Help a brother out

One of my readers has sent me an email request. He needs help with a situation and would like you all to offer any advice or suggestions you have. It's a problem of a very sensitive nature which is why he wants to discuss this anonymously. I've copied excerpts of his email below. Please comment if you have helpful suggestions. Thank you!
I am a Returned Missionary and live with other RMs somewhere outside of Utah. We go to our local singles ward. So, recently, I walked in on my roommate late at night and I think I caught him masturbating to gay porn. I can not say I am absolutely certain of what I saw. But I am pretty sure.

So what now? Do I say something to him? If so, what? Do I say something to the bishop? I know that this is not my business, but this particular fellow is in a priesthood leadership position in the ward. If I saw what I think I saw, it probably is not appropriate for him to continue on in that calling.

I have no illusion that he is exceptional, or that I am better than
him. I have no desire to judge this guy. On the other hand, I am pretty sure from my own experiences that he will not escape this pattern of behavior on his own.

I feel I ought to do something. Whether for his sake, or for the sake of the folks he is responsible for, I don't know. But I feel I ought to do something, and I have no idea what to do. Maybe I should tend to my own problems and leave this poor fellow alone. I just don't know. Does anyone have any suggestions?

[addendum from second email:] It's not my business, but I'm not sure the thing for me as a friend to do is turn my back and pretend I'm not aware of the problem.


If anyone can help please comment. If you'd rather email your response to me then I can forward it on to him.


Anonymous said...

"I'm not sure the thing for me as a friend to do is turn my back and pretend I'm not aware of the problem."

I am. I'm sure he knows that you know, and that has been enough humiliation for the guy. If he wants to change, your confontation of him won't realy affect that. If he doesn't want to change, same thing. Some may disagree, but I don't think masterbation is the wurst sin in the world. Unfortunately, even in the church, many many people engage in it. If he's gay, he's got biger issues with his church life than masterbation. Under the Church's current view of things, he is facing a life of either deceit or celibacy. Have some compassion. And though both are sinful, I'd rather have him masterbating to gay porn than having gay sex. 

Message from KP

Anonymous said...

Nothing should be done based on what you *think* you saw. Forget it and move on. 

Message from jamesrt

Anonymous said...

Wow, I've decided to cut my blog reading back so it doesn't take too much time and then there is this.

I'd be tempted to talk to the guy "Seems to me you wanted to be caught, want to talk about it?" for starters and see where that leads.

You know the actual person better, I don't, so I could be really off base. 

Message from Steve M (Ethesis)

Anonymous said...

I agree with KP.

If you feel the need to talk to anyone about this, talk to him directly--not with some sort of threat to go to the Bishop, but as a friend to offer a sympathetic ear and support if he wants to talk. If he doesn't want to get into it with you, then drop it. Don't go off telling other people about something that is none of your business in the first place and which you're not even sure about in the second place. 

Message from Kevin Barney

Anonymous said...

I say leave it be. If he wants help with the problem (assuming there IS a problem) he will take care of it on his own. The best thing you can do is prepare yourself for the chance that he'll ask you for help. Arm yourself with knowlegdge from the recent and abundent advise given on the subject from conferance talks and pray to be able to say the right thing should the oppertunity to speak present itself 

Message from Sarah Marinara

Anonymous said...

I agree, leave it alone. Especially do not go to the bishop about something you think someone else is doing. My friend is in a ward where the bishop has asked for people to tattle if they see their friends and roommates doing anything questionable. This is not what the gospel is about, if someone is ready to change, and is repentant, they will talk to the bishop themselves. Don't take away this man's agency by talking to anyone else about it.

If you feel comfortable talking with him, then do, but by all means do not go to the bishop on his behalf. This is something that is up to him to take care of. 

Message from Aimee Roo

Anonymous said...

I'd say that you ought to confront the guy, and find out whati sgoing on, before you go to the bishop, or anyone in your Ward.
But, I cant find myself agreeing with others who have said that you ought not to do anything. Case in point: I live in a house with a RM, and another couple of guys. Now, seems, a while back, the RM guy realised thatone of our housemates was a crackhead, and a crack, cocaine and heroine dealer. And he and the crackhead discussed how the whole dealing and smoking crack in the house was going on. So, RM does nothing, until one day 2 weeks back, we had an ugly situation that put all of us in jeopardy, at which point, I called the landlord and the cops, and the situation was resolved, with said crackhead's arrest.
But, the RM just quoted Scripture, and said i was "too judgemental" that as a convert, I wasnt a "good Mormon" that he "followed the Gospel of Christ, not the rule of man", and other such BS. What I think, my reading of the Scriptures and my membership in the church has taught em is this - we ought notto keep quiet if we see evil happening.
Now in your case, being gay or doing what your roommate was doing probably does not rise to the defination fo evil - but, our Church teaches that it is wrong, so, I think, you ought to confront the guy, and see what happens, and then, if necessary, encourage him to seek help, either within the resources availabel within the Church, or outside.
Just my 2 cents 

Message from sparty

Anonymous said...

There is a grand canyon of difference between a crack dealer and a surreptitious masturbator. The former endangers your safety, the latter does not. If you must say something to your roommate, say "Hey man, you should make sure you lock the door when you are doing your thing with the magazine (or computer). I accidentally walked in on you the other day." Enough said. He'll be plenty humiliated, and you'll be spared future encounters.  

