Pornography: Satan’s Power Tool

I blog about different things for different reasons.  On occasion, I blog about something simply because I have a fire in my bones and I need to let it out.

Cue fire.  Cue bones.  Cue outlet.

Let’s talk about pornography, shall we?

This article was written as an opinion piece by a BYU student.  I’d like to highlight a few parts of her message:

Someone once told me, “Prophets don’t talk about pornography for fun.”

In the past five years, hardly a session of General Conference has passed without the brethren warning about the dangers of pornography. They have reason to warn. Pornography creates a shattering ripple effect impacting the viewer and surrounding. …

In 2010, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “Tragically, the same computer and Internet service that allows me to do my family history and prepare those names for temple work could, without filters and controls, allow my children or grandchildren access to a global cesspool of perceptions that could blast a crater in their brains forever.”

The ease of access to pornography through the internet has led to a dramatic increase of consumption and acceptance in society despite its negative effects. …

This is one area in which we simply cannot be complacent. We must be involved in the fight because it is no longer a question of if this will affect you, but when.

Ralph Yarro, a former Novell executive and anti-pornography advocate, told the Church News in 2007, “Wake up. Apathy will kill you here. If porn hasn’t touched your life already, it is going to rip huge, gaping holes in it.”

There’s more, so go read the full article.  It’s a topic that’s been on my mind anyway, but this has left me with a taste in my mouth.  Not bitterness, really, just … well, fire in my bones.  I have been blessed so far to not be in the direct line of fire of Satan’s sledgehammer, but its reach is far and wide.  I’ve seen it pound down hard on people I know and love.  Good people.  And once the shattering has happened, it’s a slow and painful process to heal.  I want to state that I know healing is possible because I absolutely believe in Jesus Christ and I believe there is no darkness that He cannot dispel and fill with light.  I believe in Him, so I believe in repentance, and I believe in restoration.  Having said that, this whole business really makes me want to punch Satan in the face.

I attended a women’s conference talk where Sister Beck said the following:

We have a huge problem in our families with pornography and the influence that it is having in our families. The powerful feeling that has been coming over me is, “Sisters, fight—fight, sisters.” You have the responsibility in your homes. Many of our women are being drawn into this behavior also. At our last general conference, President Thomas S. Monson gave “a word of caution to all—both young and old, both male and female.” This is our responsibility.

When I heard her say this, I felt the Holy Ghost.  This is part of our call as “lionesses at the gate” of our homes.  Even with our best efforts, this plague can affect our families, but it must be in spite of our best efforts.  The danger is too great to be ignored.

I quote some prophets:

Spencer W. Kimball:  “Members of the Church everywhere are urged to not only resist the widespread plague of pornography, but as citizens to become actively and relentlessly engaged in the fight against this insidious enemy of humanity around the world.”

Ezra Taft Benson:  “The prophet Lehi also saw our day in his great visionary dream of the tree of life. He saw that many people would wander blindly in the mists of darkness, which symbolized the temptations of the devil. (See 1 Ne. 12:17.) He saw some fall away “in forbidden paths,” others drown in rivers of filthiness, and still others wander in “strange roads.” (1 Ne. 8:28, 32.) When we read of the spreading curse of drugs, or read of the pernicious flood of pornography and immorality, do any of us doubt that these are the forbidden paths and rivers of filthiness Lehi described?”

Howard W. Hunter: “Be faithful in your marriage covenants in thought, word, and deed. Pornography, flirtations, and unwholesome fantasies erode one’s character and strike at the foundation of a happy marriage. Unity and trust within a marriage are thereby destroyed. One who does not control his thoughts and thus commits adultery in his heart, if he does not repent, shall not have the Spirit, but shall deny the faith and shall fear (see D&C 42:23; D&C 63:16).”

