Dear 100 Hour Board,
In my experience as an LDS high school student, college student, and friend, I have come across a problem that never seems to go away. How do you get away from the self-righteous label that people so readily stick on you?
High school: You're a Mormon and you won't drink or have sex. You won't support my homosexual lifestyle or watch porn. So what, you think you're better than us or something?
College: You won't watch R-rated movies? So I guess you're not coming to my movie party then? So you're above all that, huh prude? Too good to watch a movie.
Friend: You don't like my friend who's compromised my integrity? You don't want to hang out with us because we do "bad things" all the time...why don't you come off your high-horse already?
I don't know how it keeps happening. Honestly, most of the time I don't even say anything rude to these people. Or I don't say anything at all! You ask me to come do something that I don't want to, I decline. End of story, right? No! People make it into such a huge deal. Not coming to your party does not mean I hate you. In fact, I quite like you. Sometimes I go to great lengths to make you understand the concept that I like you. I'm just sick of being called conceited and cocky and self-righteous because I'm trying to maintain my own personal integrity. I don't really care what you do, just don't expect me to do it.
Is that conceited? Is there a better way to approach it? We're supposed to be nice and friendly to everyone, right? But eventually, if you get friendly enough, they want you to come do things with them. And then you turn them down, and it's like it's the end of the world.
Perhaps you are acting holier-than-thou. My friends in high school respected my decisions, and I didn't judge them for theirs'. I was never accused of being self-righteous, at least not to my face.
My experiences have been the same as obstreperous's. Just don't say anything about those issues that friends and acquaintances get upset about, and if you don't want to do something, just say "Ah, no thanks. I'm alright."
-Kicks and Giggles
In my experience, it takes people a while to grow up. Some people never do. But it'll be harder in high school than it is in college, and harder in college than it is in the rest of the world. If I were you, I'd look for people who are a little more supportive of you and your lifestyle. I can't tell you exactly what tack to take with your friends now, because I don't know in what spirit either of you is presenting your side. Still, I can take a stab at it.
High school and College: You're right, I don't do any of those things, but it's not because I think I'm really good. The reason I don't is because I know I'm not perfect, and I worry that if I got too comfortable with [questionable activity] I'd start to think it was normal, and my life would reflect that. I really respect people who are [virtue like "faithful to their spouse" or "in control of themselves"] and that's what I'd like to be like. It's not that I think I'm better than you at all, it's that I worry I don't have the self-control you do, and if I'm not very careful, my life will end up somewhere I don't want it. So, thanks for the invite, but I really shouldn't go. But that reminds me--I'm doing [awesome activity] on Saturday--you should come. It's going to be great.
Friend: I'm sorry I said those things about your friends and what you do when you hang out. It's really none of my business. But I hope you understand my commitment to my own personal religion and set of standards, and aren't too offended when I sometimes find other things to do. I don't think that you're going to hell, or anything, but there are some things I'd like to be especially careful of, and so sometimes I have to miss out on whatever you're doing. It's not always fun, but I think it's best for me, right now.
To be honest, I have to agree with the other writers, a little. If you're telling your friend that you don't like their friends, and that they do "bad stuff," even if you're not going into specifics or being especially rude, you're still being pretty judgmental, and they're just returning the favor. A "no thanks, I don't think I'll be there, this time" should suffice. If they press for details, you can say "actually, I'm not a big fan of R-rated movies--they've usually got more sex/violence/language than I'm comfortable with." How did the homosexual thing even come up? Did some guy say "I'm going to go spend some time with my boyfriend," and you said "I can't support that?" I'm just not seeing a situation where you need to be condemning people for that, or where your opinion would be required.
If I've read you wrong, and you're just as respectful of other people's choices as you'd like them to be of yours, even when they don't match up with your personal moral compass, then I'm very sorry that you've been so unfairly blamed. Remember, if they press you for details, to be very diplomatic, and to make sure that they understand that you don't think less of them for not living your own particular lifestyle.
I'd suggest you plan lots of your own events, and invite people to them. Go to what you can, and don't make a big deal of it when you can't. And if you can, make some friends who either have similar standards, or who don't mind when you skip out from time to time. That will make things worlds easier.