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Friday, December 28, 2012

Her Parents Hate the RM She Loves Because He Fathered a Child

Dear Bro Jo,

Hello again. Update: I've made some mistakes since the last email I sent you, but on the whole-especially now- I've been striving to live a truly repentant life to take the sacrament again and get my temple worthiness back and be able to go through it.

The reason I'm writing you again, is because I've met someone who makes me happy beyond anything (except for of course the gospel). The problem is, is that my family absolutely hates him. He served his mission in my area, that's how I know him, but we weren't close and definitely did not flirt or anything while he was an elder. A few years have passed since his mission and we maintained contact, but nothing too serious, until a series of seemingly random events brought us together again. The chemistry between us was insane. He is the first man (apart from my father) who has said he loved me and I know it's true. He treats me with respect as a person, as a woman and as a daughter of God. He's got a good job. He's really cute and funny and we connect on basically every level. Awesome, right?

Now for the bombshell, Bro Jo: he has a daughter with his nonmember ex-girlfriend. Believe me, there were some red flags when I found this out (I knew this before we started dating...and I did judge him for it at the time...). He tried getting her to join the church-when they started dating, when she was pregnant, and after the baby was born-but 3 years later and she still doesn't care for it. He pays child support for his one year old daughter. He wants to be married in the temple and is taking the necessary steps to be worthy of his priesthood and garments. But my parents and siblings don't see that. They only see his mistake (it's a big one… I know... I am fully aware...) and have painted him as the devil himself, set on taking their daughter away from them.

The other day, my dad called my boyfriend and told him he was never to speak to me again, for a period of 12 months. If he contacted me in any way, my parents would take other measures to keep him from me. I can understand their concern and I appreciate it. It shows they love and care for me and for my well-being. But I'm having trouble with the way they've handled the situation. I know for myself that I am having nothing less than a temple marriage. If my boyfriend doesn't do what he needs to do to take me there, I'll find someone else who can. But I love him. I want him to take me to the temple. I'm not even worthy to go to the temple yet. So it's not like I have to wait on him. My parents told me I'm too blinded to see the truth, but I really don't think so. I'm fully aware that if I marry him, his expenses become mine and that includes paying child support for his daughter. I know that he will still have to maintain contact with his ex because of his daughter. I know that it will take a lot of work-and time-for him (and for myself) to return to worthy standing in the Church. I know that since he has been given the M. Priesthood that his repentance is going to be different than mine-since I in fact do not have the ability to hold the priesthood and I also have not ever been an endowed member-but he truly wants to have all of that back.

To clarify, he was not excommunicated nor was he disfellowshipped. My parents believe he was, which adds to the whole devil thing.

I guess what I'm really wanting to know... is what to do... I feel like my parents are making me choose between a man that I love (one with baggage but I love him just the same) and them. I do love my family, but I'm less than a month away from 21, and I'm not a little girl anymore. I'm not saying that I shouldn't take their concern and advice into consideration. No, I will and I do, and I care that they care this much for me. But to completely take away my agency to choose for myself what to do with my life..? That's what they've done. They won't listen to anything I have to say and it's suffocating. They hear me but don't listen because "I'm blinded" by my "love" for him.

My mom said I could marry him if I wanted, but she wasn't giving it her blessing nor would she attend. If it's not a temple marriage, she's not going. I'm not marrying him if I can't go to the temple with him...

Please help me Bro Jo,

Dazed and Confused

Dear Dazed,

I need some more information, please.

Why did your dad say "12 months"? What's the magic in that number?

How long ago was your last "mistake", and how big of a mistake was it? (I'm recalling the issue we discussed last April.) Or were they? Have you "made mistakes" with your current boyfriend?

How old is your boyfriend?

What is his job? And what is the nature of his relationship with his daughter like?

How long have the two of you been dating? Does he pass the Bro Jo's "Five A's of Why NOT to Marry That Person" test?

Have the two of you been together long enough to have gone through Bro Jo’s "LIST of STUFF YOU NEED TO KNOW TO BEFORE YOU GET ENGAGED" ?

Have the two of you seriously talked about marriage? Has he proposed?

And, most importantly, give me a timeline: how soon could each of you be worthy to enter the Temple?

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

12 months... I don’t know the magic in that number. Probably because it's a full year and a year is a long time.

My last mistake was in the beginning of November and it was a big one.

I have not made mistakes with my current boyfriend.

He just turned 25.

He works at a company that (details withheld). He holds a supervisor position there.

He absolutely loves his daughter and wants to take care of her himself.

He passes the reasons not to marry someone.

We have discussed some of the things on the engaged questionnaire.

We’ve been dating for almost two months. Yes, I know it's quite fast. He has not proposed but we have talked about our desires to go to the temple, and i really feel like he's the one i want to go there with.

In regards to a timeline, it would be about a year before we're both ready to go to the temple. The problem with what my parents have done, in my mind, is to keep us apart from each other during that time. I don't think it's a good idea to completely cut off our communication with each other. We motivate each other and help keep the other on the path.

- Dazed

Dear Dazed,

Do your parents know about April and November?

(In the grand scheme of things, a year isn't that long, by the way.)

What happened in your boyfriend's life that he needs a year to become worthy?

Has your father served in a Bishopric, Stake Presidency or on the High Council?

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

My parents know about what happened in April. I haven't explicitly told them about what has happened since then, but I’m sure they have their ideas.

- Dazed

Dear Dazed,

There are some . . . timeline things I want to make certain I have straight.

