Mormon Marriage Ref: The Johansen’s Daughter is Cohabitating!

AdamFchildren, families, marriage, Mormon, prophets 86 Comments

While the situation described may be common, the names, events, and dialogue etc. are all fictional.

Here’s the situation:

David and Sue Johansen have been married for 20 years. They have four children: 19 (girl), 15 (girl), 12 (girl), and 8 (boy). The oldest just finished up her sophomore year in college, about a two-hour drive away. She is doing very well in school, majoring in biology and pre-med with a 3.8 GPA, and her boyfriend of nearly two years is an education major, planning to teach high school English in an inner-city school. Needless to say more, they are both very competent and successful in their educational pursuits. While away at school, she eventually became disinterested in attending the local branch, and eventually moved in with her boyfriend. While this concerns both David and Sue, they disagree about what should be allowed when their daughter and her boyfriend come to visit. Sue feels that their daughter is an adult and should be allowed to share a room with her boyfriend. David vehemently disagrees.

David: “If we allow them to sleep in the same room in OUR home, we will be condoning her choices. How can we allow this in our home, which is SUPPOSED to be sacred?!? You should be supporting me on this. Well, not just me, but the Lord.”

Sue: [Rolls eyes] “Of course we don’t agree with her choices, but she is an adult! Besides, your preaching about our “home” and what you think the Lord wants is divisive. Of course I care about our home, but your attitude is belligerent and controlling.”

David: [Raises voice] “Well, that’s the consequence of sin! Jesus himself said so. Just because she’s our daughter doesn’t mean we have to accept her sinful behaviors.”

Sue: “I really think you should back off on this. Actually, the other kids feel the same way as well. She is doing so well in school, you need to give her some space as an adult.”

David: [Looking hurt, softens voice] “So you’re all ganging up against me on this?” [Raises voice, becomes adamant] “Then you’re going against the Lord. Regardless, what kind of example will that set for the rest of our kids? That this is okay? It seems to already be happening… And I agree, she is doing well in school, but she is only successful by the world’s standards. How many children will we lose to the world? I don’t want to lose anymore” [Begins to tear up a little]

Sue: “I get it, she is not living the church’s standards right now. We don’t agree with her choices, but she is on birth control, and she is 19 years old! You are going to drive her away with your insistence on parenting our adult child. What does it matter if she shares a room with her boyfriend if it means she isn’t pushed out of the family? You NEED to let this one go.”

David: “What about when Elder Oaks said that we can’t ignore adult children who are cohabitating? He is an apostle and he said it is wrong for us to ignore it. How can we ignore the Lord? Also, Elder Nelson said that we should confront children in these situations, not just go along with it. We can’t support sin!”

Sue: “It’s clear to me that you care more about quoting church leaders than you care about our family. We all     disagree with you. It is her choice, and if we don’t accept their relationship, we will drive them away. Is that what we want?”

David: [Getting louder] “Of course not! But we can’t condone this! I’m beginning to think you don’t really care about what I think or what the leaders of the church think, or even what the Lord thinks.”

Sue: [Getting quiet] “Here you go again…”

You make the call! Who wins this argument? David or Sue? Why? Sound off in the comments, and offer some advice about how this couple could work out this disagreement in a more productive way than just declaring a winner….

[poll id=”178″]

Comments 86

  1. The rules of the home should be followed. There was an old southern lady I knew of that had the males go to one section and the house and the females to the other. It didn’t matter if you were married or not.

  2. The fact that they still have children in their house makes this a no-brainer. I would apply to ANY cohabitating couple who wanted to stay at my house.

  3. Frankly, they all lose because David is behaving so douchily. It’s absolutely out of bounds, IMO, for him to be stating that they are all against God and the leaders of the church because they care more about the daughter staying in the family (preserving the tie they still have). I for one would like a more reasonable approach from him.

    Eventually, they will have to deal with this. What if the co-habitating couple has children? What if the daughter is much older? At some point, the daughter’s choices can no longer be a deal-breaker and cause estrangement forever. Still, I voted with David because the daughter is only 19, and it is reasonable for parents to set ground rules for behavior in their own home for the younger adults. But at the point where the daughter truly becomes an adult (I don’t think 19 and one semester away from school is it), then her choices will have to be accepted as being made by an adult. If she had a child or were pregnant or their commitment was much longer term, I would probably consider that a proxy for maturity (or at least that it was time to accept it and deal with it).

  4. It’s their home. Their daughter is always welcome, as long as she lives by the rules. She’s free to fornicate if she chooses — but not in her parents’ home.

    Don’t you think your dialog might be just the tiniest bit biased, portraying Sue as the reasonable, loving parent and David as the anal-retentive reactionary? Consider an alternative dialog:

    David and Sue: The True Story

    Sue: I think we should let little Sally bang her boyfriend in the spare bedroom.
    David: Uh, Sue, how can we do that? Our daughter has chosen an immoral lifestyle. Do you want to condone it?
    Sue [raising voice]: You intolerant freak! So she’s getting a little marital action before the wedding! So what? It’s not like she’s the first Mormon ever to give out a little honey!
    David: Well, look, hone- I mean, dearest, she is always welcome here, but not to desecrate our house.
    Sue [tearing up]: You’d throw our baby girl OUT just because of a little fornication? You beast! Have you no fatherly love in your heart?
    David [a bit defensive]: Now hold on just a minute! I said she’s welcome here, but she’s not welcome to commit such grave sins in our house!
    Sue: The kids all agree with me, you know. Every last one of them thinks I’m right.
    David: You…you asked our children what they thought about their older sister fornicating in the guest bedroom?
    Sue: Well, why not? She’s their sister!
    David: Yes, but she’s our daughter! They shouldn’t be exposed to such decisions! That’s for us to take care of, not them!
    Sue: You’re just mad because they all agree with me that you’re a prig.
    David: They…you…I…you’re calling me names to our children and getting them to agree?!
    Sue: Oh, get off your high horse! You need someone to take you down a peg, you judgmental jerk!
    David {trying to remain calm): Look. If little Sally wanted to come home and spread cow manure all over the rugs, would you allow that?
    Sue: Ew!!! Yuk!!!! Of course not!!!! That would be gross!!!!
    David: But you’re okay with her fornicating with her boyfriend in our house.
    Sue: Just because you — er, I mean, we — think fornication is wrong doesn’t mean we should keep it out of our home!
    David: [Stunned silence]
    Sue: Ha! I knew it! See? Logic and truth always triumph!

  5. I think I’m more progressive than most Mormons and I would absolutely not allow them to share a bed in my home– especially with younger kids. She can bring the guy, but the rules in our home stand. It’s like drinking alcohol. If my kids are over 21, they can drink– but they aren’t going to drink in my home. At some point, you’re right– if they are older and living differently and there aren’t younger impressionable siblings still living at home, I’ll ease up.

