How do we have appropriate discussions about LGBT, pornography, and sexual topic issues in YW lessons at church?
This Stuff is Confusing
This is the question of the hour/year/lifetime, isn’t it? There are so many differing opinions on how this should be done, and to be clear, mine is just another one, so take it with a grain of salt. That being said, because these issues are becoming more and more prevalent in the lives of Latter-Day Saints, it’s time we really start having a conversation about how to address them. Avoiding them, or pushing them away, often encourages youth to seek out answers elsewhere and creates an environment of confusion and shame (but that’s another soapbox for another day). It’s important that we are providing an environment where youth can feel comfortable asking tough questions without feeling judged, because without a doubt, they have questions about this stuff. I promise. But I believe your question is: how? How do we go about doing that?
Of course, in Church lessons, it is best to use doctrinal resources straight from the scriptures, Brethren, and Church Headquarters. I want to be clear: use these first. There are a lot of things that can be said about sex, pornography, and homosexuality, but remember that your YW lesson probably isn’t the best place to say them. I would recommend keeping lessons within the bounds the Church has set, but consider hosting a mutual activity or an informal YW dinner where the girls can talk about these issues in a safe environment. Perhaps offer an opportunity for anonymous question submissions so youth can honestly ask what’s on their minds. Then, provide a place to discuss those questions.
Next, your opinion doesn’t matter. I don’t mean to be harsh or unkind, but it doesn’t. If you feel the need to express your opinion in a church setting, don’t. So many men and women so easily take offense to things said in church meetings, and the line between someone’s thoughts and doctrine is easily blurred. If you feel the need to express your opinion in a more intimate, personal conversation, be sure it’s cushioned with love, kindness, and understanding. I can’t tell you how many teenagers I’ve talked with who have admitted feeling scared about discussing something difficult with an adult simply because they’re worried about feeling judged. Often, this fear comes from even just one conversation or comment that caused feelings of shame. Teenagers are incredibly sensitive to others’ opinions, and often, things we say can stick with them for years and years. If you’re lucky enough to have a teenager confide in you regarding something sensitive, remember that love and acceptance of their concerns will go much farther than any other approach.
The most revered and important commandment God has given his children, the piece of doctrine taught more than any other, is to love: love our Heavenly Father, love each other. The KJV of the New Testament uses the word “love” 179 times–that’s more times than “sin,” or “believe,” or even “grace.” I think that’s significant, and I believe love should be a guiding light anytime there are questions about how to do things within the Church. When in doubt, choose love.
I hope this helps,