What Is At Stake
The home page for Clean-LDS quotes President Gordon B. Hinckley as saying, “Pornography, with its sleazy filth, sweeps over the earth like a horrible, engulfing tide. It is poison. Do not watch it or read it. It will destroy you if you do. It will take from you your self-respect. It will rob you of a sense of the beauties of life. It will tear you down and pull you into a slough of evil thoughts and possibly of evil actions. Stay away from it. Shun it as you would a foul disease, for it is just as deadly (General Conference, Gordon B. Hinckley, Some Thoughts on Temples, Retention of Converts, and Missionary Service) .”
President Hinckley ever warned about the power and evil of pornography. His successor, President Thomas S. Monson, continues the warning. I believe that most Latter-day Saints who find themselves locked in the grip of sexual addiction understand that it is something evil, powerful, and to be overcome. You can’t be paying attention to the words of our leaders and not understand that.Yet, I also have observed after many years of associating with and supporting Latter-day Saints dealing with pornography addiction, that as serious as they understand it to be, it is tempting to give a half-hearted effort to overcome it. Tragically, they probably thinking they are fighting it with all their might.
I don’t mean to sound condemning. I have just noticed a tendency to not give the struggle to overcome sexual addiction its proper priority. It’s not a hangnail. It’s not even a serious illness. It is not even a mere life-threatening illness. It is a spiritually terminal illness.
Yet, I hear stories of putting it on the priority list well below things that, although important, do not have the potential to threaten eternity for us. Of course, I don’t think a person should quit his job so as to have enough time to spend trying to overcome an addiction to pornography. I still think food and shelter for our families is a higher priority. I don’t think a family should be neglected in favor of recovery activities.
This last, however, presents a profound paradox. I recently had to ponder the dilemma of a father who is trying to overcome an addiction to pornography who had to choose between attending his support group or attending an event featuring one of his children.
Though I do so as an outsider to the issue, I think he should choose to go to the recovery meeting if that is indeed the only choice there is. It depends on how his recovery is otherwise going. If he’s still in the grips of acting out behavior, meaning he is still looking at pornography, say, in the last month, the recovery meeting is the priority. If, on the other hand, he is doing well with his behavior, then he could go to the event and then do a make-up meeting with one of the many fellowships that exist for helping people with sexual addiction. Let something else suffer from neglect. Don’t neglect the family and don’t neglect the recovery.
I think it is especially important for the confidence of the wife of a man dealing with this, that he show that he is putting overcoming as a very high priority. The consequences are terrifying.
The apostle Peter wrote:
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world (1 Peter 5:8–9).
For me, to “resist stedfast” must be an effort that goes far beyond the staple advice given to Latter-day Saints dealing with difficult moral problems to exercise the moral imperatives of: read your scriptures, say your prayers, attend your church meetings, and sing hymns.
Every time I say something like that, someone thinks that I am discounting these worthy and all-important requirements. I’m not. They are the highest of all priorities, but not just for addicts trying to overcome. We are all commanded to do these things. The seriousness and dangerousness of pornography addiction requires much more.
In our day, the Savior warned the modern Church:
And again, I say unto you that the enemy in the secret chambers seeketh your lives (D&C 38:28).
Most sexual sin occurs in secret chambers where it can be hidden. Almost all of the things that a person should do over and above the simple list of spiritual imperatives mentioned above involve some kind of bringing the problem out of the secret chambers. They involve doing something more than trying to address it quietly and alone. It requires telling someone.
Here is a list of people who should be told: your bishop, your spouse, a therapist, a support group of similarly struggling individuals with recovery as their goal, and a trusted friend who will encourage your to overcome. I have only one caution in telling others.
Remember that the enemy is within the secret chambers. When you tell, tell it in a way that means you are coming out of the dark secret chamber into the light. Don’t tell it in ways that invite these people to join you in the secret chamber. As obvious as this may sound, I have known situations where a man tells his wife about his struggles in such a way that sucks her into her own problems with it. Tell that you are dealing with it, but don’t tell how to enter those secret chambers. Be honest, but not explicit.
As I was quoted as saying in “What Every Bishop Should Know about Men with Pornography Addictions/Pornography Abuse Problems“, “An addiction should be treated just as if it were a danger to the health, well being, and long-term happiness of the family.”
You wouldn’t take merely an aspirin hoping it would cure cancer would you?
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