  6. I hate these hypothetical scenarios in Sunday School and I hate them in the bloggernacle. Y’all carry on with playing the What-If game, but it might be enlightening to consider that when you have to live and interact and communicate with real people living real lives in Reality, where your control is limited to yourself, but you have at least 67 different choices on how to apply your nuanced influence, and where the consequences will affect everyone involved for decades, and certainly for generations…well, an off-the-cuff blog comment doesn’t begin to address it. Nor does it “decide the winner!” Choosing either “David wins” or “Sue wins” appears to me to be at the Sunbeam level of exploring this particular issue. But have fun with developing your hypothetical policies. Just please don’t use them to judge anyone who is dealing with this in their real life.

  7. “If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear. “

    And this kid was only a stubborn and rebellious drunken glutton! – disgusting but doesn’t even approach fornication.

    David! You hold your own on this matter. As much as I agree with what you quoted the leaders as saying, what they are saying is not important. As disappointing as the stance your wife is taking, it is not important. The only thing that matters is what you feel God is saying to you. You are, by divine calling, the head of house-hold. You talk to Him now – man to man – as one person talks to another – maybe like you have never done before. He will not forsake you on this matter.

    I don’t care how old your children are or anyone else that comes into your home. God will support what I have read your stance is. Don’t desert it. Don’t get hurt feelings. You represent God in your home. Be that representation. You don’t nee scriptural proof. You don’t need the support of anyone else on the face of the earth. Your proof needs to burn in your heart. Act accordingly. May God be with you.

  8. I think that the parents can set standards for behavior in their home. If the daughter disagrees, she is free to be an adult and get a hotel room.

  9. Those who said the daughter needed to follow the rules, I ask, whose rules?
    The Church’s rules? It seems David and Sue have different rules. Does David as presiding authority call the shots? If this is the case, how long before David alienates the rest of his family?

  10. I sided with Sue. When does adulthood begin? In the eyes of the law, at 18. In terms of emotional and mental maturity, the daughter seems to have her head on straight. Parents have every right to not welcome their daughter in their house, but they do so at the risk of alienating their daughter from their lives. The daughter knows how the parents feel about premarital sex, but she makes her own choices and (for now) doesn’t see eye-to-eye with her parents. If you are willing to reject hospitality to a family member of this issue, for what other issues will you turn your own kin out? an opposing political affiliation? how they voted on Prop 8 (CA residents only)? homosexuality? beverage choices? We come off as being extremely intolerant if we use principles we espouse to exclude others, especially those closest to us. Jesus sat with sinners and publicans (and I’m guessing didn’t rub their sins in their faces while he was with them).

    1. Just because he sat with them doesn’t mean he approved of their behavior or would condone it. Allowing this type of behavior in your home constitutes approval of it. In this case, when younger siblings are present in the home, it is very critical to make sure they are seeing you approve/disapprove of behaviors that represent/don’t represent your values. Talk is cheap, actions are what matters. If the daughter is mature enough to make decisions like this, then she is mature enough to accept the consequences especially when it is clearly against the values of her parents home.

  11. Post

    Vort –

    “Don’t you think your dialog might be just the tiniest bit biased”

    Of course I’m biased, BUT I challenge you to consider how my dialogue may actually be biased pro-DAVID. Take a closer look. David’s a softy. Sue is ganging up on him WITH the kids against their own father. HOW in the world is that so loving? David is tearing up. I did the best I could to make it balanced, but frankly I’m surprised that it seemed like I was painting David as the bad guy. They both have issues. They are both caught in this. They are both victims, and they both contribute. Perhaps we see what we react to the most.

  12. Post

    #8 Mommie Dearest –

    “Choosing either “David wins” or “Sue wins” appears to me to be at the Sunbeam level of exploring this particular issue. But have fun with developing your hypothetical policies. Just please don’t use them to judge anyone who is dealing with this in their real life.”

    I apologize if the humor doesn’t come through. You’re 100% correct that this doesn’t apply to real life re: “Sue wins!” It’s a take off of the TV show, which is meant for entertainment. At the same time, I can see why this would be _______ for you (insert whatever underlying emotion you’re feeling on this). No one should be “judging” each other with “YOU LOSE or YOU WIN!” or even in a 100 word soundbite.

  13. Vort

    I don’t think you have the right to say anyone is biased, when you continue in your proscribe set ways of trying to control the discussion by redirecting the discussion towards what you think it should be. That in and of itself is a form of bias

    I don’t think this is really one an issue of one parent being good/or bad. I think this is an issue of respect. I might be free to use my agency any way I want but If I love and respect my parents, I will obey their rules and not sleep in the same room with my boyfriend in their house. (though I think they would probably try and find some ingenious ways of so.)

  14. no one wins.
    David loses because he’s unable to take ownership of his decisions/preferences (pushing it off on GAs) and doesn’t have any say in the rules of behavior in the house, and his wife is using his children as pawns against him.
    Sue loses because she’s an emotionally blackmailing hypocrite: “belligerent and controlling” can describe her part of the conversation as well as his.
    The kids at home lose because they’re being used a pawns by their mother and as simpletons by their father, and they will finally realize that their parents are completely moldable and have no boundaries. All they have to do is threaten to pull away from the family and/or church and they’ll get whatever they want, *AND* make their parents fight.
    The visiting daughter loses because she insists on causing dissension in her HOST’S HOME by insisting to contradict existing norms of behavior. She’s showing herself to be unconcerned about anyone but her own desires. color me surprised.

    This sounds like a lose-lose-lose-lose situation all around. yea, fiction is fun!

  15. (disclaimer: I’m young, my oldest child is 3)
    Like so many above have already said, I side with the father, although I feel he is going about it the wrong way. The parents have a right to enforce certain rules for their home that they have decided on and the daughter should respect their wishes enough to obey. If she doesn’t want to live by those rules while visiting their home, she has the right to stay somewhere else and it would be really shallow of anyone in the situation to see it as the parents trying to push her away. They should sit down with her an explain calmly and in an open discussion that they would love to have her and her boyfriend stay with them but they have rules that they expect everyone, including guests, to follow.

  16. #9 Rich: “And this kid was only a stubborn and rebellious drunken glutton! – disgusting but doesn’t even approach fornication.”

    Well, to be fair, the Old Testament really didn’t give much of a rip about “fornication” per se, as opposed to adultery, which got large rocks chucked at you. It was basically the Pottery Barn rule: You broke ‘er, you bought ‘er.

  17. When I was going through my own regretful period of rebellion, I cohabited. I would never have asked my parents to condone this behavior at the time. I respected their desire to live the gospel principles in the home, even if I didn’t observe them.

    I would say that Sue needs to evaluate why it would be so destructive to the family for two teens to sleep apart for a few nights, especially considering the fact that there are younger children in the home. Is the daughter making an issue of it? I think she needs the attitude adjustment and Sue needs to not cow-tow to her daughter’s unreasonable requests to sleep with her boyfriend under her parents’ roof.

