You Make the Call #2: Non-Sexual, Non-Marital, Romantic Cohabitation

From my mystery correspondent. Remember the ground rule: This is a parlor game, so no punting to the “guidance of the Spirit.” If you were the official presented with these facts, what call do you make?

Sam Sacerdote graduated from high school, turned 18, and enrolled in the local college in June 2006. In September 2006, he was ordained to the office of Elder. In January 2007, his parents sold the house that they shared with Sam and moved out of state. Rather than withdraw from college and join them, Sam moved in with the LDS girlfriend he’s had since he turned 16 (she just recently rented her own one-bedroom apartment). Sam sleeps on her couch.

You are Sam’s stake president. Sam desires to serve a full-time mission. His bishop has made you aware of Sam’s living situation, and informs you that he has counseled Sam to move out of his girlfriend’s apartment so as not to “play with fire.” Sam has declined to do so, but assures his bishop and you that his relationship with his live-in girlfriend always has been and remains chaste. For the purpose of this hypothetical, assume that you know this to be true.

Now, in November 2007, two months from his 19th birthday Sam asks you to endorse his missionary application papers. Assuming that all else is in order, and taken as given that Sam’s relationship with his girlfriend is chaste, do you sign and submit his papers to Salt Lake City?

For those of you that would sign the papers of this dynamo of sexual restraint, is the result different if, rather than sleep on the living room futon, however improbably, Sam chastely shares his girlfriend’s bed?

Comments

  1. Steve Evans says:

    Sign the papers. Where’s the sin here? I admit that Sam has been taking big risks and acting stupidly, but to paraphrase Clara Peller, where’s the sin?

  2. get a lie detector test?

    Just kidding.

    No sex = misssion call. I actually know somebody who did something similar but not as severe. They went to your building Kevin.

  3. Julie M. Smith says:

    Am I right that if they were investigators in this situation that they couldn’t be baptized?

    (BTW, I love this series.)

  4. Steve Evans says:

    Julie, you’re not right. Unless they are violating the law of chastity, they’d be able to be baptized.

  5. Sign the papers–it’s the fastest way to get him out of there!

  6. Latter-day Guy says:

    RE #4: That’s actually the mission president’s call. I’ve known missionaries who have served under presidents that ruled differently on this issue. They may or may not have been right to do so, but de facto church practice varies here.

  7. Yes.

    I would have to pray about the second scenario. My gut says no line has been crossed, but there is an element of “no sexual relations” that could include “sleeping together” – especially if the couch is an option. Unnecessarily “playing with fire” troubles me greatly (as does the apparent arrogance inherent in thinking one is above succumbing to temptation), and I’m not sure I could endorse a sexual pyromaniac as a missionary.

    The second scenario is one about which I would have to pray – and probably fast, as well – so I can’t answer it with the restrictions you’ve set in place. My instinct is “No,” but I would be open to “Yes” if I felt a strong prompting to sign off on it.

  8. Sign the papers and give some mission president another risk-taking, stupid missionary.

  9. Steve Evans says:

    Ray, I can understand the 2nd scenario giving pause — but the source of the pause would be doubt as to the sexual misconduct — and the scenario assumes chastity. Again, how could you justify not signing mission papers if the man has not committed any sin?

  10. Send him on that mission already!

  11. No, no no.

    I’m surprised, I usually take the more permissive side, but the fact he disregarded his bishop’s counsel on such a notable subject makes me question his taking obedience seriously. If he heeded the counsel and moved out, I’d feel his compliance was a demonstration of really wanting to be the Lord’s instrument. It would have also been a sign that he loved the Lord more than his arrangement. Since he declined with a volley of reassurances, I’m inclined to think he needs more time to reconsider his priorities.

    Also, what about his good LDS girlfriend? The scenario suggests she’s not urging him to listen to the bishop, either.

    *sigh*

    From my decision he might repent or he might bolt, but why send him out in the ranks for two years when he second-guesses his spiritual leader’s counsel at home?

  12. There was that Mormon girl on “The Real World” who got suspended from BYU for non-romantic cohabitation. I guess missionaries are held to a lower standard than BYU students.

  13. Re #3 and #4: I’m not sure what the official line is, but this was a big issue for the missionaries in my London singles ward years ago. Many members of the singles ward had co-ed housing arrangements, but investigators were told they could not live with members of the opposite sex (even non-romantic, non-sexual, only family)if they wanted to be baptized. The hypocrisy was quite evident to the investigators. I know things have changed quite a bit in that ward and co-ed housing is much less common than it used to be.

  14. Hey, if being a “cohab” was enough for the Feds to bust up 19th century Mormon homes, it seems like it would be enough to indict the prospective missionary (grin).

  15. Steve, objectively I couldn’t – which is why I am conflicted on this one. There simply is something about this scenario that bothers me – and, frankly, I think it lies in the level of temptation someone is willing to risk in order to get as close to the line as possible.

    It’s like asking if I would allow my underage daughter to ride as a passenger with a driver whom I knew pushed the limits of safety but had never been in an accident. All actual past experiences assure me that my daughter would be safe, but I would have a really hard “signing off” on it – because my daughter’s safety means so much to me and the risk is simply too great.

    If the couch is an option, I have to ask what the reason for the actual sleeping arrangement is. I have to assume that someone in a position of authority counseled him against such a sleeping arrangement, so I have to assume he has acted in opposition to a reasonable request. If there simply is no sexual attraction and temptation, that’s one thing (which would make me question the chances of a happy marriage down the road, but not under consideration for a mission call), but if there IS sexual attraction and temptation, I have serious reservations about his maturity and common sense and willingness to obey.

    Again, I know my gut doesn’t feel right about it, but I would not deny the call solely because of that gut feeling. As you said, no actual sin had occurred. I simply would have to pray about it – and my initial feeling is that I would ask him to alter his sleeping arrangements for a few months to prove that he was ready to accept and follow direction he might not understand and with which he might not agree – to prove that he really wants to serve a mission enough to make a very minor change in his lifestyle for a relatively short time.

  16. Steve Evans says:

    Amanda, more particularly: she got suspended for not following the BYU Honor Code, which she specifically signed.

  17. Sign the papers, already!

  18. I would invite the young man to move in to my home before endorsing his papers.

  19. Interesting. I agree with Ray here, but I would probably take it a step further and make sure that I could offer alternative sleeping arrangements. That could help draw a line between necessity (nowhere else to go) and preference (don’t want to go elsewhere.)

  20. I would sign the papers. He is chaste. If I had real doubts about his chastity then I would fast and pray for more guidance. As it is, we somehow know he is absolutely chaste (we must have 24 hour surveillance on bishopcam or something in the bedroom?) so I say sign the papers.

  21. Just as an aside, since it doesn’t relate directly to the question at hand:

    I also am troubled by the possible (probable) effect on the young lady. If she assumed that all “worthy” young Mormon men were able to conduct themselves properly in such a situation, it would be very easy for her to arrange another such situation in the future – with vastly different results. There are consequences of many actions that only manifest themselves after the original action has ended.

  22. Nope, no way, no how.

    Them folk are headed down the path to hell.

    I would be totally unwilling to sign his papers unless they could convince me that no physical contact whatsoever was occuring. No snuggling. No eye contact. Even then I doubt I’d believe them.

    Had an Elder in my mission who made out with every sister missionary he could talk into it. No sex, but a serious problem nonetheless.

    Love this game. J.

  23. Sign the papers.

    I actually had a similar situation in my own life.

    When I joined the Church, I was sharing a two-bedroom apartment with a non-member female friend from high school. We were not romantically involved in any sense of the word. On the contrary, she had boyfriends staying over quite often.

    We cooked together, we watched 90210 together; she was even my occasional swing dance partner.

    For the next two years, we remained roommates, up until I left on my mission. It was never an issue with my bishop or stake president. However, it WAS always a topic of conversation any time I got new home teachers or had a date over for dinner. :)

  24. I say no, for the following reasons:

    1. I think some here are forgetting that we’re talking about teenagers here. I don’t care how spiritual and strong they are, hormones are raging and there is a real danger there. Forgive me if you feel I’m questioning the integrity of our youth, but there’s a reason why we have “For the Strength of Youth”. For those of you saying that there’s no sin so sign the papers, you’re right except that he doesn’t go on his mission the moment you sign the papers. I would need to have some reasonable assurance that he is not putting himself in an unnecessary and significantly tempting environment.

    2. There is a reasonable work-around to the situation (in contrast to the previous You Make the Call–finding a decent job is not as easy as finding another place to live). As others have said, I would give him the option of moving in with me or some other member. Surely there would be plenty willing to give him a room for a couple of months while he prepares for his mission. If he rejects that offer, then I would have to question his reasons for living with his girlfriend in the first place.

  25. This was real life for my stepbrother, except he’d already received his mission call. His parents moved out of state, his rental contract was up the end of August, but he didn’t enter the MTC until mid-November. He had nowhere to live for two months. I’m almost certain his extremely close girlfriend was counseled by their singles ward bishop to leave town. She took the semester off and returned home. He ended up living with friends of the family, but that wasn’t decided until the last possible moment.

    Had his girlfriend stayed, he’d have moved in with her, and I’m certain his call would have been rescinded.

    So much for real life. As for the parlor game, sorry, but I say no call. Like others, I’d offer him a place to stay and see if he was willing to move for a few months before agreeing to sign any papers.

