Posts Tagged ‘Pornography’
Many years ago, I went through a difficult repentance process. Let me qualify that. I began a difficult repentance process. I am still going through it. In my opinion there are certain people who once they repent of some sin, are able to forget about it and move on. They no longer think about their mistake. It was a one-time problem. They got over it. The effects have been removed.
This has not been the case with me. Now you may say, “Well, it’s because you haven’t repented fully, or you haven’t forgiven yourself. If you have truly followed all the steps of repentance then you are supposed to be able to rejoice and live your life as if nothing ever happened.” I’ll just bet you’ve heard that before, haven’t you? In fact, I think I’ve shared that advice with some people.
A Conversation with My Bishop
Let me tell you about a conversation I had with my bishop as I completed the first phase of my repentance process and he gave me my temple recommend. I was very grateful. I knew my family would be very pleased. A temple recommend meant I could go on a mission. It meant I had met the requirements set by the church to qualify for entrance into the house of the Lord.
After signing the recommend, handing it to me, shaking my hand – in fact, he may have given me a hug – the Bishop asked if I had any questions. I was only nineteen but it had been a long hard process for me to repent and get myself ready for the temple. I had done a lot of reading and a lot of thinking about what it means to repent and what it means to be forgiven. So I asked him:
A Temple Recommend Received
“Bishop, I’m grateful to have this temple recommend. It means a lot to me and to my family. I’m looking forward to being endowed and serving my mission. You know I read the articles and the books you asked, including The Miracle of Forgiveness. That was a pretty difficult book. It had a lot of hard stuff in there. In fact, at one time I thought I could never qualify to go to the temple.
“I read what President Kimball had to say about always having to be wary. In fact, if I remember correctly, I believe he wrote that sexual sin can ‘start a soul on a lifetime of regret and anguish.’ On another page he wrote and I have highlighted that ‘a clearance from the Lord and the leaders of his Church [is required] so that a measure of peace may accompany them through their lives.’
We Must Always Be On Guard
“I don’t remember the exact quote on this one but I seem to recall he wrote a strong warning that we must always be on our guard and always on the lookout for the efforts of the adversary to entice us back into our old sinful ways. In other words, he made it clear that we could never forget that we had sinned. We can never put it out of our mind. The sin will always be with us.”
“Bishop, I’m concerned about statements like those. They make me think there is no way I will ever be able to completely forget about what I have done. They give me the impression that my sin will trouble me all my life. I’ll never be able to forget about it, to let go, to be completely free of the memory of this habit I have worked so hard to overcome. What advice can you give me?”
A Bishop Who Cared Deeply
I’ll never forget his response. He looked tired. I later realized he was serving in the last few months of his five or six years as a bishop. I’ll bet he had held this kind of conversation multiple times with many others before me, most of them young men like me. He took in a deep breath and let it out ever so slowly. He ran his finger along the desk and looked down for a long time.
It struck me that perhaps this was something that he had struggled with in his own mind. As I waited for his advice I got the distinct impression he wished I hadn’t asked him that question. I suddenly felt a deep love for this man who I had met with so often over the past six months. I wondered what he was going to say and why it seemed there were tears forming in his eyes.
Requirements for Repentance Met
“Brother Malone,” he said after some time, “as far as I can tell, you have met the requirements for repentance. You have confessed your sin, you have put this behind you and you have told me that you have felt the forgiveness of the Lord as you have prayed about it. Isn’t that right?” There was almost a pleading look in his eyes as he confirmed with me that I had done all those things.
“Yes,” I said, “I have done everything you have asked. As far as I know I have repented. And yes, I have felt the love of the Lord as I have prayed about it. I have felt a sense of peace as I have thought about my repentance, as if the Lord is pleased and has accepted my efforts.” I could not think of anything more I could say to convince him that I had done all I knew how to do.
There are no Guarantees
“Then, Brother Malone,” he said slowly, “all I can say is this.” He paused, almost as if it pained him to say what he was about to share. “You simply go about your life, living from day to day, doing all within your power to keep this sin behind you. I can tell you that it will be difficult. All you can do is endure to the end of your life and pray that you are still worthy when you die.”
I sat a little stunned. It was not what I expected to hear. I thought he would say something like, “Well, now you can ask the Lord to take away the memory of your sin. You’ve repented, so you have the right to do that.” Nope. He specifically said I would remember my sin, that it would be something I would have to continue to work on all my life and that there were no guarantees.
A Lifetime of Service
I thanked him. I went to the temple. I served my mission faithfully. I kept free from the habit that had caused me such distress in my youth for many years, but sadly it came back later in life. In fact, it came and it went many times over the years, even after I was married – in the temple. My bishop was right. There were no guarantees. I still struggle to keep myself free from this sin.
Because of constant repentance I have been able to keep my temple recommend all these years. Sometimes I feel more worthy than at other times in my life, especially as I keep busy in actively serving others through teaching the gospel or helping the ward and stake priesthood leadership as a clerk or counselor. But I have always wondered why I could never be truly free of this sin.
In Peril Every Hour
Many of you know that I have been actively reading the works of Denver Snuffer for the last year and a half since I was introduced to his writings. I thought that perhaps I would find in his books something refuting the counsel of this bishop. I thought I would find some statement the Lord had made, or something found in the scriptures that I had missed about being forgiven.
Nope. In fact, Denver makes a statement that as long as we are mortal, as long as we have not come into the presence of the Lord and been ministered to by him, we remain in danger. If I remember correctly, he states that we must have our calling and election made sure in order to have any promise that we will be exalted after this life. And then of course, there are still risks.
The effects of Sexual Sin
The obvious advice to us all is to never get entangled in sin, especially sexual sin, which, in terms of severity, is considered the sin next to murder (see my qualifying note below). Now admittedly, pornography and masturbation are not the same as fornication or adultery, but nevertheless, they are sexual sin. They make one unclean and impure before the Lord. Repentance from such is still a hard process.
I now understand why my good bishop was so tender-hearted when he gave me the advice I asked for at age nineteen. He knew what I was going to have to go though, even though I had repented. He knew I would have to continue to repent all my life. I don’t know how he knew that. Perhaps he knew it from personal experience but I would never assume such a thing.
Say Nothing but Repentance
Joseph was commanded to say nothing but repentance to this generation. I know when my stake presidency is inspired and acting under the spirit of the Lord when they remind the priesthood brethren in our stake that we need to be wary of pornography, keep away from it and confess to our bishops if we are having problems. Pornography saps power from the priesthood of the man.
It hurts when I hear them say that. It reminds me that I am a sinner, an addict and that I must be always on my guard to keep free from this sin. I have to be very careful about what websites I visit and what TV shows I watch. In fact, I try to not watch TV at all. I would rather read. Even though it hurts to hear, I am grateful my stake president warns us to beware of pornography.
Hope for Repentant Sinners
Some have said that if the church would stop talking about pornography, it would cease to be a problem. I’ve never understood that logic. The Lord commanded the leaders of the church to warn the members against sin. If they don’t, they would not be doing their duty. Perhaps what the critics are saying is that the leaders need to be careful to encourage those who have sinned.
Perhaps if there is any advice I could offer anyone in this church who deals with this problem is what the reader of one of my recent posts wrote in a private email dialog: “Stop being so hard on yourself. You have obviously repented. You should celebrate your life and the good things the Lord has done for you.” Good advice. But it’s still hard knowing I must always be on my guard.