  18. Thomas – 18
    “Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?” (Alma 39:5)

    I don’t care what the people of the Old Testament thought of fornication or what anyone else thinks of it. I care what God thinks of it. In this case, I would suggest trying to understand the Old Testament via the Book of Mormon. It was very serious. David should do exactly what I told him to do.

  19. After the vote turned up pretty much 50-50 I’m surprised that more haven’t defended Sue. I think David has some right to his distaste for the active deflowering of his daughter under his roof but my advice would be to treat the daughter like the budding adult she is. The parents need to lovingly explain their discomfort to the daughter and give her the opportunity to honor and love her parents by making her boyfriend sleep on the couch for a few nights.

    But if we look at the situation in the light of Free Agency and personal belief, isn’t David, the dad, acting a bit Satin’ish. You MUST act and pretend to believe as we do in my house. There is no discussion or choices. It’s MY way or the highway. It takes away from his daughter’s personal progression to force her into certain actions (or lack of action as the case may be.)

    Does only the true Church get to act high and mighty? What if a few years down the road, the parents go visit her and her boyfriend at their house for Christmas but they have a rule that no one can wear “magic” underwear. Would we defend her house rules the same as we do David because he espouses our common morals? I doubt we would and there lies the flaw in our argument.

  20. My daughter has cohabited in the past and has a regular boyfriend now. We’re perfectly fine with this. She’s not at all active in the Church, so even though it may not be the choice I would make, the church’s teachings are kind of irrelevant to her.

    But she has never cohabited in our home. She has never requested to do so; I’m sure it would never occur to her to ask to do so. (And she is 28 and there are no younger children in the home.) This is not a specifically “Mormon” thing. The issue comes up often enough in the advice columns. And the answer is pretty universal: the child needs to abide by the rules of the home.

    So he needs to frame this not as a church issue. They can make clear that they love and value their daughter without letting her cohabit in their home. Since she’s only 19 and there are young, impressionable children still in the home, I think it’s actually rather rude of her to even ask for such a privilege. They live out of town, so presumably they only visit for short periods of time and this should not present a hardship.

  21. I side with the rules of the home being the rules of the home – and this can be communicated in a loving and welcoming manner. The communication patterns of both adults, however, is what is keeping both in a rut. And the fact that they are having a hard time coming up with a unified approach.

  22. I get that the rules of the home should be followed. But why does David’s rule of no cohabiting take precedence over Sue’s rule of hospitality to an adult family member.
    Is David the only one named on the deed?

  23. #25 SNeilsen

    But why does David’s rule of no cohabiting take precedence over Sue’s rule of hospitality to an adult family member.

    I can think of at least three reasons:

    1. David’s rule is not “no cohabiting”; it’s “no fornicating under my roof.”

    2. Sue’s “hospitality” rule is not affected by David’s “chastity” rule. Their daughter is still welcome; she is simply expected not to smoke, shoot up drugs, or fornicate while with them.

    3. David is seeking to discuss the issue and find the right solution, however much some readers might chafe at those efforts. In contrast, Sue is looking only to impose her own will on David, without respect to his feelings. This fact alone automatically makes my sympathies tend toward David.

  24. N. had it right. No one wins this one. They just chose two different styles of nasty.

    Vort’s did a good job of mirroring, in a way that could get you a Snarkernacle mention if that blog was still active (maybe it is, I’ve been to busy to check it out recently).

    But these sorts of arguments are tragic, the way they are framed.

  25. No, Davids rule is to not allow family members in what may or may not be his house if he believes they engage in behaviors of which the Church disapproves.
    So Vort, if the daughter agrees to not fornicate in the house, then can she and the boyfriend share a room?

    I know I don’t want other people, married or not, having sex in my house. I don’t want to hear it, or be stuck cleaning up the mess. Them’s my rules.
    So I think that if his name is on the deed, then he can be lord and master of his domain. But if he doesn’t want to lose his family, I suggest he not engage in unrighteous dominion.

    But, if he let’s her stay. then yep Vort, everyone will be smoking, shooting drugs and having an orgy. Then they’ll all roam the streets at night looking for people to murder.

  26. #29 SNeilsen:

    No, Davids rule is to not allow family members in what may or may not be his house if he believes they engage in behaviors of which the Church disapproves.

    Demonstrably false. The situation setup says, “Sue feels that their daughter is an adult and should be allowed to share a room with her boyfriend. David vehemently disagrees.” Clearly, David is not refusing to allow his daughter in the house, or even her boyfriend. He simply does not want them sleeping together.

    So Vort, if the daughter agrees to not fornicate in the house, then can she and the boyfriend share a room?

    I’d say no way. Unrelated, unmarried people don’t sleep together in our culture unless they’re fornicating.

    I know I don’t want other people, married or not, having sex in my house. I don’t want to hear it, or be stuck cleaning up the mess. Them’s my rules.

    Bully for you. What has this to do with the discussion?

    But if he doesn’t want to lose his family, I suggest he not engage in unrighteous dominion.

    Agreed. But telling his daughter she’s not allowed to sleep with her boyfriend in his house is as righteous dominion as it gets.

    But, if he let’s her stay. then yep Vort, everyone will be smoking, shooting drugs and having an orgy. Then they’ll all roam the streets at night looking for people to murder.

    Glad you’re finally able to see things clearly.

  27. But the simple fact of the matter is the parents disapprove of that behavior and so the daughter should be mature enough to respect their wishes and have the bf sleep on the couch or hve him share a room with her little bro. Its not like they are going to be there for months and months. If they can’t abstain for just a couple days, then there must be some other issues going on.

  28. #31 D.H.: You are right, of course. The whole situation is so painfully artificial that it’s either meant as an attempt at humor or as something designed to stir up a reaction.

    I can’t say I am surprised that there are some here who think it would be hunky-dory to allow your unmarried daughter to do her boyfriend in your house. I admit I am quite surprised at the number of people who seem to think it’s awful for a father to say to his nineteen-year-old, “I do not want you fornicating under my roof,” yet apparently have no problem at all with a snotty nineteen-year-old who doesn’t even have enough respect for her parents to avoid banging her bf while visiting them — or with a 19+-year-old boyfriend who would willingly hump his gf at her parents’ house, knowing they did not approve.

    Moral: In the minds of some, parental attempts to enforce standards of morality in their own house are evil, but filial willingness to defy parental wishes and desecrate their parents’ house for carnal pleasure is perfectly acceptable.

  29. Vort
    Again you are insisting the fathers rules are the rules of the house. The artificial example does not say who actually owns the house. The example says the parents disagree.
    And Vort, People don’t have sex every time they sleep in the same room.So if the daughter and boyfriend abstain from sex while they sleep in the same room, then there is no carnal pleasure desecrating the house.
    A win win for everyone.
    But watch out for the 15 year old. She could be masturbating and who knows what horrors could follow. It’s reform school for her because she’s willfully bringing sexual sin into sacred space.

