“Pornography seems to be winning the day in destroying lives, relationships, and families…If you are in a relationship where your date [or spouse] is sincerely trying to find freedom from habitual use of addiction to this new drug, you may be able to help him or her. Too many men and women suffer in silence because we have unintentionally demonized those who are addicted to pornography…THERE IS HOPE.”
-M. Russell Ballard
PORNOGRAPHY. I cannot count the number of times I’ve pleaded with the Lord to just remove this plague from the earth. It seems too powerful, too insurmountable, and too destructive. It seems, as Elder Ballard says, to be the favored weapon of the adversary and his most destructive. It truly is the new drug and I wish it didn’t exist.
Nevertheless it does exist. It is real and we cannot make it go away by pretending it’s not. I won’t bore you with statistics, but odds are that someone you know is battling this great monster and we cannot sit idle and let it win. We have to FIGHT IT. But how?
We have to fight by getting educated and educating.
Some of the saddest porn addiction stories are the ones where a young boy had no idea what he was viewing or how bad it was. These boys become poisoned by addiction to a drug they didn’t even recognize. I remember hearing the big “P” word growing up and understanding that it was bad but not having the slightest idea what the heck it was.
Does anyone remember those little “yuck” stickers we used to bring home from school and put on everything poisonous?
These are to teach kids what is not okay to put in our bodies (and also to drive our parents nuts.) We as a society need to be just as committed to educating young people about what isn’t okay to put into our minds and souls. Lots of kids are exposed to pornography from a disgustingly young age, so parents need to teach them what it is and why it’s bad.
We have to fight by protecting ourselves and our families.
My mission president (one of the highest callings in our church) has a password on his television which only his wife knows to protect himself from pornography. He understands the necessity of putting up walls of protection against the adversary. So many of us install complex security systems on our homes; we need to put just as strong of protection in place against porn. Lock the front door=set up internet filters. Each family can make a safety plan that works best for them but the important thing is to HAVE a plan.
Kids also need to know what to do WHEN they see porn. Please, please stop assuming/hoping they just won’t see it. Please make sure they know how to come to you or another adult immediately when they encounter it and that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe come up with a code word so they won’t have to use the awkward words to tell you’ve they’ve accidentally seen something yucky.
We have to fight by loving those who are addicted.
It’s time to stop the public/private/unintentional shaming of porn addicts. It’s time to understand that they are trapped in a prison, not rioting in sin. Here’s my opinion- the first time someone DECIDES to look up pornography, it’s a sin. They’re deliberately disobeying God’s commandments to keep our minds and souls pure.
After that, the addictive part of their brain is hooked in. Every following incident becomes less their choice and more their addiction compelling them back to something they find disgusting. They view/listen to/read it and their brain gets a big dopamine high, followed by a huge wall of shame, especially if they are a member of the church and believe pornography to be morally wrong. It’s this shame that tries to keep them down and prevent them from getting help. Pornography feeds on shame, secrecy, darkness, and lies.
So what can you do to help? Love them. If porn kills love, then love kills porn. Let the person know that you love them regardless of their addiction, that they are not their addiction. Help them to separate the addiction from themselves and see porn, rather than themselves, as the enemy.
Encourage them to talk about it. Lead them to religious (aka a trusted priesthood leader) and professional (aka a therapist trained in treating pornography) help. Understand that ultimately only they can take the Savior’s hand reaching out to help them. And accept the heartbreaking truth that you can only help a drowning person so much while staying safely on the shore. Protect and care for yourself- DO NOT jump in in an attempt to save them.
Let’s speak out about pornography and sexual addiction. I know that pornography addiction is real but CHRIST is real too, and He is more powerful. I know that with Him, as individuals and families and wards we can fight the new drug and win.
*Why did I post this on a mental health blog? Because I think porn and mental health are so closely entwined. People who suffer such intense emotional pain can turn to the false pleasure of pornography. People who are stuck in the cycle of pornography and shame develop intense depression and anxiety. To me, any discussion on mental health isn’t complete without a discussion about porn.
Fight the New Drug… these people are AMAZING-
Treatment program mentioned in the documentary-
Know of any other great resources? Leave a comment and let me know, I’ll add it here!