Our family are members of the Mormon Church. My daughter recently married a young man of another faith, who had been raped when he was a young boy. The perpetrator of this vile act was hunted and captured and put on trial with full press coverage and so my son-in-law not only had the pain of the attack to contend with but also the sense of shame he felt because just about everybody in his little village knew what had happened — and some of the children were extremely unkind about it. This has put scars on his soul that are becoming more evident as we get to know him better. His attitude is, unfortunately, a very common one today, which is — why would God allow such a thing to happen to an innocent child? How do I explain to this young man that Father in Heaven loves him and cares for him? How can I soothe the pain he feels? This event has marred his entire life. How do I proceed to help him see God’s love and have a chance to teach him the Gospel?
Your concern for your son-in-law is very understandable, and of course so is your desire to help him overcome the trauma of such a life-altering event. Such traumatic events are usually so deeply ingrained in the person’s psyche that it requires the treatment of highly trained professionals to help the person extricate himself the sense of guilt and shame that is normally felt by the victims of such dastardly actions. Even if you were such a highly trained professional, your personal relationship with him would probably stand in the way of any effective therapy. So it would seem that he should get professional help. However, professional help doesn’t come with just one label. Since we are dealing here with a moral issue, the moral values of the professional are very critical to the type of treatment he would receive in helping him to deal with the concepts of self worth and innocence.
In the first place, your son-in-law must be willing, and hopefully desirous, to receive professional help. Then, if it were me, I would start with LDS Social Services and get their advice on acceptable professionals.
It would seem that the most helpful part that you could play would be to accept your son-in-law for who he is and demonstrate your admiration and respect for him. Now, here’s the problem. If you try to teach him the gospel, or if you try to convince him to join your Church, it would very easily be perceived as an expression of your disapproval of him as a person in his present state. Even in circumstances without such a traumatic component, attempting to convert to your religion a newly acquired family member normally is met with much resistance. So, it you want to convert your son-in-law to the Mormon Church, I would suggest the following—
1. Support him in his present beliefs. That doesn’t mean that you would need to accept his beliefs, but it does mean that they should be respected and honored. There is a tenant in the Mormon Church, expressed in the 11th Article of Faith, namely, We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
2. Pray for him–night and morning, every day. Know that our Father in Heaven is his real Father, and He loves him more than we can understand. Your sincerely seeking his welfare in prayer will in truth bend the Father’s inclination toward him. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)
3. Live an exemplary life. The way you live your life will be the only sermon from you that he will really hear. If he sees you actively engaged in the Lord’s work, and perceives how happy and contented you are in the gospel, he will want to find that same happiness and contentment.
4. When, through the example of your life, he develops an interest in the Mormon Church and begins to ask questions about your religion, don’t try to answer them yourself, but turn him over to the religious professionals–the Mormon Missionaries.