  30. There seems to be two different issues we are all discussing.
    1- whether or not the parents should allow be havior in their home that goes against their standards due to their daughter being an adult
    2- whether or not the husband is exhibiting unrighteous dominion
    So my question is, would anyones opinion change if the conversation remained the same but coming from the other spouse?

    An unrelated point- I have travelled quite a bit (in different countries and amongst different cultures). Once I even did this with a fiancée. Never once when a guest in someone else’s home would I have thought to question the sleeping arrangements the host or hostess offered me. I was just thankful for a place to stay. If it would have been important enough for me to sleep with my fiancée, instead of accepting separate sleeping quarters ( which we did receive in the several Catholic households we stayed at) the two of us should have gotten a hotel. This is
    just common courtesy. In fact I would probably have been very surprised if we had been given a room together (but maybe I’m just prudish). 🙂
    My point is that it is not uncommon in a variety of cultures for this to be the standard.

    I don’t believe it matters one bit whether or not the couple is having sex or not. Sleeping in the same bed conveys a message- the message that sex is happening more than likely at some point. And this is a concerning message to send to younger children if you’re trying to teach certain standards. I think it’s more inappropriate and
    uncomfortable to be discussing with the daughter
    where and when she can have sex than to just place an appropriate boundary in your home.

    My last point is about agency. You can set all the boundaries you want but actions will still take place. Whether or not thus couple is allowed to sleep together they may still find an opportunity to have sex – just like the teenage kid might be masturbating. I think this is besides the point. These are choices and choices are our birthright. But just because kids will make choices we disagree with doesn’t mean we throw in the towel and change rules in our home.

    If I was working with this couple I would ask them to leave “god” out of the equation of their conversation for the time being. That way we get away from charge and polarizing issues (like unrighteous dominion).
    I would want to instead focus on both of their legitimate concerns, their shared values that underly this issue and their styles of
    communication. Neither one wants to ostracize their daughter or the boyfriend (well, maybe the boyfriend 🙂 ). Hopefully they can come to a
    compromise that they can both feel good about and present in a united front. It’s interesting how the importance of the “united front” doesn’t go away just because kids become adults.

    Some of the information shared re the case has nothing to do with the problem at hand and only serves as white noise ( ie whether or not she gets good grades). But many times as parents the ” white noise” issues get in the way or influence our decisions.

  31. What is the problem with asking someone to follow the rules of the house? It is your house. Spouses must come to an agreement but the rules should be followed. You don’t like them, get a room somewhere else, right?

  32. I have to agree with everyone who has said, “No one wins”. The daughter is being incredibly selfish and rude. Sue and David are being torn apart (and are allowing themselves to be torn apart) by another adult and who needs to get a life, get a job, get a hotel, whatever.

    Obviously, the daughter wants to be an individual. I don’t think that is a problem. But when it comes to trying to rip apart her parents’ marriage, she needs to be an individual on her own turf.

    I can understand how this would lead to some seemingly uncharitable outcomes in other areas. That is why Sue’s guilt trip is so effective. “Would you alienate our daughter?” etc.,

    But I guess the way I feel is…I don’t think a couple (David and Sue) should feel tortured in their own home. ESPECIALLY NOT BY THEIR OWN DARN FAMILY. I cannot believe how some people say, “She’s 19. She’s an adult. She should be able to do what she wants.” Because she’s an adult, she needs to recognize that she should have the maturity and empathy to live by her parents’ rules and not cause a rift, and if she cannot abide this, then she should have the maturity — as an adult — to manage her own affairs.

  33. well said Andrew (#37)!

    Reading your comment to the wifey, (I cannot believe how some people say, “She’s 19. She’s an adult. She should be able to do what she wants.”) her response was: No she shouldn’t!

    their house, their rules. (like you said) if she is such an adult, she needs the maturity to abide the host’s rules or find somewhere else to stay.

  34. Nowhere in this fictional scenario did I see they daughter even asking let alone insisting that that she share a room with the boyfriend. It could be this is what Sue thinks but not the daughter.

    Natasha Helfer Parker
    Did anyone stick the two of you in the same bed. A female friend on mine went traveling with a male friend and they were sometimes stuck in the same bed. She was somewhat uncomfortable with this, but didn’t question the sleeping arrangements. She was grateful for a place to stay.

    I think the couple needs to learn to communicate. It they are being torn apart, I wouldn’t blame it on the daughter, but on the parents different values not being understood and worked through. I don’t think anyone in the relationship should arbitrarily impose their rules on the other.

  35. SNeilsen
    No, no one ever did put us in the same bed or even bedroom. But the same standard applies – you follow the host’s lead. If unmarried couples (or married for that matter) are uncomfortable sleeping in the same bed- one can sleep on the floor. And back to someone else’s point – you can sleep in the same bed without having sex.
    It’s probably a good idea to have this type of discussion when possible with the host before arriving. Then if there’s any issues the hotel option is still a good one.

  36. I would expect co-habitating couples to not expect to sleep together at my house. I also expect drinking people to not drink in my house. I would think it was very rude if my adult child brought alcohol and put it in the fridge without asking (and if they knew me, I’m sure they wouldn’t ask). Smoking adult children would also I hope know to do it outside. Polite smoking adult children would do it outside without insisting on telling younger children that they are going to do it right now. If adult children want to sneak off in the car for a quickie with a boyfriend, I would also hope they do it without telling everyone.
    It is possible that if everyone is all grown up and it is a long term co-habitating relationship….then maybe I’d eventually I’d feel like they were common law married and offer to let them sleep together. But at 19 and a few months together and all those younger kids?

  37. obviously, if she has a high grade point average and is on birth control the commandment doesn’t apply to her. Clearly there is no compelling argument that could ever be made to the contrary. In fact, I am sure close inspection the the stone tablets in the ark would reveal that the education and birth control caveat was in full effect in biblical times. The entire point of the commandment was just as a standby until we could invent the pill.

    Sarcasm aside, the black white binary thinking in this whole exercise is incredibly silly. As a sophisticated MM reader, I refuse to believe that only one argument can win or have merit, and I find the text of the argument sorely lacking in nuance. I also think voting is a repellant reality TV way of solving an argument, as I also belive Jerry Seinfeld does.

  38. Doc,

    Please see the comment above where it was pointed out that “the whole situation is so painfully artificial that it’s either meant as an attempt at humor or as something designed to stir up a reaction.” I apologize that the apparent “attempt at humor” was not serious enough for your sophistication (nice slam there on the ‘non-sophisticated’ MM readers!), but I’m still glad you took the time to tell me so. The voting was purely there for fun. Really though, I welcome any suggestions for how to write better dialogue. I hear plenty of it from couples in my office, but for obvious reasons I have to create fictional scenarios. Forgive my defensiveness, but as one of my favorite lines goes, there are two kinds of people in this world, those who point out the poop and those who clean it up. How Doc, may I make my writing more nuanced, sophisticated, and less repellant (while still being fun, which was the point)? Of course the “decide the winner” is binary and artificial. Don’t be a buzzkill! 🙂

  39. @44 AdamF: My apologies if I sounded critical. I didn’t mean to; “painfully artificial” wasn’t meant to be read “painfully constructed”. I rather assumed you were going for a bit of humor coupled with looking for a bit of a rise.

