Erotica versus Pornography…

John Dehlin Culture 169 Comments

Seeing as how we are doing some restructuring at Mormon Matters, I am going to take advantage of this “space” to encourage communication around issues and questions that often come up on my blog.  Because sexuality represents such a high percentage of what I’m being asked about by LDS members, I am currently working on my “sex therapist” accreditation.  Although I am qualified to do sex therapy as a Marriage & Family Therapist, I am wanting extra training in this area.  So please bear with my topic and join me in sharing your thoughts on these types of  “Mormon Matters.”  Maybe my focus on sexuality will encourage those of you who want to see other topics covered on this site to submit manuscripts for possible posting 🙂  (Manuscripts can be submitted to natasha.parker@sbcglobal.net or mormonstories@gmail.com).

I think it is important to correctly define the term “erotica.”

  1. literature or art dealing with sexual love.
  2. literary or artistic works having an erotic theme or quality
If you’ve ever gone to a movie where there is a passionate kiss, if you’ve ever read a book that describes a romantic relationship, if you’ve ever gone to a museum and seen art depicting human anatomy in a sensual way or a loving embrace, if you’ve ever listened to a song describing physical yearning; you’ve been subject to erotica. Sexuality and sensuality are such an integral part of the human experience that it is bound to be captured by artists, historians, musicians, poets, authors, photographers, etc. A simple love letter between spouses can be termed erotica. Some of our scriptures are forms of poetic erotica- Genesis 2:24-25:Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. Works of art, music and literature can open our personal human experience to one where we are more in touch with our spirit and body – where our souls are stirred – where inspiration can be elicited – and where we can join with our eternal companion on a deeper and more intimate level.
Erotica can be a wonderful part of tuning into our personal sexual selves. It can awaken feelings and arousal that in turn help us connect with our partners. The key, of course, is to be able to discern wholesome and appropriate forms of erotica from what crosses the line into pornography. I’m sure there would be great disagreement among our members as to what would constitute “appropriate” erotica. I have hope and faith that married couples can respectfully decide for themselves what is of worth within their relationship. However, some questions that might be helpful in appropriate discernment could include: Does this material include anything that would be considered abusive, harmful or demeaning? Is the sole purpose of this material to be sexually explicit? Is the purpose of this material to make money off of sex?
I would caution regarding the question, “Does this make me feel uncomfortable?” There are many legitimate reasons why we may feel uncomfortable and we should not ignore those feelings. However, the fact remains that many of us are inappropriately uncomfortable with the feelings of sexual arousal due to our upbringings, history, etc. A better question would be, “Why does this make me feel uncomfortable?,” ” Is this an appropriate reason?,” and “Does my spouse agree with me that this falls under inappropriate material?” If not, “Why do we differ?” These types of questions asked between a couple can open up a new and introspective dialogue that can help intimacy to grow – even if disagreements are not resolved.
“Part of sexual growth is exploring different forms of sensual-sexual expression. Erotic themes are expressed in many ways – music, art, literature, and photography. The word erotic means that something sexual is suggested or depicted in the content, which in turn is likely to evoke sexual feelings in the person who is viewing or reading the material.”
Taken from Becoming Orgasmic by Julia R. Heiman, PhD and Joseph LoPiccolo, PhD
It is interesting that some of the literature choices included by these authors as “erotica” include such classics as The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is an erotic piece of literature set within the realms of matrimony (it does contain strong language and violence as it is set in the 1700’s conflict between England and Scotland). Within Mormon culture many men are at a loss as to why their wives are enthralled with the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer. Yet this story of passion and everlasting love has left many women describing to me remembrances stirred of the courtships they experienced with their now-husbands and a renewed sense of desire to feel that passion again.
The Kiss by Gustav Klimt is a good example of passionate art.
Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman? by Bryan Adams is a good example of erotica in the form of music.
Pablo Neruda (Chilean) is considered one of the best hispanic poets of all time. In 100 Love Sonnets, Stephen Tapscott writes about his decision to translate these works: “We don’t have much of a tradition of love poetry in North America, and these poems seem to introduce attitudes of sensual joy of a sort that we – Anglophones, at least – have never been very comfortable with, nor very adept at expressing. Neruda seemed a natural choice, both because of his poems’ own worth and because of what he might contribute to our North American tradition, a voice of intelligent sensual joy.”
Here are a 3 Neruda samples that would be a great addition to a spousal love letter:
1.  As we close this nocturnal door, my love
come with me, through the shadowy places.
Close your dreams, Love, enter my eyes with your skies,
spread out through my blood like a wide river.
Your body is smooth as stones in the water,
your kisses are clusters of fruit, fresh with dew.
As I live by your side, I live with the earth.
2.  Full woman, flesh-apple, hot moon,
thick smell of seaweed, mud and light in masquerade,
what secret clarity opens through your columns?
What ancient night does a man touch with his senses?
Oh, love is a journey with water and stars,
with drowning air and storms of flour,
love is a clash of lightnings,
two bodies subdued by one honey.
3.  Kiss by kiss I travel your little infinity,
your borders, your rivers, your tiny villages,
and a genital fire – transformed, delicious –
slips through the narrow roadways of the blood
till it pours itself, quick, like a night carnation, till it is:
and is nothing, in shadow, and a glimmer of light.
MM readers:
What are your thoughts about erotica?  How would you classify it as different from pornography – or would you?  Have you found it beneficial in your life?  Do you agree or disagree with me regarding its role in the human story?
How do the messages we receive through church teachings form our views regarding erotica?
Natasha Helfer Parker is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist and a member of the Church with 13 years of experience working with LDS members. Here she shares with us representative cases from her practice and insights she has gained from her work as a therapist.  She blogs at mormontherapist.blogspot.com.

