A few months ago, a sister in our ward asked my daughter to babysit. On a Monday evening. Thatâ€™s right. Monday Evening. We try to be diligent with family home evening on Monday night, so the answer needed to be â€œno,â€ but I was a bit confused about how to convey that message. If someone of another faith had called, I would have explained that we had â€œfamily plansâ€ and so my daughter would be unable to babysit. If that someone had continued calling on Mondays, I would have used it as a missionary moment to explain our idea about a family home eveningâ€”a night set aside to be together as a family. But because the caller was a member of my ward, I was stumped. If I said, â€œItâ€™s family home evening, so she canâ€™t,â€ then I sound preachy and rude. If I didnâ€™t say that, then what? Lie? Make up an excuse? Didnâ€™t she know it was Family Home Evening? Maybe she was of the â€œFHE on Sundayâ€ ilk?
I ran into similar problems when I went to college at BYU. Growing up outside Utah defined my values. Though a few teenage members chose slightly different values, I unconsciously equated my brand of morality with general Mormonism. BYU shocked me out of that belief. I found fellow students who were drastically â€œmore faithfulâ€ and some who were drastically â€œless faithfulâ€â€”and all would have defined themselves as active Mormons (though those guys who were drinking beer out of Sprite cans while talking about their missions had to know they were crossing some lines).
If a guy in high school had crossed one of my â€œmorality lines,â€ I would have told him â€œnoâ€ and told myself I was following what the prophet taught. But when you come to BYU and your LDS date crosses one of your morality lines, you arenâ€™t so sure. Especially if that date is an active member of the church, maybe an Elderâ€™s Quorum president, and someone whose testimony you admire. Or what if the Relief Society President wears a dress you would have put back on the rack because it was immodest? Then you canâ€™t help but wonder if you are the weird one, if you have defined lines that were not really Mormon lines at all, if what you thought was honest or chaste or true is just uptight and rigid.
Thus, I find that I struggle to defend my values to other Mormons. I do not necessarily think this is a bad thing. My high school morality was somewhat thoughtless and assumed. Being challenged helped me solidify what I, personally, believe to be true and where, exactly, I stand on certain issues and doctrines. I just find it interesting and ironic: when someone decidedly a-religious or other-religious questions my values, I leap to defend myself and do it in the name of Mormonism, but when someone of my own faith questions me, I take a big step back and question myself.
So where do you draw your â€œfaithfulâ€ lines? And how do you handle situations when your faithful brushes up against someone elseâ€™s faithful? Because I was really stumped with the woman in my ward. I stammered around about how my daughter had been sick (true) and was really tired (true) so she couldnâ€™t (true), but that wasnâ€™t the whole, real or complete answer, was it?