  26. Of course you sign the papers – It’s really none of the church leaders business where the young man sleeps. If he says he’s worthy and he’s willing to serve, then he can go. Who are we to say someone is unworthy when they are in fact worthy?

  27. Control Freaks! Sign the papers already – Let God strike him (or you) down if anything is really wrong.

  28. Many commenters are failing to make a couple of very important distinctions:

    1. Platonic, opposite sex roommate vs. living with your girl/boyfriend.

    2. Sharing the same apartment (with separate sleeping quarters) vs. actually sharing the same bed.

  29. #11 – I feel that just because a church leader counsels us doesn’t mean we have to follow. The person in question may take obedience very seriously – he just isn’t a blind follower. Unless they are specifically asked for counseling by the individual, church leaders should stay out of peoples personal lives when it comes to worthiness interviews, in my opinion.

  30. Of course it is the church leaders business where he sleeps? In the arms of a whore? It matters. And it doesn’t really matter so much if he says he’s worthy as if he is worthy and will stay that way.

  31. #27 – “Let God strike him (or you) down if anything is really wrong.”

    That’s a good way to get people to sign the papers.

  32. If you send this guy on his mission (after all he has done nothing wrong, we say to ourselves) then let’s say he comes home from his mission, gets married in the temple – and then gets a job where he routinely goes on business trips with a female co-worker. He and the female co-worker always share a hotel room together (to save on expenses) but never sleep in the same bed. Typically on three or four nights out of the week he is away from home and sharing this room with the same female co-worker.

    I only bring this up because I’ve know of a scenario where a married Mormon was doing exactly this sort of thing … and felt offended that anyone would question the appropriateness of this activity.

    I think at some point we have to draw a line and say that people need to not only live the law but they have to be appropriate in drawing specific lines of conduct as well. The scenario described in the post is a perfect example of inappropriate and unbecoming (for LDS) courtship behavior. It strikes me as a kind of pride that deliberately places an undue burden of trust on others.

  33. That pesky question mark in my prior comment is meant to be an exclamation point. Sorry. Again.

  34. My main concern would not be the mission call being made and then rescinded once sexual attraction overcomes good intentions. My concern is with later covenants. In this hypo, the candidate is already an dlder and has taken on the commitments associated with that office. Setting that aside, he will soon be in the Temple making really specific covenants that he should not violate.

    If this fine upstanding set of cohabîtours is weak one night, his whole life will begin to quickly come crashing down. (Hers too, but she is merely a prop in this hypo.)

    I also second those who say this young man should be more inclined to listen to his bishop if he is to survive in the mission field. His bishop’s council is sound, even if the candidates doesn’t want to follow it. It’s not a worthiness issue, but rather an ability to conform to a mission president’s requests. Someone who disregards sound council may still end up being a good missionary, but not a very good member of a mission.

  35. Amanda,

    #12,

    There was that Mormon girl on “The Real World” who got suspended from BYU for non-romantic cohabitation. I guess missionaries are held to a lower standard than BYU students.

    The difference is that the Mormon girl on The Real World was representing BYU, not herself. She was going on the show as a girl from BYU. BYU didn’t appreciate that she flaunted their rules so publicly and punished her. But note that it wasn’t her bishop that punished her, like say, not having a temple recommend or something, but BYU, a private educational institution. The two don’t compare.

  36. Clearly the young man is not going to learn at home what he should be doing. Sending him on a mission will bring him to a fork in the road. Either he will choose to straighten up, or to continue further down that road. But it is not up to the bishop to decide that for him. As long as the ACTUAL commandments were not broken, give the dude his papers and let him start learning to be an adult.

  37. #29 – Again, my reaction is focused primarily on the second scenario. The problem is that the Law of Chastity, as officially defined by the Church, is no sexual relations except with a spouse. That does not necessarily mean, “No sex,” but can include “No relationships that are based on actions that are centered on sexuality” – which often is the chastity argument against viewing pornography, for example, and certainly would be the default argument against aggressive flirting with sexual implications with members of the opposite sex.

    There is SO much inherent sexuality and sexual arousal in sleeping in the same bed for the *vast* majority of the (male at least) population that it would take extremely specific questioning to determine if, in fact, the actions of the couple actually are not sexual in nature. I certainly wouldn’t want to go there in any kind of an interview, and changing sleeping arrangements for a short time seems like a much better alternative to me.

  38. Fwiw, if I was convinced that the young man was SO faithful and SO strong and SO understanding of the Law of Chastity that he really was immune to the inherent temptation of the situation, then I tend to think he also would be humble enough to accept his Bishop’s counsel. If he isn’t humble enough to accept reasonable counsel, I’m not sure I could be convinced of his strength in other areas.

  39. I do not sign his papers, for any one of the following independently sufficient reasons:

    1) The young man would be a poor representative of the Church. I only believe that he was chaste because I was told to assume it in the hypothetical; no one else will believe it. Even assuming his “worthiness,” the job requires more than being worthy–it requires being a good example.

    2) The example is very dangerous. I would not want the young men in my stake to learn of these circumstances and think that it’s an appropriate situation for someone planning on serving a mission. See also Ray’s point in comment #21 above.

    3) While the kid has demonstrated a remarkable ability to avoid falling into sexual sin which would serve him well as a missionary, he has shown a gross lack of good judgment.

    4) A willingness to walk such a fine line is probably it’s own sin.

    5) On general “conduct unbecoming” a priesthood holder grounds, to borrow a concept from the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

    Missionary service isn’t a right that can be claimed by anyone who successfully avoids having sex, which I think is the common misconception of those that would sign his papers.

  40. add to #38: except if prompted by the Spirit.

  41. Steve Evans says:

    The fact that GST replies seriously is proof positive that the boy should get his papers.

  42. gst, was that a serious comment?

  43. I don’t know, Kyle. Did you like it?

  44. Steve Evans says:

    gst is just feeling a little blue.

  45. The bar is definitely getting really high…where’s Shawn Bradley when we need him :) My understanding is that a temple recommend/mission interview is not for the Bishop to magically determine the worthiness of an individual based on an incomplete picture of their life, but an opportunity for the person to review their own life and state their worthiness (or lack thereof). If the person answers each question in the affirmative, then they get the recommend/papers. Is my understanding in this incorrect?

    As a judge, the Bishop gets to make the call, and if each of us were Bishops in different wards, and we each had a young man like this in our wards, it sounds like many of them would serve and many would stay home based on who they had as their judge.

  46. “Sam chastely shares his girlfriend’s bed” ?? Yeah, sure. Sam must be 1. a liar, 2. ambivalent about the LoC and soon to violate it, or 3. as gay as a pink christmas tree. Problematic from any angle.

  47. #37 – I agree that it would be good counsel for the Bishop to give to the young man to not sleep in the same bed with his girlfriend. But the only way the Bishop would reasonably know where the young man was sleeping is if the young man volunteered the information himself. If this were the case, then he is probably feeling guilty about it…If there was no guilty feeling, the young man probably would never have brought it up.

  48. Steve Evans says:

    Mikey, you gotta stay with the hypothetical! Chaste, baby!!

  49. You know, there are all kinds of crazy rules that bishops set for missionaries. I’m pretty sure at least one ward out there won’t let you go unless and until you’ve been actively serving in a calling for six months. “Don’t cohabitate with members of the opposite sex” isn’t nearly as weird as “cut your hair” as far as I’m concerned. Personally, I’d insist on the kid demonstrating a bit of obedience — once the gauntlet of “please move out” has been thrown down and the kid refuses, then you’ve got a problem.

    Now, if you take out the request to change his living circumstances, I’d be a bit more likely to say “give him the call.” Though it’d probably bother me: life is often about appearances, and missionaries are supposed to walk some fairly ridiculously straight lines (no TV! For two years!) that are a lot harder to follow than “don’t do this thing which you know looks really bad.” And a lot of the time it’s the missionary who needs to figure out where the line is.

  50. I say sign them. Even Christ suffered temptations. It was the way He didn’t entertain the temptations that made Him sinless, not that they never came to him. That’s my general stance on when people think someone unworthy for not trying to live as temptation-less as possible. Not that I’m saying there’s no such thing as playing with fire, but I think that comes more from heavy making out, especially in the bed you both sleep in, rather than just sleeping in it chastely or sleeping in the same apartment. I don’t find sleeping particularly sexy*.

    I guess some responses are also being influenced by the differing ideals of mission preparedness. I don’t know too much on the subject, but I’m under the impression that, in the past, young men were sent out on missions a little less mature and with not as strong testimonies as we now expect. I guess I just have gotten the impression that now we want to send our missionaries out already strong in these sorts of decisions (the preparer who moves out of his cohabitating situation) instead of send out missionaries who, after the fact, will see why they maybe should’ve moved out.

    *some boys are gassy at night.

  51. I agree with the other posters here that if he refused to accept his bishops counsel, then he is claiming to know better than the Lord, which defines arrogance. We are counseled to avoid even the appearance of evil.

    Paul counseled saints to not eat meat sacrificed to idols, not because it was inherently wrong, but because some saints weak wouldn’t understand and might be lead into sin. Now, suppose this guy gets his papers signed and another prospective missionary sees his conduct as a free pass, co-habitates and commits sin, all because of this elder’s example. Not good.

