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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Priesthood Unworthiness

Dear Bro Jo,

I've written to you before, gotten good advice, I'm a longtime reader of your blog and always love what I read. Everyone says those things, but, I had to say them for myself, because they're true!

All right, I'll dive right in.

I'm a 15 year old girl (surely, you must be getting pretty tired of receiving letters from us :-] ) but I'm about to turn 16 in a couple months.

Originally, when I thought about writing to you, I was going to ask you for advice on a different problem then I actually am. You see, there's a guy (there always is). I've been putting myself out there lately, being a little more outgoing with church boys and everyone as I approach dating age. I'm really excited to soon be able to jump into the world of casual dating. But anyway, over winter break, a guy from my seminary texted me a couple times. We had really nice, long conversations and I liked getting to know him (although yes, I know that relationships shouldn't be based on texting). And then at the Stake New Year's Eve dance, we sat after it and talked again for a while. It was fun.

In a later conversation texting, I casually slipped in my excitement for turning 16, being able to date and drive and everything. I don't know if he picked up a hint or if he already liked me or what, but he responded by telling me that he'd take me on a date for my 16th birthday, he could take me ice skating or something and it would be a lot of fun. I agreed and said that we should definitely plan on something like that.

So, when I was originally intending to write to you, I was going to ask about what to expect on my first date, how not to be nervous etc. because he's the first guy to ask me on a date where it's actually feasible that he could take me on one (he's already 16, turning 17).

But just today, something else has come up that I wanted to ask about.

When talking, we got onto the subject of missions, and he said he probably wouldn't go on one. Surprised, I asked why... And turns out, he just doesn't believe in the Church. Or God. Ouch. He's even my seminary class president... So we delved into the matter a little bit. What got me though is that he doesn't believe in the very priesthood that he holds. That's where my problem is... He doesn't want me to tell anyone, and I'd like to honor that.

But, what about his sacrament duties?

I'm not sure whether one should be involved in all of that without believing in it. All the same, there has been no sin committed to make him technically unworthy. My gut tells me to stay out of it and stay quiet, I don't think it's my business. But all the same, I'm a little bit uncomfortable with the idea of sacrament being blessed by someone who doesn't believe in it. So, here's where I wanted to ask you... What do you think I should do? If anything?

I'd also like to help him gain a testimony. But I don't know how. If you have any tips on that...

Anyway, sorry for all the background here. Hopefully you can make sense of it, and the questions.

Thank you,

- Mary

Dear Mary,

First things first.

When you start to date (and I trust you'll require boys to take you on Casual Group Dates and follow the Dating Rules) you should expect that the date plan will be followed, to be treated kindly, and to have fun. You should not expect everything to be perfect.

And expect to be nervous sometimes. That's natural.

As for this boy you like . . .

Someone need not have a testimony (or even be a member of the Church) to go on Casual Group Dates with them.

Should he have a testimony to bless the Sacrament?

That's between him and the Lord.

And the Bishop.

Now, if you know for a fact that someone is unworthy to participate in an ordinance, and that person intends to anyway, then you have a moral obligation to approach them and tell them that if they don't withdraw and talk to the Bishop, you'll be forced to talk to the Bishop. (Privately, of course.)

That includes blessing or passing the sacrament AND going to the Temple.

(But you have to know for a fact. No rumors and no guessing.)

Each of us need to gain our own testimony (and that sometimes is harder for people raised in the Church, BTW), and we do that in our own time and our own way.

Once we have a testimony, it needs to be nurtured and grown.

This guy may truly be struggling. He may also not care, which is much sadder.

The best thing you can do for him is to share yours (when the Spirit prompts you to). Pray for him and encourage him.

But also be aware. It's odd that he decided to use you as his confessional. He could be hoping that, being the good person you are, you'll help him get on track. He could also be setting you up to excuse his current or future inappropriate behavior.

No alone time (other than in public settings) with this guy.

- Bro Jo

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