Gordon B. Hinckley:  “While the matter of which I speak was a problem then, it is a much more serious problem now. It grows increasingly worse. It is like a raging storm, destroying individuals and families, utterly ruining what was once wholesome and beautiful. I speak of pornography in all of its manifestations. . . . The excuse is given that it is hard to avoid, that it is right at our fingertips and there is no escape. Suppose a storm is raging and the winds howl and the snow swirls about you. You find yourself unable to stop it. But you can dress properly and seek shelter, and the storm will have no effect upon you.”

Thomas S. Monson:  “Pornography is especially dangerous and addictive. Curious exploration of pornography can become a controlling habit, leading to coarser material and to sexual transgression. Avoid pornography at all costs. Don’t be afraid to walk out of a movie, turn off a television set, or change a radio station if what’s being presented does not meet your Heavenly Father’s standards. In short, if you have any question about whether a particular movie, book, or other form of entertainment is appropriate, don’t see it, don’t read it, don’t participate.”

Want to read more?  Go to http://conference.lds.org and click on the Search button.  Click on Advanced Search, type the word “pornography” and click the little box for “President of the Church.”  You will be given hundreds of references where living prophets have spoken out against the plague of pornography.

Since I can’t actually punch Satan in the face, even though I really, really want to, what can I do?  What can you do?  How can we fight?  Feel free to fill up the comment box with good ideas, good organizations, opportunities to fight, small ways to make a difference, support for those who are in the claws of this stupid beast, whatever moves you and will encourage others.  I’m not in the mood for despair or anger or bitterness, so let’s find ways to do what’s right and fight.

Here are my own ideas and suggestions.  I am not a professional.  I’m not even a stellar wife or mother.  But I have ideas and a desire to make a difference– at the very least, in my own family.

TO A MOTHER:  Talk openly with your children about pornography and its potential for harm.  Most men who are addicted to pornography are exposed to it at an early age.  Help them to understand Satan’s role and its opposition to Heavenly Father’s Plan.  Carefully choose a way that is age-appropriate to talk about what pornography is.  Maybe terms like “pictures or movies of people who are naked or very immodest”  and “showing people touching the private parts of bodies” are a good place to start.  After your discussions, when your daughter or son won’t look at the bra section of the store because they think it’s “pornography,” don’t worry about them being a little over-reactive.  Congratulate them for trying hard to keep their mind clean.  This is not about teaching people that the body is dirty; this is about helping children learn how to recognize and resist danger.  An excellent (and doctrinally sound) resource for teaching about sexuality in general can be found here.  Be a prude in monitoring family media intake, and don’t be ashamed of it.  Embrace your role as a guardian of virtue.  And be honest about it with your children.  “I changed the channel because the clothing was immodest and they were joking about sex.”  I love that Elder Holland quote (above in the article) about blasting a crater in your brain.  Matt recently taught the young men in our ward that pornography is the equivalent of dousing your spirit in gasoline and setting it on fire.  There will be that much pain, and that much scarring.  President Hinckley told mothers to teach their children to avoid it “like they would the plague.”

TO A WIFE:  If your husband has a heartbeat, he struggles with this on some level.  The world is cruel to him in its blatant temptation and oppressive titillation.  If he watched the Super Bowl, he’s seen pornography (for heaven’s sake, don’t get me started).  Talk to him about it.  Ask him how he’s doing:  What can you do to help him?  What steps can your family take to help him feel protected?  What measures does he currently use to avoid the temptation?  Be prepared to feel threatened a little as you learn what a real struggle it might be for him to stay unharmed by the storm.  Cling to each other a little tighter.  Express your love for him and your desire that he remain clean.  Encourage him to fight the hard fight.  Pray for him, and pray together.  Talk about your covenants and go to the temple often to remember them and reconnect to them.

