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Friday, March 9, 2012

Agency, Temptation and Worthiness

Hi there Bro Jo,

I have been reading through most of your blogs, and i do admit i am indeed impressed. I too like many others have questions I would like some advice of or encouragement on.

After reading some of the stories online I am still not satisfied. And no I would not like this posted on any blogs please...

Now straight to the point: Me and my partner have met through Church. Actually in Youth. We both had the same problem with the word of wisdom at the time. Ever since dating we have both encouraged each other to stop. We did not go to the same school all this was because of the crowd we once were with which were all non-members, and also family problems that just influence the fact even more.

A few months later I really got to know him and grew more fond of him each time we met. We started to sneak out just to see each other. I do admit the church does encourage us to go on group dates and never stay out in the dark for too long, but this was the only way of seeing him and coming from a strict background, our family rules were not to date until after mission.

Temptation started to really kick in and as for the both of us coming from in-active families within the Church . . . we gave in.

I have had problems with my parents: having to face being kicked out of home twice all for the fact of having a boyfriend. This encouraged me to continue and not care about the consequences. Just like I feel because I feel like I am now being forced to serve. That had continued for a year. A few months ago my parents finally gave up and decided to meet him.

So everything is all out there, now me and my partner have set ourselves some goals and now know what we want. Just last week he has gone to his bishop and confessed. There is just one major problem. Our parents do not know and are expecting both me and my partner to go on our mission by the end of this year; we are both now 19 years old. After speaking with his bishop, bishop advised him and encouraged him to come to prep class and the missionary classes.

Now it is just the fact of facing the long term consequences. Guess he is just scared of having his name excommunicated from Church as the Bishop advised that may be the case if it’s serious which in his case it is because he is holding the priesthood keys and we both really do not want that.

As for me I am now waiting to go ask Bishop to release me from my calling in Church and confess.

It is just the case of not trusting our Bishop and having the parents involved. Their solution in our culture would be to just get married which is something me and my partner do not want. We know we are both not ready, we now know what we want and we want it done the right way.

I do not trust our Bishop at all... I find he loves his wife more then his callings. I am not here to gossip but from my experience and others we find we are most not comfortable with the Bishop although he is a really nice, sweet and humble man we just find that his wife somehow knows everything she is not meant to know.

Just a question would I be able to talk to the Stake President instead?

And do the parents have to know or be involved?

- Name Withheld

Dear Friend,

I'm glad you wrote.

In your letter you use the word "partner" often, and talk about being 19 and going on a mission. Where I live the use of the word "partner" often implies a homosexual relationship, and since girls can't go on missions until their 21 in the Church, and since girls are not as expected to serve missions as guys are, the implications in your letter is that you're a guy.

Your email address, however, contains a traditional girl's name, so I'm guessing here that you're a girl who, because of language and cultural differences, is using the word "partner" to mean that you're having sex with this man, and that the missionary pressure you feel is parental and cultural pressure, not Church pressure. If I'm wrong, please let me know.

I'd like you to reconsider allowing me to post your letter. Your situation is similar to other young people in the Church, and your letter may help them. Plus, your letter is generic enough that no one will identify you as its author.

Yes, you can go to your Stake President. He may turn you back to your Bishop, and he may not, but it never hurts to set the appointment.

For the record, a man is SUPPOSED to love his wife more than his calling. No, a Bishop isn't supposed to share with his spouse the things that have been confessed to him, but isn't it possible that he isn't doing that but instead his wife is just a smart enough person to see what's going on in the lives of others by the way they behave? Often we think we're hiding our behavior but our actions are obvious to anyone with eyes or ears.

You mention that there are some cultural expectations you're dealing with, but you don't mention where you're from - that might be significant.

To be candid, my young friend, for someone who's as old as you are you don't take much responsibility for your own actions. You blame your Word-of-Wisdom problems on the people you hung out with. You justify sneaking out with this guy because it's "the only way" you can be together, which A) is a lie, and B) isn't important - no one is requiring you to spend time together, you're choosing that.