    The other point I vehemently agree with is the fact that they are both still young and naîve. I recall what it was like to be that age. Making out was awesome but can lead to progressively more dangerous behavior. I think the only reason I went on a mission is because the girl I was seeing had strong enough moral fiber to keep me over the line. We were in some situations that could have gone south fast, but in whatever situation one of us pulled back. We weren’t living together THANKFULLY, because I have no doubt what the end result of that arrangement would have been.

    I would have an initial reaction of no even without the turning down the bishop’s counsel part. This is a staring down the devil’s throat. You likely all remember that conference talk from Faust. You are begging for problems to occur. Satan loves making people fall, especially as they embark upon the service of the Lord.

    The most important principle here is that saying “no” now and explaining why will make or break this young man. Either he will come to himself and repent or he will go down and down. For those who might question the use of my word repent, he has chosen to ignore inspired counsel and his arrogance needs corrective action. You cannot spiritually lead others if you are unwilling to bend your neck to the Lord’s humble servants.

  52. Jonathon, I enjoy these exercises, but they are founded on a false hypothetical – “no punting to the ‘guidance of the Spirit.'” I believe this situation screams for “guidance of the Spirit,” but I have little problem exploring reactions of people who are not trying to gain that guidance in an actual situation with real people but instead are relying on an intellectual assessment (or emotional reaction or experience) – particularly when most of the responders have not had to conduct such an interview and, therefore, truly are dealing with a theoretical situation in every sense of the word.

    Fwiw, feeling the actual weight of such decisions and realizing there are on-going and eternal ramifications for multiple people is an incredibly humbling experience. It tends to change the way one looks at these types of scenarios just a tiny, little bit.

  53. Mike, you might not have stayed within the hypothetical, but I sure enjoyed your comment!

    Seriously, would anyone have a different reaction if the young man in question was sleeping “chastely” in the same bed as his boyfriend?

  54. Ray, in that case, I’d say the young man was worthy to serve as 16th president of the United States.

  55. gst is back in full swing! (although I must say I really enjoyed the serious version, as well)

  56. So what situation is worse? Someone who didn’t have an opportunity to have sex, but desperately wanted to. Or someone who had every opportunity to, but consiously chose not to?

  57. Great post! First, I would NOT believe they weren’t having “relations”. And if they, in fact, were boyfriend/girlfriend with romantic attractiona nd were NOT having relations, I would wonder what was wrong with both of them. That said, since this is a hypothetical, and the young man says they are chaste, you gotta take him at his word and let him go on the mission. After all, aren’t all these interviews on the honor code system and what one says is, outside of eye witnesses, all we can go on– the rest is up to the person and God in the end. I cannot stand those that question one’s honesty– none of your business. If the person lies, then he/she will be held accountable. Congrats, brother, you’re on your way to missionaryhood.

  58. St. Albatross says:

    How many steps does he have to take to get to the girlfriends bedroom?

    If it is at least 20 steps, sign the papers. If it is less than 20 steps, no mission. There are some lines that must not be crossed, and I believe that correct line is 20 steps.

    ~

  59. Ray – I am in the group of “never had to deal with this” before, so I agree that it would be much different were this a real person sitting in front of me wanting to serve a mission…

  60. If the kid is chaste, and during the interview he confirms he is chaste, I would sign the papers.

    The world is not BYU thank goodness.

  61. As has already been touched upon, the mission is not a right. When someone goes on a mission, he has the opportunity to hurt countless others. He is being officially called as a representative of the Lord and of the Church. That makes a mission interview much more important than a temple recommend interview, in which the person hurts primarily themselves and their immediate families if they lie.

    Much of my mission was spent cleaning up after missionaries who were sent on their missions because the bishops and stake presidents sent them, hoping they’d “clean up” on their mission. Additionally, it is vital for a missionary to be willing to obey on the “small stuff”. Obviously, this missionary suffers from an overdeveloped sense of ego, believing his opinions matter more than those of the Lord’s anointed. That is far too dangerous a quality to allow in one sent to represent the Lord’s anointed in places they cannot go.

  62. there are on-going and eternal ramifications for multiple people

    Good point, Ray. I think the bishop’s decision ought to include consideration of not only the potential for unenlightened outsiders to take offense at Sam’s living arrangements, but also the potential for eternal blessings for the converts whose lives he would touch as a missionary.

  63. That makes a mission interview much more important than a temple recommend interview, in which the person hurts primarily themselves and their immediate families if they lie.

    Huh? The mission, which by all acounts lasts for 18–24 months, is more important than…eternity?

  64. If these young sweethearts are so fixed on playing house and won’t listen to a bishop telling them to knock it off, then it’s better to safely marry them off (in her parents’ backyard). If they can’t bear to live in separate dwellings in the same town, then parting for a mission doesn’t seem too realistic.

  65. I’m with MikeinWeHo: If he really likes the girl, he’s in league with that pink Christmas tree.

    Especially in the second branch of Kevin’s hypothetical.

  66. The world is not BYU thank goodness.

    HEAR HEAR!!!!!

  67. Hey, in the next Monday Poll, I think you should ask who here was anywhere close to perfection before their missions, and who, upon going on the mission, grew up. Seriously. Who here DIDN’T rebel once or twice with what their bishops told them? Who here DIDN’T feel like they knew more than their bishops? He’s not a 50 year old man. He’s a kid!

    Let the kid get an experience in life that will push him closer to God.

  68. Ardis Parshall says:

    No. No way, no how. The reasoning of most who have said “yes” is too legalistic — he “technically” hasn’t broken any “actual” commandment. But the young man is a fool, he doesn’t listen to reasonable counsel (even from the moral equivalent of a fire marshal advising against the use of open flame in a gas-filled mine), and the Law of Chastity is not being obeyed if the only detail left to close the deal is “technically” closing the “actual” deal.

    This potential missionary is so far beneath the bar that he could walk under it with his arms fully extended over his head.

  69. For a while when I was in college, I dated a girl who lived about two hours away from my school. If the date went long, I would occasionally sleep on the floor in her room. I think the main reason it worked for me is that, when it comes to sleep, I have very little control over my body. When my body says “sleep,” I do, and I sleep hard–I’ve slept through West Texas tornados and California earthquakes. Otherwise, I believe something would have happened, in spite of our good intentions.

    Looking back, it was stupid for me, and it is stupid for this kid. Scenario 1, I sign it. Scenario 2, I make him find other arrangements first, mostly for reasons Ray states.

  70. I would sign the papers. But then, I’m unlikely to be in a position to make this type of decision, and I wouldn’t be surprised if those who are would disagree.

    I would also wonder if this aspiring missionary is really gay, though I’d probably wonder that silently to myself.

  71. Steve Evans says:

    ardis: “too legalistic — he “technically” hasn’t broken any “actual” commandment.”

    Yes, we call that “being without sin.”

  72. Jonathan K (#56) said:

    So what situation is worse? Someone who didn’t have an opportunity to have sex, but desperately wanted to. Or someone who had every opportunity to, but consiously chose not to?

    I love Jonathan’s perspective. In many cases, I feel like we tend to judge people based on what we can see (tattoos, blue shirt, facial hair, smells like tobacco, etc.), when kindness, charity, honesty, and purity of thought seem to be so much more important.

    However, in this case, you have to admit that most outside observers would assume the couple was having sex. I begrudgingly concede that “Sam’s” example is probably unbecoming of a missionary candidate because there is a clear appearance of impropriety that could send the wrong message to member and nonmember alike. But if he won’t move out, he should probably get the call anyway.

  73. “I love Jonathan’s perspective. In many cases, I feel like we tend to judge people based on what we can see (tattoos, blue shirt, facial hair, smells like tobacco, etc.), when kindness, charity, honesty, and purity of thought seem to be so much more important.”

    I’m glad to see where my propensity for wearing blue dress shirts puts me.

  74. I’m glad to see where my propensity for wearing blue dress shirts puts me.

    Somewhere about here:

    Son of Perdition
    Stalin
    King David (post Bathsheba)
    White socks with sandals wearer
    You

  75. Nick Literski says:

    I’d be concerned that this kid may one of those very narrow definitions of what “sexual relations” are, all the while engaging in behavior that flaunts most LDS understanding of the LoC.

    Secondary to that, I’m with Mike and others, who would be concerned that the kid is gay. Being gay would not be a reason to withhold a calling (so says the recent pamphlet), but there are various reasons why a young man who happens to be gay should think very seriously before choosing to serve a mission.

  76. I think if one would have perfect knowledge they didn’t engage in sex then it would be easy and issue the recommend.

    The real question is would it be reasonable to take two teenage kids at their word if they said they didn’t have sex while they did love eachother and lived together.

    offering him a place to stay might be a good idea but then what would you do if he didn’t come home one evening and said he was just watching a movie with his girlfriend and hang out all night.

    Because missionaries do have a PR function it wouldn’t be unreasonable to ask him to move out if he wants to go on a mission. Paul says somewhere in the new testament (forgot the exact verse) that he rather stops eating meat than allow someone to waver in his believe in God. So i think it’s fair to ask missionaries to be to move out so noone could justify their moving in together without marriage for the same reasons (and saying if a missionary can do it it will be alright).

  77. Arghh. I refer back first to my comment at the first “You Make the Call” post, in regards to some of these distinctions being too legalistic and almost Pharasaic.