TO A WOMAN:  Don’t hesitate to speak out against pornography when you see it.  Talk to store managers and write letters to TV providers and companies.  Express disapproval for that which is wrong.  Don’t be afraid to call a sin a sin.  Don’t fall into the trap of watching shows and movies or reading books that are only a little bit bad.  Steer clear of inappropriate media, period.  If you have the bandwidth to participate in organizations that fight the pornography industry, do it.  If you have money to contribute to the cause, give it.  Find something within your grasp and … grasp it.

TO A WIFE WHOSE HUSBAND IS ALREADY ADDICTED:  I am sorry.  I mean really, really sorry.  Some of the previous advice will apply, but so much of the recovery will depend very much on your husband’s ability to repent and make changes.  Work closely with your ecclesiastical leaders and qualified professionals.  All I can do is share a few resources that I am aware of.  And I can bear you my testimony that the pornography problem is not your fault.  While there may be things you can do to improve your relationship, your husband has fallen into a trap set by Satan, plain and simple.  The trap does not have to be a death sentence for your husband or for your marriage.  Seek out counsel and comfort from the Lord; He will help you to follow the right course.  No matter what, it will not be an easy course, but I know He will help you.

Available Resources:  (I cannot possibly recommend what will be the best for you and your situation.  Seek the Lord’s help and use the spirit of discernment as you research out possible tools to help in your recovery.)

LDS Church-sanctioned collection of resources:  http://combatingpornography.org/cp/eng/

New private (unofficial) forum for wives of men who struggle with pornography: http://www.hopeandhealinglds.com/forum/index.php

More resources for wives (more to come!): http://mormonwoman.org/2011/01/09/how-can-i-deal-with-my-spouses-pornography-addiction/

LDS resources on pornography: http://mentalhealthlibrary.info/library/porn/pornlds/index.html

Here’s the online support forum at cafemom: http://www.cafemom.com/group/1872/

Some personal stories:
http://mormonwoman.org/2011/01/30/pornography-addiction-personal-stories-index/

A book about addiction recovery: http://universe.byu.edu/index.php/2011/06/06/addiction-book-review/

Here is a link to a project that is raising funds for a film called “Shamed-A Documentary Feature Film.” It will address how shame and misconceptions about pornography and sexual addiction are huge obstacles in addicts coming forward and finding healing.  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/141091137/shamed-a-documentary-feature-film

Sites or resources that others have mentioned in the comments of some of my previous posts:

http://lifestarnetwork.com/

http://byutv.org/watch/49475abb-10d4-4f45-a757-7000b9945468

http://www.salifeline.com

http://www.rowboatandmarbles.org

http://www.wiveshelpingwives.blogspot.com

I just want to conclude with something else I know to be true.  Satan is powerful, but goodness is more powerful.  We have the power within us to withstand temptation and fight against evil.  We do.  So though the storm rages and the sledgehammer swings down upon us, the rock of our Redeemer will help us to stand.  Mothers, unite!  This is an army I’m proud to be a part of.

GCBC Week 22: Avoiding Sin and Addictions

This week we will study two general conference talks,

“Avoiding the Trap of Sin”
by Elder Jairo Mazzagardi

“We must be alert because small choices can bring great consequences . . . What may appear to be of little importance . . . will make us lose sensitivity little by little, allowing us to do worse things.”

and

“O That Cunning Plan of The Evil One”
by Elder M. Russell Ballard

“If anyone who is addicted has a desire to overcome, then there is a way to spiritual freedom—a way to escape from bondage—a way that is proven. . . . The formula for having our heart, our body, our mind, and our spirit transformed is found in the scriptures.”

What did you learn and/or understand better from these two talks?  What do you think the speakers are asking us to do?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

(If this is your first time to General Conference Book Club, click here to learn more about it.)

Time to come clean: Let’s talk about Internet addiction.

The Lord knows that I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, so when He wants me to learn something, he hands it to me in small, digestible pieces . . .  EVERYwhere I turn for days and weeks, even months at a time.  (He’s really so patient while He waits for me to get it.)  I will give an inventory of his subtle messages just in the last 10 days or so.