(Sorry for probing so much, but the details will help us figure out how to deal with you parents)

You said you . . . "made a big mistake" in November, one month ago, you've been dating this guy for two months, but he's not the one you had sex with, is that right?

He has a three year old child that he fathered shortly after returning from "serving an honorable mission" with a girl he started dating when he came home. Does that girl live in his mission field or is she a girl from home?

His daughter is now three years old. He supports her financially but has given up on trying to convert her mother. He is no longer sexually or romantically involved with the mother.

He says he's on the road to repentance, but has not yet spoken about his transgression with his stake president, which is why he has yet to receive any form of Church discipline and still has a year to work on his issue.

The two of you are dating, but haven't fooled around.

Am I getting it right?

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

He is not the man I had sex with, no.

His daughter is a year and 4 months old.

His ex is a girl he met at home.

He's not romantically or sexually involved with the mother.

We have not fooled around.

He was kind of stagnant in his spiritual process when we got together initially. But he's actively repenting.

- Dazed

Dear Dazed,

Thank you. That clears up a few things.

I still have questions, but I think I have enough to go on.

Look, you're an adult; who you want to date is your business. Your parents get to set the rules for their home, and that includes curfews and who can come over, but they can't control what you do when you're out of the home. They could declare that if you don't do what they want then you don't get to live there, I suppose . . . but all of that comes down to an almost separate issue of the relationship you have with them and their willingness to accept you as an adult. You'll always be their daughter, but you're not a baby anymore. If that's not a reconcilable issue, then you may need to leave their house to gain your independence; just realize how much more difficult life, and the temptations you're going to face, will be.

As for your boyfriend . . . well, there are some things that each of you can do that might make things easier for your parents to grow to like him. Whether or not they choose to is of course up to them, and it may take no small effort and quite a bit of time.

And, let's face it:  neither of the two of you have exactly been living "Temple Worthy" lives up to this point.  For a couple that's supposed to be "in love" and talking about making eternal commitments to each other, neither of you has yet chosen to get your act together or repent of your past transgressions.  (Thus the whole "still need to wait a year" thing.)  I mean, come on:  you had sex with some other guy while you were dating this guy who you now think is the love of your life; he (supposedly) served as a worthy missionary, but came home (after making Temple covenants) and knocked up some girl . . . and still (sixteen months later) hasn't made things right with God.  Your dad is right:  neither of you has shown the Spiritual Maturity yet needed to forge an Eternal Bond.  Frankly, all of this "Temple Marriage" talk seems drastically premature.

If your dad is anything like me, his two biggest concerns regarding whom his daughter marries is that A) he'll be able to support and take care of her, and B) that he's a worthy and active priesthood holder.

A) is taken care of; it sounds like he's got a good job and he cares for you.

B) is another matter.

Going to Church is great, but saying you're "actively repenting" is just talk until he goes and talks to priesthood authority. The man was an Endowed Member of the Church, made very solemn covenants with God in the Temple about staying morally clean . . . and isn't. It’s past time for him to man up and face the consequences of his actions. He needs to officially and formally begin the repentance process. If he's not ready to do that, then he's not yet unselfish enough to really love you the way that you deserve.

That doesn't mean he's not a Good Guy, it just means that he lacks the courage to do what's right. You can help him with that by offering the love and support that he'll need to take those first few steps.

Your father will witness the change in his countenance as he makes things right with God, and while that may not totally soften him, it will help.

But it will take TIME.  If you truly love each other, then respecting each other should be top priority.  Sexual purity for a year while you work towards a Temple Marriage and save sacred things for that marriage is essential.  Again, a year isn't that long.

Stay out of tempting situations. Two non-virgins who are deeply attracted to each other but have goals of Celestial marriage will find that Satan will use their libidos and previous experience to make the temptations very difficult to resist. That means that you'll need to be vigilant in your efforts to stay clean. No making out in the car, horizontal, alone, in the dark . . . you know the drill.

Prove to your parents that they can trust him with you by never giving them cause to think otherwise.

A year may seem like a very long time, but it IS possible.

You'll need to move forward with your repentance process, too.

One more thing. And please understand that this is council I neither give lightly or often. If the two of you can't make it the year, if you really are in love with each other and willing to commit to each other for Time and All Eternity . . . but you realize that you'll can't keep your hands off each other and you deep down have very little desire to . . . not . . . you know, then tell your parents and go to the Bishop and get married first. It will be a harder path, especially with your parents - possibly setting their acceptance of him back many years - so it’s not nearly as good a choice as becoming worthy and being Sealed in the Temple first. Still, it’s far better than making choices that keep you further from God and His Spirit.

You've got a lot of work cut out for you. Both of you. But I can promise you this: nothing is more worth the effort and work than a strong Eternal Marriage.

Keep me posted.

Feel free to email any time.

And do yourself a favor: no more making your life needlessly complicated. Okay?

The guidelines that we're given about morality and the way we should keep certain things within marriage and sacred aren't just old fashioned values; their God's advice about how to make our lives easier and more fully know his joy!

Counsel with your Bishop.  Be Honest with him.

And Be Honest with yourselves and each other.

Now go Be Good.  Both of you.

- Bro Jo

1 comment:

swingboy3 said...

I find myself agreeing heavily with Daze's father and Bro Jo. There are some serious fires that need to be put out before talk of marriage or even dating or both parties. I think this is a perspective that can only be developed after experience and maturity. Both parties need to clean up their act individually without an exclusive relationship before dating anyone for quite a while. I even have a strong opinion that the RM needs to make his child his only responsibility until his child is on a mission. Think what kind of impact that could have on a child in a pre-broken home