These are some brief notes I put together for my youth Sunday School lesson using the theme How can I help others understand my standards? Paul asked me to put them up here in case someone else finds them useful.

Open by reviewing the experience Al Fox (the “tattooed Mormon”) had on her first trip to Utah.

Discuss: What did the man in line do wrong? What could he have done instead? Why would Al Fox’s (presumably) LDS friends warn her that she might not fit in living in Utah? Do we have a poor reputation in tolerance?

Soap box: briefly introduce the idea of religious pluralism and the increasing need to learn to get along with those of different standards and views. Briefly discuss what it means to be self-righteous and what effects it can have on others (and on oneself).

“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12

Discuss: What does this scripture have to do with the lesson theme? What are the characteristics we are supposed to have when being an example?

 Role playing

Put forth several scenarios that involve a difference in standards and an opportunity to explain them. Show an example of a poor communication attempt, ask the kids to critique it, then get someone to demonstrate a better communication attempt.

  • One of your friends only wants to watch PG- or G- rated movies, but everyone else wants to see the latest PG-13 blockbuster
  • Same scenario, except now you are the one who is uncomfortable with PG-13 movies
  • Your parents let you watch a certain TV show and your friend is over, but his parents don’t him watch that show
  • Same scenario, except now you are the one whose parents don’t let watch the show
  • Your Muslim friend believes that females should cover their hair, otherwise they are being immodest
  • You are being invited to the party of the century, but you’re certain it won’t meet your standards regarding the kinds of activities going on. Your friends all want to go and are calling you a wet blanket.

Reiterate: it’s possible to be respectful of other people’s standards without yielding ground on your own

The Good Samaritan

The ultimate example of caring deeply for and respecting someone with a totally different background (read: standards), all the while still holding to one’s own standards (Luke 10:25-37)

Other thoughts

Discuss items from Answering Gospel Questions article, in particular, “Assume good intentions” and “Learn from each other”. Also, “Be comfortable not knowing all of the answers”, although, if you don’t know them, go find out! Standards are so much more meaningful when we have a good “why” behind them.

I'm a heterodox Mormon who's lived my whole life in northern Utah, apart from a mission in Spain. I love exploring our theology and finding in it new ways to bring meaning to my life. In the church I'm a Sunday School teacher for the teenagers, which is a very fun and challenging calling. I have been married four years and my wife and I have a daughter who's almost a year old.

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