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Meeting emotional needs in moral ways

"As Young Women leaders, our ultimate goal is to assist Heavenly Father, whose `desire, purpose, and glory is to have [His daughters] return to Him pure and undefiled, having proven [themselves] worthy of an eternity of joy in His presence."

The above quote, with part taken from the Church's "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet, is the goal of a workshop on sexual purity held by the Young Women general presidency and by members of the general board as they conduct training seminars throughout the world.

Meeting natural emotional needs in moral ways is the idea behind the workshop, said the three Young Women general board members who developed the idea. They explained that essential to the success of the workshop, called "Leaders Can Help Young Women Choose Sexual Purity," is interaction between local Young Women leaders and youth who take part.

As a result of the success of the workshop, many local leaders are now using it in their own meetings with young people.

"Behavior is driven by emotional needs," board member Joann Shields said. "Young people will meet those needs some way or another, whether they understand them or not. We want them to meet these needs in the right forum. The idea behind the workshop is that Satan has no interest in meeting needs. His whole purpose is to exploit and increase needs."

The workshop was first conducted during open houses at the Young Women headquarters, located in the Relief Society Building at 76 North Main St., in Salt Lake City, during the week of October 1993 general conference. From there, general board members began using the workshop when meeting with local Young Women leaders and with youth.

Sister Shields, Coleen Menlove and Laura Harmon, members of the Young Women general board who developed the workshop idea, met with the Church News to discuss the workshop and its hoped-for effects in the lives of young people.

The workshop utilizes problem-solving techniques, with the board members using charts outlining "Emotional needs," "Satan's lies

about how sexual impurity can meet emotional needsT," "Consequences

of sexual impurityT" and "Heavenly Father's Plan."

Local leaders and youth in the workshop are asked to fill in the charts based on their own experiences and testimonies. The hope behind the question/answer session is to compare real needs with Satan's lies and Heavenly Father's plan. Thus, youth can see that "sin is a destructive effort to meet legitimate needs," as stated by the workshop script.

During the workshop, at the point when participants are outlining Satan's lies, a "Warning!!" sign is placed on the chart stating, "Satan has neither the power nor the desire to meet needs."

Later, after discussing Heavenly Father's plan, a general board member - or the workshop's presenter - will emphasize: "A known deterrent to sexual immorality is a strong identity with the gospel and its values . . . . Love is the way to hold young women. They will most readily accept the values of those who accept them most completely."

In speaking of Satan's lies and consequences, Sister Harmon said: "The consequences are exactly opposite of what the lies are promising. It's so striking when the young people see the lists side by side. It actually makes kids mad when they see Satan's deception."

Concerning the benefits of the workshop's interaction, Sister Harmon said, "The experience of doing this chart takes away the nagging and preaching."

Sister Menlove added: "They are discovering for themselves that Satan is preying on them and their needs. Once they've been warned, they can make better judgments and decisions."

Sisters Shields, Menlove and Harmon expressed the hope that the workshop be used in local Young Women meetings and family settings, such as family home evenings.

"These are human needs, not teenagers' needs," Sister Shields added.