I was recently asked to speak in my ward, about Missionary Work. Being a convert from Utah I have a unique perspective. We don’t have close friendships with those of other faiths, why I can’t explain, but we rarely do. For example when was the last time your family got together with another family where the adults had a beer with dinner? Or went out side to have a cigarette while you were visiting? Do you have close friends that dress immodestly? You probably don’t associate with many of this kind, however I remember Jesus almost always eating with “sinners” and when he was the adulterous woman was there. He was eating with people he knew were having affairs, certainly more than a “small sin”.
My parents lived in Utah for 17 years and none of their good friends are LDS. We only had a few families over who were LDS!, and we even less frequently were invited over. My folks are good people, and we boys were for the most part very good boys. We were however given many, many copies of the Book of Mormon. Who gives away books of the highest value without getting together for dinner as neighbors. All the inscriptions read like “our family regards you with the highest esteem” but the actions showed that we weren’t esteemed highly enough to break bread. Certainly there are some downsides to eating with a family where the parents are good people who drink wine with dinner. Your kids might get the idea that drinking is an acceptable practice, however, not going they might get the idea that we don’t associate with sinners, also the wrong idea for budding missionaries. Lest we make this out to be a Utah thing, We’ve lived outside Utah for many years now and the feeling is slightly better if any.
I don’t know of many members of other faiths who don’t drink occasionally, or converts who never had any vices, so don’t let that scare you away. We can teach truth by being friends, not so that we can preach the gospel but because we are like Christ who was a friend, to all. None of us would have had Saul over to dinner until he became Paul, but what about Alma the Elder? Or Lamoni? What about John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff, who both drank before they joined the church. You get the idea. If we strive to be friends with people who live up to their light and knowledge rather than look for some who live up to our level, we will find we are truely in good company, even if they are “blinded by the subtle craftiness of men”. My response is “Therefore should we waste and wear out our lives” to teach and love them D & C 123:12-13. Go out and make a friend.