that we go through this phase as parents and children so that when the child is 18 or so both parties will agree that it's time for the child to move out.

I'm not excusing your parents. Some of us become highly irrational. I know you won't believe this, but the Jo Kids will all testify that I've lost my mind on more than one occasion. (There are a couple who will swear I don't have it back yet, and at least one that will say I never had my mind to begin with. We still love each other. I think.)

For now, little sister, understand that this is part of what the Lord means when he says "endure to the end".

Don't be haughty, but take the high road. Do your best to be patient and rational and understanding; and try not to give your parents any reasons to not trust you or think that you're not as smart as you are.

If your family is like most of us, and I bet they are, it will all pass in just a few short years.

BTW, at least in American culture, this is at its worst when the child starts driving. It's our species equivalent of flying out of the nest.

Hang in there,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Telling Him You're Not Interested

Dear Bro Jo,

If I go on a date with a guy though and he is nice but I just don't see him that way than if he asks me on a second date what is the best most polite way of saying that I am just not interested in him like that?

I don't want to lead a guy on if it’s not going to go anywhere.

- Too Nice

Dear Nice,

Unless a guy is scary or creepy, so long as he's willing to plan, pick up and pay, I think he deserves at least 2-3 dates. If at that point you honestly feel he's a waste of your time, or that you're wasting his, the polite, right and honorable thing to do is to tell him.

Be nice. Be honest. And be clear.

(We guys need things to be very clear.)

Tell him the next time he asks you out (being the third or fourth time) that you thank him for asking you out, but you don't see the two of you as a good match, you're going to focus on dating other people, and he should as well.

And that's it. No embellishment. Keep it simple and business like.

Just be sure that you're burning a bridge you never want to cross again.

- Bro Jo

Monday, October 10, 2011

Friends with . . . Benefits?

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm 16, turning 17 in February. I've been dating since I was about 14.

I've always had these 'horrible break-ups' and I never seem to find a nice guy. Maybe it's because it's (location withheld) and there aren’t many LDS guys here . . . or maybe it's because I'm picking all the wrong ones.

Finally, I seemed to have found the 'ideal' guy for me. The only problem? Not LDS. He's a Catholic who wants a family, perhaps much later in life.

I'm a junior in high school; he's a freshman in college. He drinks occasionally but he has the biggest heart. His heart, his smile, his kindness, makes me forget about his flaws. I don't want a serious relationship, and he has issues with me being in high school and past relationships made him scared to a real one now. For now, we're 'just friends' but dating-ish. I don't want to say its friends with benefits, but that's basically what it is.

We both have high morals, so it's nothing bad but... Bro Jo, he makes me melt every time I look at him, every time his name pops up of my phone, every time his name pops up on my Facebook page, every time he looks at me and smiles randomly. He loves that I'm a good girl and just like every other girl, I think I can 'change' him. Not change HIM, but his 'habits' he does at college, which is basically drinking. My parents, sister, and my friends love him. I don't know what to do - go for it? Still keep dating? Or let him go because he's not up to my ‘standards’?

Thanks for your time!

- Name Withheld

Dear Little Sister,

NO! Don't "go for it"!!!

Are you nuts?!?

A college age guy that has a drinking problem and hit's on 16-year old high school girls???

(BTW - Do you even know what "friends with benefits" means? It means you're having sex with him, and if that's the case, KNOCK IT OFF!)

I'm sorry, I know this guy gets your head swimming . . . but he's a bad dude. Plus, and read this very carefully, you'll NEVER change him.

Or his habits.

That's "old guy" experience talking.

You're attracted. Infatuated. And clearly not thinking clearly.

There's no way your dad loves a college age guy who drinks getting physical with his daughter. If you honestly believe that's the case, give me your dad's cell number; I'd love to talk to him.

At your age "Casual Group Dating" is where you should be at. You're rushing into adulthood too soon, and frankly much sooner than you're ready.

Looks fade, but addictions rarely go away without someone hitting rock bottom; and the problem with that, Little Sister, is someone like you always gets crushed between the rock and the bottom.

Trust me. I've seen it. I've lived it. I know.

Have one last in public conversation with this guy where you tell him that he's too old for you and not living up to your standards. If he stops drinking, starts going to Sacrament meeting, and stops touching, calling and texting you until you're 18 and graduated from high school, then you can consider dating again.

But, seriously, between you and me, I think if you cut this guy off physically he'll choose to be gone from your life forever, because frankly my dear, that's the only value a 16-year old girl has to him.

And, I hate to be this blunt, but the situation requires it; you need to know that he doesn't love you. How do I know? Because he doesn't respect you. Oh, I'm sure that he says he does, but if he did none of what's happening between the two of you would be happening.

