Someone feels the need to tattle on us to the bishop every so often. Okay, it’s only been twice (that I know of) in the last two decades, and it’s been about my husband because, unlike him, I’m just not that controversial. (Are you worried about the Times and Seasons blog thing? You’re too late. I already confessed.) But let’s talk anyway. I don’t get it. Perhaps I’m just a religious libertarian at heart because I’m really racking my brain to think of what would make me call the executive secretary, schedule a little chat with the bishop, and go tell on my neighbors.
This is my point of view (and, yes, they are real scenarios):
Know a ward member lied about doing home teaching? Not my problem. He, his conscience, and Heavenly Father can work it out.
See a ward member with beer in her grocery cart? Not my problem. Maybe she makes beer bread or does a beer hair rinse. Even if that’s not her plan, it’s not my problem. (Except for drunk driving in the neighborhood. That’s my problem, and I call the police.)
Notice a ward member digging a basement with a backhoe while on my way to church? Totally not my problem. Not going to look nor care. Teach them correct principles and etc.
Fighting with a ward member over a fence line or a dirty yard? Try talking. Or, if it escalates, mediation—and I’m not talking mediation in front of a Judge in Israel.
Okay, okay—I’ll admit that there was one time I tattled. I felt a student was in danger of harming herself. I asked my immediate supervisor what I should do and followed her suggestion: I first talked to the student and indicated that I was concerned but had no expertise to help, and I reminded her that many options for help were available, often free of charge at the university. Then I contacted her bishop. To the bishop, I said, “I’m really worried about [name].” He said, “Yes, I counsel with her weekly.” I said, “Thanks. I’m really glad you are aware of her needs and are helping her. Good-bye.”
After running through dozens of scenarios, I have come up with a few other situations that might involve tattling. I have decided that I would contact a bishop if a sexual predator had unknowingly been placed in a position to harm children (though how I would know that when no one else did is a bit of a mystery to me). And I know someone who felt like he should contact a bishop because that bishop’s first counselor had joined a fundamentalist group and was a practicing polygamist. That would have been a hard one, I guess.
I’m sure there are other situations, and I’m here waiting for you to tell me what they are. But, as far as I’m concerned, there are very, very few times to become an ecclesiastical tattler, and the motivation to do so baffles me. So, please, enlighten me. When is the appropriate time to tattle?
(Exception for my kids: I need my kids to tattle on each other. They miss important tattling opportunities and cause me trouble: “HELLO! Why didn’t you TELL ME your sister was scribbling on the walls while I was typing?”)