    That being said, (and I hate myself for saying this) I would withhold my approval for the missionary application. I recognize that there is no direct evidence of any sexual sin here. However, even if this guy is the paragon of virtue and self-restraint, I would be afraid of him giving bad ideas to other young men and women (and those not-so-young as well). In my heart, I am torn about how much the public example and precedent we set by our actions should determine our worthiness. But this, especially the “in-the-same-bed” scenario, seems egregious.

    If I had a third option, beyond “approve” or “deny”, I would probably “call” a ward member to give this guy a place to stay for a couple of months. I mean, families in the Church can now be called to house the full-time missionaries on a temporary basis. I don’t see why I could not request a little consecration on this brother’s behalf in order to avoid a potentially embarrassing and dangerous situation. I would probably give it a couple of months before reevaluating his application.

    Furthermore, I would be worried about his status after he went to the temple, but before going into the mission. After receiving the endowment, it seems that the stakes for a violation of the Law of Chastity are much higher.

    This behavior does not exemplify sinfulness as much as it does a troubling lack of judgment and sense of propriety. We can argue about which is more dangerous for a potential (and actual) missionary to possess.

  78. Dwarik,

    The real question is would it be reasonable to take two teenage kids at their word if they said they didn’t have sex while they did love eachother and lived together.

    Why not? Why would their word be less credible?

  79. On a lateral subject, there is a man and woman in our ward who are best friends and apartment roommates, and seem to be of good standing with the bishop. He’s in the EQ presidency and she’s in the primary presidency, and I know he actively goes to the temple. I think this is apples & oranges with the scenario we’re discussing, but it is interesting how seemingly untoward situations might be every bit as benign as they profess to be.

  80. Getting late to this one. Since we are in the hypothetical mode, and not leaning to the guidance of the spirit in these cases, here’s my take.

    I would look at this, and say if I had been living in the same apartment with my girlfriend at that age, it would have been really hard not to get into trouble. I’d like to think I could be good, but living together in the same apartment, 24 hours a day except for work or school, it would have been a huge temptation. I know my weaknesses.

    The new “higher bar” we are living with these days, says that if I believe he is not telling me the truth, we’ve got a year before he can actually put in his papers. I’d take him in my car, get his stuff, and drive door to door in the ward to find him another place to live, and probably end up at my house. Only after he was safely out of the apartment, would I sign his papers.

    Scenario number 2, no way.

    And Kevin Barney, this is not that hypothetical. Can’t say any more.

  81. #78 because a lot of people lie if it suits their cause. It’s hard to be honest when honesty is to your disadvangage. And my personal experience (not that i’m that old but still) is that some decisions are made only after you’ve made the wrong decision a few times.

    If they showed an unexpected kind of commitment to the gospel that would make it reasonable to assume they would also follow the rules behind closed doors when noone is watching then you could take them at their word. but generally teenagers havn’t lived long enough to demonstrate that kind of commitment.

  82. a random John says:

    Send him right now. People go before they turn 19, I know several that did. Put him on a plane.

  83. Even if the kid is completely blameless of anything, he must not get his call because of the dangerous example to other prospective missionaries who cannot be expected to share his eunuch-like restraint.

    For this same reason I favor the death penalty for the few survivors of the transit of Niagara Falls in a barrel. The 1 in 10 that survives encourages the next 9.

  84. Steve Evans says:

    again, gst waxes serious. Behold!

  85. Steve is sensitive to the discussion of barrels and Niagara Falls because that’s how he entered this country.

  86. Steve Evans says:

    It’s insensitive to make fun of frostbacks like me.

  87. Steve is right, gst is wrong, gst owes Steve a dollar.

  88. Steve Evans says:

    ……and that’s a CANADIAN dollar to boot!

  89. I should have known that putting a dollar against the permissiveness of BCC readers was a fool’s bet.

  90. I would probably ask some probing questions as to what his definition of chaste meant, since this can mean very different things to different people and might be out of step with general church definitions… for example, I remember some youth in my day thinking you were chaste so long as you didn’t participate in intercourse, but everything else was okay.

    I’d ask him why he is living with his girlfriend and not somewhere else.

    I’d ask him about his willingness to live somewhere else that would be a safer living arrangement for him, and offer to help find alternative arrangements for him.

    In other words, I’d try to understand his viewpoint as much as possible before making a decision. Oftentimes, where there is smoke there is fire, but not always, so I would want to dig some more for my own peace of mind.

    It is unfair to expect perfection and it is unfair to the young man to not hold him to the same requirements and expectations set for a mission

  91. I was a divorced single mom who was basically running a halfway house for friends that were down on their luck. Some of them were men. Strictly platonic and in their own bedroom. I had a serious boyfriend at the time (now my husband).

    During my baptism interview with the Mission Prez (the missionaries had never said a word to me about it being an issue) the guy conducted the entire thing normally… and after the closing prayer was like.. “oh, one more thing” then preceded to ask me about the layout of my house and whatnot. I was confused as to where he was going with this..until he finally flat out said “I’m an instrument of God and our priesthood is his mouthpiece. He privileges me knowledge. and You only have one shower! you’re sexing it up with your ‘roomate’! you MUST kick him out before I will allow you to be baptized.”

    It was so ridiculous. WHO says that?! I decided to do the Christ-like thing. Did not boot the roommate. I continued to come to church and complained to the Bishop about how invasive and accusatory the interview was. He agreed that it crossed the line, but didnt really offer any solution.
    To add insult to injury… My commander happened to be the president of the local singles branch (although I was attending a family ward). They totally drug him into my “church issues” and had him talk to me about my “cohabitation” problem. It was humiliating and awkward.

    I moved to a different ward and continued to to go church for another 19 months as a investigator. I then married and was finally ”allowed” to be baptized. After talking around.. apparently I’m one of MANY people who’ve had complaints about this particular guy. and yet.. nothings been done.

    So I’m confused. The platonic co ed thing is NOT church wide policy?

  92. oh- and the bf/now husband never lived with me.. i dont know if that was clear. it was only about the ‘boarders’ that kept me from ‘passing’.

  93. Okay, I haven’t had a chance to read all the comments but I’m going to deviate from the norm here and say no. Whether or not the kid has actually broken a commandment is irrelevant. While preparing for a mission, he was counseled by his bishop to change his living situation, which is a completely reasonable request, and he didn’t. To me, he is consciously being disobedient to his bishop’s counsel. Sure, the bishop isn’t infallible, but in this case, his advice was correct and the would-be missionary’s response was not. Explain to the kid the concept of obedience and let him try again later. (Can missionaries apply multiple times?)

  94. a random John says:

    gst,

    If it makes you happy, I’d say that you should send him so fast that some will wonder if he simply disappeared. That way you get the best of both worlds:

    – He’s on a mission.

    – Others that observed what he was doing speculate that he is dead.

  95. arJ, I approve of your proposed “dirty war” conducted by bishops against canoodlers.

  96. a random John says:

    As long as they don’t push him out of the plane while over the ocean then I think it is a good idea.

  97. I distinctly remember explaining to my father and step-mother that my mom and her boyfriend were just roommates. They weren’t having sex. It was horrible how people always assume sexual behavior just because because people live together. Needless to say my paternal parents were skeptical and my maternal parents were fornicating. I was ten, very earnest and I really, really wanted to believe that they were just roommates.

    Thirty years later I can say that very few romantically involved people can be alone together for any length of time without their relationship becoming too physical. Living together provides way too much oportunity.

    That said, if this was real and if I was male and if I held the priesthood and if I had been called to be a SP and if the Spirit confirmed that this young man was in fact chaste, I would repent of my prejudice, invite him to live in my guestroom, and send off those papers.

  98. Kevin Barney says:

    Icer, was “you’re sexing it up” a direct quote? I see the MP kept to technical terminology…

  99. “Sexing it up” sounds wrong in that context–but what’s a former colonial to know about British slang?

    I’ve heard “sex it up” and it’s conjugations used to describe cooking the books (usually by the Chancellor of the Exchequer) or painting the lily (if you can find gild there I’ll treat you to dinner in New York–sans airfare and hotel).

    But never in the context of actually having sex!

  100. Move him out of the house. There are lots of other places he could stay — with me (if I were in the Bishopric), for example!

    Then, give him the papers. I think it’s important for a missionary-to-be to set a good example to his neighbors and friends. I know you can sleep on the couch every night and have nothing happen, but it just isn’t a wise idea.

    If this kid really wants to serve a mission, then he can choose to humble himself enough to take counsel and move into my place, for goodness sake!

  101. Sorry for the (potential) threadjack, but several responses remind me of how many in the Church have taken to using ‘obedient’ or ‘disobedient’ when discussing someone’s approach to the counsel of a leader. I can be disobedient to orders, or to instructions, or to commands, but I cannot be disobedient to counsel. If you believe that a bishop or some other Church leader can issue commands, which you must either obey or disobey, then so be it. But, we can’t have our cake and eat it too. Either the leader is in charge, like your boss at work, or he isn’t, and you’re free to make up your own mind without stigma. After all, the bishop has two men specifically called to give him counsel and no one regards him as ‘disobedient’ if they suggest one thing and he does another.

  102. Eric Russell says:

    Dan #67,

    Here am I.

  103. Since I already said my yes or no decision (#50), I hope that I’m not breaking the rules by saying this…

    This strikes me as a situation where the Spirit could guide yes for one young man and no for another in a very similar situation, based on the intentions of the heart and the actual chastity of the situation.

  104. Oh, and I’m curious if most of those responding would keep the same answer if we were talking about a potential sister missionary instead of an elder.