  1. Elder Bradley Foster in General Conference:  ” . . . a distraction doesn’t have to be evil to be effective.”
  2. Sister Julie Beck:  “There is much distraction and not enough peace and joy. . . But with personal revelation, [a mother] can prioritize correctly and navigate this life confidently. . . . mothers can feel help from the Spirit even when tired, noisy children are clamoring for attention,  . . . Being in the right places allows us to receive guidance. It requires a conscious effort to diminish distractions, but having the Spirit of revelation makes it possible to prevail over opposition and persist in faith through difficult days and essential routine tasks.”
  3. Elder Robert D. Hales:  “Mother, Father, are you in there? Grandpa, Grandma, are you there? Being there means understanding the hearts of our youth and connecting with them. And connecting with them means not just conversing with them but doing things with them too. . . . I would hope that we would bear our testimonies so that our children will know where our hearts are and that we love them. The greatest love and the greatest teachings should be in our homes.”
  4. My house needs attention.  When I resurface from the office and look around at the messes, I know my time could have been better spent.
  5. A friend gave a wonderful talk at church about time management that really resonated with me.  (Hi, SP!)
  6. I remembered this post that I wrote almost seven months ago, (and it was a good one) but it’s a lesson I still have not completely learned.
  7. I stumbled upon this post.
  8. I caught myself having only half-attentive phone conversations because I was trying to read email at the same time.
  9. I want to start exercising regularly again, but I  feel like there’s not enough time in the day.  Why is that?  (pause for burning self-reflection)

Tell me I’m not the only one who sees some of myself in this cartoon.
I don’t even own all those gadgets, but still. At some level, there’s a sad truth in there.

I’m pretty good at monitoring my children’s screen time, but when I get online, it’s kind of a chain reaction of “tasks*” and before I know it, I’m not proud of how much time I spent.

*Any blog comments?  I need to check email and see if they wrote me back about that fireside assignment.  Oh, let me see if Matt transferred my budget into my account yet.  And . . . a quick look at Reader to see if any blog friends have posted anything new.  Ha ha.  Better comment on that.  Okay, that’s good.  Before I sign off, I’m just going to check Facebook really quick.  I don’t think I’ve updated my status for several days.  Oh look, one of my old young women is engaged.   Check out her fiancee’s page to see if he’s a loser.  And all his photos.  Hey, he’s friends with a girl I taught at EFY; I wonder what she’s up to these days.  . . .  Oops, forgot to do my status.  Type-ity type type:  “Avoiding laundry.”  Check email ONE more time.  I don’t think I ever read that attachment that Shantel sent me yet.  Whoa, newsflash: there was an earthquake in Utah?  Better check that out.  And I forgot I wanted to look at the menu for our date night restaurant so I know how much to budget for dinner . . . .

I think you get the idea.

So I’m going to be proactive about this little, ahem, problem.  I found this link, and it reviews the top ten internet controls software.  These are programs that control not only content, but also let you set daily and weekly time limits for individual users, including YOURSELF:

http://parental-time-control-software-review.toptenreviews.com/

It looked like this one was really good, but it doesn’t have a Mac version that I can see:  http://www.kidswatch.com/ I also found this one that has a Windows and Mac version:  http://www.netnanny.com/

And here’s a link for some free downloads for simple timers and filters.  (As with all free shareware, make sure you have a good anti-virus program in place, just in case.)

http://www.sofotex.com/download/Security/Parental_Control/

(A special note for my mother, mother-in-law, and any other concerned relatives:  Don’t worry.  I don’t spend all day on the Internet and I’m still feeding and bathing my children.  Really.  My life would just be a lot more efficient if I spent less time on the computer, so I’m working on it.)

And that’s it.  I’m just admitting my own willpower might not be enough to keep me constantly focused on the things that matter most, so I’m going to use tools and rules and accountability and such to help me.  And friends like you, who I’m betting will get this and will offer great advice.  So thanks.