I am very happy to be teaching this lesson today. Pornography is a topic that is close to my heart, for my first husband struggled with it immensely. I know today’s topic may be a little uncomfortable, and I don’t expect you to give lots of personal experiences. If you have any questions about my experience, feel free to ask. I hope today that we leave here with a greater understanding of what pornography is, how to safeguard against pornography, and also how to react and help if someone we love or ourselves has a porn addiction.
FIDELITY AND JOY AND BEAUTY IN MARRIAGE
“One reason we are here on earth is to learn to manage the passions and feelings of our mortal bodies. These God-given feelings help us want to marry and have children. The intimate marriage relationship between a man and a woman that brings children into mortality is also meant to be a beautiful, loving experience that binds together two devoted hearts, unites both spirit and body, and brings a fulness of joy and happiness as we learn to put each other first.“
Quote 1: Elder Holland said, “Why is lust such a deadly sin? Well, in addition to the completely Spirit-destroying impact it has upon our souls, I think it is a sin because it defiles the highest and holiest relationship God gives us in mortality—the love that a man and a woman have for each other and the desire that couple has to bring children into a family intended to be forever. Someone said once that true love must include the idea of permanence. True love endures. But lust changes as quickly as it can turn a pornographic page or glance at yet another potential object for gratification walking by, male or female. True love we are absolutely giddy about… But lust is characterized by shame and stealth and is almost pathologically clandestine—the later and darker the hour the better, with a double-bolted door just in case. Love makes us instinctively reach out to God and other people. Lust, on the other hand, is anything but godly and celebrates self-indulgence. Love comes with open hands and open heart; lust comes with only an open appetite.”
PORNOGRAPHY IS OFTEN A CHOICE AND BECOMES ADDICTIVE
Elder Holland said: “Immoral activity is not just a man’s problem, and husbands aren’t the only ones offending. The compromise available at the click of a mouse—including what can happen in a chat room’s virtual encounter—is no respecter of persons, male or female, young or old, married or single.”
Quote 2: True to the Faith – Pornography
Pornography is any material depicting or describing the human body or sexual conduct in a way that arouses sexual feelings. It is distributed through many media, including magazines, books, television, movies, music, and the Internet. It is as harmful to the spirit as tobacco, alcohol, and drugs are to the body. Using pornographic material in any way is a violation of a commandment of God: “Thou shalt not … commit adultery … nor do anything like unto it” (D&C 59:6). It can lead to other serious sins. Members of the Church should avoid pornography in any form and should oppose its production, distribution, and use.
Note: I would add music videos, video games, texting, social media posts and pictures, photo advertisements in catalogs and in store windows, and products themselves.
Example: My husband got some Axe shower gel on sale once. On the back, the message was essentially that you can get a woman if you use this product. We will never buy that product again.
Note: Any material that arouses sexual feelings. Nakedness is not always the case.
Quote 3: Elder Oaks: Some seek to justify their indulgence by arguing that they are only viewing “soft,” not “hard,” porn. A wise bishop called this refusing to see evil as evil. He quoted men seeking to justify their viewing choices by comparisons such as “not as bad as” or “only one bad scene.” But the test of what is evil is not its degree but its effect. When persons entertain evil thoughts long enough for the Spirit to withdraw, they lose their spiritual protection and they are subject to the power and direction of the evil one. When they use Internet or other pornography for what this bishop described as “arousal on demand” (letter of Mar. 13, 2005), they are deeply soiled by sin.
Any specific examples? I have an example: I used to play a video game called “The Sims.” Though there was no nudity or sex scenes, there was passionate kissing, and an option for pole dancing if you purchased a pole.
OPEN COMMUNICATION SO KIDS FEEL COMFORTABLE CONFIDING IN YOU. PRAY TOGETHER.
Sister Reeves spoke of her daughter crying because she saw a pornographic TV show. She felt horrible. Her mother soothed her, and they prayed together for Heavenly Father’s help and comfort.
Note: As a kid of about 10 or so, I saw a playboy magazine, scenes from an adult movie, and played with barbies in an inappropriate way. This was when I was playing at a friend’s house without her mother’s supervision.
Question: This daughter felt comfortable coming to her mother and telling her of what she had seen. Why do you think she felt that she could? What can we do so our kids will come to us?
COUNSEL AND TEACH CHILDREN ABOUT PORNOGRAPHY AND ITS DANGERS.
“We as parents and leaders need to counsel with our children and youth on an ongoing basis, listening with love and understanding. They need to know the dangers of pornography and how it overtakes lives, causing loss of the Spirit, distorted feelings, deceit, damaged relationships, loss of self-control, and nearly total consumption of time, thought, and energy.”
Advice from Jeffrey J Ford, MS, a marriage and family therapist in St. George:
- Have many conversations about porn to clarify values, express opinions, instill truths about sexuality, and answer questions.
- Give children practical strategies to be able to address issues that will come up in their lives.
- Children need a safe place to talk about porn, and it should be with you.
The Utah Coalition Against Pornography gave this advice:
- Tell your kids about your experiences with porn.