  105. Steve Evans says:

    Jessica, if a potential sister missionary is sleeping in the same bed as her girlfriend, that would give me pause.

  106. Jimbo: I agree. I, too, was uncomfortable with some of the other posters who talk about disobeying a bishop’s counsel. I’ve always thought there’s too much emphasis on obey obey obey no matter what in the church. My gosh… can’t we listen to advice, run it through our conscience, take it up in prayer and then act accordingly???

  107. PS: I had a male roommate when I was in college. We were purely plutonic. Of course, it helped that I wasn’t physically attracted to him at all. I don’t see anything inherintly wrong with living with a member of the opposite sex. When physical attraction enters the picture, then that’s a while other story.

  108. 1 Thessalonians 5:22

  109. LC (#108):

    I’ll see your 1 Thess 5:22 and raise you this.

  110. #

    Oh, and I’m curious if most of those responding would keep the same answer if we were talking about a potential sister missionary instead of an elder.

    Yep. Gender matters not.

  111. Yeah, seriously, “sexing it up” was a direct quote. I’d never heard that term before, and I almost laughed when it he said it. It was so… absurd.

    But so, I’m still confused. Is the no coed thing a policy church wide, or what?

  112. Icer,

    Is the no coed thing a policy church wide, or what?

    Yes it is. Quite simply because it makes it far too easy to fall to temptation.

  113. It’s pretty much all been covered, but I’m real uncomfortable with giving this kid the go-ahead. Mainly because if he’s been told he needs to change his living arangements and he hasn’t done it, I see that as a big problem. Even if you can absolutely know that he’s currently chaste – there’s no guarantee under the circumstances, he isn’t tempting fate every single day by living with his girlfriend and his status as a “chaste person” could change any day.

    Of course there’s an argument that this can happen whether he’s living with his girlfriend or not but – if the Bishop (which is this case is me) has asked him to move out, and he’s chosen to ignore that advice, I have to assume he’s somewhat willfull. That’s the real problem for me – that after counsel which is consistent with everything the gospel stands for (the very appearance of evil and all that) – he’s choosing to ignore the counsel.

    I’d deny it on those grounds – at least for the time-being.

  114. Lulubelle,

    I would agree with you on certain things like going to see R-rated movies or having the kids going to seminary, but we’re talking about going on a mission and the temptation of a sin that’s spiritual death. The bishop’s counsel regarding something of such gravity should be acted upon as if it were a commandment, especially if the kid wants to be the Lord’s soldier for 2 years. Hey, in the mission field you get slapped down for ignoring counsel a lot more trivial than that.

  115. David: I’m not referring to this hypothetical so this is certainly a threadjack. I said above that I would find it very difficult to believe they are being chaste and if they were, I’d wonder what was wrong with them. But if it’s true, let him go– he can stand blameless in the eyes of God because he did not commit that sin. Still, the culture of obey obey obey at face value is something I’m really uncomfortable with.

  116. Would we deny an Elder the mission call if he kept a can of coffee in his cupboard for visitors? He could drink a cup of coffee at any moment!!!!!!

    It seems strange to punish someone for sins they might possibly commit. True he probably isn’t being smart, but there were a bunch of stupid missionaries on my mission.

  117. #116 The instinct for sex is much stronger than a taste for coffee. I could hold a cup of coffee in my hand all day and resist the temptation, but put me in bed with my husband and things are going to happen. That same instinct was there with bells on when we were engaged.

    Living with an emotional lover will almost certainly lead to becoming physical lovers. Anyone who thinks s/he is the exception to this is being foolish.

  118. Is somebody else going to rant about what “appearance of evil” really means, or do I have to do it?

  119. #116 The instinct for sex is much stronger than a taste for coffee. I could hold a cup of coffee in my hand all day and resist the temptation, but put me in bed with my husband and things are going to happen. That same instinct was there with bells on when we were engaged.

    Maybe for you, but how much do you want to bet I could find people that are able to resist sex as much as you do a cup of coffee? Or others that wouldn’t be able to resist that warm cup in their hands?

    Again, should the church be punishing someone for a sin they may or may not commit?

  120. jjohnsen,

    It seems strange to punish someone for sins they might possibly commit. True he probably isn’t being smart, but there were a bunch of stupid missionaries on my mission.

    That’s exactly it. Punishment (including the withholding of blessings like going on a mission) comes from ACTUAL sins committed, not from possible sins one might commit.

  121. Dan, jjohnsen: I don’t think punishment is the issue. The issue is the selection of effective representatives of the Church.

    Ann: I, for one, don’t know what you mean, so yes, rant away.

  122. Sam Kitterman says:

    If I as his SP know for a fact there is no violation of the law of chastity (whether scenario 1 or 2), then do I hold him accountable for the appearance of a violation? If we are being judged on appearance of violations, then perhaps the Church should instruct parents not to allow their children to go on solo dates especially where the child is of age and legal capacity to marry. Letting those couples sit by themselves in their cars is clearly an appearance of them wanting to create an opportunity to go down that path of physical appetites. Clearly, we can take the issue of the “appearance of evil” to the very extreme.
    Second, did the Bishop offer him assistance in obtaining separate living quarters? If the young man was saving all his earned income for his missionary fund, perhaps he was not financially able to obtain separate quarters and if the Bishop didn’t assist him with such, how could the Bishop expect him to comply with the counsel?
    Lastly, this is an excellent example of how quickly we as Mormons are quick to judge others and how we seemingly believe the “natural man” always wins in the end. Surely we should spend more time weighing ourselves and the motes and beams in our eyes rather than judging others especially when this is but a parlor game for us who have no stewardship for such situations.

    Sam K.

  123. Dan, jjohnsen: I don’t think punishment is the issue. The issue is the selection of effective representatives of the Church.

    Did you go on a mission? From my experience elders and sisters were absolutely never chosen based on how effective they would be representing the church. Racists, fools, loudmouths, sexists, liars etc. are all able to go on missions. I had more than one companion that I wouldn’t consider a good representative for the church. I’m sure there were times that I wasn’t a good representative for the church.

    This hypothetical elder is doing something that people may perceive as being wrong. That’s it. It’s no different than refusing to let someone go on a mission because of coffee in their cupboard, or someone saving their tithing to pay at the end of the year.

    This elder is guilty of nothing other than being stupid, and the fact I continue to receive callings shows that isn’t a sin.

  124. Or what Sam said in a much nicer way.

  125. Eric Russell says:

    Whether or not he ought to be sent, he’s undoubtedly going to be a nightmare for his mission president. Seems to me like the only reason this kid is going on a mission in the first place is because his girlfriend is insisting on it, who, in turn, is only doing so because she promised her Laurels adviser that she would marry an R.M.

  126. I was as good a representative for the church as you might expect from the tenor of my comments around the bloggernacle.

  127. If we only sent those people on missions who we knew would be effective representatives of the Church, I submit that the pool of candidates would be far smaller than it already is. Part of what alarms me about the comments is our willingness to shrink an already miniscule pool of missionaries.

  128. gst,

    The issue is the selection of effective representatives of the Church.

    I distinctly remember President Hinckley saying something back in 1995, or 1996—during my mission—to missionaries that we’ve basically “all the Lord’s got.” Effective representatives? Then don’t send 19 year old wet-behind-the-ear kids.

  129. I distinctly remember President Hinckley saying something back in 1995, or 1996—during my mission—to missionaries that we’ve basically “all the Lord’s got.”

    And then, reflecting on that, he threw up a little in his mouth.

    If we only sent those people on missions who we knew would be effective representatives of the Church, I submit that the pool of candidates would be far smaller than it already is. Part of what alarms me about the comments is our willingness to shrink an already miniscule pool of missionaries.

    How many prospective missionaries are we talking about here? Did all of the missionaries in my MTC district move right out of their girlfriends’ apartments and in to the MTC?

  130. Steve Evans says:

    gst, I have been proceeding under the assumption that we need all the worthy missionaries we can get, and that any gains in mission numbers are worthwhile. I have yet to hear an argument that we don’t care about marginal increases in the number of available missionaries.

  131. Steve, I should have thought that all of the “raising the bar” talk would have disabused you of that notion.

  132. Steve Evans says:

    See, I don’t see raising the bar as being inconsistent with what I just said. Raising the bar, to my mind, means more consistent screening to make sure that people are worthy to go before they’re sent. It doesn’t mean holding otherwise worthy people back because of mere appearance.

  133. Steve, you ignorant slut. When you raise the bar, there are going to be people that you cannot shove over the top.

  134. 119–Let me state my point more clearly. Sexual desire is an instinct experienced intensely by nearly all people. A surprisingly large percentage of my mission companions were not virgins. A huge percentage of those who were virgins had gotten awfully close to having sex. The same is true of my friends who had temple marriages. The numbers of chastity breakers were even higher among my friends who didn’t serve a mission and didn’t marry in the temple. Do I have an unususally high percentage of nympho aquaintances? No. Sexual urges are an essential part of the nature of humans, especially young humans of child-bearing age. Smart people recognize that they are not exempt from the common conditions of humanity.

    Sure, some people could sleep in the same bed with their loved one and think only pure thoughts. Some starving people could stand in a room full of food that belonged to others and not steal any. But I really think that most people will respond according to their basic instincts, sooner or later.

  135. Wow! I never thought this post was going to create such blogg noise!

    It is disturbing to see how many people use “detectivism” to judge people. The post says the kid is chaste. If he states he is chaste, what else is there to this?

