Dear Gramps, I am the only member of the Church in my family. My dad passed away more than 10 years ago. My mother is a “devout” Christian, a deacon in her church. She has been dating a man for more than 3 years now. I talked to her about marriage, chastity and virtue two years ago, Today they live together without being married. We had to move back home for a year and the man was playing the Master of the house in my dad’s house. He was decent and all, but the situation made me feel sick. I talked again to my mother a month after we arrived, but she told me that that is the way God wants her life to be for now. I couldn’t believe it and didn’t know what to say. After a year, still no marriage and I have become really affected by the situation. I am filled with sadness and anger. My kids no longer hear me sing. As God’s answer to my prayer, we moved out and I do not feel like inviting my mother into our house to see us. I have lost trust in her, and we no longer have the same level of intimacy and confidence as before. I feel her boyfriend has dishonored her, disrespected our family and God. She seems so unconscious. We are asked to forgive and I know I should forgive, but every time I think of her, I feel like crying. Is virtue and chastity only a Mormon thing? Was it too much to have hoped/expected her to re-marry? Are my feelings inappropriate and should I have respected her free-agency to live immorally?
As I read your question, my mind’s eye reflects upon the words of the late Elder Orson F. Whitney, who served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire” (quoted in Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle , 98).
As a new convert to the Church, your mind has been enlightened to new understandings because you have received the gift of the Holy Ghost. What may have not affected you so deeply then, now more easily brings sorrow to your heart. The balance of patience and love we are to find as Christians when loved ones are not following the commandments is not always easy to recognize; however, as members we must remember that we are here to “invite” all to come unto Christ and to keep his commandments without compulsory means. When we invite we must remember we are to be bold, but not overbearing less we lose the love within our hearts because of our personal passions (Alma).
As we look to our Savior for His example, and pray for guidance from the Lord, greater love will be shown to your mother when you “invite” her to live the commandments and then accept her agency to live by her own conscience. This will bring greater peace to your heart and mind; although inside, you may still feel angry that your mother isn’t willing to live up to the knowledge she has in keeping the law of chastity.
We live in a day and age where the commandments of God are easily forsaken by the many; however, Mormons are not the only Christians, or other faiths, which believe in keeping the law of chastity. We are not alone in this doctrine. We are not the only people who keep this law.
If I may, and I hope you receive my thoughts in the love I share them with, don’t allow the adversary to sway you away from your mother. Despite her weakness of the flesh at the moment, she loves you and you love her. Her example is a great opportunity for you to teach your children about the importance of keeping the law of chastity and loving those who don’t. Let your children recognize your love for her, while also recognizing that keeping this law of God is very important to our eternal salvation and exaltation.