  40. To Natasha’s 2 questions:
    1 – Yes, IMO parents do have the right to set the house rules. However, at a much later time (much much later) they may have to deal with a long-term cohabitation of an actual adult (which to me is well past the age of 19). A 30 year old who has cohabitated 5 years and has 2 children is probably best to treat as a married person despite the actual status. But yes, the daughter can get a hotel if she doesn’t like the arrangement at her parents’ home.
    2 – is the father exercising unrighteous dominion? Absolutely. You can be right yet behave wrong. And that’s what he’s doing. Bullying people by bringing God into the equation and raising your voice is out of line. He could speak with patience and love. It’s more concerning that the parents’ values are split. But his manner of addressing it will drive a wedge, not prompt reconciliation.

  41. Well, I have had to deal with this. I am divorced. My daughter left the church early on and spent some years sewing wild oats. She finally found a stable boyfriend and began cohabiting. When she decided to go to medical school I allowed them to live in my home and cohabit while they figured out what to do about their relationship. They eventually did get married and have a beautiful child, she finished medical school and they moved out. While I did not approve of them cohabiting, I did approve of them moving toward a more stable relationship (marriage) and felt that God understood my daughter’s fear of marriage. I guess I don’t think things are quite as black and white as I used to.

    The story seems a little black and white – not that things don’t sometimes seem that way – but they rarely are. In this particular case I agree it is not a hardship on the young couple to postpone relations while visiting in their parents’ house and feel Sue should not enlist the younger children against her husband. But Hawkgirl has a valid point – things may look different when the cohabiting couple are older – imagine this story with a 30 year old in a 5 year relationship – or a gay adult child with his or her SO.

  42. Ah well.Had just decided with DH that DD and boyfriend,at 27 plus,were old enough to make their own decisions,and that we preferred to have some relationship,rather than none.The issue for me is where this leads in the long term.We need to be able to continue to do business as adults,and we may be able to find common ground and work together for the welfare of family members.

    There have been many ‘shoulds’ in this conversation.I’m really interested in how things actually are,and how to make them better.I think one of the things that get in the way of our love for each other is wounded pride.Let’s face it,this kind of behaviour is humiliating,and communicates to us the limits of our power as parents.The balance of power is changing.We have to get over ourselves,since we are actually the grown ups.

    I think there is a danger that these kids may indeed choose not to come to our home,in which case they don’t feel the spirit that is here,the joy of sexuality correctly boundaried.They become excluded from family life.My concern is to find ways to include them,not exclude them.Exclusion would be the easy option.Then neither couple have to face up to each other,or their choices.

    We explain to our other children that we may not approve their behaviour,but we continue to love them.This is really challenging,and exclusion would really be much easier for us.

    And we really don’t want furtive creeping around at night(highly erotically charged anyhow),strange noises and a weird atmosphere to explain.Far better,in our view,that things are out in the open.

    It would be easy for each side to stereotype the other,and so it can continue unchanged for a lifetime of hurt.As Shakespeare says,nothing comes of nothing.We want to keep communication open,and struggle to understand each other’s world view-hoping that eventually the Spirit will touch their souls.If we’re not talking,that’s less likely to happen. What we want in the long term,or ideally in the short term,are children with testimonies.We’re united in doing what needs to be done to draw our children close-we feel that makes it so much harder for them to sin against the better part of themselves.

    We really want change,not a stand off.

  43. My oldest brother left the church at 18, married at 20 and was divorced by 23. he had been cohabitating with his girlfriend for several years when my parents planned a family vacation. Several other siblings were married by this time. My parents were very torn as to how best to deal with the situation, and they ultimately told my brother that he was welcome to come, but his “live-in” was not invited. those siblings who were married were all bringing their spouses. Not surprisingly this created a feeling of classes of couples within the family and created a rift between my brother and my parents that, frankly, has never fully healed. Additionally, 17 years later the couple is still together and recently married, but my now sister-in-law has a very frosty relationship with my parents to this day.

    I think they handled the situation poorly, and I have no doubt they regret it, but I also know they were doing their best to live up to, and impress upon their children, their beliefs.

    I think the hypothetical was fine, and any post that elicits this many comments has acheived its goal, so well done AdamF. That said, I think there’s a ton of grey area between David’s and Susan’s positions. She’s focusing almost exclusively on maintaining the relationship with the daughter while he seemingly cares only for following the letter of the law, without regard to temporal relationships. Those positions both seem unreasonable and inflexible, and I think only the most superficial of individuals would agree with either of these caricatures entirely.

  44. Wow.

    A note on the dear father David. If he’s a good latter-day saint (and he seems to be, since he’s in tune with counsel from his leaders), he’s likely scared to death at the turn his daughter’s life is taking, and is trying to find a way to hang on by his fingernails. That doesn’t excuse his behavior in this example, nor his strident reading of apostolic advice. But it does help explain it.

    Mother Sue also likely feels the same fear that David does (eg, losing her daughter), but on a different level and therefore with a different response.

    Natashia’s (34) recommendation that the couple agree first seems completely reasonable. I also note like others did that the daughter seems not to have made any demands yet.

    But as the daughter has already demonstrated — she is making her choices whether David and Sue approve or not. And she will continue making them. David and Sue can only decide how to respond, and a discussion about sleeping arrangements for unmarried people in their home is a reasonable one, even if this dialog seems contrived. (And though it seems contrived, it is not unlikely given the fear that parents in this situation may feel.)

    To those who suggest that David is right making a unilateral choice because of his status as head of household, I’d recommend another reading of Sec 121.

  45. Vort
    Thanks. I may use your quote in the next post though, haha! Nothing like a little self-deprecation.

    Hawkgrrrl, susan
    I agree in terms of long-term relationships. 5 years down the road, let’s say they’re still together, and the kids are a little older, my opinion changes. Actual IRL situations are also less black and white, but I would add that often when couples have been arguing about the same issue for long enough, they become more polarized and belligerent. E.g. I have heard one husband say to his wife, “I will NEVER do the dishes, ever, so do not ever ask me again.” That seems like a caricature (I didn’t believe him at the time), but he was serious.

    I agree, there is a lot of grey area, and I wrote David and Sue to be extreme, because as I said above this often happens. To a third party it looks ridiculous, but the negative cycle between them really leaves them at opposite ends. Hence, they both lose. Maybe I’ll expand the options in the vote next time!