    This is what as a society we have lost. Our word. It means nothing to us that someone gives us their word. I fear our attitudes of distrust and cynicism against everyone, everything and anything increases this tragic loss.

    This is what the LDS Church as an organization couldn’t inherit from the Masons.

  136. Adam Greenwood says:

    What’s the point of posts like this? Do we really want to normalize the idea that you can romantically sleep in bed with someone without sexual complications? Right.

    I had an acquaintance once (not LDS, if I recall) who claimed he was in a situation like this. He later admitted that, yeah, they were having sex. Surprise.

    Our hope should be in the heavens but our heads shouldn’t be in the clouds.

  137. The point to me is judgment. This post is a good analysis of how people judge other people. Of what is most important to them when making a decision that requires judgment.

    For example, you are extrapolating your own experience with a friend and assuming that most people in a given situation will do as the outcome of your experience… this is noted by your remark “Surprise.”

    I think this post is great.

  138. Steve Evans says:

    Adam, the point of posts like this, like so much else in the Bloggernacle, is mere speculation for enjoyment purposes. I seriously doubt that something as lightweight and ephemeral as this will serve as a beacon and banner to normalizing cohabitation of this kind.

  139. Adam Greenwood says:

    In other news, Sam Sacerdote has been attending skinhead rallies and has shaved his hair, but he assures you that he isn’t racist and hasn’t chanted racist slogans. His bishop has told him not to but he refuses. Sam says its one of the few places where he can feel accepted for smoking but not inhaling. Sam hasn’t told the bishop, however, about his extensive porn collection, but its ok because he’s inked out all the naughty bits.

  140. Steve Evans says:

    I love it! More apt analogies can scarcely be imagined!

  141. My bishop sent a twenty-something guy to stay with me for six months. Nobody considered it any impropriety. I don’t think there’s any sort of general non-cohabitation rule in the church. If there is, my Bishop’s never heard of it.

    When I feed the elders, I meet them at a restaurant and pick up the tab. For some reason having two guys in my house with me for a meal is inappropriate but having one live here was just fine. =) Nobody said it makes sense.

  142. Adam,

    Unfortunately your satirized extension to the story is much more unlikely than the original post. Thus creating chaos when trying to relate it to or find any parallelisms with any real situation, as had been happening prior to your attempt to ridicule the thread. Therefore your storytelling becomes useless and a childish attempt to derogate someone’s post.

  143. 104: No, if it were a sister I don’t think it it would make a difference to me. I’m curious to know why you think it might matter to some.

    I think it would be interesting if after the comments dwindle down, someone (not me) would count the yeas and nays. It seems to me it’s about 50/50.

  144. Adam Greenwood says:

    Somehow, Steve E., I had the impression that you and your commenters were taking it seriously. I was wrong. To take just one comment at random, I see now that your #1 is pretty slapstick.

  145. Adam Greenwood says:

    Brother Jones and his secretary share a bed on business trips to save expenses and for a little cuddly friendship when far away from home. You happen to know that there is no sex involved, etc. Blah blah blah.

  146. Steve Evans says:

    Adam, I’m just sticking to the hypothetical without injecting personal experience. The man has been chaste — we’re to assume this is fact. Now, I agree with you that absent this assumption the whole thing is a big mess and the guy shouldn’t go on a mission. But once we remove the doubt as to whether or not he has been behaving chastely, where’s the issue?

    In other words, you’d be right to point out heads in clouds, the moral decline represented by the hypothetical, etc., if the man’s chastity weren’t presented as a given.

  147. To me the point isn’t if he has been chaste but what is the chance he will remain chaste. What are the consequences if he doesn’t? As SP I feel that it is my duty to look ahead in a wise and inspired manner. Having attended many a church displinary hearing with heartbreaking situations where people overestimated their ability to resist tempation, I would feel more comfortable signing these papers after young Brother Sacerdote is safely housed in our family’s spacious spare bedroom.

  148. #63 – It’s all about eternity. The question is whether it is just your own, personal eternity or those of others.

  149. I know the groundrules are to not invoke inspiration, but I think the idea of rehousing the lad is absolutely inspired – wise, compassionate and decisive.

  150. 143: It wouldn’t have changed my answer, I was just curious. Sometimes people have a tendency to be harder on one sex than the other for violations of chastity or the appearance thereof.

  151. Let him go, as long as there is no sin, I do not see a problem.

    This reminds me of a situation with my friends here. They are engaged, he’s already going on a mission. Her parents have disowned her and he has bad depression and is living by himself. She constantly is spending the night because she does not want to leave him and sometimes his depression gets to him. Have they once broke the law of Chastity? Nope. They are the best couple I’ve ever seen and they’ve had at least a seven month engagement.

    Not a problem in my book, but then again, I’m one of those ‘liberal Mormons’ you hear about.

  152. Ardis Parshall says:

    This post, like many on BCC, can’t make it past the filters on the church library computers, so I couldn’t reply to Steve’s 71 until now —

    Is it really being without sin? Only if “sin” is limited strictly to inserting tab A in slot B, and everything up to that point is virtuous, lovely, and of good report and praiseworthy. But how late is this romantic couple staying up, wrapped in each other’s arms on the couch or wherever? When he hears the shower running, does he never, ever, even a tiny bit, fantasize what she looks like just two feet away behind that door? Is there never any accidental (or otherwise) immodesty, by either of them?

    You aren’t allowing unchastity to include any actions or thoughts that are preliminary, or lesser, but still serious enough to make a prospective missionary’s worthiness questionable. That’s legalistic. It is NOT being “without sin.”

  153. WOW! A new definition of chastity. And a naive way of thinking missionaries now on the field never did any of the things you mentioned in post 152. If that was the case, there simply wouldn’t be missionaries on the field. This happens all the time and they don’t need to live together.

    The assumption of the post is that the prospective IS CHASTE… whatever your extreme chastity definition is.

  154. Steve Evans says:

    Ardis, if sin isn’t disobeying commandments, I don’t know what is. You’re expanding the law of chastity and attendant worthiness to something far, far beyond what is in the scriptures or in the CHI. I would hope that our leaders would be far less eager to invent sins to trip us up.

    p.s. calling something “legalistic” isn’t a negative in my book.

  155. Steve Evans says:

    p.p.s. So only most of BCC’s posts can’t make it past Church filters? Obviously that is because we are full of filth and disgustingness! Thank goodness for filters.

  156. For me this post is not only about judging, but also about obedience. Reading these comments, I get the feeling that we are a very control-hungry people, and we love the justice of enforcing laws on each other (i.e. if I have to live it, you will too). Almost all of the comments don’t like that he didn’t follow the Bishop’s counsel. When someone in authority speaks, you have to listen…or else. But every time someone brings up blind obedience, all I hear is how it’s not blind, and that each person can pray about it and choose what they feel is best. But it is becoming clear that it’s not that way at all. There is no option to choose another path if you want to remain a faithful member in good standing. IT IS blind obedience, and we have to obey authority regardless of whether we agree, regardless of whether we want to, or regardless of whether we feel it is right or not. For all we know, this kid is perfectly comfortable with his chaste living arrangements, but because the Bishop is uncomfortable, he can’t serve a mission.

  157. He’s been lucky so far. We’re not only relying on his willpower, we’re relying on hers. That’s a double handicap in my book. His willful disregard of the counsel doesn’t tell me he’s more in tune with his spiritual rightness; it tells me he refuses to see the situation beyond his hormonal feelings.

  158. Most people here think that the Bishop’s counsel was appropriate. So generally speaking, how do you determine if counsel you receive is appropriate or not? What if a Bishop asked something inappropriate, like taking someone’s life, or stealing from an anti-mormon, or marrying more than one wife, or how you should dress to church, or how you should groom yourself? Is humbling ourselves really just doing whatever a person in authority over us asks us to do? Doesn’t the church teach that obedience trumps all, and that you will be blessed if you obey, and if the leader is in error, he will have to answer to that? The Bishop (or any authority figure) has spoken and so the debate is over. This is an ultimatum – ‘you have to obey me or you cannot serve a mission’. For me, this reasoning is uncomfortably close to the line of taking our agency away. Your spiritual life is not your own – it is in the hands of your current priesthood leaders…

  159. I agree with Jonathan. Besides to that, I have seen many times Bishops are not necessarily right about everything. They give advice the best they know and can, but often times the do err. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen to their advice, but that it is important to be in tune yourself to know what to do.

  160. This reminds me of when, in the early 80’s, there was a short-lived addition to the recommend questions, asking spouses if they were engaging in a certain act of foreplay. It didn’t last more than a few months (we were among the lucky recipients), and was suddenly yanked, presumably when it’s existence floated up the Church office chain. I wonder how many couples were (briefly) denied recommends when they refused to yield to that ridiculous caution.

  161. You mean foreplay was wrong among married couples? I mean “that certain act of foreplay”

    Gosh, we have come a looooooooooooooong ways. Thank goodness.

    [edited by administrator]

  162. #161 – Frankly, Elusive, that last sentence was way over-the-top.

    I will restate my biggest problem – this time with many of the comments. Even with the disclaimers of the original scenario, this is not a “one issue” post. Too many of the comments, imo, are focusing on just one issue (actual intercourse) and making it entirely about that issue. Take it for what it’s worth, but signing a potential missionary’s papers is NEVER a one-issue process.