- Encourage your kids to tell you within 10 minutes if they have seen porn.
- Praise your kids for telling you if they have seen porn.
Advice from the pastor at St. Mark’s church:
- If we teach our kids about sex and their bodies, they won’t feel like they need to look up this information for themselves and then come in contact with porn. We should tell our kids the truth when they ask it, and look for teachable moments.
- We should praise our children when they make correct choices.
- The devil does not want us to talk about the dangers of pornography or any other sexual sin. “Silence is a wreckless option.” Our kids can only make good sexual choices if they know what they are.
MAKE FAMILY PLANS WITH STANDARDS. MOBILE DEVICES WITH INTERNET ARE BIGGEST CULPRIT.
Elder Ballard gave us 7 things we can do to minimize the negative effects of our media choices in our families. They are:
- We need to hold family councils and decide what our media standards are going to be.
- We need to spend enough quality time with our children that we are consistently the main influence in their lives, not the media or any peer group.
- We need to make good media choices ourselves and set good examples for our children.
- We need to limit the amount of time our children watch TV or play video gamesor use the Internet each day. Virtual reality must not become their reality.
- We need to use Internet filtersand TV programming locks to prevent our children from “chancing upon” things they should not see.
*Internet filters – example – k9webprotection.com or opendns.com
*For cell phones you can install parental controls or completely disable internet and texting(example Kids Place)
- We need to have TVs and computers in a much-used common room in the home, not in a bedroom or a private place.
- We need to take time to watch appropriate media with our children and discuss with them how to make choices that will uplift and build rather than degrade and destroy.
Other things we can do:
- Ensure that every child or teen gives father and mother usernames and passwords for all email accounts, facebook accounts, and review them as the spirit prompts.
- Review children’s “friends” list with them regularly. Make sure they actually know the person in real life. Ask them how they know this friend, and where they met them. Instruct them not to connect with “friends” that they met online, and NEVER to meet anyone in person that they only know from online interactions.
- Parents should consider setting up an account for yourself, and become “friends” with your children. This allows for periodic reviews of children’s pages.
SPIRITUAL FILTERS – TESTIMONY, SCRIPTURES, PRAYER, FHE. THE SPIRIT WILL BE MORE ABUNDANT IN OUR HOMES.
“Filters are useful tools, but the greatest filter in the world, the only one that will ultimately work, is the personal internal filter that comes from a deep and abiding testimony of our Heavenly Father’s love and our Savior’s atoning sacrifice for each one of us.
Answer to prayer: “It is OK if the house is a mess and the children are still in their pajamas and some responsibilities are left undone. The only things that really need to be accomplished in the home are daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening.”
Quote 4: David A. Bednar:
“Within the walls of our own homes, we can and should bear pure testimony of the divinity and reality of the Father and the Son, of the great plan of happiness, and of the Restoration….Feeling the power, the edification, and the constancy of testimony from a spouse, a parent, or a child is a rich blessing. Such testimony fortifies faith and provides direction. Such testimony generates light in a world that grows increasingly dark. Such testimony is the source of an eternal perspective and of enduring peace…
Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work in our individual lives and as we become more diligent and concerned in our own homes *(October 2009 – More Diligent and Concerned at Home).”
PROTECTION IF YOU DO FAMILY HISTORY AND ATTEND THE TEMPLE
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles also said in regards to participating in family history and temple work: “I can think of no greater protection from the influence of the adversary in your life” (“The Joy of Redeeming the Dead,”Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 94).
PROTECTION FROM FOLLOWING THE PROPHET
President Harold B. Lee said: “You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may conflict with your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life … Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow … Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church.” (Conference Report, October 1970, p. 152–153.)
President Wilford Woodruff stated: “I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God.” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 212–13.)
BOOK OF MORMON OFFERS PROTECTION WHEN COUPLED WITH PRAYER
Boyd K Packer said, “The scriptures hold the keys to spiritual protection. They contain the doctrine and laws and ordinances that will bring each child of God to a testimony of Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer. (The Key to Spiritual Protection October 2013)”
SPIRITUAL WELL-BEING IS IN OUR HANDS
Youth, take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being. Turn off your phone if necessary, sing a Primary song, pray for help, think of a scripture, walk out of a movie, picture the Savior, take the sacrament worthily, study For the Strength of Youth, be an example to your friends, confide in a parent, go see your bishop, ask for help, and seek professional counseling, if needed.
Quote 5: Do not attend, view, or participate in anything that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in anything that presents immorality or violence as acceptable. Have the courage to walk out of a movie, change your music, or turn off a computer, television, or mobile device if what you see or hear drives away the Spirit. (Entertainment and Media – For the Strength of Youth)
Quote 6: Counsel from Jeffrey R Holland:
- Above all, start by separating yourself from people, materials, and circumstances that will harm you.
- Along with filters on computers and a lock on affections, remember that the only real control in life is self-control. If a TV show is indecent, turn it off. If a movie is crude, walk out. If an improper relationship is developing, sever it. Many of these influences, at least initially, may not technically be evil, but they can blunt our judgment, dull our spirituality, and lead to something that could be evil.