Message from brendan

Anonymous said...

"If the wave of temptation to reveal others' sins comes over you, don't tell your neighbor or even your best friend. Go to your bishop. Leave the burden with him. If it is required, report it to the civil or criminal authorities and then leave it alone." (Elder Lynn A. Mickelsen)

The bishop isn't going to spread around what you said, but he'll just have talk to the person hopefully and try to help him.

In my opinion pornography may manifest that a person doesn't understand the boundaries of what should be public and private. What people look like without their clothes or what they do isn't very many people's business I don't think. If a person doesn't get help, they could intrude in the privacy of others in a criminal way eventually. Or at least be super annoying. 

Message from Anonymous

Anonymous said...

It's very possibile your friend has already talked to a bishop or many for that matter. Porn and some of its accompanying problems often take months to years to overcome with relapses in-between.

It's not a bad idea to find out if he wants help or to talk about it, especially if you have a personal experience or success in stopping or avoiding it.

As for the calling he holds, often bishops see wisdom in keeping the indivdual involved in church responsibilities even if said individuals do not at the time have a current recommend. I know this is sometimes the practice in the mission field.

A great resouce for either you or your friend is the most recent BYU sumposium on pornography and internt usage. It gave me a lot of insight as to the root of the problem and the best way to encourage recovery. 

Message from KH

Anonymous said...

Tell your bishop and forget about it. That is a perfectly honorable course of action and completely consistent with Christlike love for your roommate. It also unburdens you completely, which is fair because it is not your burden to bear. To do nothing would be like leaving the wounded man along the side of the road. (Just my strongly-held opinion.) 

Message from Lowell

Anonymous said...

Straight or gay, 99 percent masturbate and the other one percent lies about it. I'd tell the e-mailer that he's lucky he hasn't been caught and tattled on by his roommate, and to mind his own business. 

Message from just_one_opinion

Anonymous said...

You might want to check your source, just_one_opinion. I do not fit in the 99% or the 1%. 

Message from Kim Siever

Anonymous said...

I say, stay out of it. And definelty, do NOT go to the bishop. I was once a 'victim' of that - a 'concerned' girl in my YWs group *thought* I had a drug probalem based on something she *thought* she overheard. Needless to say, I was called in to see one of the bishopric memebers one SUnday and nailed on my commitment (or lack thereof) to the word of wisdom. I had not, nor was I even considering, doing any sort of illegal drug. I broke down in tears and felt very hurt that one of my fellow YW really thought I was involved in something like that.

ok, so I know your situation is very different, but I still think the best thing to do is leave it alone. It's none of your business. It's between him and the Lord and I'm sure if any reprucusssions need to be enacted, it will happen in its own due time.  

Message from Jill

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I'm sorry. It won't happen again. You didn't have to go and email JL about it, though. Thanks a lot.  

Message from Davis Bell

Anonymous said...

You win the prize for being the most secure in your sexuality, either that or you're willing to sacrifice your rep to your sense of humor

btw--you confused me with the dual emails, I'm like the donkey that starves because it's equidistant between two bales of hay

Message from JL

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for your thoughtful comments. I have appreciated all your responses, and I am especially grateful to JL for allowing me to solicit your advice on her website. Also, I would like to apologize for bringing up such an icky subject. Sorry, all.

Some of you have advised me to beware of making false accusations, since I am not sure what I saw. Let me clear that up. He was seated with his pants down around his knees, and naked people were on the computer screen. I admit that masturbation is not the only possible explanation, but... Occam's razor, etc.

For the curious, it has now been nearly a week since the incident, and I have so far said nothing. I still think I ought to say something to my roommate, but I haven't come up with anything to say which seems likely to produce a discussion would be helpful.

I have never considered "turning him in to the bishop." That doesn't seem particularly helpful, to me. If I have something to say, I should say it to his face. But I haven't come up with anything to say.

My best idea so far is to leave a note on his computer monitor that says something like, "If you want to talk about the other night, I'm available. --Your friend." But so far he seems willing to pretend it never happened, so maybe he doesn't want to talk. If the man doesn't want help, my attempts to assist will probably not be fruitful.

Anyway, thanks everybody.


Message from The guy who wanted advice

Anonymous said...

Dear guy who wanted advice:

Just curious: Why have you "never considered" talking to the bishop? (That's not the same thing as "turning him in," which has kind of a law enforcement feel to it.) I think I understand why you might not want to do that, but why is it out of the question? It certianly is one approach that might work out quite well.

A while ago in our ward, a young man was lured into smoking marijuana. A friend of his discovered that and spoke with the young man about it. After a long conversation the friend counseled the young man to fix things up by talking to his bishop. The friend said that he'd give the young man 5 days, then he was going to tell the bishop himself. The young man saw the bishop on the 5th day and is grateful to the friend for pushing him to do the right thing.

That's just one way to approach such things. The friend also could have urged the young man to see the bishop and just nagged him into it. That also would have been a loving thing to do. My question is, why do so many here see the bishop as an unfriendly authority figure? Pornography has become such a plague, and is such a stumbling block to so many (who are outright addicted to it) that to take a "well, it's up to you" approach seems incomprehensible to me.

Sorry to rant. Just contributing to the discussion. 

Message from Lowell

Anonymous said...


Dual emails?

I have sacrificed so very much at the altar of the humor gods, my reputation is but a trifle.


Message from Davis Bell

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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