Then you want me to believe that sex "just happened" and that it's really the fault of your parents for being so strict.

I'm sorry, but all of that is absolute garbage.

You chose your friends. You chose to be disobedient. You chose to violate the Word-of-Wisdom. You chose to have sex.

Whether you choose to repent in this life or the next, at some point you'll be held accountable for your actions. Trust me: it's much better to repent now than to wait.

Stop worrying about what your parents might find out (they probably know, anyway) and start worrying about what you need to do to make things right with Heavenly Father.

A mission is not a right, it's a privilege, and if you're not ready or worthy to go, you shouldn't.

It's really too bad that you didn't care about your parent's opinions and feelings more back when you were making the wrong choices you made, but now you have the opportunity to make things right. And that, my young friend, is more important than continuing on the path you're on.

Have courage! Do what you know is right. Begin the repentance process right away. If that means confessing to you Bishop and parents, trust me, it's much better than the alternative.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,


First of all thanks for the reply... well where we are from "partner" or "other half" would be the used term for boyfriend, fiance or husband; and yes I am a girl.

My nationality background is half cast both sides from the islands. Which most people would know have really strong beliefs in God no matter what the religion.

Yes, I guess you can say that I’m blaming others for my choices I do feel like I am too... mostly I regret hanging in the wrong places with the wrong friends. Sneaking out to see him was the only way because during the day we could not be seen together only because there would be members around. In our nationality being seen by other parents would only mean one thing... It leading back to our parents or having to deal with the eyes or gossip at church which is why we feel the need to hide this, this is pretty common and you would find most teenagers are doing this.

Blaming my parents I do feel bad about... at the time all they would do is constantly compare us kids (me and my siblings) to other youths or YSA who have also gone the wrong way... or why cant I be like my cousins who are out their serving?

Or in Church it’s like most families are competing to be the best they look at other people’s children who’s worthy or who’s not... so that is what i feel my perants have the need for. And they compare why can’t I be like who other's kids?

You will find that most YSA and youths do not come Church because of this.

During the years that just got to me and all I would think of is 'just do it' give it a try, all they do is complain about it so might as well do it.. So yes I made those decisions I chose to go astray myself.

I've always wanted to serve I have cousins who are out there and I love hearing about their experiences. What inspires me most about this is we had a few YSA who have gone a confessed for the same problems... and no matter how long it took they are out there serving now... I have a lot of friends of which my parents also do not allow me to hang with because they think they are bad influences when little do they know they are the reason I’ve always wanted to serve. Moving away from them and being banned to hang out with I feel like I have no one to talk to no one for encouragements which is when I met my 'partner' or as you can say boyfriend I have stopped.

He is the reason why I've chosen to stop you can say he is actually my only best friend now.

We've just made the wrong mistake that it is too late to turn back on and we know this which I now must confess and obey.

In other words for the Bishop... is we've had some cases where other ysa or youths have had problems with their secrets being lead out to the wrong people just makes me curious.. I am not the only one who sees this and who is not comfortable with the Bishop.

The president I have met and he is truly a humble man who has been chosen and is close with the youth and YSA.

I do feel more comfortable talking to him rather than our Bishop just didn’t know if this was allowed, though if the result is to lead back to my bishop then so be it.

After reading your letter it has of somewhat encouragement in it and yes I am willing to face this even if it means the 'eyes' or 'gossip'.

In result of this letter being posted on the blog I am an insecure type of person but for now time being yes you may post this in the blog.

- Name Withheld

Dear Friend,

Whether it's the Stake President or your Bishop (whom, frankly, I think you maybe judging unfairly - again, for all you know those "secrets" have been revealed by people - perhaps the individuals themselves - other than the Bishop - if you think about it, you heard it from people other than him) the point is that it's good for you to set the sin aside and move forward in the repentance process.

It's my hope that as a part of that process you learn about "agency", and how about the freedoms we have are not consequence free, regardless of whether or not we repent. Perhaps when you realize that you didn't "have to see him", you'll begin to understand that it's our choices that dictate our lives more than anything else.

Good luck and God bless,

- Bro Jo

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