- Bro Jo

PS: Casual Group Dating does not have to be only with LDS guys.

Bro Jo,

Sorry to have scared you with the whole 'friends with benefits', sex is definitely NOT what I meant. Sex in NOT in plans - AT ALL. Making out with him not as boyfriend/girlfriend is what I call friends with benefits, because I do have morals, I promise!

The difference with me and him is we've been friends for 3 years, so the whole college/high school thing isn't such a big deal. With that said, I know he doesn't live up to what my mom and dad wants for me, and I know I can't change him - but somehow even after your reply, I feel like maybe he would change when he actually grows up.

He doesn't necessarily have a problem with drinking; he just parties on weekends - not even every weekend - like a regular college kid. No, I'm not okay with that, but partying in (a non-LDS) college is kind of regular, especially around here.

I know I sound horrible, like I'm okay with what does or I'm making excuses for the things he does - but since we've been friends for years and I know what he went through, I kind of just brush off the bad things he does.

I'm confused with my feelings; I know what I should and shouldn't do.

I've always been 'serious' about dating, I'm not sure why, but casual dating, I'm sure, isn't a bad idea!

Thank you for replying, it really means a lot that someone is there for me.

- Name Withheld

Dear Little Sister,

Well I don't know, friend; I'm not sure that I would define "making out without commitment" (or NiCMO, as it's called at the Y) as "having morals". I'm glad that when it comes to "friends with benefits" you're naive instead of slutty, but you are absolutely making excuses. For him and for you.

You can care for someone without ignoring the bad stuff they do; your quickness to look the other way, especially given your reasons why, is not good. Neither is your attitude of "well, that's just what people do around here". One of the quotes I have on my office wall is from Michelangelo: "The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark".

I'm afraid not of sinful behavior, but that you dear little sister, are setting your standards too low. You are worth more than you give yourself credit for. We're taught to love the sinner, but hate the sin, and I think that if you don't change your failure to do the latter, you're going to be in more trouble than you want. It's the little things that matter. Sometimes that's because, unchecked, they're the gateway to the bigger things.

I have no problem with a quick kiss good night or goodbye after one has Casually Group Dated someone for three or more dates, or perhaps on a special occasion (like a birthday or holiday), but making out should be saved for after one is out of high school and in a committed relationship, preferably with someone that is a serious Temple Marriage prospect.

I think you're allowing your hormones to cloud your judgment. You're not alone; we all do it or have done it. But I think its past time for you to gain some self mastery.

Casual Group Dating IS a great idea! (If I do say so myself.) And let's be honest, you've not been "dating", you've been  in (my oldest daughter uses air quotes when she says this) "relationships".

Dating, little sister, is when a guy makes a plan, picks up, and pays (if he's dating correctly, and you're not letting him off too easy). When someone jumps into a bad relationship, regardless of their age, it's because they're trying to fill some gap; usually it's because they're struggling with their sense of self-worth, and they mistakenly believe that being "with someone" bestows them with value.

It doesn't.

Our value comes from Heavenly Father and his love for us, not from the admiration of others.

One more thing. You may hate to hear this, but it's true: this guy doesn't love you. Regardless of what he may say. Why? How do I know?

Because no man loves a woman he doesn't respect, and you can't respect someone who doesn't respect themself.

We can't expect to be respected when we drop our standards for others and ourselves.

I know that as a Daughter of God you have great individual worth!

Always here for you,

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for the reality check, I needed it.

Thanks for reminding me of my worth, I needed that more.

This whole thing that you're doing for not only, but everyone, is great. I especially appreciate it.

Bro Jo, you're awesome.

Thanks again. :)

- Name Withheld

Dear Little Sister,

Any time!

(And thank you.)

- Bro Jo

Friday, October 7, 2011

Medical Marijuana - part 2

Dear Readers,

On I posted a letter I'd received (and my response) regarding the use of Marijuana for Medical Purposes. You can jump to the original letter, and the subsequent comments, HERE.

One of the comments struck me as particularly poignant, and so I've decided to publish it separately here, in hopes of giving it the attention it, and this topic, the deserved attention (not everyone reads the comments on the letters).

Here's the comment (I have edited it only for clarity):

Dear Bro Jo,

I was Anon #1 and did some research on medical marijuana after reading this post out of curiosity.

You seem to insist on it's addictive properties, but the evidence of physical withdrawal seems only present in heavy users, according to the research I've done.

Based on the research I've done, it's only physically addictive after prolonged, heavy use. A study done by a professor at Cambridge suggested that about 9% of users become addicted and another study suggest perhaps 4-8% become "addicted" in the physical sense of the word.

One could argue, as perhaps you are, that people get addicted to the "feeling" and that the "addiction" is psychological, which seems fair to me. I've also learned that most marijuana taken for legitimately medical reasons is not always smoked, but often taken via baked good or vaporizer, as those methods don't damage the lungs and decrease cognitive impairment.

