How would you advise this young woman?

H

Hi, Mrs. Latayne Scott,

Although I’ve never been a part of the Mormon Church, I’ve had various experiences through family and friends. I attended my first and last service when I was thirteen years old. My best friend, a member of the Mormon Church, invited me to attend to listen to a speech she was asked to write. Young as I was, I didn’t question anything except the extensive hours.

It wasn’t until high school when my questions stirred. During the summer before my junior year, relatives from Utah came to visit. It was then I learned that they were a part of the Mormon Church. When I returned home from a marching band rehearsal, I was approached by my uncle, asking me if I wanted to attend church. My gut feeling told me to decline but when I did so, I was pressured up to the moment my uncle, my father (his brother), and his three sons were leaving out the door. However, it wasn’t until they left when the pressure became almost unbearable.

A pair of women from the church came to my house and began to invite me to activities for other girls my age. Kind as they were, I wasn’t interested, recalling the memories I had when I attended church activities with my best friend and feeling uncomfortable. Despite my decline, they continue to come to my house to not only bring up what I already said I wasn’t interested but also wanted to share the Book of Mormon. In addition, I began to receive phone calls involving the same topics. The issue was dealt with after speaking with my mom but my bitter feelings remained.

The last straw was attending an event where my best friend would become secretary for seminary. As I watched other high school students praying in a circle, I noticed that–aside from the student–everyone was male despite if the mother was there. I sensed a male dominance, slowly angering me but I made sure to keep my composure. After all, no one from my best friend’s family came to attend. I tried to remain supportive but after my previous experience and what I witnessed, it was difficult to be optimistic.

I’m now eighteen years old, heading into college in a few weeks with my best friend as my roommate. Recently, I inquired my fear to my boyfriend of what to respond if she questions why I don’t attend church with her during college. He provided me with a wonderful sermon regarding God and His Grace, along with a link to your article, \”Mormonism and the Quest for Truth” on www.equip.org. I was amazed on what I didn’t know about Mormonism. From there, I found your website and began reading your “365 Reasons Why I Won’t Return To Mormonism”.

I wanted to say thank you so much for creating Latayne.com and writing your article. I truly appreciate what you’re doing, especially how you deliver your message.

I apologize for my lengthy story involving Mormonism despite not being a member but I feel if I can receive an answer for what step to take, it’s best if you hear my take and understand why I come to you for advice.

My best friend has been a member of the Mormon Church since she was twelve. Her brother attended for about a year or two before he stopped going to church. Their parents have no involvement in the church, thus it’s safe to say that my best friend is the only Mormon in her household. After reading your works and research, I strongly wish to show her what I’ve read from you. However, after reading a letter you received from an eighteen-year-old Mormon in regards to one of your books, I was hesitant, especially since my best friend is the same age. I’ve been best friends with her since the third grade. Now that we’re going to be first-years in college and living together, I’m fearful of approaching this topic with the risk of our friendship. Not being Mormon myself, I don’t want to come off as bias or uninformed. I feel that if I share your article and this website, this will help reveal my thoughts without saying anything irrational.

My question is a matter of when. Should I share this before we move into our dorm in college? Should I wait until the topic is brought up? My best friend means so much to me. I honestly want only the best for her. When it comes to this, I don’t know what action will be most appropriate.

If you’re able to reply with advice, it will be gladly appreciated but I do understand if I don’t receive a response. Honestly, being able to write down my true feelings on this has lifted a great deal off my shoulders and I thank you for allowing me to write this to you. I wish you all the best and success in your life!

Sky Sengnaryvong

 

2 Comments

  1. NameBruce Mac Arthur
    Aug 5, 2011

    Your message…

    Hello, Sky —

    Before all else, let me say that I really LIKE your name. I hope that you do too. Now to the subjects at hand.

    First, let me state that I appreciate the facts that you BOTH (1) want to stand your ground AND (2) want to actively avoid needlessly offending your dear friend.

    Second, let me apologize for perhaps replying too late to do as much good as you would have preferred. I’ve just been busy with other things, and only just now saw your letter posted.

    Third, let me suggest that much of the best answer to your question (or is it “questions”???) probably depends upon the answer to at least two other questions. The FIRST is, “Are YOU (Sky) (A) a “personally-committed and practicing Christian”, or (B) a “nominal Christian”, or (C) a religious non-Christian, or (D) a non-religious person?” The SECOND is more difficult — “To your Mormon friend, are you (A) the “best friend”, (B) a friend, or (C) a very hesitant proselyte?”