Comments

comments

Comments 169

  1. I think society has a double standard when it comes to pornography because women can buy theirs off the newsstand(romance novels, Cosmo magazine)where everyone and their grandmother can have access to it but men’s is usually hidden away behind the counter.

  2. Very useful questions Natasha.As a consequence of what I have perceived of church teaching,we have pretty much eradicated any form of sexual stimulus from our lives,and have been thinking about whether this has been working for us.I think we have decided that this is something we would like to explore together,but fear compromising the sacredness of our relationship with fantasies about others,and also the ethical quagmire.

    I do feel voyeuristic seeing others being nakedly intimate,and am always concerned that I am ultimately paying for them to be morally compromised.I wonder what erotica is not payed for Natasha?

    I do think that human sexuality has a place in art,just never been able to have this conversation other than with DH,and this has left us feeling rather aberrant,up to now that is.

    I think for myself that literature is OK as no-one seems to be harmed in it’s production,but it’s difficult to know of stuff that’s not just trash other than the obvious ‘Lady Chatterly’,so I’d be interested in any suggestions.Good writing about sex seems rather rare,but I’m open to correction.Hate Twilight as it all seems pretty regressive to me.Love the idea of pillow books,and have started writing one for our own use.A little book of our own erotic fantasies that is available to both of us and in which we write when the fancy takes us-sometimes a confessional.

    Hope that wasn’t too much information,but it seemed like a nice home-made project to us,kinda like an erotic scrapbook if you will.Maybe it’s an idea to share with the sisters at homemaking(lols)

    Have always loved Pablo Neruda,particularly ‘The Captain’s Verses’, largely for his acknowledgement of sexuality as a spiritual journey,although I think his own love life was rather sad.

    So,do tell, everyone!

  3. I hear that men are turned on more by images-perhaps that’t why this stuff is less on display-and that women are more turned on by a narrative.For myself I certainly find images as exciting as my DH,but am concerned as to their procurement,as is he and therefore tend to avoid seeking them out.

  4. I think this is an important topic – and I like the broad (no pun intended) definition of erotica. Couples do need to be open enough to decide what they are comfortable with though (as you said).

    Natasha – are your working through AASECT for certification? I’ve been thinking about it, and am currently doing a doctoral minor in sexuality… I know there are a lot of requirements…

  5. My wife and I have discussed investing in a book or two of kama sutra, but the whole exercise made both of us uncomfortable. We kind of ended up deciding it would be better ordering a book online because it was sort of embarrassing looking at books of nude people in different sex positions in a public bookstore.

    More and more I think the Mormon aversion to anything that could even be slightly construed as sexual seems to cause repression that can be unhealthy. I personally have had times when I struggled with porn use. I wonder how much shame and guilt I really needed to feel. Since I have changed my attitude, namely that not all nudity is porn, and not all nudity is sexual, I basically don’t feel the drive to participate in unhealthy porn viewing.