    Exactly – David is terrified, and feels like a failure of a parent. Doesn’t excuse his methods, but I agree, he’s understandable, as is Sue. I agree with you on section 121. I think David probably struggles in staying patient and long-suffering and moves in and out of anger and authoritarianism.

  46. In this case, Satan wins by causing successful contention and anger within the family unit. I’m in agreement with those who say that it’s very possible for David to win if he brought up the point that, yes, the daughter is an adult but so long as she is going to be at home then she should be adult enough to respect the principles and rules of the house.

  47. BTW, my suggestion of David and Sue’s fears is based on their role in the dialog, but I believe those roles are not specific to gender. It may be just as likely on another day that David argues for compassion and tolerance and Sue for dogma.

  48. #53 Paul: In the dialog, Sue is not arguing “for compassion and tolerance”. Rather, Sue is essentially sticking her head in the sand, arguing to pretend that nothing at all is amiss. This is a fundamentally dishonest approach. Whatever you think of the supposedly authoritarian-based thinking the dialog assigns to David, he at least has the virtue of trying to discuss the matter (however awkwardly) in an honest setting.

  49. Paul,

    I really don’t know if I can agree with David’s approach as being unrighteous dominion as defined in Section 121. Yes, the same thought about the Section came to mind while I read the story, but can unrighteous dominion really apply to the argument of, “This will sound unfair to the daughter but these are the principles that we’re under covenant to live by and, as the head of the household, are my duty to set an example to uphold?” Good examples of unrighteous dominion would be things and attitudes like, “I’m the head of this household, what I say goes and I can do no wrong.” or “The Lord has told me that we need to buy a boat, even though we can’t afford one and I don’t want to save up for one so we don’t go into debt.”

    This brings up another question: If the parents allow the daughter and boyfriend to share a room, will they be charged with the sin? If they don’t allow it to happen, but the daughter sneaks into the room where they spend time together for a while before the daughter slips back out, will the parents still be charged with the sin?

    Suppose the cohabitation leads to the daughter becoming pregnant and the boyfriend ditching her? Should the parents kick her out of the house or embrace her and the unborn child in the spirit of love and compassion without an “I told you so!” attitude? If she became pregnant, the attitude of how the family receives the news would definitely influence her decision on going through with birthing the child or wanting to abort it.

    I don’t know how my ex-fiancee’s family felt about my breaking off the engagement but they can say and think what they want because I came to the conclusion that marrying a girl who had no intention of keeping the temple covenants would NOT have made for a happy marriage.

  50. #55 Dave P — sorry if I gave the impression that Dave’s approach as recorded in the OP was unrighteous dominion. I think in the OP he’s engaging in a conversation with his wife, asking question, and seeking a solution (in whatever clumsy way he can).

    What I meant to say, (and I thought I said) is that those who suggest he make a unilateral decision (that is, without prior conversation with his wife) about what his daughter may or may not do in the house could amount to unrighteous dominion. Section 121 allows for many different elements of leadership, but unilateral deicisions that exclude the “equal partner” in the marriage isn’t one of them.

    It seems to me a stretch to suggest the cohabitation of the daughter in the parents’ home for short visit is likely to result in an unplanned pregnancy (compared with the daughters’ living full time with her boyfriend outside their home). But you’re right — these parents need to get a grip on whole lot more than just whether this couple can share a room in their home.

    And it’s not an easy conversation for parents who love their children and love the gospel.

    I believe that’s why Elder Oaks, in the talk alluded to by David in the OP, (but misunderstood, I think) suggests:

    “To pose an even more serious question, if an adult child is living in cohabitation, does the seriousness of sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage require that this child feel the full weight of family disapproval by being excluded from any family contacts, or does parental love require that the fact of cohabitation be ignored? I have seen both of these extremes, and I believe that both are inappropriate.

    “Where do parents draw the line? That is a matter for parental wisdom, guided by the inspiration of the Lord. There is no area of parental action that is more needful of heavenly guidance or more likely to receive it than the decisions of parents in raising their children and governing their families. This is the work of eternity” (“Love and Law,” October 2009 General Conference).

    Elder Oaks argues, I believe, for parents to seek divine counsel for their unique circumstance. Yes, sexual relations outside of marriage convenants are wrong. But he states that the extremes of excluding all family contact AND total permissiveness are inappropriate.

  51. Vort,

    I attribute the qualities of compassion and tolerance to Sue with some measure of charity. I agree that the text suggests more head-in-sand. I don’t mean to suggest that she is right and David is wrong. In fact, I think they both argue the positions that parents argue in this matter: We love our kids and we love the Lord and we’re struggling to express love to both when they seem in conflict.

    As i said to Dave P, I don’t think David in the OP is working against Sec 121 in his conversation with Sue. They are working it through, and they may come to a resolution over time. But if Dave were to make a unilateral decision, ignoring Sue’s point of view, I believe he would be exercising unrighteous dominion. Sue is David’s equal partner in the marriage and in the parenting in their home.

    Sue has also erred big time in her discussion with David. Discussing this matter with the children seems a very odd approach (and I wonder how that conversation went with the 8-year old…).

    But with some competant guidance on how to have the discussion (not on the right answer), David and Sue are likely to find a place where they can agree. But as long as the conversation is tinged with the fear that is clear in it so far, it’s likely they won’t make much headway.

  52. ““Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?” (Alma 39:5)”

    I assume that you assume that “these things” refers to sexual sin, full stop, and not the specific transgression Corianton had done (“forsaking the ministry” to engage in sexual sin).

    Mormon culture’s notion of all non-marital sexuality being essentially equivalent, as The Sin Next To Murder, suggests that there’s no moral difference between rape or adultery, and an engaged couple experiencing a false start — which is supposed to be worse than, say, cheating an elderly woman out of her life savings. I find that morally counterintuitive. My intuition is fallible, of course, so if the Lord were to tell me otherwise, revelation would prevail in any conflict. But if “All sexual sin is right next to murder in the sin-hierarchy” is really the point the Lord was trying to make, Alma 39:5 could make it a lot more unambiguously.

    One could just as well interpret Alma 39:5 as setting up three categories of sin, in descending order of seriousness: (1) Mortal spiritual sin (denying the Holy Ghost); (2) Sin that directly injures our fellow beings, which is blasphemous because they are created in God’s image; and finally (3) Sins of the flesh, or sins against holiness.

  53. I don’t think the choices of the couple in the OP are “next to murder.” This conversation has been repeated over and over online, but in the very least, to lump “sexual sin” all together “next to murder” is extreme, and false… not sure if anyone was getting at that, but just had to get my two cents in on it.

    Now, bringing a child into the world when the parent(s) should NOT be parents yet (or in some cases, NEVER be parents), I can see the argument there. THAT is a HUGE deal. In some cases I would say it’s next to murder. Not worse than, but I can think of little else worse than creating a life just to royally mess it up. Adultery, that is probably up there as well. (And obviously child abuse but that has been dealt with a ton on recent threads.) But for this case (and I think the church treats these different sins in different ways, and NOT all next to murder) it’s not even close.

