Today I read 1 Corinthians 5, where Paul urges the saints to associate not with those who are not living the commandments. He says it much more eloquently than I do, but that is the gist of what he is saying to the Saints. He tells them that we must cast out the old leaven to make way for new leaven and not to company with fornicators. I have often wondered about this very thing and what is prudent for a good Latter-day Saint as far as friends are concerned.
The fact of the matter is, unless you live in Idaho, Utah, or certain parts of Arizona the majority of your options for friends are going to be those who are not Latter-day Saints. So it begs the question, given Paul's counsel, do we make friends with those who are not of our faith? I say yes, undoubtedly. Paul is not saying do not be friends with those who are of another faith, he is saying do not keep company with those who are fornicators. In other words, do not associate with those who are not keeping the commandments. There are plenty of people in this world that are not Latter-day Saints that are wonderful people and are living the Gospel of Jesus Christ the best they know how. And to be associated with such good people is a very good thing. They make it easier to live the Gospel and uplift you when you are down.
I have always tried to use the measuring stick of, can I feel the Spirit when I am around this person? If the answer is yes, then it is fine. But if the answer is no, then it is probably best to not associate with that person any longer. Now, even friends who you can feel the Spirit around may not live the Gospel 100% of the time. In such circumstances, I have always made known what I would and would not tolerate in my presence and allowed them to make their own choices. But such a relationship also begs the question of if those friends are doing things that are against the Gospel too often, do you continue your association? There is the argument that you can uplift them and bring them closer to Christ, but there is also the old adage that one bad apple spoils the bunch. But just because people are doing things that aren't necessarily in accordance with the Gospel, I don't think association should just be discontinued.
I think Heavenly Father wants us to be a good example to those around us and to make sure that we are standing up for what is right. I do think that anyone we cannot feel the Spirit around should be associated with, but otherwise, part of the 3 fold mission of the church is to spread the Gospel so I see no reason why we can't be friends with those not of our faith as long as we are still living up to our covenants and doing what we know we should be doing. If we need more guidance than that, Heavenly Father is always available to talk to and is more than willing to help us out. Be an example of a believer of the word and you will be able to help many people and show what a good Christian is capable of. Until tomorrow.