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The following was written by Erin Stewart for the Deseret News. To read the full article, click here.
When I was a teenager, I felt the need to counsel with my LDS bishop about behaviors I wanted to stop. I remember the day vividly. I was nervous to talk to him, even though my bishop at the time was a longtime, trusted family friend. Still, I was a young girl and the topic was embarrassing.
Fortunately for me, my bishop was everything a bishop should be. He was kind and caring. When I felt like I should include a few more details, he stopped me and said that was not necessary, and really, not appropriate either. The fact that I was there, willing to change, was all he needed to hear.
I left feeling loved by both my God and by this man who I believe acted as his servant on earth. I believe most leaders within the LDS Church are like him.
Still, the idea of one-on-one interviews with church leaders has become a hot-button topic. In March, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced policy changes for these interviews, specifying that children, youth and women can invite another adult to join them.
And in June, the church again updated guidelines for these interviews, which include a list of questions to be shared with parents and youths before the first interview.
Nothing previously prohibited a youth of any age from asking for a parent to be in the room during a bishop’s interview. But the new policy clarifies: “When a member of a bishopric or stake presidency or another assigned leader meets with a child, youth, or woman, he or she should ask a parent or another adult to be in an adjoining room, foyer, or hall. If the person being interviewed desires, another adult may be invited to be present during the interview. Leaders should avoid all circumstances that could be misunderstood.”
I hope with this policy change, all youth will be educated on the option of having a third person in the room before they begin discussing private matters. This could be a parent, a youth leader or an adult friend.
Not everyone will choose this option. In some cases, having that third person present may impede confessionals or inhibit a youth or woman from sharing necessary details about circumstances at home or in a marriage.
Children should always have a choice if they don’t want to be alone with an adult, discussing things of a private or sexual nature.
Acknowledging that does not mean I think any less of bishops, who in my experience are good, hardworking men giving their time and energy to help the people in their ward.
To read the full article, click here.