The Best Advice I Can Offer
So here’s the best advice I can offer, and it comes from another reader. This is a summary of what Good Will left on my post Born of the Spirit for Addicts. After quoting Moroni 10:32-33, he wrote, “…you do not deny yourself of all ungodliness by your own virtue, grace, power or strength, but by His.” Of course, in order to do that, we must have those attributes from Him.
In other words, you’ll never be able to do it on your own power. You’ll never be enough. You MUST have the strength of the Lord in order to overcome and master the flesh. Because He is virtuous, you will be virtuous. Because He has power over the flesh, you can have power over the flesh. Because He is clean, you can be clean. But you MUST be enveloped in His love.
Faith beyond Intellectual Understanding
I’m not going to say this is a new concept for me, but perhaps it is one that I have somehow limited to an intellectual understanding only. The objective of the Lord in working with us is to change our hearts, to cause us to be born again, to receive that baptism by fire, to be cleansed from the effects of sin, every whit. But I know it’s simply not something I can do on my own.
I suppose for me, my intellectual strength has become a liability in this area. I just can’t seem to get past the idea that I know it must happen, but I don’t understand how to make it happen. I pray for it, I fast for it, I do all within my power to serve, to bless others, to be kind and unselfish, and in short, to live my life in a way that I think would be pleasing and to invite the Lord’s presence.
I Must be Missing Something
I confess I am still struggling. I guess what I’m saying is that I know the answer to happiness, but even after nearly forty years of repenting, I haven’t quite figured out how to make this a real day to day power that gives me the strength to say that I am redeemed of the Lord and have His strength and power with me. I take the sacrament each week and feel strengthened, but still…
I’ll bet some of you are slapping your hand to your head and saying to yourself, “Tim, you just don’t get it. It’s so easy. Here’s all you have to do…” I would love to hear from you. I’ve been working on this for most of my life and still feel the pains of an anguished soul every time the topic comes up in a priesthood meeting. How can I ensure the Lord is dwelling within me?
The Savior will take Up His Abode
I’m not looking for simple primary answers – pray, read the scriptures, take the sacrament, exercise faith, attend to your duties, give service, magnify callings, etc. I do all that. I’m looking for answers from someone who has gone through this and knows what it takes. Am I looking beyond the mark? Is it really as simple as asking in prayer each day to have the Lord with you?
I guess I’m looking for something more. I pray for the spirit to be with me each day and I do feel the help of the spirit. Is there a difference between having the spirit with you and having the presence of the Lord with you? I am convinced there is. The scripture says the Lord will come and dwell with you. I think I’m missing that step. For those who get it, will you ‘splain it to me?
Invitation to Dialog and Connect
Thanks. I don’t care if you berate me for not understanding. I have been a teacher and leader in this church for all my life and I confess I simply don’t get it. If you do, please be merciful and share with me how you have done it – how you have invited the Lord to dwell with you and KNOW that He has come in to make his home with you. It seems a step above where I am now.
I get that I need the Lord’s virtue and the Lord’s power to give me strength to resist sin and to take away my desire for sin, which seems to hit me every few months whenever something important or stressful comes into my life. Satan knows my old weakness and hits me up every time the Lord wants to give me something more and move me along a step on my progression.
Advice for a Repentant Sinner
I’ll be forever grateful if you get it and will share in the comments or email: tmalonemcse @ gmail.com. God bless you for your kindness and thoughtfulness in sharing your thoughts and ideas. I’m committed to the Lord. I love Him and have experienced marvelous manifestations of His love so many times over the years. I feel his spirit with me almost every day of my life.
What I’m looking for is a way to find some sort of guarantee that temptation will have no more power over me when it comes along. I’m looking for a way to say and know that I have been born of the spirit and have no more desire to sin, as the scripture says. If you’ve achieved this and can say that you are never tempted, talk to me. Or am I simply living in a fantasy world?
This is not a politically correct post. There are so many things that can be found objectionable I will list them right up front. In the end, I hope something I provide here will be helpful to those who struggle with addictions. I recognize this is a difficult subject in today’s enlightened world.
First is the idea of a spirit. If you don’t believe we have one, then you may find all this amusing. That’s OK. My life experience has led me to believe otherwise. No, I can’t prove we have a spirit and I don’t think anybody can prove it to your satisfaction if you choose not to believe it.
I accept the idea that I have a spirit, or more correctly that I am an eternal spirit temporarily housed in a physical body. This belief is a part of my faith, a fundamental part of my religion. I am certain I am not alone in this belief. Millions, if not billions of people feel the same way.
The Spirit World
Second is the idea that spirits can hang around after death. Those who do believe we have a spirit may be inclined to think all spirits go somewhere else when they leave the body. To some, it’s either heaven or hell, to others it’s paradise or spirit prison. That’s just not always true. Again, I base that on some of my personal life experiences so far and those shared with me by others.
I happen to be one who believes that not all spirits go to a place of happiness or rest. Does that mean I believe in ghosts? No, I don’t believe the spirit can normally be seen with our physical eyes. But yes, I do believe there are spirits hanging around who were not happy to discover they continued to exist after death and are now missing, even craving pleasures of their mortal body.
In my faith we are taught and I believe the spirit world is right here on earth among us. Most Mormons believe that the spirits of the departed can and do look upon us from time to time. If this is true for our loved ones, then the same is true for those who may not have lived such a good life. Rapists, murderers, adulterers, child molesters, and just plain dirty, nasty people go somewhere and that somewhere is right here or wherever they liked to hang out when alive.
Third is the idea that addictions can be caused by something other than standard explanations. Addictions to tobacco, alcohol, drugs, pornography, sex, gambling and even food have been extensively studied and explained as natural physical responses. Biology and brain chemistry play a large part in addiction but interestingly, so does genetic makeup and family history.
What if there is another explanation, one that has been around for thousands of years that could help us understand and overcome addictions? I’m sure you’ve heard it before. Most people have. It’s commonly dismissed as harmful in light of today’s scientific proof of how things work. We should rightly be concerned when someone attributes their addiction to any outside source.
When someone leaves this world with a habit or addiction to a physical pleasure, that addiction doesn’t just leave them. Addictions are more than physical. They are spiritual. Unless they have mastered them, a person who is now in the spirit world still craves the pleasures of the body. They continue to seek them out. I believe under certain, specific conditions, these disembodied spirits can temporarily co-habit or possess those who are still mortal but their bounds are limited.
OK, now I’ve gone all “spooky” on you. Talk about possession scares people. I understand that. It’s unfortunate that our perception of spirit possession is so skewed to the weird side of things. Movies like the Exorcist or The Shining have totally messed up our understanding of something that is referred to in the scriptures so matter-of-factly. I wrote an essay about this previously. The wide variety of comments on that essay demonstrates the interest people have in the subject.
In that essay I referred to a documented account of a conversation between a priesthood holder and an individual possessed of an evil spirit. I share that privately with those who request it. I’d like to take the dialog from that essay another step down the road of understanding. Throw out the false ideas of spirit possession from overly dramatic media characterizations. Instead, think about people you know who suffer from addictions. You may have some in your own family.
If you have studied the subject of addiction or talked with someone who suffers from addiction you know there are times they feel “out of control,” like they can do nothing other than the very course of action they are trying to resist. This is beyond a mere habit. I’m referring to a feeling that someone or something is taking over. Resistance makes it more noticeable. Unless you suffer from an unwanted addiction yourself, you may not be able to comprehend this feeling.