It is often for reducing nausea in chemo patients, stimulating appetite in cancer and AIDs victims and for people with muscle spasticity problems. I did a casual poll on this on my blog and looked at Church sources from the Handbook and and 5 temple-attending LDS people seemed to agree that if it was legal and under the care of a doctor that it would be fine. I live in a state where it's legal.

- Lauren

Dear Lauren,

While a "casual poll" of one's friends on a personal blog is hardly scientific evidence, you do make some great points. Sadly, anyone could easily put together a sampling of "temple-attending LDS people" that have opinions contrary to the teachings of the Church and its Prophets. (One of the realities of a Church as large and diverse as ours.) I have piles of research showing the addictive properties of MJ, so that doesn't necessarily sway me, either, but I'll certainly concede that "addiction" is a very broad term and can certainly include psychological as well as the physiological.

And, let's be honest here: I'm a logical kind of guy, but certainly no scientist. Plus, I'm sensitive to the suffering of others, and in your initial anonymous comment you made a pretty good point about the other medicines we take that are certainly addictive.

After receiving your comment above I contacted a friend and mentor (who also happens to be in Church leadership).

I asked him first if the Church had an official position on Medical Marijuana.

He said "no, the Church doesn't have an official position", which surprised me a little. He said that its come up in meetings with area 70s and other GA meetings, but at this time the bottom line is (as was suggested in another comment) "it really becomes a decision between the individual and their physician, and that the member should counsel with their priesthood leadership and the Lord".

Cannabis, as has been stated, IS available in pill form, which I think all people agree would make the issue a little easier to resolve. The problem is that the pills are significantly more expensive than MJ cigarettes, and that then can cross a boundary; there's a difference between swallowing a pill and the other things, including the vapor that you suggested, that in addition to the physically damaging and addictive issues, carry with them "the appearance of evil". We make not like it when people judge, but it IS a fact of life, and more often than we like it, judging the BEHAVIOR of others (note the difference) IS something we're supposed to do.

If people see someone known to be LDS, particularly someone in Church Leadership, sitting out on the back porch smoking a J . . . see what I'm saying?

Then there's the further complication of the states (like yours and mine, Lauren) where its "legal". See, in my state, its pretty easy for non-physicians to get "licensed" as "caregivers" allowing them to manufacture and distribute pot to a much wider range of people than those suffering from the ailments you mentioned. It seems like anyone around here with claims of "pain" can become a "card-carrying" pot smoker, and many of those card-carriers around here share their "painkillers" with their friends and anyone else, age 12 and up, who would like to be . . . "pain free".

For those that don't know, among the other hats I wear, I'm a college teacher and a football coach at the local high school. I'm acutely aware of the fact that we now live in a time where many, many young people believe that we're supposed to go through life (as one commentator on the original post ignorantly said) "as pain-free as possible". (I had one player this season tell me he couldn't practice because he "slept funny and his back was sore" - which is utterly ridiculous.) Couple this attitude with what I see as the "over accessibility" of marijuana, which make-no-mistake IS an addictive gate-way drug, and I worry about the casual attitude we, as a people, Church and society are developing towards pot.

One sad benefit of being an Old Guy is that I've seen a lot of lives ruined when we develop attitudes that bad isn't bad, that the appearance of evil is irrelevant, and we excuse addictions and addictive behavior.

If a Real Doctor prescribes cannabis as a medicine to someone who truly can not bear life without it, who truly has no other options, who has counseled with the Lord and the appropriate leadership, who limits its use to private individual medicinal use, and is committed to avoiding the appearance of evil, then . . . well . . . I guess I'm saying I'm on board.

But I'm still concerned.

And, personally, I think I'd rather die from the pain than have anyone ever be able to say "but Bro Jo smoked pot".

And, while I feel pretty blessed with relatively decent health, I can't remember the last time I had a "pain-free" day.

I just don't think that's the way life works.

Thank you for your comments,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Don't Tell a Guy You Like Him BEFORE He Asks You Out!

Dear Bro. Jo,

So, this is my first time writing you, so please forgive me if I seem a little awkward.

I just turned 19 about a week ago, and I still haven't started wading in the Dating waters yet. I was wondering if you could help me out a little bit, because I usually have a little anxiety towards the idea. First off, well, I'm not exactly sure where to start, so I suppose I'll use a bit of background.