    However, sometimes my aversion to anything sex-related leads to silly things like being embarrassed in a bookstore. Not only is nudity not a new phenomenon, I should hope that there are some forms of arousal that may come from certain stimuli that may even be healthy. We are just taught to run from it all, like Joseph in Egypt. I personally think there is a more adult way of dealing with the issues of porn and erotica. I think I am still finding the balance, though.

  6. Henry:
    Lust can have many different connotations (i.e. from sinful thought to a zest for life). Is all lust bad? How do you define lust? How do you define love? What about if I have feelings of lust towards my spouse – accompanied by feelings of love? Are they easily separable? I still want more of what you are thinking…

  7. What I love about the experiences shared so far – is not so much whether or not the couples have found “the answer” but the fact that they are willing to go down this road together. I imagine the safety level within these couples is high for this to be the case – and in my book, safety engenders intimacy.

  8. Michael – It’s not always the case, but in my brief experiences I have had with LDS clients struggling with pornography, it’s not really the content that is the real problem, but the process, or how it happens, and how they relate to their urges and their body, as well as having an addictive cycle. Content is/may be important in most cases, but the “how” is so much more important.

  9. Re #13 – I totally agree – emotional safety is HUGE, and often the bigger problem when there are sexual issues. If they can create enough safety and bonding, many (not all, of course) sex issues work themselves out. That’s my bias anyway. You can’t do much with sex books or positions or toys or erotica etc. without enough security/safety in the relationship. Actually a lot of that stuff will probably be harmful if brought into a bad relationship, I think.

  10. Hi Michael,the Kama Sutra are really quite lovely in their original form,and very loving.A beautiful illustrated copy would I’m sure be great fun for you and your beloved.I think this is erotica,designed to enhance and explore sexual experience in a loving relationship,as much committed to the woman’s pleasure as the man’s.That seems like a really constructive move,allowing you both to explore further,a useful way to indulge yet boundary sexual curiosity.

  11. Can someone please tell me what is wrong with adult pornography/erotica?

    Mainstream porn is not demeaning to women because these women participate willingly, are paid, and arguably enjoy their jobs.

    Pornography is simply a medium. It’s what people do with it that can cause negative effects. If someone becomes addicted to pornography to the point where they cause pain to someone else, it’s not pornography’s fault. Most cyber-connected humans view porn at times, and I’m not talking about accidentally. And yet most viewers don’t suffer ill effects of pornography.

    It is our American hangup with sexuality that causes much of the addiction problems. We’re told images of men and women having sex are illicit, so we intentionally seek them out.

    Having sex is a natural function. Watching other people have sex is harmless, and can help increase desire in both men and women.

    I watch porn when I am having difficulty getting turned on. My husband watches it when he needs a release and I don’t feel like providing one for him.

    Viewing erotica and porn can both be (and usually are) healthy outlets.

  12. In your studies you may want to read a book by Debbie Nathan titled “Pornography: A Groundwork Guide” (Groundwood Press). I have not read the book but listened to her interviewed on the Doug Fabrizio on Radio West. In the interview Debbie points out a lot of the false hype about porn and discusses what research can help us understand about porn.

    While I’ll personally never teach that porn is good, the church’s approach typically only deepens the since of shame someone feels when not following the moral standards of the church.

    What God intends, I believe, is for healthy intimacy inside of marriage. However, for many porn is a drug to cover the loss of healthy intimacy in marriage.

    http://debbienathan.com/books/

  13. I think we are trained, as Mormons, to see black and white here. For example, dichotomies such as “lust” vs “love”. Depending on how strictly we interpret what is meant here, I think we can adopt some pretty unusual ideas. For example, I should always hold love for my wife…but as I understand the word lust (trying not to say horny)…that needs to happen at times too. In reality these relationships and emotions are much more complex than our puritan sensitivities really allow.

  14. 18 – I have very strong feelings about the issue of how the church teaches about porn. I agree that I don’t believe porn is a good thing. But where the church goes wrong, I think, is having extremely harsh teachings generally about the evils of pornography, but never actually going beyond that explanation. They never teach any healthy way to approach the subject. They just say that participation with destroy your marriage, and your life.

    I try to imagine a world without erotica/porn, and wonder if people would still have the same desires to procreate absent the stimuli that show how wonderful the experience can actually be? On the other hand, the strong prohibitions seem to only kindle even more desire to delve into the ‘forbidden.’