Shield of Protection
Let’s take the case of someone who drinks until they either pass out or blackout. We say they lose control of themselves. In the case of the blackout drunk, someone is obviously in charge of the body, even if the original owner is unable to remember it later. If you want to know more about what happens to drunks who pass out, read what George Ritchie had to say about it in his book “Return from Tomorrow.” I quote extensively from that book on one of my other blogs.
It is from Dr. Ritchie that I first learned about the shield of protection found in the human body. Some people call this our energy field. Western medicine has all but decimated any belief in the body’s energy fields. You’ll have to go to those who study or practice Eastern medicine to come to an understanding of how they work. I accept the reality of human energy fields as a part of my religion. No, it’s not taught in the LDS Church, but I accept truth from whatever source it comes.
The shield of protection can be weakened or breached when we participate in activities that are below our value standards. It can also be breached when we take offense at what someone has said or done. This shield of protection is composed of light, but a light purer than our eyes can comprehend. One of the objectives of this life is to gather light and to strengthen our shield. The weakening or loss of that shield of light can allow disembodied spirits to co-habit a mortal being.
Now let’s consider another type of addiction. I’ve also written about this extensively before. To this day I still receive private email requests for help in response to my essay on “Healing from Pornography Addiction.” I didn’t spell it out clearly in that essay but I’m sure I have elsewhere on this blog. There is no difference between what George Ritchie saw happen to the drunks and what happens to individuals who participate in pornography and masturbation. It’s that simple.
When viewing pornography, the individual is allowing those disembodied spirits to use their body, even if just for a few moments, so they can vicariously experience sexual pleasure again. I know many of my readers will find this offensive, but I’ve had enough experience in dealing with men in church disciplinary councils who can attest to this fact. A practice the world teaches is natural and normal is in fact, a conduit for unclean spirits to experience the thrill of lust again.
Of course we believe in repentance or change, even after this life. An addicted spirit can resist the addiction, which is now spiritual, but will feel the torment and pull of that addiction even in the spirit. Brigham Young taught that it is a hundred times easier to change while we have our mortal body. That’s why it’s so important we make every effort to master ourselves while we are still alive. It is almost impossible to prove mastery over the flesh when you no longer have it.
The counsel I’m about to share is spiritual and not intended to replace competent medical advice. I’m addressing the spiritual side of addiction, which can be just as powerful as the physical. When we allow a disembodied spirit to use us for a moment, even if it is unintentional, there is something left behind that allows that spirit or another like it to get back in when they want to. Think of it as a chink in the armor, a crack in the light, a trigger or button to be pushed at will.
Now don’t go thinking after reading what I’ve written so far that you’re possessed. A certified stress management consultant can easily ascertain if an individual has any spirit attachments. It’s possible but not as common as some people think. Then of course, there are those who think all this is hogwash anyway, but as I said at the beginning of this essay, I’m not writing for them. I’m reaching out to those who want help overcoming addiction or want to help a loved one do so.
The secret to overcoming a spiritual addiction is very simple. In fact, it’s such a modest proposal that you may be disappointed to learn how unassuming it really is. Note I didn’t say it was easy, just simple. All you have to do is forgive. The trick of course is discovering exactly who and for what. Once the original event that caused the crack in the light is discovered, it can be repaired in just a few moments. The darkness left behind by the disembodied spirit can be eliminated.
Forgiveness is the Key
Remember, this is advice for healing the spiritual and emotional aspects of addiction. Those who suffer from addiction should also seek and receive help to overcome the physical aspects of that addiction, be it alcohol, drugs, tobacco or even food. There are even programs for helping those with sexual addictions, but none of them of which I’m aware address the spiritual aspect. I know of several individuals who are skilled in finding and eliminating hidden spiritual addictions.
Over the years, I have spent considerable time and effort to study and understand the process whereby hidden stress can be identified so it can be resolved. It is not an easy process to learn but it is so much more effective than years of therapy that may or may not work. It involves questioning the intelligence or the innate part of our subconscious that remembers everything. Those who have experienced this process will agree that it produces amazing results.
With just a few moments of questioning the subconscious and receiving measureable yes or no responses, a skilled practitioner of this technique can find the root cause of an addiction. It is almost always traced to an individual from earlier in the person’s life. In either a traumatic event or an offensive situation, something negative passed between these two individuals. The only way to heal the effect is to forgive the other individual involved and almost always oneself.
I could go on and on about this subject. The purpose of this essay is not to titillate you with stories or ideas about evil and unclean spirits. They are not important. Yes, they exist but we should be more concerned with our own battles to master the flesh, not their desire to co-habit ours for a moment. There is a difference between those who were cast out, never to be born, and those who experienced mortality and have refused to go to the light once their life was over.
The idea here is to come to an understanding that sometime in the past, a person who struggles with addiction today may have opened their shield of protection in a moment of weakness, stress, or trauma that allowed an unclean spirit to use them for a time or a season. When the individual regained control of themselves, the spirit departed but left behind some darkness that acts as a trigger or future entry point for that spirit and others to work on until they gain entry again.
Dismiss all this if you will, it matters not to me. You’re welcome to leave comments telling me how deluded and mistaken this is. That’s OK. I’ve heard it all before. I used to think the same way. But if this essay has helped somebody, anybody to find some hope that perhaps their own or a loved one’s “out of control” behavior can be explained, then I will have succeeded in my purpose. Shoot me a private message with your questions or comments. I’m happy to share more.
Here are some individuals who practice the discovery and elimination technique:
Dr. Brad May, Emotional Complex Clearing, Serenity Systems
Dr. Mel Fish, Healing the Inner Self, Cedar City, Utah
Jan Graf, Graf Stress Management, St George, Utah
Tamara Laing, Hope for a Better World, Roy Utah
Russ Stewart, Stress Solutions, Grants Pass, Oregon
Elizabeth Richardson, Mind-Body Stress Management, Rockville, MD
If you know of others or have been helped by this technique, please let me know.
This entry was posted on Sunday, May 20th, 2012 at 8:26 am and is filed under Doctrine, Mormon culture, Personal Revelation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
7 Responses to “Addictions and Disembodied Spirits”
- Roy Says: May 20th, 2012 at 5:59 pm Tim,Thanks for this blog. It lends validity to some of my own experiences and studies. Thanks for your time and efforts on this and other blogs. I find it uplifting and inspiring. I also find it helpful in my personal journey to become more Christ like and hopefully someday to enter into the presence of the Lord along with those I love. Sincerely.
- Janet Owens Says: May 20th, 2012 at 8:05 pm I would be interested in more information on evil spirits that surround us and how to block them. Do they have the power to discern our thoughts?
- admin Says: May 20th, 2012 at 9:27 pm “…there is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart.” D&C 6:16 Of course, we are aware that just as the Lord and his angels can place ideas in our mind, so can the adversary and those who follow him. Those in the spirit world watch and know our actions and can share those with “familiar spirits” such as mediums and psychics. That’s why we are counseled to stay away from fortune tellers or “spiritual advisors.” The way to block the influence of evil spirits is to simply live the gospel: to love the Lord will all our hearts and to serve him in righteousness. Constant prayer and regular gospel study helps us walk through life with the Holy Ghost as out constant companion. We do not need to fear being deceived by the whisperings of the adversary into our minds. We can tell the difference through the light of Christ.
