Q. Apologists deal with a lot of anti-Mormon material, and surely must receive questions from their families as to why they do what they do. Has anyone at FAIR had to deal with these types of issues in their families? What is the best way to deal with your interest in apologetics when it comes to your spouse or other close family member?
A. (by Allen L. Wyatt) Oh, the stories I could tell…
Suffice it to say that most of the volunteers affiliated with FAIR are here because we have been touched, personally, by anti-Mormonism. Some of us have had family members, dear friends, or ourselves poisoned by it. It happens. If we aren’t aware of what’s going on, then we run the risk of being blindsided when someone we know succumbs. If we read the anti stuff, then we are at risk of becoming poisoned and blindsiding others. It is a very fine line.
That being said, I have some suggestions based on your questions.
- Remember the basis of your testimony. It had better not be anything having to do with FARMS or FAIR. Jesus didn’t tell Peter that worldly teaching was the source of his testimony. Our testimonies have to be based on real, tangible, undeniable personal revelation. If they are not, then we have no business doing apologetics. None. Indeed, we are building our houses on sand and they will one day wash away.
- Do not substitute your apologetics avocation for what should be your real vocation: Developing your own spirituality. If you ignore your own spirituality in favor of apologetics (and all the anti-Mormon influences it involves), in the long run you’ll discover that you’ve sold your soul for a mess of pottage.
- Don’t hide what you do. If rules #1 and #2 are met, then there is no shame in doing apologetics. Understand, however, that most people won’t understand a whit of what you do or why. That’s OK; they don’t need to. But by them knowing what you do, you stand prepared to help them out if they need it.
- Don’t advertise what you do. If rule #3 is met, you won’t need to. Advertising what you do sets you up as a target for others, good and bad. Don’t do it.
- Don’t engage in rancorous argument. If you find yourself arguing from a position of anger, you leave yourself open to the buffetings of Satan. The Spirit will not attend such events, even if they are started with the best of intentions.
- Make sure your faith-promoting books, historical books, and research books are available for everyone in your family. Put them in an easily accessible bookcase. You never know when someone will turn to them privately when they might be embarrassed to turn to you openly.
- Make sure your anti-Mormon books and questionable hot-topic books (polygamy, polyandry, etc.) are not accessible without your knowledge. You aren’t hiding them, but just like you wouldn’t keep a loaded gun accessible to others in your home, you should put them away. If someone without a testimony based on the proper foundation (see #1) gets a hold of them, then it is doubtful that any amount of explaining on your part will help them.
That’s it. Those are my seven rules. That being said, understand that even if you do #7, you won’t protect your children from anti-Mormon material. Trust me; they will find it. All they have to do is type “Mormon” into Google on the computer at school. It will hit them right in the face. If you did #3 and #6 (and you are really good at #5), then at least you stand a chance of helping them.