Families are Forever; Unless…

I came across an LDS online magazine for teen and young adult women *Jen*. A press release dated March 17th says:

Jen Magazine contains the same kind of articles you would find in the popular women’s magazines except that they match the values of the Latter-Day Saints (and most other Christian denominations). There are articles of a spiritual nature alongside reviews of popular movies, advice columns, beauty and fitness articles, and of course seasonal fashion picks including modest swimwear suggestions since spring is almost here.

As you might guess, the articles “of a spiritual nature” and “advice columns” most interest me. I made a quick tour around the magazine and lighted on the advice column, “Brandy’s Spare Change.”

Brandy is a 24-year old LDS convert (joined the Mormon Church at 21), was married to her second husband in the Oakland, California temple last summer, and is the mother of one little girl from her first marriage. One of the two questions Brandy addresses in her advice column is from a young non-member woman we’ll call Amy.

Amy was raised in a Christian home and calls herself Christian. She has been dating a Mormon boy for 2 years and now wants to join the LDS Church. Her mother is heartbroken and distraught over Amy’s desire to leave the Christian faith for a false religion. Amy needs her parents’ help to pay for college and to give her a place to live. Though her parents haven’t said they would disown Amy or stop paying for her education if she joined the Mormon Church against their wishes, Amy is afraid they might. She has prayed about this, but still doesn’t know what to do. Amy wants Brandy’s advice:

“…I don’t know who to turn to! You are the only adult mormon that i can talk to…you are the only person who might be able to help me.”

Brandy is only too happy to help. She was in a very similar situation when she joined the Mormon Church against her family’s wishes. Brandy writes:

“I was 21 years old at the time, so my family couldn’t stop me, …”

I see that neither of these young women seem to have a very high maturity level. Amy can’t think of anyone other than a Mormon advice columnist from whom to seek wise counsel. Brandy seems to flaunt the fact that because she was of legal age she was free to disregard her family’s concerns — and the joke is on them.

Maybe I’m reacting a little strongly to this. But I’m a Christian mom and so my perspective is a bit different than either Amy’s or Brandy’s.

Brandy’s advice to Amy boils down to this:

“The reality of it is that it really doesn’t matter what your parents or anyone else thinks about your decision. That may seem like a harsh statement, but I’ve learned that it is so true.”

Brandy suggests that Amy sit down with her mom and explain how important joining the Mormon Church is to her. She suggests that Amy allow her mom to ask questions and that Amy try to find answers for her. I agree with this advice; there is wisdom here. But Brandy’s conclusion is:

“Let her know you are doing this for YOU…Sometimes our parents need to be reminded that we are grown ups too and we are perfectly capable of making our own decisions.”

Given the fact that Amy considers Brandy her only hope for good advice, I question whether Amy is equipped to make sound, life-altering decisions at this point. Of course, it’s true that Amy can–and probably will–make decisions apart from consideration of her parents’ loving input and advice. However, to counsel her to do so is irresponsible and certainly not in keeping with the values of “most…Christian denominations” that recognize parents generally possess wisdom which God calls them to impart to their children (Ephesians 6:1-4; Deuteronomy 11:18-21; Proverbs 1:8, 19:18, 29:15).

Brandy also addresses Amy’s concern over her continuing education and support:

As far as the issue with going to college and the support there, try not to focus so much on what you might lose by joining the church…You will have so much love and support from other members of the church you won’t even know what to do with yourself!”

In other words, don’t worry about losing your family; the Mormon Church will be your new family and will take care of you.

As a Christian I understand the call of Christ to leave father and mother and sisters and brothers to follow Him (Matthew 10:34-39), yet Brandy never counsels Amy to work at reconciliation with her parents. In essence she advises, “Tell your mom that this is important to you and so you’re going to do it whether she likes it or not. You can answer her questions, but you won’t consider her concerns.”

Amy is young. She is under the care and protection of her parents. What if she were to wait; bide her time; recognize that she is still immature and might benefit in many ways from remaining under the loving care of her parents for a season? What if Amy were to talk to her parents and be willing to begin a Bible study with them so they would have an opportunity to explain their concerns about Mormonism from their biblical viewpoint? What if Amy asked her parents to also be willing to meet with LDS missionaries so they can gain an understanding of the LDS Church and ask the questions that weigh on their hearts? What if Amy and her parents researched Mormonism from all available sources and worked through their conclusions together?

Whatever decision Amy ended up making after a scenario like this, whether her parents agreed with the decision or not, it is highly unlikely that she would be forced to drop out of college and replace her family with LDS Church members. Seems that if she worked at reconciliation she might be able to remain on good terms with her parents after having shown them (rather than just announce to them) that she has grown up and is able to make thoughtful and reasoned decisions after considering the whole counsel of God.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.

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