- h_nu Says: May 21st, 2012 at 7:28 pm Do you have any evidence of “energy fields” that protect people? Science has decimated my ability to believe in things for which there isn’t evidence… I have faith about spiritual matters that have scriptural precedent and record … but where is the evidence of a “energy field?” How on earth does this weird speculation get listed as a “faithful blog” This sounds new to me: “When viewing pornography, the individual is allowing those disembodied spirits to use their body, even if just for a few moments, so they can vicariously experience sexual pleasure again”. Do you have any scriptural backups for this type of weirdness. I agree with the church’s standards wrt the law of chastity and the word of wisdom … But this goes much further than any church leader has stated in general conference … I don’t believe in “private teachings”, and there were several apostates who did. I think Hiram page felt like he was getting some private revelations … I hope that anyone who reads this blog completely ignores it. There is a way to forgineveness, but believing false and (crazy) things won’t help you to it…
- admin Says: May 24th, 2012 at 9:07 pm Response to h_nu:I’m not quite sure what you were looking for or what you expected when you came to my blog. Let’s be clear up front. What I write here has to do with my own religious or spiritual beliefs. If you want official LDS Church doctrine, go to their web sites. I’m sharing things on my blog that have helped me on my journey through life. If you find it helpful, then I’m glad. If not, then take your own advice and ignore what I’ve written. It’s obviously not intended for you.
I’m not sure where or who has listed me as a faithful blog. I’ll give you my definition of faithful: One who is true to their covenants made as a member of the church. I think that’s about all you need to include. We accept people into our church who believe all kinds of stuff. I know of a recent convert who is very happy to share with you her Wiccan beliefs. She is a fun and happy person, a real nature lover, enjoying her newfound faith and keeping her baptismal covenants.
If you are serious about your assertion about science then I assume you do not believe that man has a spirit because according to science, we are nothing more than molecules and synapses. You can’t use that argument that you only believe in things for which you have evidence and also claim to have faith. You can’t prove God exists or that love exists. It’s not something you can see. You can’t take it out and show it to me. I can’t show you energy fields but I know they exist.
What I have is the witness of many individuals who have shared with me their experiences in working with energy. If you have never studied chakras or auras then of course it’s going to seem weird to you. I know of individuals who claim to be able to see the auras of others. There are times when I am certain I am seeing something unusual behind a person who is speaking or singing with passion, especially in a worshipful manner. It’s a spiritual gift some people have.
I linked in my essay to two sources that contain sufficient evidence for me that we have energy fields. One is found on my other blog on Holistic Research. I include the background there on how I was first introduced to energy fields, how I was dumbfounded the first time I saw muscle testing in action and my response to the amazing things I read in George Ritchie’s book, Return From Tomorrow. I spent years researching something that my mind said couldn’t be true.
The other is a transcript of an interview I conducted in my research for the book I was planning to write on the subject many years ago. As I wrote in the essay immediately preceding this one, I am most grateful to have been able to meet and interview Jan Graf, who I consider a pioneer in this field. The idea more commonly taught by the early Brethren that disembodied spirits can afflict and torment man came alive for me as I learned of the things Jan encountered in his work.
If you are serious about wanting to know more about the body’s energy fields I will be happy to share with you a transcript of a seminar in which the energy fields are discussed along with a demonstration of how they are balanced. This stuff has been around for years. It’s only recently come into more common knowledge of our civilization steeped in the Western way of thinking – you know, the kind that says I won’t believe in anything not taught in medical school.
You asked for scriptures related to what happens when you view pornography. You also noted that what church leaders have said on the subject in General Conference is a defining source for you on how you view the matter. I don’t know how long you have been in the church but I can assure that this is not a new idea. I have sat at the feet of General Authorities, Stake Presidents and Bishops for years who have taught that lustful behavior brings unclean spirits into your life.
3 Ne 12:28-29 – “…whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery already in his heart. Behold, I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart.” What are “these things” to which Jesus is referring if they are not the feelings of lust placed there by unclean spirits? Lust opens the heart to allow evil spirits in.
D&C 42:22 – “… he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit.” D&C 63:16 adds the additional phrase, “and shall fear.” Think about it. What would cause that fear? Is it fear of punishment, fear of being caught, or perhaps some other kind of fear, the kind that the unclean spirits experience as they await their day of judgment? The guilt and fear that comes from viewing pornography or going to a strip club or wherever else lust is enflamed is placed there by unclean spirits enticing the man.
No unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God. The unclean spirits know this. They are fearful and cower in shame at his presence, therefore they hide. And where do they hide? They hide in those who invite them in through unclean behavior. Why do you think the Lord taught that those who believe could and should cast out unclean spirits in the name of Jesus Christ?
I think you misunderstand my emphasis on forgiveness in this essay. I’m not talking about receiving forgiveness from the Lord. I’m referring to releasing negative energy stored in the body, left there by unclean spirits. The way to get rid of it is to find the original event that caused it, and to forgive the individuals involved in putting it there. That almost always means forgiving oneself for participating in lustful behavior like viewing pornography and masturbating.
These are not private teachings. Disembodied unclean spirits are real. They hang out wherever pornography or public sex is being created, sold or viewed. They also hang out in many LDS homes when good priesthood brethren struggle to deal with them not knowing that they have the power to cast them out if they would only learn to exercise their priesthood in righteousness. In fact, priesthood is not required to cast them out. Women can do so in the name of Jesus Christ.
This is not a pleasant subject to discuss but it gets right to the heart of salvation. Being clean is what it’s all about – the fight in this life. We don’t have to be perfect when we leave this life but we do need to be clean. I don’t want to take along any extra baggage from unclean spirits. I want a bright spirit filled with pure light that comes from keeping covenants and faithful obedience to commandments such as not letting “any of these things” enter into my heart through lust.
By the way, thanks for visiting my blog and having the courage to leave an intelligent comment. I greatly appreciate the questions and reservations you expressed. They help me focus on what is really important in what I was trying to get across and give me a chance to clarify. It’s obvious you read my essay and thought about it. I get that it may be new to you and that it’s not orthodox or mainstream Mormonism, but trust me, this stuff used to be commonly believed in our church.
- Stephen Says: May 25th, 2012 at 5:56 am This morning, Mr Snuffer’s blog referenced Mosiah 3:6 “And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children or men.”Amazing how one could read the Book of Mormon almost daily and have stuff just skip right over you. I suppose that is why we are commanded to never stop reading the scriptures.
- admin Says: May 25th, 2012 at 7:21 am Hi Stephen,I also noticed Denver’s comments on the verse. What a coincidence. I wonder why it is that we don’t hear more of this subject taught from the pulpit today. Perhaps it’s because we don’t want to be perceived as “weird.” The early brethren – Brigham and Heber – were not reticent at all in talking about “whipping the devils” in our daily walk through life.
I wrote an essay several years ago on my old blog that still gets a lot of hits even though I retired that blog and transferred everything over here. I’m glad I kept the old blog up because occasionally I get a comment there that inspires me to write something profound. Well, I think it’s at least inspired and uplifting. I felt impressed to share it here. It starts with the comment from Samantha:
I recently started meeting with my Bishop to repent for other sins that I had committed. I was almost ready to get my Temple Recommend when Satan came at me with full-force. I began to engage in watching pornography and masturbation.
My Bishop is a wonderful man, but I am far too scared to tell him of the addiction that I am faced with. It is not a daily habit, but it is still a problem. I have prayed, and I have come to realize I cannot overcome this on my own.
