Things to know

Regularly read by 50,000+ readers in over 140 countries around the world, "Dear Bro Jo" is published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (with occasional additional posts, too).

This is column is just one guy's opinion, and while he does his best to keep what he thinks, says and writes in-line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Bro Jo is not a spokesman or authority for the LDS Church. (And Sister Jo thinks you should know that he's sometimes wrong, and often way too opinionated for his own good.)

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Scared and Alone - Part 14 of 15: What Do You Believe?

[Readers,

These last two posts in this series are more conversational.  They have been edited and colors added to make them easier to read.

Enjoy,

- Bro Jo]



Dear Bro Jo,

There's just so many things going on in my family, with friends and with myself that's its very discouraging and I'm to the point where I almost don't care anymore. I don't know that things would be better without the church, but I do know that people wouldn't be so judgmental and I wouldn't be worrying about every little thing I do. Life used to be so much easier when I was inactive and didn't care. Obviously that wasn't the best part of my life though. 

- Scared 




Dear Scared, 

I had a discussion with a very good friend once. I said "man, it's hard to be a member of the Church; all of the rules and commandments and everyone expects so much from you". He rebuked me. Said I was dead wrong. What do you think was his reason? 

- Bro Jo 


That's a tough one. I know I'm wrong on his reasons, but I guess because the commandments aren't here to make our life harder and the church isn't trying to make it harder, they're trying to bring us closer to heavenly father and in the end the commandments give us more freedom. I have no idea though.


Well . . . you're essentially saying what he said. So, let me ask you: how can living the commandments make my life easier? What about the Word of Wisdom?


That's the part I have no idea about. I only knew the last part because my seminary teacher just taught us that. Didn't think it would be right.


Is my life easier because I don't kill people?


That's probably a pretty obvious answer of yes?


For some people it's not obvious. But it is for you and I. 

Be specific with this one: how would committing adultery make my life more difficult?


Well. . . since you're married then it will probably screw up your marriage. 

It not only causes problems for you, but also for the person you did it with and the ones you were committed to before you did it.


Including any children that may exist. 

Divorce is very difficult on the entire family. And have you ever noticed how young people with divorced parents seem to have extra struggles? Especially in relationships?


I have noticed that. My parents themselves are not divorced, but it has been brought up many times. 

With my parents it's either my dad attempting suicide or threatening divorce and walking out. I know it's not the same as them actually being divorced, but many times it has been similar with them not speaking for weeks on end and sleeping in separate places. Anyways. . . that's not what you were asking for, so back to your questions.


Sorry to hear that about your parents. That makes life hard. 

Wouldn't your life be easier if they were always nice to each other? Wouldn't there lives be easier?


Yeah, all of our lives would be, but no one said life would be easy. I'm really making myself into an idiot aren't I?


I don't think you're an idiot. And I wish you'd stop saying it. 

Life is not easy. 

For anyone. 

But there are two kinds of things that make our lives difficult: 

1. the things that just happen over which we have no control 

2. the things which we have control over, but choose to make our lives more difficult 

Like cancer. Some people just get cancer. It sucks. 

Some people get cancer because they smoke. 

That sucks, too. 

And yet, even though I could get cancer just because, isn't my life better because I don't smoke and give myself cancer?


Sorry. . . I'll stop calling myself that around you. 

Yeah, you are making your life better because you don't smoke and give yourself cancer


If someone were to ask me to define the word "commandments" I would say: They are the rules and guidelines that God gives us to help us lead better lives and be good people so that we can return to live with Him again. 

We don't have to follow them, but we're better off if we do. 

What do you think of that definition?

PS:  Not just stop saying it to me, but stop saying it. I don't like it when people say negative things about people I care about.


I have problems with making negative comments about myself. . sorry. 

I would agree with your definition.


Do you believe in God?


I do believe in God, yes.


Me too! Who is God? To you?


I feel like if I answer this, I'm going to do it in the wrong way and sound like I have no idea what I'm talking about. 

I think he's our creator and gave up his son for us to be able to have this life. (not exactly sure what to say. . )


Say whatever you believe to be true. I won't judge. 

- Bro Jo

Friday, August 28, 2015

Do Mixed Faith Marriages Work?

Dear Bro Jo,

So right now I am dating an incredible man, who is sweet and kind and treats me wonderfully. The only problem is he is Catholic (which is fine) but he wants to raise his children Catholic and I want to raise my children LDS... but I love him.

And he loves me.

And he is the only person in my life that has always treated me well and has not abused and used me in any way.

I can't imagine my life without him... we are getting quite serious and I am the one out of the two of us who is least willing to compromise... and I am unsure what to do.

On an awkward side note my best friend whom I once cared about greatly comes home from his mission soon and at one point wanted to date and see what happened. But that was before I met my boyfriend.

People are telling me to wait for the missionary to come home, but with my feelings for my boyfriend I cannot imagine dating anyone else.

I don’t know what to do... for someone who used to not believe in love, and questions her faith in marriage it is hard to accept any affection, I know I’m in love and I cannot help but think that God would want this for me, because I am happy and actually believing in love and thinking I could be happy and that I won’t be abused again..

I don't know what I should do.

Or how I should handle it.

If I should compromise which honestly I am inclined to do so, or if I... it would hurt so much to end things, I love him.

