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Question

 

Gramps,

Is it wrong to associate with people who do things that the church doesn’t approve of? For example, is it wrong to be friends with a drug dealer if we are not dealing drugs or doing drugs? What about someone who works in the sex industry? What about someone who is in the mob or part of a gang?

Roni

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Answer

 

Dear Roni,

The former prophet and president of our church, Thomas S. Monson, had a wonderful quote about friendship.

“Everyone needs good friends. Your circle of friends will greatly influence your thinking and behavior, just as yours will theirs. When you share common values with your friends, you can strengthen and encourage each other”- “That We May Touch Heaven, 1990 General Conference

There is an old saying that when you pick your friends, you pick your lifestyle. So be careful. If you associate with people who deal drugs or who work in industries that are not in alignment with the gospel lifestyle, then don’t be surprised if you start making choices that reflect those of your friends. Also important is that you are known by the company you keep. If you befriend those who rob banks and get into fights at bars, then eventually you will be judged along with them-regardless of your behavior.

However, your question is a bit more complicated. I want you to remember that people are human, capable of making mistakes and doing things that we don’t agree with. From a practical standpoint, even those who have the same basic values and views will not agree on everything. This is also true about those share the same religion.

You need to remember to use common sense. While it’s true, it’s probably not a good idea to be friends with someone who deals drugs or lives a gangster lifestyle, you don’t want to set an impossibly high standard on human behavior that no one can reach. There is a difference between being friends with someone who is holding up convenience stores on Saturday night and someone who illegally downloads music from time to time. Both actions are wrong, but one is much more grave in nature.

If one of your friends occasionally uses questionable language or watches inappropriate media, the best thing you can do is remember your own faults and weaknesses, and pray for them.

Sincerely

Gramps

 

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