    This is a mission, and an important part of a mission is one’s willingness to accept and follow counsel and rules that vary from one mission to another and which some missionaries are not going to understand fully – and with which some missionaries are not going to agree. This is true especially for the best, strongest missionaries, since many of the mission rules, of necessity, are geared toward the weakest missionaries. If this missionary can’t accept very reasonable counsel from a leader who is asking him to live the same standards required of “weaker” members, I have a really hard time believing that his heart will change on his mission and he suddenly start accepting and following other rules that likewise might not be directed at him and require that he accept limits in other areas of strength.

    The lack of ability to “punt to the guidance of the Spirit” makes this dicey at best, but turning it into a one-trick pony completely destroys the integrity of the exercise – since, again, NO mission call process is a one-trick pony.

  163. 148:

    It’s all about eternity. The question is whether it is just your own, personal eternity or those of others.

    Actually, not really. A mission is a temporary period of service with a few additional expectations of personal righteousness, but mission service itself involves no eternal covenants. If all goes well, the missionary will of course be an instrument in the Lord’s hands in bringing many souls unto Christ, but the missionary will never determine the eternal salvation of a single one of them. The missionary’s own eternal salvation, however, is entirely up to the missionary.

    It is therefore misguided to suggest that a mission interview is more important than determining temple worthiness because the fate of more people hangs in the balance. It doesn’t, and I’ve had general authorities tell me so.

  164. Adam (#139),

    I’ve got a better analogy: Brother Jensen has the intrawebs and uses them extensively in connection with his home business. He has installed no filter and his computer is located in his office. He has never viewed naughty content. His bishop tells him to move the computer to the living room to avoid the temptation. He doesn’t (it’s a distraction for both him and his home-schooled children).

    Clearly, Brother Jensen is a sinner.

  165. Ray,

    This is a mission, and an important part of a mission is one’s willingness to accept and follow counsel and rules that vary from one mission to another and which some missionaries are not going to understand fully – and with which some missionaries are not going to agree. This is true especially for the best, strongest missionaries, since many of the mission rules, of necessity, are geared toward the weakest missionaries.

    Really? The mission rules were never explained to me before the mission. Following the commandments were never highlighted to me by my bishops before my mission as a prerequisite for going on the mission, with the exception of the one question on the TR interview about sustaining church leaders, local and general. But yet once on the mission I followed the rules without exception.

    I think we’re getting too analytical here, guys. The kid is just a kid. He has not actually committed a sin. I know many of us unfortunately went to BYU and got caught in their babying mentality where we are “commanded in all things.” We’re told how to shave our faces. We’re told what kind of clothing to wear, etc etc. There are times when we actually need to let people make their own decisions and trust that they will actually make the right decisions. This is one of them.

  166. Adam Greenwood says:

    Steve E.,
    why do you feel like you have to accept the terms of the hypothetical? I don’t suppose there’s any sin out there for which you can’t construct a hypothetical that takes away the consequences of the sin. Hypothetically Sam Sacerdote and his girlfriend and a bunch of their friends could be banging each other silly every night, but in the hypothetical there’s no chance of pregnancy at all and their sex doesn’t have any emotional elements that are cheapened by the lack of commitment but also hypothetically they are in no way influenced by their action to remove the element of commitment and relationship from their sex, and their future married lives and commitment to chastity are in no way affected and they are all normal people and no one else is at all affected by their behavior. Hypothetically.

  167. Adam, could you be less crude, please!

  168. Personally, I think the highlight of the thread has been the amount of gst’s participation. I have missed him.

  169. Mr. Greenwood, have a care, man. It is comments such as yours that cause the church filter to censor BCC, doncha know.

  170. Steve Evans says:

    “why do you feel like you have to accept the terms of the hypothetical?”

    er, because otherwise it would be a completely different question? I don’t know about you, but when I went to law school, we weren’t supposed to change the hypotheticals during exams. The exception, of course, is the Kobayashi Maru.

  171. I just have to say, as one of the people who has agreed with the basic point that Adam just made in #166, that one of my comments was more “filter-inducing” than Adam’s. I actually used the technical term that would trigger the filter, while Adam used a phrase that – I believe – would not do so.

    Also, the entire hypothetical is built on the question of how we view sexual relations – where we draw the lines and how we make distinctions. Frankly, a missionary is going to be going through the temple prior to his service beginning, so he should be held to the temple standard of chastity in order to process his mission papers. The hypothetical doesn’t give ANY detail as to whether or not the situation, especially the second one, is, in fact, a sexual relationship for him **or for his girlfriend** – just that no … er … um … ultimate, end-result activity had occurred. If we can’t use the word “sex” or “intercourse” or substitute phrases that are not common vulgarities in this type of discussion … on a blog that allows far ranging differences in all discussions …

  172. Ray, I don’t believe anyone was objecting to the technical detail in Adam’s comment, only for the crudeness of the “substitute phrase” he chose.

  173. Why is signing the papers on the condition that he cease sleeping with his girlfriend?

    “If you’re really chaste, you’re technically worthy. However, your conduct is dangerous, shows terrible judgment, and sets a horrible example to other prospective missionaries. You will stop this foolish nonsense immediately, move out of the house, and meet with me regularly. If the problem [sleeping with your girlfriend is a problem even if it isn't a sin] persists, we may have to keep you home.”

    I’ve known several otherwise worthy LDS who work as bartenders. I would be willing, other things being equal, to grant them TRs, but would insist that they quit their jobs if they wanted to serve a mission.

  174. er, “why is signing the papers on the condition that he cease sleeping with his girlfriend not a simple solution here?”

  175. You aren’t allowing unchastity to include any actions or thoughts that are preliminary, or lesser, but still serious enough to make a prospective missionary’s worthiness questionable. That’s legalistic. It is NOT being “without sin.”

    You’re crazy if you think it takes sleeping in the same apartment as a girl for a nineteen-year-old boy to struggle with thinking about girls taking showers or girls doing pretty much anything in the nude.

    The original post says he is chaste. Do you consider him chaste or not? The original post also says it’s too easy to just say “I’d rely on the spirit”. You have all the information his bishop would have. If someone tells you they are chaste, and you son’t know they are breaking a commandment, are they chaste?

    The opportunity to sin is not sin. While you are on the internet Ardis, for all I know you could be tabbing between this thread and a porn site. But if you tell me you aren’t, why would I assume you are sinning because the opportunity is there?

  176. I’ve known several otherwise worthy LDS who work as bartenders. I would be willing, other things being equal, to grant them TRs, but would insist that they quit their jobs if they wanted to serve a mission.

    I have a friend that worked for a beer company in Idaho growing whatever kind of grain goes into beer. His bishop had no problem sending him on a mission, probably because he along with half the town worked at the same place.

  177. Dan,

    There are times when we actually need to let people make their own decisions and trust that they will actually make the right decisions. This is one of them.

    While I generally embrace the “it is not meet that I should command in all things” approach to life, I couldn’t disagree with you more that this is one of those times. Ray pretty much nailed it in #162. If this boy wants to be numbered among the best and brightest, he’s got to know how to take counsel and correction– especially when it comes to things like don’t live with your girlfriend just before you go on your mission!

  178. To me the question is not whether he may or may not get into trouble before he leaves, nor whether he is truly chaste (we are assuming he is.)

    Is it wrong (sin / transgression / otherwise) to live with a boy/girlfriend? I say yes. Note that I say nothing about plutonic or other special cases. As a rule I say cohabitation of romantically inclined people is wrong. And therefore it is perfectly appropriate for the SP to refuse missionary service.

    Side note: As a missionary I was told that a young man could not be baptized because he lived in a house with an elderly woman.

  179. David,

    If this boy wants to be numbered among the best and brightest, he’s got to know how to take counsel and correction– especially when it comes to things like don’t live with your girlfriend just before you go on your mission!

    But the problem is that, if we really are going to get technical, that’s not a sin. The sin is if the relationship gets sexual. As the hypothetical goes, it does not get sexual.

    If I am a stake president, I have come to a point in my life where I know to rely on the Spirit in such matters. I will question the boy fairly well (as I’ve been questioned by my stake presidents in the past). I will not mince words with him. But if he didn’t actually commit any sin, and the Spirit doesn’t press me to dig deeper, I see no point in holding him back.

    Ship him out. Send him to Africa already. :)

  180. #179 – I don’t get the last sentence, especially with the smile.

  181. A couple of people here have mentioned opposite-sex roomates having a “plutonic” relationship. If that’s not against the law of chastity, then I don’t know what is . . . (grin)

    platonic

  182. CE – Nice catch.
    Dan – Is it only sin that keeps someone from serving a mission? Post bar raising requirements call for prospective missionaries to read the Book of Mormon. Yet this doesn’t fit into the “sin” category.

  183. Ray #180,

    In other words, send him out already. And Africa is a joke from the mission, where everyone kept asking us why we were in Romania instead of Africa. Merely a joke. :)

  184. akm,

    #182,

    I thought this hypothetical covered only the issue of sleeping in the same house as your girlfriend. I thought the hypothetical assumed everything else being equal.

  185. Thanks for the clarification, Dan. That makes sense.

  186. Dan – OK, I’ll go with you on that, and I agree – sleeping in the same house may not be a problem. If the boy was living with the girl’s family, for example, you would have a whole different ballgame. But the hypothetical states that he moved in to her one-bedroom apartment. I think that in itself is enough to refuse the call.