    The reason for the first question is that its answer guides you in the way in which you would express yourself. For example, if you are what I like to call a “Biblically-responsible Christian” (pretty-much possibility “(A)”), then it is entirely proper — and probably best — for you to cite applicable passages from the Holy Bible. That is NOT so appropriate in cases (B), (C), and (D).

    The reason for the second question is that its answer guides you in the substance of what you need to say. Let us explore this important matter in just a little depth — but with one VITALLY-important guiding principle. You simply MUST tell the absolute TRUTH, regardless of either the “how” or the “when” of your expressing it.

    If you (sadly) determine — perhaps over a semester or two as roommates — that your best friend actually values you (now!) more as a proselyte than as a friend, then I think you should consider being a little more “assertive” whenever you choose to make your point. That may apply if you are (or, on campus, become) “just another friend”, although you might want to soften your approach slightly. If you really ARE your best friend’s best friend, you have something VERY SPECIAL, and do not want to treat it lightly. And this makes it BOTH much harder AND somewhat easier (!!!) to express yourself.

    Another analysis of this point is that, the closer the two of you are personally, the farther-out in time you can be content to schedule your discussion. If you are a “project” (a proselyte) to your friend, the sooner the better. If you are another friend, waiting a month (or even an entire semester) may do just as well. If you really are your best friend’s best friend, then a semester or two CAN be workable. However, you should realize that, if the unwelcome “invitations” continue when you are on campus, you are probably a proselyte — and the time to have a discussion is BEFORE you get mad at your friend for all the intrusions on your personal space. Part if you must, but try to part in peace!

    I think that it may help you to write down the main “talking points” — and, depending upon your own personal “style”, perhaps even the exact words — that you will want to use when you get down to “the discussion”.

    The points that you list will vary depending upon your personal position. Have you determined that Mormonism is objectively FALSE? Have you simply determined that you disagree with the teachings of Mormonism? Have you learned that you cannot accept the life-style rules and the church rules of Mormonism? Have you simply “had it” with the pushiness of the Mormons who would “evangelize” you? Do you simply want nothing at all to do with ANY religion?

    The questions above — and your answers to them! — will be a good guide to the specific points that you want to make when discussing things with your friend. You can always point out that you entirely accept the fact of your friend being a Mormon — but that you need to be accepted with equal respect for your own religious views. Perhaps you actually want to focus on the issue of “What, really, is the FAIR way for a friend to treat a friend?”

    And, if you are a Christian, you know full-well that you need to both prepare to speak, and then speak with your friend in the middle of a mountain of prayer. You will also know that you must “speak the truth in love.”

    At this point, I really MUST put in a very specific “plug” for Latayne’s book, “The Mormon Mirage, Third Edition, A Former Member Looks at the Mormon Church Today”. You said that you do not want to come across to your best friend as (wrongfully) biased or as ignorant. “TMM” (as I came to think of the book as I worked with Latayne in updating it) is a “101” kind of book; it takes you by the hand, without insulting your intelligence in the least, and tells you BOTH (1) what Mormons believe, why they believe it, and how it works out in their lives AND (2) the Biblical, theological, and secular-historical TRUTHS, of which most Mormons are largely unaware. Latayne, in my view, expresses a strong love for the PEOPLE who are stuck in the Mormon world and an equally-strong hate for the Mormon religion and institutions. I think this is the kind of “course” you need to take before you can confidently discuss the subject with your friend. Once you are familiar with it, you might even offer it to your friend — for her edification. Many Mormons have negative things to say about this book, but some Mormon scholars have declared that Latayne has at least presented the truth in a responsible and considerate way. In the world of “anti-anti-Mormonism”, that is a VERY high compliment.

    Bear in mind also that you do not need to try to “evangelize” your best friend to YOUR viewpoint; you only need to establish the fact that you are not interested in Mormonism and that you need to be left alone in this particular respect. If this basic provision causes anger in your friend, then you may need to face the fact that you have become only a proselyte to your “best friend”. At that point, you really ARE better-off to simply let the truth get out.

    Finally, let me, as an old man, make a suggestion to you, as a young person. This may be the first — but it will NOT be the last — time that a wonderful “friendship” puts you in a difficult position. Whatever happens, try to learn some useful principles from your experience. Those principles may well help you to ensure that you marry either wisely enough to let it last a lifetime or else not at all — and thus, in either case, avoid divorce! Perhaps you will even become able to give wise and useful advice to others in years to come. So don’t forget to learn, just because things really ARE so VERY difficult in the here-and-now.

    I pray (and hope) that these thoughts prove helpful to you!!!

  2. admin
    Aug 5, 2011

    Always a thoughtful response from you, Bruce. Thank you.

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