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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

At What Point Do You Talk to Your Bishop?

Dear Bro Jo,

Recently I've been dating a returned missionary.

He's 22 and I'm 18.

We're both Freshmen in college.

Now when I say I've been dating him, I specifically mean that we're in a relationship. We went on a seven months ago but weren't officially in a relationship until about six months ago.

Lately, he's been talking about us potentially being married in a year or two, but we both know we both want to wait, to be sure.

Last night, we went to a wedding reception. He went to the actual ceremony in the Temple (in the afternoon) while I walked around the temple grounds (not because I was unworthy, but because I'm not endowed yet).

Between the ceremony and the reception that evening, we went to his brother's apartment to eat lunch. The wedding and reception were both 20 minutes from where we live but only 5 from where his brother lives, so we just decided to eat lunch and talk there before going to the reception that evening.

We ate and sat on the couch in the living room and talked for a few minutes. We were both a little sleepy after eating lunch, so we laid down on the couch next to each other to take a nap. He went to give me a light kiss before we went to sleep, but the light kiss grew to a longer kiss, which grew to making out.

He gradually moved to be halfway on top of me, with one of his legs between mine. Our hands never wandered to any private areas, but we were both aroused, and things were still sensual enough with his hands rubbing over my back. I rubbed my legs against his, and there was quite a bit of French kissing as well.

We didn't have sex, and no clothing was ever removed, but when he finally pulled away and decided we had crossed several lines, we were both very out of breath.

There were a lot of warning signs and red flags that I ignored that day.

- We were alone in an apartment.
- We were both tired.
- I was in a dress (making it easier to expose more leg than what's modest)
- We had just come from a wedding ceremony so we felt all lovey-dovey.
- And to put it bluntly, we were both horny and we knew it.

All of these thoughts came to my mind before we even ate lunch, and they continued to come to me as I kept ignoring them.

I know I ignored the Spirit, and I feel awful because I did.

We talked about it, and we literally had the same thoughts all along. I think it's easier for me to go too far because I had never actually hit that point before. I've never really had the opportunity. I didn't want that opportunity, and now I'm even more sure that I'll never let myself get into those situations. 

After all of this happened, the two of us made rules for ourselves.

- We will not ever be completely alone.
- We won't lie down together.
- We will avoid the things that turn each other on.
- We will not French kiss.

There are definitely several more rules we've set, but you don't need to hear all of that.

Long story short, we'll drive as far away from the edge of the cliff as we can, instead of driving on the edge.

After we stopped making out and caught our breath, we talked for probably 10 to 15 minutes or so.

I felt horrible. I had a pit in my stomach. While he went to the bathroom and I was supposed to be putting my shoes on, I cried harder than I've cried in a long time.

I couldn't feel the Spirit, and I knew that it was my fault.

Yes, I know it takes two to tango, but it only takes one to stop dancing.

Well, he wiped the tears off of my cheeks, and we went to the reception.

There was food there, of course, but everything I ate just made me more sick. I haven't had that horrible of a feeling in years. I felt like the most despicable human being. I'd had the power of hurting not only my soul, but another person's soul in the palm of my hand.

We talked about the Atonement and I felt a little bit better, but I still feel like something is unresolved. That may just be my overactive worry gland, but it may be the Spirit. I can't tell.

I've prayed to Heavenly Father for forgiveness, and I've apologized several times to my boyfriend.

He felt just as bad as I did, but he got over it quite a lot faster than me.

I'm not sure if that should worry me or not...

Anyway, what my main question here is:  do I need to talk to my bishop about the things that have happened between my boyfriend and me?

Am I unworthy to go to the temple now?


- Worrywart

Dear Worry,

Worthiness to enter the Temple is between you and your Bishop ... and ultimately, the Lord . . .so it's not really my place to answer that.

What I can do is suggest that you consider the questions we're asked as part of our Temple Recommend interview, specifically those about sex outside of marriage.

