If This Happened Tomorrow—What Would You Do?

The following situations and responses from New Era readers are to provide perspective and insight. These suggestions are from youth and should not be considered counsel from the General Authorities or pronouncements of the Church.

In response to the case studies presented in the March New Era, hundreds of thoughtful answers and solutions were received from young members and their nonmember friends from around the world. Below are a few samples of the counsel suggested for case study number one. We are also including this month a new situation for your thoughtful and prayerful consideration. Again we ask you to send us your ideas, along with any new situations you would like considered by youth around the Church.

Situation #1

A very close friend has told me in strict confidence that he has been violating the law of chastity. He has good feelings toward the Church but is unwilling to speak to the bishop about his problem. He has been filling his priesthood assignments (blessing the sacrament, home teaching, and so forth) as if nothing is wrong. Yesterday he broke up with his girl, and now he’s talking of dating other girls in the stake, including one I’m interested in. He came, needing to talk to someone, and trusted me to keep his secret. He feels bad, but he isn’t sure he can change and feels that he cannot take my advice to see the bishop—at least not now. I keep wondering if I have any responsibility to him, to others in the stake, or to the Lord. If I violate his trust and tell the bishop, it will almost certainly destroy our friendship and might even result in his leaving the Church, because I am really his only close friend in the ward. He seems to be trying to straighten himself out. Still, he may get another girl involved. What should I do?

“When I went on a mission a little over four years ago, my mission president said something that seemed, at first, totally anti-gospel until I saw it in action. He said, ‘Be true to principle, not to people.’ I have since seen the wisdom of this statement. The only way to be true to your friends is to stand up for your principles. How can this young man say that he values his friend when he is willing to let him lose his eternal salvation?

“The bishop is the common judge in Israel, and it is his calling and duty to aid the members of his ward in every way that is righteous.

“This young man should go to his bishop and, in confidence, explain the situation and ask the bishop for counsel. If he is worried about losing a friendship, he should realize that he may also lose that friendship in the eternal worlds.”

David C. Mortensen Flagstaff, Arizona

“He says he has good feelings toward the Church. If he keeps on doing what he is doing, they are bound to become negative. Warn him about this.

“Go ahead and tell your bishop. Is a friendship as important as that boy’s eternal salvation? Someday that boy will probably realize what you did for him and thank you for it. Pray and fast and things will work out. Miracles happen that way. Always be his friend regardless of how things work out. Let him know you’ll always be there.”

Holly Johnson Provo, Utah

“The boy definitely has an obligation to his friend, the Church group, and the Lord. Since the bishop is the spiritual leader of the ward, he should definitely be involved. The boy should try again to get his friend to level with the bishop personally. If he will not, then the boy should ask the bishop’s advice without giving the name of the friend involved. The bishop, becoming aware of an existing problem, would then be given the inspiration for solving it. The friend should not be performing sacred ordinances in the ward when he is not worthy, and he should refrain from doing so until he has repented.”

Bob Neilson Pasadena, California

“If I were his friend, I would seek to keep his trust. Not necessarily by keeping quiet, but by informing him as to what he should do according to the gospel and by emphasizing honesty and repentance. Further, if he kept on dating and did not change, I would feel it a duty on my part to tell him to either confess or allow me to speak to the bishop for him.”

Nicholas Joseph Curtis Price, Utah

“Your friend in this situation may have good feelings toward the Church, but he probably does not have a strong testimony of the gospel. You should help him realize how strong your testimony is and how important a temple marriage is for you. Try to let him know that you are truly his friend and try always to be a good example for him.

“Pray together and by yourself to ask God for advice. Ask the Lord about the best way to handle the situation and ask him to give your friend strength to resist further temptation. Somehow get him to become more involved with the bishop so they can discuss the problem.

Glaucia Maria Carrano Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

“I think that it would be best for the boy to go to his bishop with his problem. He could explain the problem and the circumstances involved without revealing the name of the friend. Then the two of them could work together on a solution, and if the bishop thinks it would be better for all involved for him to know the name of the offender, the young man could tell him. I don’t think that a problem as serious as this one, which could involve and destroy even more people, should be allowed to progress any further than it already has.”

Mary Ellen Brockbank Price, Utah