BYU students give insights on patience, doctrine at BYU Religious Education Student Symposium 

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Sean Magoffin presents evolving views surrounding birth control in the context of Church doctrine. The slideshow contained key dates of when policies regarding birth control were implemented within the Church. (Bailey Bushman)

Key speakers Mark Norton and Sean Magoffin dove deep into the themes of patience and distinctions between doctrine and policy at the BYU Religious Education Student Symposium on Feb. 16.

Norton and Magoffin, along with several other BYU students, discussed different aspects of doctrine specific to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Norton began with a reflection on waiting and patience, drawing parallels between the Savior’s ministry and the anticipation felt by individuals like Lazarus.

“If Christ could raise Lazarus from the dead, then a lost loved one will be loved again. If Christ can calm a stormy sea, he can calm a stormy heart or a family who hasn’t spoken for years,” Norton said.

Norton showcases this stained glass artwork. He emphasized how there are both light and dark spots in the painting, just like how there are in our lives. (Bailey Bushman)

Norton also drew parallels between stained glass and the gospel. Similar to standing in the light and witnessing the vibrant colors of a stained glass window, the beauty of the gospel becomes more intricate and complex when we stay near the light of Christ, Norton said.

There may be dark parts, but context allows us to see God as “The Maestro” orchestrating the plan, Norton said. The analogy offered attendees a poetic perspective on the profound beauty of gospel teachings.

Transitioning to the eternal family, Magoffin unraveled the complex relationship between doctrine and policy. He explained how the eternal family was never a backup plan but a fundamental aspect of God’s grand design.

“Doctrine isn’t found in one line or one verse of a talk,” he said. “It never changes, but policy does depending on our needs.”

Navigating the topic of birth control, Magoffin shed light on the historical context that influenced policies on birth control, considering societal shifts and the evolving needs of God’s children.

Magoffin highlighted the doctrinal foundation of the family being ordained of God, with the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth. He guided the audience through historical shifts, from mass sterilization programs to the eventual acceptance of birth control within the Church.

Luncheon awaits students and their families after the symposium. Students gathered together and talked about what led them to their choice of topic. (Bailey Bushman)

Magoffin shared findings from a survey he carried out with nearly 200 married women at BYU ages 18-26. 

“81% young married women in the Church ages 18-26 are using birth control, closely aligning with the national statistic of 76%,” Magoffin said.

He concluded by reiterating the importance of understanding the difference between doctrine and policy, urging individuals to navigate their lives based on the unchanging principles of doctrine.

The BYU Religious Education Student Symposium is held every year in February. The symposium gives BYU students a platform to present their research and writing on religious topics to their peers.

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