Please help,

- Conflicted




Dear Conflicted,

I have no doubt that the man you're currently dating is a wonderful man.

To say that he's the only man that you could ever love, the only man who could ever love you, the only man who would never abuse you . . . while I understand your background and perspective, the thing is that's just not true.

Mixed faith marriage can be very, very difficult.

Each person must go in expecting that the other will never compromise and never change their beliefs, and each has to understand that there will be extra difficulty, extra pressure, and that children will compound everything.

Further, you both need to understand that your children will likely be confused, may choose one of your faiths over the other one, that you'll need to support them in that choice, and that they may choose neither.

For your part you'll need to accept that you'll have no priesthood in the home, and you may never get Sealed for Time and All Eternity; not to your husband OR your children.

And from his perspective he'll have to make some sacrifices, too. 

You two have A LOT to resolve.

Things like: how will we handle Church attendance?

Will we go to Saturday Night Mass and the LDS Block on Sunday?

Will you each go to each other's services? (I think you should, btw)

Will the kids be baptized as infants in the Catholic Church, and then baptized at 8 in the LDS Faith? 

Will you explain to them that the reason you think they need to do that is because you believe that the priest that baptized them as infants didn't really hold the priesthood and therefore wasn't authorized to baptize?

Will they be confirmed members of the LDS Faith at 8 and then go through confirmation classes as 16-year old Catholics?

Will your children go to Catechism classes or YM/YW?

What about scouts?

Will your sons be both alter boys and LDS deacons?  (Can that even be done?)

Will you be married by your Bishop or his Priest?

Or are you going to agree to disagree and do the Justice of the Peace thing?

I guess what I'm saying is, love is great, but there's so much more to being married and raising a family than that. I think you two need to have a very long talk.

And, if you haven't already, you need to be attending all of the meetings that come along with each other's faith - for at least a couple months (One weekend does not an understanding make.)

You both need to get pretty educated on what the other half thinks.

And I think all of that needs to happen before anybody agrees to marry anybody else.

It can be done.

But it's not done often very successfully.

And it takes, as I said, A LOT of extra work.

That's why I tell people that once they're marrying age they should only date within their own faith, regardless of what that faith is.

So, yeah, you may want to consider dating the RM, at least a few times (if you're both still interested) when he comes home.

And, depending on your commitment to your current boyfriend, that may mean that you need to break up for a while.

Unless, I guess, he's okay with you dating some other guy while you're both still a couple . . .

That would be weird.

So . . . talk.

Be Mature enough to set aside your emotions for one long conversation and talk about the practicality of what you're both considering.

And pray.

I sincerely wish you both the best. And I'd love to know how things work out.

Best,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Dating and "The Bro Code"

Dear Bro Jo,

Sorry if you've posted about this before...I'm new to your blog.

I am just looking for an outsider opinion here.

I'm 19 and a freshman in college.

I have a guy (let's call him A) in my very small YSA ward who seems to like me.

He has two best friends (B and C), and the three of them are inseparable.

They are all recent RM's and good guys.

I have been on a date with A, and we had a nice time. I plan to give him a fair chance (one or two more dates), but I am not really seeing a relationship happening.

My problem: I would like B or C to ask me on a date, and I am open to directly saying "you should take me on a date sometime" or your other comparably scary Tips for Getting Guys to Ask.

I think it could work--B, in particular, is friendly and responsive to my (somewhat inept) flirting. 

However, I doubt either B or C would ever ask me out while A had an obvious interest.

They hang out continually together, and I would guess that they have talked about me.

It is decidedly against the "Bro Code" to date the girl your best friend has staked a claim on.

But I don't want to be A's claim!

Help!

I would like to take measures quickly here so I don't find myself a true love interest for A and permanently in the friend zone with B and C.

I also don't really want to put their friendship in an awkward place (do guys think about that stuff so much?) and become the jerk in the situation.

Also, it's incredibly hard to talk to B alone because A (who talks continually) and sometimes C are always there. So even if I wanted to show more obvious interest in B, I'd have trouble finding the chance. We are Facebook friends and I could probably procure his number if I needed to, but I don't really care for that kind of communication in this case.

Thanks!

- College Girl




Dear CG,

Whew!

Maybe the key is, in one of those rare moments you do get him alone (they have to exist!) you tell B (or B & C if they're together) that you like A, but not as a boyfriend, and you don't want him to "claim" you and keep you from going out with other guys.

They'll tell him (unless you mess it up by asking them not to).

You could also work at setting A up with one of your girlfriends that needs a date, or even better, would be a better match for him than you are.  (He moves on, she gets a date, what could be more perfect!)

Also, you'll need to not do anything with any of these guys that would have the others putting you in the "off limits" zone.

That means kissing.

In case you were wondering.

If you've made out with A, then unless B or C just want to use you as a kissing buddy, they'll be a little put off by that.

They might get over it, but only after an unknown amount of time has passed since the kissing happened.

IF they ever get over it.

And they might not.

Fortunately for you, CG, these aren't the only guys in the universe. Heck, you're not even sure which of these two guys you'd rather date!

Remember, right or wrong, people talk.

Especially in a small ward.

Best to take things slow, romantically, and keep your dates more on the fun side and less on the romantic side.

That is, until you make a decision.

- Bro Jo