And then he laid it on me.
Twelve shades of red filled my cheeks - one for each degree of humiliation I felt at his question. Twelve shades of innocence, naivety, shock, embarrassment, inadequacy, and fear all weighed on me. "The Bishop has asked that you speak on Sunday," he started. "And, your topic is sexual purity."
Copies of the newly revised For the Strength of Youth Pamphlet were recently distributed to the young men and young women (12-18 year olds) in our ward. As I thumbed through one, I began to wax a bit nostalgic. I'm not going to tell you how old I am, but I will tell you that the first version of this inspired little pamphlet came out when I was a young woman. Perhaps I only remember this because our Bishop decided to dedicate a whole Sacrament Meeting to the introduction of it. Namely, to have a youth briefly share each of the twelve standards outlined.
It's funny how time changes things. I don't know how I did it, but somehow I talked that "cute, older boy" into trading me topics. Perhaps he just felt sorry for me. Maybe he just possessed the maturity to cover it that I didn't. Whatever the case, I was uber-grateful then and I think I've more than made up for it by now.
Don't worry, I'm not about to hop on my soapbox and promote sexual purity - although, if you want me to I'm more than happy to do it. What I am going to say, however, is this:
Thank you to The First Presidency of the LDS Church for being in-tune enough with our youth to provide them with more guidance. Our world is different than it was all those years ago when I wiggled my way out of talking about a "sensitive" subject, and our kids need honest facts and guidelines to help them navigate. I was excited to compare all three versions of the pamphlet next to each other and to find that each revision has merely been an upgrade. Truths that were taught when I was young continue to be taught, but now with more detail. Sexual purity has grown from a five paragraph guideline (1990 edition), then nine (2001 edition), and ultimately to an eleven paragraph one (copyright 2011). Not only that, but those initial 12 guidelines have grown to 18!
What a blessing this little book can be to our youth. I'm grateful for the opportunity to review it again and to use it as a guide as I teach my children to be steadfast and valiant in their preparations to meet God.