Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

“My friend says he wants to be baptized, but I think he might be more interested in me than in the gospel. What should I do?”

New Era

  • Heavenly Father often puts us in positions to teach others the gospel. Take pressure off yourself by introducing your friend to other Church members.

  • Church leaders have advised against serious relationships unless you’re old enough to consider marriage.

  • Tell your friend why your standards for relationships are important to you.

  • Seek guidance from your parents and Church leaders and from Heavenly Father through fasting and prayer.

It is important to realize that there are two issues to consider here. The first is your friend’s interest in the Church and your responsibility to be a missionary. The second issue is deciding what your relationship should be—friendship or something more.

Your Missionary Responsibility

When we are faithful, God often brings people into our lives so we can bless them with the gospel. Missionary work is most effective when we have built relationships of trust. So our friends are more likely to listen to our message when they already trust us. However, it’s not uncommon for relationships to become confused when those involved share deep feelings.

Regardless of your friend’s motivation, you may be his only link to the Church. Make sure he is introduced to and accepted by as many other members as possible. By giving him more links to the Church than just his relationship with you, he will feel more comfortable with the Church and his developing testimony will be less dependent upon just you.

Your Relationship

Our leaders have been clear on dating standards. Those who are not yet 16 should not be dating, let alone considering a serious relationship. Older teens should avoid pairing off until they are old enough and mature enough for courtship that will lead to marriage. (For more information, see “Dating,” in For the Strength of Youth [2001], 24–25.)

It is important to be honest with your friend up front. If you are not old enough to be in a steady or long-term relationship, you need to explain that to him. Let him know the gospel is the most important thing in your life and that not only do you want to do what’s right, but you want him to find the same joy in the gospel that you have found.

If you are old enough to consider a serious relationship and you think your friend wants your friendship to be something more, let him know as soon as possible that it would be best for him to decide how he feels about the Lord’s Church before you discuss how you feel about each other. Baptism is the first step toward salvation. That’s something too important to be jeopardized by the hurt or angry feelings that often come when a romantic relationship is broken off.

Seeking Guidance

When you are in situations like this one, it is appropriate to pray, fast, and seek the advice of your parents and Church leaders. You can take comfort in knowing that Heavenly Father cares about you and that marrying the right person in the right place at the right time is important enough to your eternal salvation that He wants to help you. It is up to you to be worthy of His blessings and to seek to know and do His will.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

In His own way and His own time the Lord is preparing persons to accept His gospel. … When we are standing as ‘witnesses of God at all times and in all things’ (Mosiah 18:9), the Lord will open ways for us to find and have appropriate communications with those who are seeking.” —Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Sharing the Gospel,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 8.

Readers

Talk to your friend. Explain to him that joining the Church is something he should do for himself, not for others. When we are baptized we make special covenants with God that need to be kept. Knowing this will help him make a decision for the right reasons. Sherice Bradley, 17, Howell Ward, Garland Utah Stake

When a friend decided to investigate the Church, I was afraid that he was doing it only because he was interested in me. But as we studied the Book of Mormon and took the missionary discussions together, I saw him growing in faith. Being a good example made me a better member. Today he’s serving a mission. Giuliana Giusti, 22, Pleasant View Seventh Ward, Provo Utah Sharon East Stake

Many people have joined the Church through the examples of their friends. So be an example for this friend, and help him to acquire his own testimony. Beyond this, I would ask help from the Lord. Who are we to say if this friend will not be a great leader in the Church one day? Paula Brandao Cavalcanti, 15, Torre Ward, João Pessoa Brazil Stake

I had a friend who was attending church because he liked someone in the ward. After a few weeks he finally got the hint that she wasn’t interested. He was disappointed, but he felt something every time he went to church. So he kept coming and was baptized. He went on to serve a mission. The Church is true; share it with everyone. Elder Chad L. Cronin, 21, England London Mission

Fast and pray. Then talk to him, and tell him that baptism will be one of the most important decisions that he will make in his life. Baptism isn’t about courting. It is a sacred ordinance. Ask him to pray about baptism. Emily Pagulayan, 18, Makati First Ward, Makati Philippines Stake

If you really want your friend to be a good member of the Church, you should first be a strong member yourself. If you go forward with faith, the Lord will help you and your friend. The Lord works in different ways, and although we sometimes don’t understand it, He has a purpose. Belkys Sugey Velásquez Hernández, 18, La Esperanza Ward, Tegucigalpa Honduras La Esperanza Stake

Avoid getting involved in a serious relationship with him. Just be friends and have fun. Encourage him to get better acquainted with the gospel, and always remember him in your prayers. Help him understand that he is a child of God and that being baptized is a stepping-stone back to Him. Faith Ejokeoghene Imoh, 17, Mini-Okoro Ward, Port Harcourt Nigeria Stake

[photo] Photograph by Welden C. Andersen, posed by models