I try to keep Church standards, but my friends give me a hard time. They say I’m unrealistic when it comes to choosing good movies, refusing to go to nightclubs, or wearing only modest swimsuits. How do I handle this?
Temptations are all around us. We see many people participating in things that are not good in their lives. Some of these people, even the ones professing to be our friends, push their bad choices at us, hoping perhaps that if we join them they will not feel like they are doing anything wrong.
Yet, at the same time, our standards are admired and respected and seen as a good way of life. So why, you may ask, are your good choices made fun of?
Many times, our friends who do not have the guidance of the Church cannot see that one small action can lead to more serious consequences. For example, they often cannot see that dressing immodestly can lead to immoral thoughts, and immoral thoughts, when not tempered by restraint, can lead to immoral actions. Then great tragedies and unhappiness can come into individual lives.
The world sees immodesty as fashionable, but in reality, being modest shows respect for yourself and respect for those you care about. Your friends may tease you for your choice to be modest, but when you cannot be persuaded differently, if they are truly your friends, they will come to accept and respect your decision.
Entertainment has become more permissive and extreme. Just because a movie has been made or a concert produced doesn’t mean it is a good choice to watch or attend. You can choose the good things the world of entertainment has produced and reject the bad. Technology has made many more choices possible, both good and bad. As a Church we always look for “anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy” (see A of F 1:13). To do this, you need to pay attention to critical reviews and the advice of parents or youth leaders.
In general, people admire those who stand up for their beliefs. Those who have chosen to remain chaste may be teased, but what greater gift can you give to the one you marry than your purity. Even the most cynical people can admire this type of commitment. In fact, many of those who are behind the teasing often wish they would have done things differently and had not given in to the pressures to conform.
It is too bad that nightclubs are often the convenient places to go to talk and laugh with friends. Perhaps you can offer substitutes like starting a group that meets at someone’s house for games and treats. You can show your friends that there are ways you can have fun without drinking or smoking. If they are not willing to give your plan a try, you will have to avoid going out with your friends to places that would threaten your determination to live righteously.
The key to helping your friends understand your standards is consistency. They need to know that you will always pick the good and reject the bad. Use the pamphlet For the Strength of Youth as a guide as well as the advice of your parents and your ward leaders. As you make it clear you will never compromise, your friends will come to accept your standards as part of you. If you have good things in common, they will continue to be your friends. If all they wanted was company while they were participating in their bad choices, then you cannot continue to be close friends. You cannot give in and remain true to your commitment to the gospel and the covenants you’ve made to the Lord.
When my friends have such an attitude towards me and my values, it doesn’t affect me, for I know I’m on the right side. I enjoy being the odd one out and most of the time I encourage my friends not to follow the ways of the world.
Heath Donaldson, 17 Melbourne, Victoria
Voicing your reason for not doing the things of the world will give your friends a better understanding of your values. Sadly, people will criticize your beliefs if they cannot comprehend them. Stand up for the gospel in a firm and loving manner.
Sariah Wesener, 16 Logan City, Queensland
When you dress modestly, it shows that you are protecting yourself. I think if you dress modestly it shows you’ve got respect for yourself.
Alicia Elliot, 17 Cairns, Queensland
When I was asked to smoke and drink I refused, and at first my friends did not understand. When they found out how religious I was, their confusion turned to complete respect. I’m so glad I stayed strong and kept my standards.
Wayne To’o, 16 Brisbane, Queensland
Several times in my life I have had to choose between what I know is right and what my friends want me to do. I think that even little choices such as what clothes I wear and where I go on Sunday can make a big difference as to where I go in the next life.
Erin Bourne Perth, Western Australia
With celestial glory riding on my decision, I know which way I’ll go!
Jarrod Dowdy, 18 Melbourne, Victoria
If you stick up for yourself and stand tall and true and are confident in all your beliefs to your friends, then they are most likely to listen to what you have to say and have respect for your standards.
Elizabeth Smith, 16 Brisbane, Queensland