I feel so awful and depressed after engaging in these behaviors. I want to be clean; I want to go to the temple.
Is there anything else that I can do that would be sufficient for the repentance process? I don’t want to tell my bishop, at all. I do want to overcome this addiction immediately though. Or at least be able to refrain from such atrocities.
And my response:
Much love your way. Thanks for reading and adding your comment. I commend you for your desire to increase your self-mastery. That’s a big deal. Some people are not bothered by viewing porn or masturbating. “It’s normal,” they say. In fact, we’re looked upon as being weird because we want to adhere to a higher moral standard commanded by the Lord and his servants.
I recommend visiting the sites I linked to at the end of the original essay. There is a lot of good advice to be found in those pages. Most of the comments I have added here over the years are intended to give hope and encouragement. I want to continue that in responding to your plea for help. I think I wrote this previously but I’ll share it again. This trial can bring you to the Lord.
I feel impressed to share something that may or may not be applicable to you. Perhaps it will be helpful to future readers. It has to do with responsibility and accountability. Going to the temple is a big deal. The temple is a place of revelation. When I go there I always come away knowing more about myself, what I really want out of life and what I want to do with my free time.
I’ll bet like most people who have written me about this problem, you’re fine as long as you keep yourself busy. If you’ve got a regular schedule of work or school or both, you do well in that structure. The difficulty usually comes when there are no pressing demands on your time and nobody waiting for you to do something for them – a teacher, a co-worker or a family member.
That’s usually when your thoughts turn to yourself and what you want. Those are the defining moments of life. Satan knows that, which is why temptation seems to strike hardest when you are pondering something like going to the temple. We grow and advance in our lives when we go to the temple. We come closer to fulfilling our purpose in life as we attend the temple regularly.
The best advice I can offer is to partake of the sacrament and ponder the promises found in the sacramental prayers. The key phrases are “always remember him” and “have his spirit to be with them.” I know you’ve probably heard this in every public prayer and perhaps you offer it your own private prayers – to have his spirit. But do we focus as much on “always remember him?”
There’s something special and wonderful in the Sacrament that even after more than fifty years I still don’t fully understand. No, it’s not magic. We don’t believe in that. But it is powerful and it is real. I feel hopeful after partaking of the sacrament with real intent. I want it to work in my life and because I want that, believe that it can, it does. My power is strengthened by the Sacrament.
At the end of every Sabbath day I feel empowered, partly through offering service but mostly because I have partaken of the sacrament and have pondered how I can better remember the Savior during the week. I think ahead to the moments when I know I will have down time and think what I can do to show the Lord that I do remember him and want his spirit to be with me.
For me, there is something of a miracle that takes place in those quiet moments. Because I have asked, the Lord reveals to me what I will be doing during those quiet moments during the week. I can see myself working on some writing project or some other activity that will be helpful to me and to others. No, it’s not guaranteed that I will do exactly that, but it’s clear that it can be so.
My desire to do good things and be good is strengthened. I am in a partnership with the Lord to make something special out of my life. It is in the quiet moments that my life really develops. But it doesn’t work unless I make the effort to remember the Lord. Every time I do, he gives me special sacred feelings that encourage me and help me feel like I can do all I’m asked to do.
I hope this helps. There is no easy answer. It’s not like you can turn off a switch. Sorry. You’ve got hormones and that’s a good thing. Without them you’ve have no drive or ambition in life. Well, I’m speaking from a man’s point of view. For a woman I suppose that without hormones you would have no desire to nurture and strengthen relationships. I thank God for the sex drive.
Please don’t be so hard on yourself. I have a theory about why we feel depressed or hopeless when participating in pornography or masturbation. I’ve shared it elsewhere. It has to do with the influence of unclean spirits – those who have no hope or light of Christ in their lives. It’s just a natural result of allowing them to use you, even for just a moment. You feel what they feel.
Of course if you don’t believe in the existence of evil or unclean spirits you’re going to think this is crazy. That’s OK. As I wrote at the beginning of my essay, I’m not writing this to those who are unbelievers. My experience in life has settled the question for me. They are real and I know of their existence through experiences too sacred to share. But let’s not dwell on that aspect.
Focus on the Savior. Focus on building hope. Believe that you can eventually master yourself. Be happy that you even want to. God bless you in your efforts. Nobody can do this for you. In the temple we learn all ordinances are personal, performed one at a time for each individual. No answer fits everyone, but I have found this plan has met with success time after time in others.
Good luck and God bless. You can do it.
I’ve been doing some critical thinking about a couple of recent statements made by J. Michael Bailey. He is the Northwestern psychology professor who has been the subject of so much media attention due to the live sex demonstration in his human sexuality classroom last month. You can Google the story if you want the details.
What intrigued me was the challenging nature of the defensive statements he offered when the story became public knowledge. He said that he didn’t expect everyone to agree with his decision to allow the demonstration to take place and that “thoughtful discussion of controversial topics is a cornerstone of learning.”
I happen to be enrolled in a critical thinking class right now so this idea caught my attention. While I don’t agree with his decision, I do agree with his statement. So I expected someone to take him up on his challenge, because he offered it as such. Maybe it is too soon but I have yet to see a serious response to his justification.
An Argument to Illuminate Reasoning
A couple of days after the story broke, professor Bailey continued his defense by saying that he would give an F to those who objected to his teaching method. He wrote that the responses conveyed disapproval but did not “illuminate reasoning.” Apparently he has yet to receive an explanation as to why his demo was a problem.
I hope someone with more knowledge of this subject will respond to his proposal for a thoughtful discussion and offer a few reasons why his demonstration was not the best choice. I’m looking for arguments that will illuminate reasoning and do more than to just express disapproval. I could use it when I argue this in my class.
The Man who would be Queen
A little more background information on professor Baily might be helpful. He wrote and published a controversial book in 2003, The Man who would be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism. He admitted that he had sex with his research subjects and said he thought there was nothing wrong with this.
Coincidently, about that same year he found himself divorced and no longer the chair of the psychology department at Northwestern University. According to published reports from students, he is not a great lecturer, but makes up for it by presenting extremely controversial aspects of human sexuality in his classroom.
Teaching Should Benefit Society
I love to teach so maybe this is an area in which we can agree. Professor Bailey is an educator; therefore I’ll assume that it is his intent to help his students learn. As a professor of psychology, I would hope that it is his desire to prevent psychological damage in his students. After all, isn’t that the objective of studying the subject?
We study human behavior to understand it and to be able to deal more effectively with activities that are disturbing, distressing or problematic for the individual or society. For most practitioners, a goal of applied psychology is to benefit society. A university professor is in a particularly influential position upon civilization.
Pornography in the Classroom
Professor Bailey said he uses pornography in his classroom. “I don’t see anything wrong with showing pornography in the classroom provided it has some purpose in the class. Some can be a little explicit,” he said. “I teach the truth – as I understand it…[which] sometimes conflicts with people’s assumptions. That is controversial.”
Bill Yarber, a researcher at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute and author of the widely used textbook Human Sexuality: Diversity in Contemporary America, said he’s never heard of a naked woman being brought to orgasm in front of a class of students. Watching a video is one thing but seeing a live demo is pushing things.
A commentary from a Catholic blogger about this episode illustrates a typical reaction, “Professor J. Michael Bailey’s Human Sexuality class has nothing to do with psychosexual development, morality, biology — nothing worthy of study; just an excuse for presenting risqué and deviant sexual behaviors as normative.”