I've always been a late bloomer. I've had no interest in guys until I hit 16 and a half, and even then, I had no real interest in having a relationship until now. My problem is: I have a little bit of trouble with being asked on dates. It's not that I freak out and turn them down or anything; it's just that guys don't ever ask me. I can't tell if it's because I'm too shy to put myself out there, or if it's because I'm just scary. I've got a few guy friends who tell me I'm really intimidating because I have a backbone, and I don't settle for following crowds, and I'm not afraid to be myself, but really? I thought that was supposed to be an attractive trait, unless I'm just defective and out of my mind.

On the flipside, I have a hard time with being around guys who I haven't confirmed as my non-biological brothers. I don't really have much experience with guys in a potential date-sort of way, and I'm not sure how to act around guys that I don't know very well or guys that I am attracted to, usually ending up in my being to shy to talk to them, or being 'aggressively' friendly and out there. If I know and love them as brothers, I have no trouble being a normal, rational thinking person around them. Anything else, and oh mercy. I guess I can base this on a fear of being hurt, because every time I've made myself vulnerable by telling a guy that I had developing feelings for him, I often end up being toyed with, and always end up getting hurt. And it takes a lot for me to admit to liking someone more than a friend. I guess what I'm trying to ask is whether or not I should actually go on dates with guys before I tell them I like them?

And if so, how do I get them to ask me out on dates?

I'm not really very good at flirting, my attempts are pitiful.

Anyway, I hope this makes sense, because I just confused the crud out of myself. Advice and constructive criticism are not only sought after but very welcome.


~ Perplexed

Dear Perplexed,

Well I hope they're welcome! (Otherwise you wouldn't have written, right?)

There's a lot here in your email, but I think it might be best two just address three things.

1. Never tell a guy you like him until after he's asked you out. The first couple dates need to be no-pressure get-to-know you situations; when you start out saying that you like a guy before he's made any kind of move, you scare him away.

2. Flirting is a skill. It takes practice. And forgive me for being in Football Coach mode, but to get better at the basic skills you need to practice them over and over again. At the beginning of every practice, the team will first warm up, getting the body limber and stretched out so it will respond when we need it to. The next thing we do is called "E.D.D.s" or "Everyday Drills". In E.D.D.s we do the same basic things over and over again, checking and improving our technique so that when it becomes game time those very important basic skills are done right and without thinking about them.

Flirting is no different. Start with the warm up: look in the mirror and realize that you're a great person who deserves to be flirted with. Then, when you go out practice your E.D.D.s: smile, be friendly (and sincere), and make eye contact. Practice the basics.

3. Any guy who is not actually your brother is not your brother. Sure, you have "Brother So-and-so" at Church, but all of these single guys you're around are potential dates. A first date is not a marriage commitment. Neither is a second, third or fifth. Stop worrying about how perfect a guy has to be to go out with him or how perfect you have to be on the date. It doesn't matter. Let him be him and you be you. It's very like you'll get hurt, and you may hurt a few people along the way. All of that is part of getting stronger. As we say in the weight room: no pain, no gain.

- Bro Jo

PS: You may also want to check out "Bro Jo's Guide to Relationships".

Monday, October 3, 2011

Putting "Girl Power" to Work

Dear Bro Jo,

I am 21, and going to BYUI, but I have noticed that no matter where I go, I can't seem to interest a guy enough for him to ask me on 1 date. I have gone for about 1 year without having a single date. I can literally count how many dates I have gone on, since I have been 16, on both my hands. I don't expect to have been married already. I can wait a few years. What bugs me is that I can't seem to at least get a date for Friday night.

I know enough about guys to know that not everyone is going to be attracted to a shy, voluptuous girl like me, but I was wondering what more should I do? I try to be more open about me liking someone, but I don't want to look too forward so I can see it would go unnoticed. That's my fear. And what bugs me even more is that a few guys have told me I was a wonderful person and a beautiful girl, but yet they STILL don't do anything about it.

I go out with friends and try to meet as many people as I possibly can, but I usually don't get a second glance. I tell myself, I don't need someone’s company to make me happy, but this loneliness builds up inside me.

What should I do more without being a creep or too forward?


Lovely but Lonely

Dear Lovely,

They're glancing. Trust me. You just haven't seen them.

There are two things I wrote a while ago that you may want to read.



Bro Jo's "HOW a GIRL CAN GET a GUY to ASK HER on a DATE"

Don't change who you are, but you're going to have to take it up a notch or two. Remember, the definition of insanity?

"Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Einstein

If you want a different result, you've got to do something different than what you've been doing.

Oh, and let me tell you something else: I'm very disappointed in the lack of sisterhood at the Y of I. Y'all need to be taking care of each other. make a deal with your roommates and friends: start setting each other up on dates. You find a date for her, she finds a date for you. Make it a game. Every date you get set up on you put $5 in the pot. When a girl gets married in the Temple, the friend that set her up with that guy gets the dough.


What have you got to lose?

Put some of that Girl Power to work.

- Bro Jo