5 Ways to Help Youth Tackle Controversial Social Topics

It's inevitable—Church doctrine is going to come into conflict with what's popular or what's constantly in the media. But how do we help our kids explain tough truths when this happens?

For the past decade, I’ve had the opportunity to work with youth, their leaders, and their parents in a variety of Church callings in both North America and overseas. Through this service, I’ve found that one of the greatest concerns parents and leaders have is how they can help their youth understand doctrine and eternal truths in relation to current—often serious and confusing—social issues. Here are a few things we might want to consider as we teach the rising generation how to stand strong in the world.

Help youth examine social issues using a lens of eternal doctrine.

We can hope our children don’t accept false doctrines mixed with elements of truth, but if we aren’t helping them look at specific, real-life examples from the perspective of gospel teachings, they may fall for the philosophies that make sin look reasonable and justifiable.

For example, the importance of looking at sexuality from an eternal perspective cannot be overemphasized. Much of the misunderstanding youth have about their bodies and human sexuality comes from not fully understanding the sanctity of the body and its connection to the spirit. The Doctrine and Covenants teaches us that “the spirit and the body are the soul of man” (D&C 88:15; emphasis added). If we can help our youth understand that our bodies are sacred and are an essential part of our souls, they will be better able to discern truth amidst the very confusing messages they receive from the world.

For doctrinally based discussions on this and other social and doctrinal issues, parents and leaders may want to consult some of the “Gospel Topics” essays on the Church’s website (topics.lds.org). Essays now available include “Chastity,” “Pornography,” “Race and the Priesthood,” “Same-Sex Attraction,” and “Same-Sex Marriage.”

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