Sexual Relations Should be Private
It is my contention that demonstrating the use of a motorized phallus to a group of students is not a legitimate form of sexual education, especially in the classroom. In fact, I will go so far as to say that viewing of pornographic material is equally inappropriate and unnecessary to meet the requirements of human sex education.
I believe that sexual relations should be expressed privately in marriage, between a husband and wife. I therefore believe that all public displays of sexual activity are inappropriate. I believe that pornography is harmful and destructive to the souls of those who create it and those who consume it. It is not needed for sexual education.
Professor Bailey’s demonstration was controversial because as far as I can tell, it was the first time live sex has been used in a classroom setting. But the real issue is how diametrically opposed this is to the values of virtue, modesty and respect for human sexual relations. It is degrading and cheapens it to something undesirable.
Achieving a Fulfilling Love
I think the comment of a student studying to be a therapist who then reported on her human sexuality class says it best for me. She stated that she had become a sexual zombie; that sex meant nothing to her because she had tried it all. She found no joy in sexuality. And yet she wants to become a therapist to fix others like her.
Pornography is any material describing or depicting the human body or sexual conduct in a way that arouses sexual feelings. Pornography degrades the heart, mind and spirit. It robs us of self-respect and the sense of beauties of life. It tears us down and does not lift us up. It does not help us achieve fulfilling human love.
I will be leading a classroom discussion of this current event in my critical thinking class in a few weeks. When I shared my subject with the professor he was pleased and said that I might be surprised to learn how many in the class feel the same way I do. That would be a pleasant discovery that I hope is not limited to my college.
Walt Whitman left a legacy as an American poet that cannot be ignored. Yet, nearly 120 years after his death, polarization of opinion about his work and his influence is still strong. It seems that you either love him or you hate him, and in most cases that view depends upon your moral convictions. There is no doubt that his work was controversial in his day, evidenced by the labels of “obscene” and “pornographic” given by some reviewers. For those who have seriously studied his work, the general consensus of opinion is that Walt Whitman was a great American poet and in fact, is considered the first great poet of America. However, to many in this great nation, instead of singing the body electric, Whitman’s poetry demeans and degrades the human spirit. And while his works may have shocked the sensitivities of some readers in his day, it is tame by today’s standards, giving us an early preview of America as the land of porn.
A Short Biography
Walt Whitman was born in 1819 in New York and died in 1892 in New Jersey at age 72. He was the second of eight surviving children in a poor family struggling to barely subsist, both physically and emotionally. Biographers have surmised that his father was probably an alcoholic. There was some mental instability in his family among his brothers and sisters. Although his formal education ended at age 11, Whitman was a very successful autodidact, a self-educated man. He worked for a time in the newspaper industry as a journalist, editor and printer. He tried his hand at teaching for a few years but did not enjoy it and quit abruptly, with some speculating that it was due to an unwanted romantic advance toward one of his young male students.
Leaves of Grass
Returning to journalism at age thirty, he began what became his life’s work: Leaves of Grass, a collection of poetry written in a distinctly American style using free verse and a cadence based on the Bible. He self-published his book in 1855 and published multiple editions in his lifetime. The book was and is powerful, abandoning traditional verse for free verse poetry. It was also deemed by some to be controversial as they found his repeated sexual imagery content to be offensive. When he presented copies to his family, his own brother said it not worth reading. Although he did not list himself as the author, he did include a now-famous portrait of himself facing the title page, with an open-neck shirt, jaunty hat and one hand on hip. In the body of the text he identified himself as, “Walt Whitman, an American, one of the roughs, a kosmos, disorderly, fleshly, and sensual, no sentimentalist…” He was, in all respects, a natural man.
O Captain, My Captain
Whitman’s sexual orientation is generally assumed to be homosexual or bisexual. He never married but had several long-term intimate relationships with other men in his lifetime. Whitman achieved international recognition and worked tirelessly to promote his book. He obviously lived during the Civil War and that was a big influence in his life. He travelled to Washington looking for his brother who he had heard had been killed, but was only wounded. He spent time on the battlefields and in hospitals caring for the sick and the wounded. He came to greatly admire Lincoln and was deeply affected by his assassination. His most famous poem, O Captain, My Captain was about Lincoln and he gave many lectures on the president’s life. He suffered serious health problems in his later years, surviving three paralyzing strokes.
America’s National Poet
Walt Whitman answered Emerson’s call for poets to expound the new world of the United States. There is no doubt that he did this powerfully, uniquely and in a highly acclaimed manner. He was considered America’s national poet, at first more by Europeans than by his fellow Americans, at least in his own day. Using free verse, Whitman created a new style of writing that was uniquely American. He used natural voice and diction to imitate the natural flow of thought and feeling. He had a grand vision of speaking for America and explaining what it was all about. He saw and described scenes that leave you feeling like you were also there with him. He was innocent enough to believe that there really was such a job as a national poet.
An Epic to Celebrate America
Whitman was on the forefront of the American literary scene and was well prepared to promote it. His language was uniquely American, not British or European; powerfully American. His language had fewer rules; it was looser, courser, rougher and more promiscuous. He felt he was actively involved in the struggle for democracy with Leaves of Grass. He also said that he hoped his book would heal the nation and even prevent Civil War. He wanted to inspire and stir people with his work. He viewed his book as a true epic. What would an epic be like? It would celebrate America, the American self, the “I.” In fact, he sings of America throughout the book.
The Great Equalizer
Before Leaves of Grass he wrote editorials but he saw that they were mostly ineffective so he created a more profound work through his free-verse writings. He addressed the soul and the psyche of the nation, to create a real sense of community. He threw his book out there with a lot of hope for a nation that would soon divide apart. Whitman wanted his book to be written by the nation and for the nation using his voice. In his preface he says that the poet is the great equalizer and the one who is in balance. He obviously had a great ego and assumed a lot, but believed in his age and his country. He felt that he had a national mission to fulfill because he could see and tell of a world of experience in a way that nobody else could or did. He wanted to preserve the Union, to hold things together and yet maintain our unique identity. The many contradictions and differences of our nation did not bother him. He wanted us to accept them and him and was truly puzzled by those who could not or would not accept either.
Legacy of Walt Whitman
Leaves of Grass is Walt Whitman’s personal literary journey of national significance. His desire was to sing of the new country with a new voice and he felt the time was ripe. There is no doubt that Whitman’s vision and ego helped him produce his masterwork. His profound vision created a tremendous contribution to American literary history. Numerous poets have tried to place themselves in his wake or have reacted violently to him. There is no getting around him. He was a celebrity in his day and is celebrated today. He had disciples that surrounded him in his later years and still has a large following today. But why is he so important? It is because he stirred up such controversy and got people talking. More importantly, he broke the boundaries of poetic form and elevated common people through his portrayals of American life.
A Religious Skeptic
Leaves of Grass had a major impact on the literary world; His work cannot be ignored. His poetry has been set to music and inspired musicians, both classical and popular. Europeans said that you couldn’t really understand America without Walt Whitman. Some modern poets have said that Whitman is not just America’s poet, but he is America. Whitman considered himself to be a messiah-like figure in poetry; so did his admirers. His vagabond lifestyle was adopted by the beat movement as well as by anti-war poets. He took what Emerson and Thoreau started with the transcendentalist movement, thoroughly Americanized it and then set it free to enjoy a new life through his free-verse poetry. His style speaks to many people who think as he did and do not live within the constraints of limitations imposed by moral boundaries of religious America. Though he was born to a Quaker family, it would be more proper to classify Whitman as a man of spirituality and not a man of religion. He as deeply influenced by Deism and denied that any one faith was more important than another. Similar to Benjamin Franklin, who was also a religious skeptic, he embraced all religions equally. And though he accepted all churches, he believed in none. It is safe to say that Whitman’s religion was like his verse: free and easy.
