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Question

 

Gramps,

My son and his wife are currently giving us the silent treatment, contrary to President Russell M. Nelson’s address in the 2023 conference talk telling us not to do that. He also dishonors his mother and his father, me. He does so openly and with no shame. He is a member of my ward so if he is called into a position in the church should I sustain him knowing he is not worthy?

Derek

 

Answer

 

Dear Derek,

I’m sorry you’re experiencing contention with your son and his wife.

You ask: “…if he is called into a position in the church should I sustain him knowing he is not worthy?”  The “if” suggests to me that this situation has yet to arise.  Why focus on a problem that doesn’t exist instead of the one that does? That said, these are my immediate thoughts:

  • If people who are struggling with sin are unworthy of a calling, then none of us is worthy of a calling.
  • Are you sure it’s within your stewardship to decide whether your son is worthy of a calling? (I’m pretty sure that’s the bishop’s stewardship.)
  • Should the day come, when you feel you cannot sustain your son, I suggest you refrain from sustaining or opposing and instead schedule an appointment to talk with the bishop.  Opposing the calling publicly will surely harm your relationship with your son more.
  • To avoid the potential problem, work hard immediately to resolve the current problem.

I believe the current rift is the more important problem, so that is where I will focus the rest of my response. I expect you’re referencing this portion of President Nelson’s April 2023 talk, “Peacemakers Needed“:

Anger never persuades. Hostility builds no one. Contention never leads to inspired solutions. Regrettably, we sometimes see contentious behavior even within our own ranks. We hear of those who belittle their spouses and children, of those who use angry outbursts to control others, and of those who punish family members with the “silent treatment.” We hear of youth and children who bully and of employees who defame their colleagues.

This behavior is wrong. But it doesn’t matter what led to it or who is at fault – those questions are the world’s way of looking at it.  In that same message, President Nelson explains the Lord’s way of looking at and resolving the situation:

At this point you may be thinking that this message would really help someone you know. Perhaps you are hoping that it will help him or her to be nicer to you. I hope it will! But I also hope that you will look deeply into your heart to see if there are shards of pride or jealousy that prevent you from becoming a peacemaker.

You don’t have to be the “guilty” party to take steps toward making peace.  You can choose to forgive before forgiveness is sought.  President Nelson continues (emphasis mine):

If you are serious about helping to gather Israel and about building relationships that will last throughout the eternities, now is the time to lay aside bitterness. Now is the time to cease insisting that it is your way or no way. Now is the time to stop doing things that make others walk on eggshells for fear of upsetting you. Now is the time to bury your weapons of war. If your verbal arsenal is filled with insults and accusations, now is the time to put them away. You will arise as a spiritually strong man or woman of Christ.

 

The temple can help us in our quest. There we are endowed with God’s power, giving us the ability to overcome Satan, the instigator of all contention. Cast him out of your relationships! Note that we also rebuke the adversary every time we heal a misunderstanding or refuse to take offense. Instead, we can show the tender mercy that is characteristic of true disciples of Jesus Christ. Peacemakers thwart the adversary.

You can refuse to take offense.  You can begin to heal whatever has caused the rift in your relationship.  Your son doesn’t have to speak to you in order to hear you say something like: “Son, I am saddened by this gulf between us. I’m sorry that something I did has caused you pain. Will you please help me to understand what I did to offend you so that we can begin to heal?”  Please note that it doesn’t matter whether you intended to offend your son.  It doesn’t matter whether you were “right” and he is “wrong”.  Something led to his decision, and the best choice is to regret whatever that was and seek to resolve the situation.

I love this passage in Luke.  I invite you to study it and let it inspire you to take the lead in this situation: be generous, merciful, forgiving, humble, and filled with the pure love of Christ as you do what you hope your son will then do to you:

Luke 6:27-38

 

27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,

 

28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

 

29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.

 

30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.

 

31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

 

32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.

 

33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.

 

34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

 

35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

 

36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

 

37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

 

38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

That final verse is one of my favorites of all time – extend overflowing generosity to others so that others, and your Lord, may one day give the same to you.

I know it isn’t easy, but strip yourself of pride and seek to mend whatever is wrong.  Study President Nelson’s talk, including the footnotes. Pray intently for the Spirit to guide you.  If possible, begin the discussion with your son in private with a prayer, asking forgiveness and healing.  With the Lord’s help, your son and his wife will follow your example, both asking for and extending forgiveness.

May you and your family choose to receive President Nelson’s blessing from that same talk:

I bless you to replace belligerence with beseeching, animosity with understanding, and contention with peace.

 

Gramps

 

 

 

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