  54. Post#46 (Hawkgrrl) fairly much steals my thunder. David is “right” to not be willing to accept his 19-yr old daughter’s rejection of Gospel principles (e.g., living with her b/f) and endorse said misbehaviour in the family home. However, David needs to “own” it, and not pontificate that “because the GAs said so” that trumps any contrary argument. The daughter obviously doesn’t give a crap about what the GAs have said else she wouldn’t be living this way! David simply needs to assert himself and say “It’s how I see it.”
    It’s one thing for David and Sue to disagree about how to handle this issue. However, if they can’t resolve it quietly between themselves and the argument spills over to their (younger) children, it indicates some SERIOUS problems in that household. Especially with Sue. Frankly, from this scenario, she seems like no woman I’d want to be married to.
    Expect the three other siblings to follow suit. And twenty years later, IF they’re still together, they have a stilted and unfulfilling marriage with an “empty” nest, assuming they have’t had their kids “boomerang” on them! And speaking of kids, it’s highly unlikely any will be active in the Church, and perhaps one or two will post rants in forums like this about growing up “Mormon” and how messed-up the Church is or LDS society, or so on, and so forth….

  55. #58 Thomas:

    “Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?” (Alma 39:5)

    I assume that you assume that “these things” refers to sexual sin, full stop, and not the specific transgression Corianton had done (“forsaking the ministry” to engage in sexual sin).

    In fact, I believe Alma’s “these things” refers to covenant breaking in general, a specific example of which was “forsaking the ministry.”

    I realize that current LDS interpretation of this scripture has Corianton fornicating with the harlot Isabel. Someone pointed out that this situation sounds very much like Isabel led a sex (“fertility”) cult. To me, this reading makes a lot of sense: Corianton forsook his ministry to join in a fertility rite or celebration, possibly (likely) including lots of fornication — though perhaps not with Isabel at all. So adultery is implied but not necessarily specified, and the awful sin Alma is talking about is the sin of covenant breaking, of which leaving one’s ministry and committing adultery are but two examples.

    Mormon culture’s notion of all non-marital sexuality being essentially equivalent, as The Sin Next To Murder,

    I have heard this a lot, but always as an accusation against Mormons — that is, “Mormons think all sex outside of marriage is equally evil and is one step less than bloody murder.” In my lifetime in the Church, I have never heard any member actually state this as a belief. I think pretty much all Mormons distinguish between the evil of a teenage boy seducing his girlfriend and the evil of a wife and mother stepping out on her husband. Both are awful, but one is a whole lot awfuler than the other.

  56. Post

    Maybe not Vort, but I have heard on numerous occasions things like, “Masturbation is a sexual sin, and sexual sins are next to murder.” Put those two together, and you have a lot of people next to murder.

  57. Can’t refute your testimony, AdamF. All I can say is that I’m 47, have been active in the Church my entire life, have lived for five years in a small ward in the eastern US, for nine years in student and community wards in Provo and Ogden, for over a year in European branches, and for the balance of my life in branches, small wards, and large wards in the western US (outside the Utah-Idaho-Arizona “Mormon corridor”). In all that time I don’t remember ever having heard anything like what you report. So while I don’t doubt that you are speaking the truth, based on my own experience I don’t think such things are commonly held.

  58. Post
  59. I remember being told at the age of 15 that having sex before marriage would be second to murder by a leader who was influential and wonderful in every way but this. I’ve had several family members and numerous clients with a similar experience. This trend I’ve seen crosses all kinds of geographic boundaries.

  60. Premarital sex is not the same as masturbation, which was AdamF’s example. And while I may not agree that premarital fornication is second only to murder in seriousness, I do think it is an extremely severe and damaging sin, far moreso than most in our society (often even in the Church) portray.

  61. Post

    I wasn’t clear enough Vort, I used masturbation as an example but my overall point was that most of these “sexual sins” should not be Next To Murder, e.g. masturbation, premarital sex, etc. NOT even close. But I said that already. Perhaps “Sexual Sins” should not be a category. Regardless, if masturbation is a “sexual sin” and “sexual sin” is next to murder, you’re going to have plenty of damage.

  62. That’s why AdamF is becoming a therapist – which actually I think gives you a very different set of data to work from. Normal folks like Vort & me, well, we just aren’t privy to most people’s inner skeeviness. 😉

  63. “I have heard this a lot, but always as an accusation against Mormons — that is, “Mormons think all sex outside of marriage is equally evil and is one step less than bloody murder.” In my lifetime in the Church, I have never heard any member actually state this as a belief.”


    It’s been awhile since I read The Miracle of Forgiveness, but I’m pretty sure that President Kimball lumped all sexual sin together as “the sin next to murder.” And I definitely have heard the “sin next to murder” phrased used as shorthand for all unchastity.

    Without diminishing the gravity of unchastity, and granted that too many modern Christians take this far to unseriously, religions that focus excessively on the carnal and sensual sins, are prone to become “devilish” in their zeal to enforce purity. When you brand all sexual sin (from the “rather common indiscretion” of “self-pollution” through necking and petting to the Deed itself) as right next to murder, you are able to brand the vast majority of people — most of whom, even those who make good-faith efforts at a life of holiness — as gross sinners, in need of the redemption that only you can provide. That may well be true — but this is a technique that is just as easily used by tyrants:

    Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed? said Dr. Ferris. “We want them broken….There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on crimminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed or enforced nor objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of lawbreakers – and then you cash in on the guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with”.

  64. Thomas – I grant you that I did read that in MoF. But I have met loads of Mormons who had no idea what crossed the line in sexual sin that I have to conclude there are many who are completely insulated and uninformed. A friend of mine was a bishop in a stake that did a poll among seminary students in which they were asked to “rank” sins by seriousness (in retrospect I think this was a pretty stupid idea). Regardless, one of the interesting outcomes was that more than half of them thought that profanity was worse than sexual sin. That strains credulity, I know.

  65. This whole issue of “Sin Class X is more/less severe than Sin Class Y” is a bit of a red herring, in many cases taking us off the real subject, which is how damaging sin is. I think the statement “sex sins are more severe than any other class of sins except murder” is probably a true statement. But a naive interpretation doesn’t do anyone any good. For example, if I say, “Dutch are taller than Chinese”, does that mean my buddy from Holland is taller than 7’6″ Yao Ming? Hardly.