A Mass of Stupid Filth
But it is his forays into eroticism that elicited such strong responses from his critics. They said that his poetry was “a mass of stupid filth” and that Whitman was like a pig “rooting among the rotten garbage of licentious thoughts.” For example, in section 11 of Song of Myself, Whitman warned us that he was going to celebrate himself, get bawdy and lusty and otherwise embrace the passion, pulse and power of life. The 29th bather is a powerful example of how he makes that happen. In section 3 of Song of Myself he had already exposed us to the urge of sex, and now he sprays us with a beach orgy. Section 11 is famously known as the 29th bather, a fantasy that starts from a female narrative and ends with a homoerotic shocker. It caused one reviewer to exclaim that he was guilty of violating “the rules of decorum and propriety prescribed by a Christian civilization.” Another accused him in Latin of homosexual behavior.
While some biographers are certain in their declarations that there was never any evidence of homosexual activity, what is certain is that he used the imagery of raw sexuality liberally throughout Leaves of Grass. “Urge and urge and urge, always the procreant urge of the world…always sex” are found along with scenes of “hugging and loving bedfellows. He takes on an all-knowing and condescending spirit that tells us to forget about “creeds and schools,” religion and education, and just listen to what wisdom he is about to belch forth. With arrogance he states that “what I assume, you shall assume,” as if to say that our views could only possibly be his views. He is going to introduce us to the common laborers of America, the average people who are cheerfully and skillfully working to build the great American dream.
I Celebrate Myself
Throughout his work we will witness numerous vignettes of life in the America of Walt Whitman’s day, not life in halls of congress or places of business, but in homes and gathering places. And through it all, we are to be subjected to the lusty, bawdy, fleshy side of life that Whitman, or his muse, wants us to see, hear and experience. With Walt, we will hear the delicious singing, the “party of young fellows, robust and friendly, singing with mouths open their strong melodious songs.” He is positively giddy. “I celebrate myself, and sing myself… undisguised and naked…mad to be in contact with” the sensual nature of this physical and worldly existence. We will soon be reading biography, sermon and poetic meditation of this muse all lustily embracing the fleshy body as it expresses itself through the life of Whitman.
The 29th Bather
In Leaves of Grass, Walt writes of getting “undisguised and naked,” and sensually urges his readers to “Undrape! You are not guilty to me,” but “stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical.” But these words and phrases are nothing compared to the scene that unfolds in the 29th bather. The young lady lets her imagination take her to the beach to join the crowd of young men, describing the beards of the young men glistening with wet that ran from their long hair, little streams that passed all over their bodies. “An unseen hand also passed over their bodies; it descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs.” And then the action turns decidedly homoerotic as actions are performed on the young men by whom – the unseen 29th bather or by each other? If Whitman intended to shock the sensibilities of his readers, he wildly succeeded. But then, this is nothing compared to sex-soaked erotic content of a more modern classic such as Portnoy’s Complaint, which dwells on the lusty subject of masturbation.
The Good Gray Poet
How this erotic and sexually dissident poet was adopted as America’s national bard and anointed “the Good Gray Poet” is hard to understand. He never did reach the common people but was celebrated by the intellectuals of the day, especially from other countries. Did Whitman presage the view of America as the land of porn? If not, then he certainly did contribute a fair share for his day. The real work in analyzing and appreciating Whitman’s poetry is in looking past the celebration of the natural man and seeing in it the celebration of America, the great land of opportunity and the dream that all can succeed and that anything can be created and promoted. All it takes is the kind of confidence and belief in oneself that Walt Whitman had in abundance. In that respect, Walt Whitman was truly an American genius of a rock-star caliber for his day. If Whitman could successfully promote and sell out every edition of his book each time it went to press, in spite of the moral constraints of his day, just think what we should be able to do today!
Of course I’m not suggesting that we rush out to write a bunch of pornographic prose as he did, but I am saying that, like Whitman, we should celebrate this great nation for the freedoms of expression that we enjoy and that can really be found in no other nation of this world today. And, like Whitman, if we embrace the spirit of controversy and promotion of something unique, as was his free-verse style, then we should be able to reach out to millions of people through the modern leaves of grass – the Internet. Isn’t that what many of today’s bloggers are hoping to accomplish? They are the Walt Whitman’s of our day, bypassing the established norms of book publishing for the new media of the Internet. And they succeed because of their controversial content and endless self-promotion. If only what they promoted was uplifting to the human spirit. Controversial content is what drives the readers to the blogs and websites where they want to express their own opinions in the comments. Walt Whitman knew what would sell and he knew how to sell it. Just think of what he could have done if he lived in the Internet age!
In between family reunions last Saturday and this Saturday, Carol and I visited several of our favorite bookstores in Utah. I know. What a crazy thing to do on a vacation. We also go to the main Church Distribution Center since the California stores are small. In the past, I have liked to visit Sam Weller’s Zion Bookstore. A new one for us this year is the Deseret Book Outlet store in South Jordan.
Although we already have a huge library and keep lamenting that it seems to grow larger by itself, Carol picked up a few bargains there. Most books are overstocks available at one third the price. I resisted everything I saw until this one caught my eye: The Sex Industrial Complex, America’s Secret Combination – Pornographic Culture, Addiction and the Human Brain. What a title!
As usual, I read the back cover of the dust jacket and saw an endorsement from Marie Osmond. That caused me to open it and read the inside front of the cover where I saw something else that caught my eye – the Lighted Candle Society. Where had I seen that before? Oh yes, it was one of those organizations I listed in the additional resources in my previous post on porn addiction.
The Survival of the Republic
A scan through the book looked like it would be interesting reading but what got me to buy it was the last chapter. I confess that I read it first. It is entitled, “The Survival of the Republic.” There are some amazing quotes there that resonated with me as I read them, especially in light of my recent post about the founding fathers and a long dialog with Crusty about freedom.
Benjamin Franklin said at the conclusion of the Constitutional convention in 1789, “This Republic, which we have given you with this constitution, will end in despotism, as other forms of government have done before it, when the people become so corrupt that they are incapable of any other form of government.” Was he speaking with a foreknowledge of coming events?
John Locke, the English philosopher said, “The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom. For liberty is to be free from restraint and violence from others; which cannot be where there is no law.” We need laws to be governed and to live in peace.
Successful government and moral values
George Washington said, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these finest props of the duties of men and citizens.” Moral values are required for a Republic to endure.
Referring to the Constitution, James Madison said, “We base this whole experiment on man’s ability to be governed by law.” Our Republic can only continue as envisioned by the founding fathers as long as we as a people believe in the rule of law. It takes personal conviction in the value of law and willingness to submit to it that allows a people to be governed and yet free.
Can we legislate morality? Yes, we can and we have and it is a good thing. Morality is about right and wrong, and that’s what laws put into legal form. The only question is whose morality should be legislated? Thomas Jefferson answered that when he wrote, “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.