And I always think that it's better to talk to priesthood authority if you're worried than to continue being worried.

You know what you did wrong, and you know how to avoid those temptations in the future. I think not being alone and not lying down together are the big ones.

One last thing I'd ask you to consider: waiting to get married at this point is fine, so long as you're actively trying to get to know each other better.

Just realize that you'll never be able to know the answers to all the what-ifs (though you should certainly read Bro Jo's Things You Need to Know Before You Agree to Marry That Person), and that once two people decide to get married, the longer they wait the more difficult it is for them to save the things for marriage that are supposed to be saved.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you.

A lot of these things have gone through my head as well.

I'm a little confused about the part where you said, "Just realize that you'll never be able to know the answers to all the what-ifs."

Could you clarify a little?

I'm sorry I'm not understanding...

Thank you so much. I looked at the Temple recommend interview questions, with the focus on the question, "Do you live the law of chastity?"

What exactly is the law of chastity?

Is it just not having sex before getting married (and remaining completely faithful to your partner after marriage), or is there more to it than that?

The For The Strength of Youth Pamphlet talks about sexual intimacy, but does that apply to sex, sexual arousal, full body hugs, etc.?

I know I would like to believe that I live the law of chastity, but I also want and need to be completely honest with myself if something isn't quite right here. 

I'm sorry I have so many questions.

I'm going to set up an appointment to talk to my Bishop within the next day or two, but I don't know exactly how to convey to him what happened without being overly graphic.

- Worry

Dear Worry, 

Regarding the "What-ifs", what I mean is that people often delay major decisions (like marriage) because they're trying to plan for every possible contingency . . . which you just can't do. 

The Law of Chastity certainly includes only having sex with the person you're married to, but it also has to do with the other things you've talked about that relate to keeping oneself, as we say in scouts, "physically clean and morally straight". 

I think the reason we Old People are a bit vague on chastity sometimes is that we're afraid that if we say "here's the line" some of you Young People will run right up to the line, and perhaps occasionally stick your toe over to test the waters, so to speak. 

'Cause, let's face it, that's what Young People do. 

My opinion is that Chastity means no sex and nothing that has you or other people getting too darned aroused. 

So, yeah, I'd include petting, rubbing, fondling, parts touching parts (and I'd put full-body hugs in with that), and even dressing, talking, texting and writing provocative things. 

I know of couples that figured simply talking about sex, graphically, over the phone was okay because there was no "actual sex" happening . . . I don't think that's what the Spirit of the Law means.  
And, of course, once couples start doing that, then when they see each other again . . . well . . . what's to stop them from doing what they've already talked about in depth and detail?

So talk to your Bishop.

If you need to be graphic, be graphic.

He can handle it.

But if that makes you uncomfortable (and it likely will make him uncomfortable), just convey the situation. "My boyfriend and I laid down together and ended up making out on top of each other and now I feel awful" is sufficient.

- Bro Jo

***** Six Months Later *****

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you.

I'm so grateful for all of your help.

Shortly after I emailed you, I talked to my Bishop, and my boyfriend did likewise.

We turned things around and repented.

Then we got engaged in two months later.

Progressively things got bad again.

Although we went beyond where we should have, I'm glad that we did not have sex before marriage. 

I'm glad that we stopped and I called my Bishop when we did.

We both worked together to make sure we would stay temple worthy.

I would never wish these struggles on anyone, but through everything, it made the two of us stronger, both as individuals and as a couple.

Two months ago we were married and sealed in the Bountiful Utah Temple.

Bro Jo, thank you for helping me to be strong.

I will always remember your words, your help, and the hope you gave me.

- Your Friend

PS:  Attached is a picture of my husband and me at the Temple on our wedding day.

Dear Friend, 

Your email made my day! 

Thank you so much for the kind words and the photo. 

Congratulations to you both,

- Bro Jo

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