    Masturbation qualifies as sex sin. Premarital fondling (“petting”) also qualifies as sex sin, but is far more serious than masturbation. Porn usage also qualifies as sex sin, but is certainly more serious than masturbation, especially for married people. Extramarital sex (adultery) is obviously sex sin, and is in general far more serious than the others. Forcible rape might be considered a sex sin, and surely is more grave even than adultery. In other words, the classification “sex sin” spans a wide range, going from a sin of petty selfishness and lack of self-governance through truly horrific acts of degradation and mockery of covenant. They may all fall under the general rubric of “sex sin”, but that does not make them all equivalent. Sex sin can be so depraved that it is indeed more damaging to society and the human souls involved than any other acts besides cold-blooded murder, but that doesn’t mean that masturbation is worse than elder abuse.

    In addition to these rather obvious comments, I would add that sex sin seems to be the weakness of our generation — the “sin of choice”, as it were, for our culture. It may not do any good to be telling children that masturbation is next to murder in seriousness, but I submit it does far more harm to tell them that sex is a playground for them to romp on however they see fit. Our society has been greatly weakened in only two generations, primarily because sex ceased to be seen as an activity between married partners and came to be seen as a recreational activity between consenting partners.

  66. Post

    No problem there. Lumping it all together and comparing it to murder is a red herring at best, and damaging at worst (leading people further down the wrong path)… and telling kids that masturbation is next to murder would not only “not do any good” but likely does GREAT damage. I have talked to people who are addicts and say their addiction started when they were seven and discovered masturbation. WHA? I wonder how things could have been different if they had been taught effectively that they were NOT “sinning next to murder” or even “sinning” at that age.

    Anyway, I agree, let’s focus on the individual things, and what kinds of damage they do (e.g. what heavy porn use does, what compulsive masturbation does, etc.)

  67. #75 — Fortunately, I was already used to wading through thick-as-a-brick didactic literature, otherwise I’d never have finished it.

    #73 — “It may not do any good to be telling children that masturbation is next to murder in seriousness, but I submit it does far more harm to tell them that sex is a playground for them to romp on however they see fit” — I’d like to think there are more options than just those two.

    “Our society has been greatly weakened in only two generations, primarily because sex ceased to be seen as an activity between married partners and came to be seen as a recreational activity between consenting partners.” Absolutely true. (And Atlas Shrugged, as good as it was in other respects, helped further that Big Lie.)

  68. I should add that I don’t believe that masturbation per se always constitutes sex sin. To the extent that it constitutes “adultery in the heart” — such as a married man fantasizing about a woman other than his wife, or an unmarried person fantasizing about a married person — it is. Otherwise? I’m not convinced.

    Sex sin is deadly serious. By the same token, conduct that is not deadly serious, is not sex sin. Any personal conduct that interferes with the formation or endurance of a covenant marriage is sin. By the same token, anything that doesn’t, isn’t.

  69. 74 Are you saying that if we don’t call masturbation sin then no one would be addicted?

    From a social standpoint it’s not terribly hard to understand the focus on seriousness of sex sin in the 1960’s when the US was streaming headfirst into the sexual revolution (among other things), terrifying many conservative religious folks along the way (including my father, who joined the LDS church in that frame precisely because of their conservative stance).

    That said, I’m not sure sexual sin started in the 60’s. In fact, I’m pretty sure it didn’t.

  70. “I would add that sex sin seems to be the weakness of our generation — the “sin of choice”, as it were, for our culture” And of many, many previous generations as well.

  71. Paul (#78) – Of course sexual sin didn’t “start” in the 60’s (think of James Earl Jones’ character in “Field of Dreams”..”I get it! Your from the Sixties!” (grabs a weed sprayer). “Back! Go back to the Sixties, while it’s safe!”).

    What’s “changed” is our attitudes and acceptance of common vulgarities.

    I think of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and the two adorable children of inventor Caractacus Potts watching their father in the company of Truly Scrumptious…”maybe he’ll kiss her…and then they’ll HAVE to get married!”.

    Worrying about “how bad” various sexual sins are is wrongheaded. All sin is bad. It’s a matter of whether one discovered (or confessed) the appropriate Church leaders would have to convene a disciplinary council. It seems that chronic indulgence in masturbation and or pornography would NOT mandate thus but would likely keep one from the Temple. OTOH, though a “one-timer” for the more serious stuff like adultery and/or fornication MIGHT (no guarantee) get a pass on the Church Court, it’d be unheard of for chronic acts of immorality of this nature to not be severely dealt with. The problem is since every situation and individual involved therein is unique, it’s difficult to compare whether the mercy vs. justice formula is always appropriately balanced! Having to convene a discplinary council with the strong possibility that someone’s getting exed has got to be the most distasteful aspect of being a Bishop or Stake President – the proverbial “icky-tasting medicine”.

  72. Having affairs is worse sexual sin that premarital sex, and there has been plenty of that going on since time immemorial. Random hookups may be the latest flavor of sexual sin, but our generation certainly didn’t invent this stuff.

  73. Of course our generation (or the preceding one) didn’t “invent” sex sin. For that matter, our cultural sexual depravity pales in comparison to bygone cultures. Nevertheless, our generation’s overriding moral weakness is not avarice or murder or sloth or covetousness, but sex sin. Whether other generations had the same weakness, or had it worse than we do, is irrelevant.

  74. “Nevertheless, our generation’s overriding moral weakness is not avarice or murder or sloth or covetousness, but sex sin.”

    I think it’s broader than that, although sex sin is one major symptom of the sickness. The overriding moral weakness of “our generation,” defined as anyone born after 1945, is denial of the Law of the Harvest.

  75. President Kimball, in his epic tome “It’s a Miracle if You’re Forgiven” (Yes, I KNOW what the title really is, but I believe in ‘truth in labelling’) made a distinction between a young courting couple getting carried away in their mutual discovery versus an avarisicious man, having made temple convenants (and presumably having a reasonably attractive wife and being utterly w/o excuse to adulterate), premeditating and making plans (did he head out to a bar in search of “Ms. Right Now”, or simply call “Dial-a-Hooker”, who knows?). Again, EVERY situation is different. Frankly, I’d be loathe to even disfellowship either of the youngsters who are merely youthfully undiscplined and too full of beans, as long as they own up to it and either break it off or just getting married right away. I don’t think the youngsters should be pressured to marry (MoF would seem to indicate they must but, hey, folks, that was merely the gravelly-voiced one’s opinion, not Church Doctrine) but neither should their indiscretion be winked at. They need to see that they’ve seriously screwed up and take responsible action so it doesn’t happen again.
    In the case of a married member fooling around, I’d have to see some seriously mitigating circumstances to NOT convene a disciplinary council. It would depend on (1) how many times (2) did the offender get “caught” or did he/she come forth of their own will? and (3) what is being done, or is proposed to be done, to rectify the situation? I would not necessarily base a decision on the feelings of the injured spouse, especially if said spouse is in a vindictive mood (which is understandable). Nor would I base it on the offender’s willingness to rehabilitate the marriage (maybe said marriage needs to be put out of its misery). I also wouldn’t be swayed by emotion. I find that people that are really good at putting out the tears tend to be the least sincere. Actions speak louder than words.

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