Standards of morality come from God
Our Declaration of Independence gives us the direction we should look for defining standards of morality and conduct in our Republic in order for all citizens to be free. The source for morality and therefore the source for our laws is God. Our founding fathers understood this and gave us a platform for defining our laws – the word of God. Yes, we were founded as a Christian nation.
John L. Harmer, the author writes, “Today, our nation is under an attack by a combination of forces that if they prevail, will effectively destroy the basis upon which this nation’s freedom and liberty were conceived and founded. The entire fabric of our government is based upon the commitment of the American people to standards of dignity, integrity and virtue.”
“We believe very strongly that the greatest threat to our political freedom is the loss of moral values. To put it in a positive sense, the most vital factor in the preservation of our freedom and liberty is the individual citizen’s respect for moral values and their commitment to them.” As moral and ethical virtues erode in our people, hedonism will replace government and freedom.
Summary and conclusion
Although the book is about fighting against pornography, I found the insights into the connection between freedom, government and morality to be most enlightening. I have seen examples of this loss of freedom in many individuals. Because they do not adhere to moral standards that have been well established by God and his prophets, they find it very difficult to be governed.
As more and more members of our society refuse to accept and live by moral standards, the effect is a rejection of a government that is based on those standards. Not content to live above the law, they advocate changing the law or abolishing the law to suit their rejection of morality. The day will come when they will attempt to create laws proclaiming that morality is punishable.
There is a battle being fought in California today in the form of an amendment to the state constitution that demonstrates how this rejection of morality is a rejection of government. Our nation has a history of laws that are based on morality as defined by God and his prophets. A rejection of this amendment is a rejection of God and his right to set the standards of morality.
Four Simple Things to Help our Families and our Nations, Gordon B. Hinckley
Religious Values and Public Policy, Dallin H. Oaks
Personal Morality, David B. Haight
Let our Voices be Heard, M. Russell Ballard
One of the best things I like about my church is that we don’t hide from the difficult issues. In fact, in my opinion, the LDS Church excels at helping individuals change. That’s what the gospel is all about. Of course, the Savior is the source of healing, but our church is doing so much to reach out and help individuals and families heal from the effects of pornography addiction.
Because the majority of pornography is delivered via the Internet, and those who struggle with it are usually men alone in their own home, I hope this essay reaches you in the same way. I have had enough experience blogging now that I know there will be some who will rip apart what I am about to share. That’s OK. I’m not writing to them. I writing to you who care about the Lord.
Exposure to Internet pornography
I am a computer support professional. I was first exposed to Internet pornography in 1995 when I was called by a co-worker to take a look at his computer and figure out what was wrong with it. He stepped out to take a smoke break and I began my investigation. The first thing I usually do is to close open browser windows. I maximized the browser and was shocked.
I quickly closed the browser, or at least I tried to. Additional windows of pornography kept popping up faster than I could close them. Finally I had to shut the computer down to get it to stop. “I think I found your problem,” I said when he came back into the office. A conversation ensued about the many reasons why he shouldn’t visit porn sites on our company computers.
Pornography can destroy
I immediately investigated and installed web monitoring and blocking software. In getting the expense approved, I was instructed not to block any web access on the executive computers. Because I prepared the monitoring reports for my boss, I soon received an education that the worst kind of pornography reached even to the highest levels of executive management.
I submitted my report to my boss who was shocked to discover that the CEO of the company was deeply involved in viewing pornography, including homosexual porn, especially young boys. It wasn’t long before the board of directors had relieved the CEO of his duties. The man went from pulling down a $250,000 annual salary to unemployed because of his porn viewing habits.
Pornography is everywhere
Now I had seen pornography before. You can’t grow up in today’s world and not be exposed to it. In my case, it came as early as eight years old at a neighbor’s home in the form of discarded magazines. I soon learned that I did not feel right when viewing such material. The Lord was helping me even at that early age to recognize that such material was not conducive to the Spirit.
It has been many years since I was first exposed to Internet porn. It has become much more blatant over the years. Even with pop-up blockers and filtering I have to be very, very careful about what sites I visit both at home and at work. I also deal with spam filtering in my work. We are constantly adding filters and tweaking existing ones to block porn and other email spam.
Pornography and the priesthood
I had just been called as a counselor in a Bishopric a few weeks earlier. The memory of what I saw in that split second before I shut the computer down remained burned in my mind and popped up at the most inappropriate times. I found it difficult to concentrate on my scripture reading. I struggled to feel worthy in the temple or in conducting sacrament meetings.
The effect of viewing that pornography was the same even at this point in my life. I was happily married and had been for many years. I had served a mission and went to the temple often. I wonder if it was because I had just been ordained a High Priest that this temptation came back into my life at that time. Pornography and power in the priesthood are simply incompatible.
Addiction can be overcome
What I am about to share would be more effective if we were being instructed together in a stake priesthood meeting or if we were sitting in a counseling scenario in a Bishop’s office. I will include a number of links to additional material at the end of this essay, but I have read them all over the years and would like to summarize what I have found most helpful in a few paragraphs.
First, you are not alone. This is a common problem. Life is a test so we’re going to be tested. Some have to deal with same-sex attraction. Others have to deal with powerful addictions to food or drugs, and others to pornography. The Lord knew that addiction would be a part of the mortal experience for some. If you are addicted to porn, don’t feel like you are the only one.
Healing from addiction is real
Second, I promise you there is a way out. I have seen it over and over. Men who once felt hopeless and powerless are today stalwart and confident priesthood bearers, humble and reliant on the Lord. When they speak or teach, you can feel their love for the Lord. Their appreciation for their deliverance is evident in the way they tenderly bear witness of his atonement.
Third, I have found that the Lord requires the passion that was going into the porn addiction to be used in His service. By so doing, He upholds and sustains you. The temptation will always be there. It is just something you have to live with as long as you are mortal, but with the Lord’s help, it can be mastered. I have seen this happen in the lives of many good brethren. It is real.
Summary and Conclusion
Don’t ever let anyone say to you that there is nothing you can do about it because that’s just the way you are. Don’t believe it. That’s a lie of the adversary. I know this. We can be clean. We can overcome an addiction to pornography and masturbation. The Savior’s power is real but it is dependent upon our faith. Don’t ever give up. He will work with you as long as you are willing.
This life is a test. The Lord knows your weaknesses. So does the adversary. You will be tested in the areas that hurt the most. Pornography is a real problem in the world today. Because of the Internet it reaches into the homes of our faithful Latter-day Saint priesthood holders. You are not alone. It can be overcome. The Lord can heal you. He requires your heart in return.
A personal invitation
Although the best thing to do is to talk to the bishop or to a loving family member, I know it can be difficult to do. Many stakes in the church offer the Addiction Recovery Program, but because of the embarrassing nature of this addiction, perhaps the first step would be to find a helpful yet anonymous friend who understands the problem and is willing to help where possible.
As part of my personal outreach, I offer my support in dialoging about this issue on a private basis. My email address is prominently available on this blog in my profile. I’m serious. We seem to discuss everything on the Internet these days, but if you would rather not post your comments for everyone to see, just shoot me an email. I know this addiction can be mastered.
1. LDS Family Services
2. Addiction Recovery Program
3. Lighted Candle Society
4. Pornography Statistics
5. Family Fragments
6. LifeSTAR Network
7. Covenant Eyes
8. Deseret News Anti-Porn series
9. BYU Cyber Secrets
10. Candeo – Overcoming Porn
And of course, the new official LDS page on Combating Pornography.