  187. Adam Greenwood says:

    Why do y’all keep banging on about me being crude?

  188. Reminds me of a joke. What do you call a drummer without a wife or a girlfriend?

    Answer: Homeless.

  189. JM # 188:

    Variations on a theme. What phrase does every professional musician need to know to get his next gig?

    Answer: “Would you like fries with that?”

  190. Ah, looks like my comment previous to the drummer joke was deleted in order to keep the standards of the place up. I’ll see if I can rework it into an acceptable form:

    Once again, Joseph Conrad’s description of a sailor in a story he wrote in 1897 comes to mind:

    The man who can’t do most things and won’t do the rest. The pet of philanthropists and self-seeking landlubbers. The sympathetic and deserving creature that knows all about his rights, but knows nothing of courage, of endurance, and of the unexpressed faith, of the unspoken loyalty that knits together a ship’s company.

  191. Mansfield, your contributions to our lofty standards are heartily appreciated.

  192. My first impression is no: he shouldn’t go.

    However, I couldn’t post this without bringing up that bastion of morality, your friend and mine….Jack Tripper. He lived with 2 girls and never had relations. Now, Jack wasn’t being considered for a mission but he was able to demonstrate self-control.

    My parents hated that show, but I watched it when I could.

  193. Steve Evans says:

    I never figured out why he kept trying to score with Janet.

  194. From a discussion of Ghandi’s (non)sexual practices in a review of the book Mahatma Gandhi and His Apostles:

    “As a brahamachari, he would normally have been expected to eschew all contact with women, but instead he took naked women to bed with him. Amongst those who slept with him were Sushila Nayar, Sucheta Kriplani, Abha and Manu. Gandhi viewed the practice as an experiment in brahamacharya. For him this was a sure way to test his mastery of celibacy. He believed that if he could succeed in his brahamacharya experiment, he would be able to vanquish Muhammad Ali Jinnah with his spiritual power and foil his plan for India’s partition.

    “During his Noakhali tour of 1946, Gandhi used to sleep with the nineteen-year-old Manu. When Nirmal Bose, his Bengali interpreter, saw this he protested, asserting that the experiments must be having bad psychological effects on the girl. In his Book My Days with Gandhi, published in 1953 with great difficulty and at his own expense, he offers a Freudian interpretation to Gandhi’s experiments.

    “It is generally believed that Gandhi started sleeping with women toward the close of his life. According to Sushila Nayar, he started much earlier. However, at the time he called it ‘nature cure.’ She told Mehta, ‘long before Manu came into the picture I used to sleep with him just as I would with my mother. He might say my back aches. Put some pressure on it. So I might put some pressure on it or lie down on his back and he might just go to sleep. In the early days there was no question of calling this a brahamacharya experiment. It was just part of nature cure. Later on, when people started asking questions about his physical contact with women, the idea of brahamacharya experiments was developed. Don’t ask me any more questions about brahamacharya experiments. There is nothing to say, unless you have a dirty mind like Bose.’

    “No doubt Gandhi’s interest in women, whether he called it ‘experiments in brahamacharya’ or ‘nature cure,’ was directed at a conscious suppression of his own sexual feelings. The same is confirmed by his close political associate C. Rajagopalachari who told Mehta, ‘it is now said that he was born so holy that he had a natural bent for brahamacharya, but actually he was highly sexed.’

    “Like many, Gandhi was convinced that sex diffuses human energy, which should be conserved and sublimated. He imposed celibacy on all those who lived in his ashram (retreat). J.B. Kriplani and Sucheta Kriplani married against his wishes, but they remained brahamacharyas after their marriage. The imposition of celibacy did not work in all cases. According to Raihana Tyabji, a devout disciple of Gandhi, ‘the more they tried to restrain themselves and repress their sexual impulses . . . the more oversexed and sex-conscious they became.'”

  195. Yes, Krissy was the bigger babe…no question: that’s why I watched the show. Her and Mr. Roper of course.

  196. Ardis Parshall says:

    155 — Oh, c’mon, Steve! I’m not making any negative judgments about BCC posts! I participate, don’t I? Or I do in between the periods when you’re being so catty. I was naive enough to think you’d get a kick out of knowing that BCC’s perfectly reasonable posts set off alarm bells that way. My stupid.

  197. Left Field says:

    After 196 comments, we ought to have heard a J. Golden Kimball story.

    A certain brother was called before the high council to answer charges of adultery. Brother Golden was in attendance while the local authorities conducted the hearing. After hearing the evidence, the council questioned the brother for his response.

    “Now, brother, this is a very serious charge. Witnesses have testified that you have paid a great deal of attention to this sister.”

    “Vell, yes, I haff often visited her to help with da chores. I only do my Christian duty to help vile her husband iss on his mission.”

    “But it has been testified that you were seen leaving her house early in the morning after having apparently spent the night”

    “Vell, yes, dat is possible. Da sister needs much help, and I may haff had to stay late to finish.”

    “But it has also been testified that a person walking past the house happened to look in the window and see you in bed with the sister.”

    “Vell, yes. Dat iss possible. I may haff been in da bed vit her. But I must tell you dat I haff not done dis ting dat you accusse me of!”

    At this point, Brother Kimball, who has been a silent observer, stirs and in his high-pitched voice, exclaims:

    “I move we excommunicate the brother. It’s obvious he doesn’t have the blood of Israel in him!”

  198. I would not sign the papers. Why? BECAUSE HE DIDN”T SLEEP WITH HER. There is something wrong with Sam.

  199. Gosh, I go away for a few days and BCC goes all Kama Sutra on me.

  200. Kevin Barney says:

    Hey Mike, thanks for tipping this thread to 200 comments!

  201. yeah, that one’s gone. Holy CRAP.

  202. Welcome back, Mike. How did you like being a son of the beach?

  203. MikeInWeHo says:

    I was wondering how long that comment would last, Steve. That was the Bloggernacle version of Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction. It’s always interesting when the weird Mormons flash us in here.

    I’m still in the Telestial Kingdom until Sunday afternoon, Ray. What’s not to like, right?

  204. Why do Latter-day Saints emphasize fairly youthful of marriages and why do some Catholic priests stray? Well, from a post just above, at # 194, about some disciples of Ghandi’s with regard their practice of brahamacharya:

    “the more they tried to restrain themselves and repress their sexual impulses . . . the more oversexed and sex-conscious they became.”

  205. FWIW, reading through these comments I recall that when I first joined the church at 19, I was living with a male roommate (this was in 2000). The sister missionaries never said it was a problem (I couldn’t stand the guy and was moving out at the end of the summer).

    I actaully wound up waiting a few extra weeks so certain people could attend and the actual baptism occured after I officially moved out, but I am pretty sure I would have been baptized while living with this guy if I wanted–the missionaries were actually more worried when I said I wanted to wait a few weeks.

    (My brother had joined the church a year before and I was waiting until he could come out and baptize me)

  206. 201 Thanks for removing that Steve. I was keeping my kids and husband away from this thread for a while there. I don’t want to get banned from the site by my 14 year old (or my 44 year old)!

  207. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 204 That is a great quote. Thanks for re-emphasizing it. It captures an important truth.

    If LDS marriages take place later and later, the incidence of pre-marital LoC violations will increase correspondingly. And as for the Catholic priesthood, well, I’d best bite my tongue lest I say something uncharitable.

    Oh what the heck: Suffice to say the Catholic experience should serve as a warning to those who suggest life-long celibacy is a viable option for any large group of people.

  208. Mike, Amen.

  209. Re: 205

    I just had to comment on the strangely numerous coincidences between our two situations. I had a male roommate when I chose to be baptized, and I didn’t like him and was planning on moving out at the end of the school year. I had sister missionaries who never really said anything about it. AND I was waiting for my brother to get back from a trip to Utah so he could baptize me!

    Weird.

  210. John Deacon says:

    The question that is posed is:

    “Do you keep the law of chastity?”

    In this scenario the brother can answer: “Yes” therefore go on a mission. However, I would not recommend any young person to be in that position.

  211. To all those who say No because the kid is not following his bishop’s counsel: how come your answer isn’t to talk to the young man and find out his explanation first?

  212. #211 – Because I assumed the Bishop had heard it already, and because I had suggested an alternative, and because I had allowed for the promptings of the Spirit – and other reasons I just don’t care to take the time to list.

    Frankly, call me a meanie, but I really don’t care about his explanation – since it has no bearing, in the hypothetical, on whether he is chaste or not. If the Bishop went the local bar every Sunday, sat down and drank what appeared to be a frothy beer with a scantily-clad former girlfriend, put his arm around her and whispered in her ear – I really wouldn’t care about his explanation, either. If I had Priesthood authority to do so, I would give him official counsel to change the scenario – even if it was totally “innocent” and no commandment had been broken. If I had no Priesthood authority, I would tell him the same thing as friendly advice.

  213. Now as far as I can see no sin has been committed so as his Bishop, I would sign his papers.

  214. Ok Ray, you’re a meanie. Enough said for your off-point example. Ground rules were no punting to “guidance of the Spirit”. That shouldn’t preclude attempting to fully apprehend the young man’s circumstances. “For man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” You have to try to figure out what is there, whether deceit, willfulness, straitened finances, utter purity, or whatever. Ray, I believe you actually allowed for this; I’m more reacting to those whose response was blanket judgment / condemnation.

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