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.