Young adults from around Europe attended a recent presentation with the title “Fostering a positive perspective of sexuality,” held in Berlin, Germany, by Family Services of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Europe Central Area. Family Services was invited to support the young adult service conference held during the Berlin Special Olympics by offering this workshop in response to survey responses from the participants of what topics they would like to focus on. This is the first time this workshop was held in Europe and it received overwhelmingly positive reviews from attendees. Conversations and training on healthy sexuality will continue with similar initiatives.
Attended by about 140 participants, including ten married couples, this training focused on destigmatising the discussion of sexuality for the young adults by focusing on the scientific facts and supported by the resources and principles taught and provided by the Church. The workshop was repeated four separate times, each with a different presenter: Rocio Gutiérrez, Family Services Manager in Europe Central and Stefanie Dzierzon, Katja Fischer and Adriane Cavallini, Family Services Advisors in Germany. “I liked the openness of the teacher to talk about any topic that was given to her,” said one participant.
Topics discussed during this event included “My body and its divine design: knowing and accepting our bodies (including our sexual organs),” “How we talk about our body,” “The divinity of sexual relationships,” and “Healthy sexuality,” which included the importance of controlling our thoughts and actions. This presentation also defined and discussed the importance of understanding consent, sexual abuse, and the dangers of pornography.
One of the resources referenced during the seminar was an article from the church magazine The Liahona. In the article, President Russel M. Nelson, president of the church, is quoted saying, “Each organ of your body is a wondrous gift from God”. The article continues saying, “…obviously that includes sexual organs. They were created for a wise purpose and it’s up to us to learn to employ them in the ways the Lord would want.” (Fostering a positive perspective of sexuality, Liahona, August 2020).
Many participants commented that they appreciated that the presentation was honest, open, and addressed traditionally taboo topics in a direct way. One participant at the training said, “I liked how we spoke simply and plainly about sexual intimacy without it being embarrassing or out of touch with what young adults need to hear.”
In discussion of the importance of having an open conversation about sexuality, presenters quoted again from the Liahona saying, “If we have negative feelings about our sexuality, we might just need to understand it better.” (Fostering a positive perspective of sexuality, Liahona, August 2020).
Another participant said that his or her favourite thing about the presentation was learning new information that cleared up misconceptions they previously had about sexuality. Additionally, it changed his or her perspective about the eternal nature of their own body. Other participants appreciated the clarity from the Church about the topic of sexuality, the focus on the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the solutions and resources provided in the presentation.
Things to do to create a healthy perspective of sexuality
The intended purpose of this seminar was to teach young adults they can do something now to create an appropriate perspective of sexuality and prepare for a healthy sexual relationship with their spouse in the future.
According to the presentation, the four things that one can do now to prepare include:
- Pray and study the words of the prophets to have a correct perspective of sexuality.
- Learn about sexuality in appropriate books and articles.
- Challenge sexual taboos, negative attitudes, and misconceptions.
- Heal from sexual trauma or sex addictions, including the use of pornography.
There is hope and help for those struggling with sexual trauma or sex addictions, including pornography. Below are resources to help find Christ centered support groups and other information to help cultivate a healthy perspective on sexuality.
To learn more about what the Church has taught about healthy sexuality:
Liahona August 2020 (many articles on sexuality)
Help to overcome pornography use:
Addiction recovery program: Healing through the Saviour
Find self-help groups with the 12-step programme under www.lifehelpeurope.org
See “Addiction recovery program”
Help with healing from sexual abuse:
Healing from Sexual Abuse: Healing through the Saviour
Find support groups for people who experienced sexual abuse on www.lifehelpeurope.org
See “Abuse (join a local group)”
Other recommended resources for parents:
Addressing Pornography: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/life-help/pornography?lang=eng
How do I talk to my child about healthy sexuality? https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/help-for-parents/talk-about-healthy-sexuality?lang=eng