In response to the case studies presented in the March New Era many thoughtful answers and solutions were received from young readers. Below are a few samples of the counsel suggested for case study number two. We are also including this month another new situation. (Answers to case study number one and a new situation were presented in July.) Again we ask you to send us your ideas, along with any new case studies you would like considered by youth around the Church. We’ll pay $5 for each situation published.
Some of my friends have begun smoking marijuana. They know and respect my attitudes on the subject and do not pressure me to conform. I enjoy their company in most other situations and have much in common with them. Also, several in the group have been asking questions about the gospel, wondering if it could fill the vacuum they feel in their lives. One or two seem quite interested in knowing more about why I refuse to smoke with them. On almost any occasion when we all get together, it is probably a fifty-fifty chance that someone will have marijuana on them and will start smoking. When no one starts smoking a “joint,” we sit around and talk. It is at these times that the gospel may come up. But it is impossible to know if anyone will bring marijuana when we get together. This is even more confusing because I know that I’m subject to arrest for being on the premises where marijuana smoking is occurring or for being in the presence of others who possess marijuana, even though I do not smoke. What should I do about this risk and about associating with my longtime friends, who might come to an understanding of the gospel through me?
“My suggestion to the writer is based on my own experience. I left my pot-smoking friends because—
“1. I had become associated with that group. Outsiders considered my life hypocritical, and my testimony had less effect.
“2. My ministry to them became less and less effective. My spiritual life declined as I strived for their acceptance. Christ says, ‘No man can serve two masters.’
“3. I had a professional goal set for myself. I could not risk a felony for their sake. I believe God wants us to use our talents to full capacity for him.
“4. I didn’t want to close some of the doors I might later need open.
“Perhaps in trying to convert others, a quiet talk with Individual friends would be more successful than a group effort.”
Santa Barbara, California
“Have your friends come to your next family night. Pick a lesson that you think will help to teach your friends. If they enjoy the family night, and you feel that they want to know more, then invite them to another. Also encourage your friends to have family night in their homes.
“Eventually invite them to MIA and other Church meetings. Also help and encourage your friends to stop taking drugs. Tell them they are not escaping from their problems; they are creating more.
“If these ideas do not work, then just keep on being a good example for the Church, and your friends will respect you for it.”
Los Alamitos, California
“I would first invite my friends to the social activities sponsored by the Church. I would mention the standards of the Church required at these gatherings and would encourage my friends to participate. I would emphasize the fact that there are other ways to have fun and not have to worry about being picked up by the law. If they really did respect my standards and attitudes, I would later invite them to Church meetings. I would tell them that the gospel fills the vacuum in my life. I would challenge them to live the Word of Wisdom. If they accepted this challenge, I would later challenge them to find out where they come from, where they are going, and their real purpose in this life. If they really did want to know, I would invite the missionaries over to discuss the gospel teachings more fully with them.”
“We should love our neighbors as ourselves without necessarily loving what they do. I feel that when this person’s friends bring marijuana to their gatherings, he should excuse himself and leave the group. When no marijuana is brought, he could stay and talk with them, thus showing that he thinks it is wrong to smoke marijuana but that he does not condemn them personally. Perhaps in this way he could keep his friends without endangering his own status.”
“While reading through the scriptures I found a few verses that would help the persons concerned about their friends in both situations. The first reference is 2 Thessalonians 3:14–15. It reads, ‘And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.
“‘Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.’ [2 Thes. 3:14–15]
And the second is 2 Nephi 9:39–40, 45. It reads as follows: ‘O, my beloved brethren, remember the awfulness in transgressing against that Holy God, and also the awfulness of yielding to the enticings of that cunning one. Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal.
“‘O, my beloved brethren, give ear to my words. Remember the greatness of the Holy One of Israel. Do not say that I have spoken hard things against you; for if ye do, you will revile against the truth; for I have spoken the words of your Maker. I know that the words of truth are hard against all uncleanness; but the righteous fear them not, for they love the truth and are not shaken.
“‘O, my beloved brethren, turn away from your sins; shake off the chains of him that would bind you fast; come unto that God who is the rock of your salvation.’” [2 Ne. 9:39–40, 45]
“I think that the boy should tell his friends that if they are going to smoke marijuana, he will leave. If his friends are real friends, they will stop smoking in his presence. And if they can’t be bothered to stop smoking just for the time that they are with him, then they won’t really have enough will power to stop for the rest of their lives, and they can’t really be that interested in the Church. If they stop, then he can carry on with telling them about the gospel.”
“I think the individual should find some new friends. It is hard to break long-time friendships but it would be better for this individual in the long run.”
“To make a decision that will best solve the problem of drugs is a very difficult thing to do. When you go around with a bunch of people who use drugs there is danger that you could be classified as a drug user. If some members of the group are really interested in the Church, refer them to the missionaries or someone who can help them and knows the important details about the Church.”
Marva Lynn Simms