- Like thieves in the night, unwelcome thoughts can and do seek entrance to our minds…Replace lewd thoughts with hopeful images and joyful memories; picture the faces of those who love you and would be shattered if you let them down.
- Cultivate and be where the Spirit of the Lord is. Make sure that includes your own home or apartment, dictating the kind of art, music, and literature you keep there. If you are endowed, go to the temple as often as your circumstances allow. And when you leave the temple, remember the symbols you take with you, never to be set aside or forgotten.
WHEN A LOVED ONE SAYS HE/SHE HAS AN ADDICTION, REACT POSITIVELY
“We would be wise not to react with shock, anger, or rejection, which may cause them to be silent again.”
Quote 7: President Eyring taught: Parents may wonder how best to respond upon learning that a son or daughter is involved with pornography. The following suggestions may be helpful:
- Avoid responding with shock or anger. Instead, be genuinely concerned and talk with the child in a respectful way.
- Express your love and your desire for your child to have a happy, successful life.
- Ask how the problem began, how long it has been going on, and how extensively the child is involved with pornography.
- Find out how the child feels about his or her involvement and whether he or she plans to continue that involvement.
- Avoid preaching, threatening, or condemning. Rather, appeal to your child’s better judgment. Admonish him or her “with all the feeling of a tender parent” to listen to your counsel (see 1 Nephi 8:37).
- Teach your child about the dangers of pornography—how it distorts sexuality, causes users to view others as sexual objects, leads to various forms of immorality, and addicts its users.
- Share your concern that involvement in pornography can jeopardize your child’s future happiness and eternal well-being and cause spiritual death and eternal disappointment.
- Encourage your child to talk with the bishop and to get professional help if needed.
- Provide help and encouragement as the child strives to overcome the problem.
- Once the problem has been brought into the open, keep the lines of communication open. Sexual transgressions thrive in secrecy but are less likely to recur when talked about in a sensitive, caring way.
Note: This counsel can also work well on spouses or other loved ones who are dealing with porn. My husband did not confess, rather I figured it out. No matter how we find out, we should follow these guidelines. It can be very hard, though. We always talk about loving the sin and not the sinner, but in cases of sexual sin, that gets so much harder.
THERE IS COMFORT FOR THOSE SUFFERING FROM OTHERS’ SINS
“We as leaders are also greatly concerned about the spouses and families of those suffering from pornography addiction. Elder Richard G. Scott has pleaded: “If you are free of serious sin yourself, don’t suffer needlessly the consequences of another’s sins. … You can feel compassion. … Yet you should not take upon yourself a feeling of responsibility for those acts.”3 Know that you are not alone. There is help. Addiction recovery meetings for spouses are available, including phone-in meetings, which allow spouses to call in to a meeting and participate from their own homes.”
Quote 8 – Elder C. Scott Grow said: “The Savior felt the weight of the anguish of all mankind―the anguish of sin and of sorrow. “Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.” Through His Atonement, He heals not only the transgressor, but He also heals the innocent who suffer because of those transgressions. As the innocent exercise faith in the Savior and in His Atonement and forgive the transgressor, they too can be healed” (“The Miracle of the Atonement,” April 2011 General Conference).
*James E Faust spoke of forgiveness in a talk entitled “The Healing Power of Forgiveness,” Ensign, May 2007. In it, he made some points that can help:
- “Forgiveness is not always instantaneous.”2
- “Most of us need time to work through pain and loss.”3
- “Forgiveness comes more readily when … we have faith in God and trust in His word.”4
- “If we will get on our knees and ask Heavenly Father for a feeling of forgiveness, He will help us.”5
“Sisters, I testify of the strength and power of prayer as we express our deepest pains and desires to our Heavenly Father and of the answers that are received as we “feast upon” the scriptures and the words of the living prophets” (Linda S. Reeves, “Claim the Blessings of Your Covenants,” General Relief Society Broadcast, October 2013).
THE LORD LOVES YOU AND WILL HELP HEAL YOU AND MAKE YOU CLEAN.
Young people and adults, if you are caught in Satan’s trap of pornography, remember how merciful our beloved Savior is. Do you realize how deeply the Lord loves and cherishes you, even now? Our Savior has the power to cleanse and heal you. He can remove the pain and sorrow you feel and make you clean again through the power of His Atonement…He has paid the price for our sins, but we must kneel before our Father in Heaven, in deep humility, confessing our sins, and plead with Him for forgiveness. We must want to change our hearts and our desires and be humble enough to seek the help and forgiveness of those we may have hurt or forsaken.
Note: It is so necessary to see the Bishop and work with him to repent. When I was dating my now ex-husband, he told me he used to have an addiction to porn but he was over it. How naïve I was to assume that was the end of it. He went back into it again when we were married. It takes a lot of work, dedication and humility to overcome this addiction.
Note: The church has an addiction recovery program. Visit addictionrecovery.lds.org. Meetings are at the stake center at 7 on Sundays. There are also telephone meetings out of other states on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.
***Overcomingpornography.org is a wonderful website that addresses everything we have talked about today and much, much more.