The new guide for youth “focuses on the foundation [of] values, principles, and doctrine instead of every specific behavior.”
During the Saturday morning session of the October 2022 general conference, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf announced on October 1 that a new version of the For the Strength of Youth booklet would be released that day. The new booklet is available online in 50 languages.
Since the booklet was first published in 1965, it has become practically synonymous with living a Latter-day Saint youth life for many people, providing guidelines to help young people navigate the challenges of adolescence and young adulthood.
In the past, the booklet provided direction on appropriate behavior related to consumption of media, dress and grooming, sexual conduct, honesty, and other topics, often giving specific and pointed direction.
With the release of the 2022 version, however, a new approach is evident in the manual. Elder Uchtdorf said, “The purpose of For the Strength of Youth is to point you to Him. It teaches you eternal truths of His restored gospel—truths about who you are, who He is, and what you can accomplish with His strength. It teaches you how to make righteous choices based on those eternal truths.”
With this new approach, the updated booklet has undergone several important changes in its organization and its approach.
Here’s a look at some of the most important changes in the 2022 manual.
Length and Organization
Overall, the new booklet is about ten percent shorter than the previous version, which was first published in 2001 and revised in 2011.
The previous booklet had 19 chapters, organized alphabetically. Each chapter addressed a specific type of behavior or relationship.
- Agency and Accountability
- Dress and Appearance
- Entertainment and Media
- Honesty and Integrity
- Music and Dancing
- Physical and Emotional Health
- Sabbath Day Observance
- Sexual Purity
- Tithes and Offerings
- Work and Self-Reliance
- Go Forward with Faith
The new booklet contains just seven chapters, and the chapters are based on more general concepts and principles:
In the previous version of the booklet, each chapter contained a single question at its conclusion (for example, “What do the words I use say about me?” and “Do I understand why sexual purity is essential to being truly happy?”) In the new booklet, most chapters include a section at the end called “Temple recommend questions,” which lists verbatim questions from the current temple recommend interview for youth that are relevant to that chapter.
The new booklet also includes an appendix containing the following:
In addition, the new version also contains an index, titled “What about … ?” This index lists many topics that youth may have questions about. The manual states, “For the Strength of Youth doesn’t mention all of them by name, but it does teach eternal truths that can help you make decisions about these topics.”
This approach means that some topics listed in the index are not covered specifically in the manual, but the index will point readers to a section with related general principles. For example, the index entry for “grace” points readers to the chapter titled “Jesus Christ will help you” and a section titled “How can I overcome temptations and bad habits?” The index entry for “racism” points to a section titled “Treat everyone as a child of God.”
Focus on Principles Rather Than Specific Behavior
The new booklet contains a subtitle that hints at its new approach: A Guide for Making Choices.
As Elder Uchtdorf said, “It’s also important for you to know what For the Strength of Youth does not do. It doesn’t make decisions for you. It doesn’t give you a “yes” or “no” about every choice you might ever face. For the Strength of Youth focuses on the foundation for your choices. It focuses on values, principles, and doctrine instead of every specific behavior. …
“I suppose the guide could give you long lists of clothes you shouldn’t wear, words you shouldn’t say, and movies you shouldn’t watch. But would that really be helpful in a global church? Would such an approach truly prepare you for a lifetime of Christlike living?”
The difference in the new version’s chapter titles hints at this shift toward general principles rather than a prescriptive approach to gospel living. This new approach means that many specific guidelines contained in the previous version are absent from the new booklet. In other cases, the guidelines are the same, but the new manual uses less definitive language. Here are a few examples:
2011 version: “You should not date until you are at least 16 years old.”
2022 version: “For your emotional and spiritual development and safety, one-on-one activities should be postponed until you are mature—age 16 is a good guideline.”
2011 version: “Immodest clothing is any clothing that is tight, sheer, or revealing in any other manner. Young women should avoid short shorts and short skirts, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and clothing that does not cover the shoulders or is low-cut in the front or the back. Young men should also maintain modesty in their appearance.”
2022 version: “As you make decisions about your clothing, hairstyle, and appearance, ask yourself, ‘Am I honoring my body as a sacred gift from God’ Heavenly Father wants us to see each other for who we really are: not just physical bodies but His beloved children with a divine destiny. Avoid styles that emphasize or draw inappropriate attention to your physical body instead of who you are as a child of God with an eternal future. Let moral cleanliness and love for God guide your choices. Seek counsel from your parents.”
2011 version: “Do not disfigure yourself with tattoos or body piercings. Young women, if you desire to have your ears pierced, wear only one pair of earrings.”
2022 version: “What is the Lord’s standard on dress, grooming, tattoos, and piercings? The Lord’s standard is for you to honor the sacredness of your body, even when that means being different from the world. Let this truth and the Spirit be your guide as you make decisions—especially decisions that have lasting effects on your body. Be wise and faithful, and seek counsel from your parents and leaders.”
2011 version: “Homosexual and lesbian behavior is a serious sin. If you find yourself struggling with same-gender attraction or you are being persuaded to participate in inappropriate behavior, seek counsel from your parents and bishop. They will help you.”
2022 version: “I am attracted to people of my same sex. How do these standards apply to me? Feeling same-sex attraction is not a sin. If you have these feelings and do not pursue or act on them, you are living Heavenly Father’s sacred law of chastity. You are a beloved child of God and a disciple of Jesus Christ. Remember that the Savior understands everything you experience. Through your covenant connection with Him, you will find strength to obey God’s commandments and receive the blessings He promises. Trust Him and His gospel.”
Focus on Jesus Christ and the Temple
The new booklet has an entire chapter titled “Jesus Christ will help you,” and it focuses on how Jesus Christ’s Atonement can strengthen youth and help them repent and change.
As mentioned earlier, the new booklet also includes a section at the end of most sections called “Temple recommend questions,” which lists verbatim questions from the current temple recommend interview for youth that are relevant to that chapter.
Defining “the Strength of Youth”
“When you have important choices to make, Jesus Christ and His restored gospel are the best choice,” Elder Uchtdorf said in his address introducing the new booklet. “To be very clear, the best guide you can possibly have for making choices is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the strength of youth.”