    I have felt immense amounts of shame for watching a Shakira video and being slightly aroused. Even the Bryan Adams song Natasha mentioned (I am a BA fan) has made me feel uncomfortable because of feelings it brought up in me. I think everyone needs to figure out where the line is for them and their spouse, and not get too close to it. But I have since been angry for feeling shame over stupid things like what I’ve mentioned. I would be more concerned if some of these things DIDN’T ever cause any reaction in a ‘typical’ heterosexual male. We are created to have these passions, and feeling those emotions is not something to be ashamed of.

  15. 19 – This is a great point as well. I know I have heard stories of folks in older generations who believed it was inappropriate for them to see their spouse naked except when having intercourse, and even then, they would do it in the dark, because being aroused by the female/male body is akin to lust, which is supposedly the antithesis of love.

    Seems super unhealthy to me to not be able to see your spouse naked and like it, but I guess that’s how they felt in the past.

  16. My problem with porn is it’s objectification of others,leading to a decrease of empathy for a fellow being.It also idealises sex into a convenience,rather than a connection which is often challenging and problematic.I believe that sex is more than an itch waiting to be scratched,it’s a challenge to us to grow into a greater capacity for connectedness.

    So that leads me to the thought that it is somehow a challenge to connect the sacred and the profane,as we have historically seen it.I think we may be amongst the first in history to have the opportunity to see sex as a useful tool for connection and greater intimacy for both partners,but we have yet to work this thing out.Feeling horny is great,we just need to take it to bed with our spouse and if we can’t do that start to check out why that might be.

  17. “What would you consider the right ways to be? This is exactly what I want to tap into people’s opinions about.” #1 & #3.

    A right way would be/is me carrying around a photo of my wife’s butt in these cute while cotton undies she knows turn me wild.

    A wrong way would be to surf the web looking for “panty” site….

    A right way: I managed to cut a few strands of her pubes during our honeymoon and I had them in my wallet until she started admitting that for her it was rather gross and then she asked if I was some sort of serial killer or something, so I had to throw them out…We had a good honeymoon overall.

    A wrong way: get some pubs from a stripper in some bar -where she is probably forced to work because she can’t find anything else- and keep them as souvenirs.

    I think erotica is good when its between two consenting married adults but shouldn’t be between to non-married adults. However its all around us and we can’t avoid it even when watching family type shows on TV like Modern Family (where Sofia Vergara oozes eroticism every few secs…well to me at least!). So eventually one of us will “fall” to some erotic stimulus from outside the marriage. But as long as its channeled toward our own marriage, well then I’d say its a minor thing or a minor transgression, only because our modern society is so obsessed with sex.

  18. #17 stephanieq

    “Mainstream porn is not demeaning to women because these women participate willingly, are paid, and arguably enjoy their jobs.”

    There is plenty of work out there which suggests that is not always the case. Many are exploited, manipulated and forced into porn and forced to do things they would never do in normal relationships. Many may well accept that lifestyle and move on but its rather naive to think that “these women participate willingly”. Very few do.

  19. Assuming most of these women haven’t been videotaped against their will, I’m going to have to disagree with you Carlos.

    It’s hard for some people to accept that women can actually enjoy being an actress in the porn industry, but it happens more often than not. Women that don’t enjoy it and that hop into it for a quick paycheck usually don’t last long.

    Either way, they’ve made their choice. Porn is only exploitative if it’s against someone’s will or someone underage.

    Also, I can appreciate that sex can be a form of love, but it is also an animal instinct. When we elevate it solely to the “sacred,” like Mormonisn tends to do, we put unnatural inhibitions on ourselves.

    I was married for seven years before I had an orgasm, because I had the Wendy Watson “Passion and Purity” mentality. It was only until I was able to accept that sex could be lustful and dirty and that was okay that I experienced a release.

  20. Dang, if we have a “grossest comment” in the Niblets, I nominate Carlos with this:

    I managed to cut a few strands of her pubes during our honeymoon and I had them in my wallet until she started admitting that for her it was rather gross and then she asked if I was some sort of serial killer or something, so I had to throw them out…We had a good honeymoon overall.

    Seriously, I’m speechless here!

  21. “I can appreciate that sex can be a form of love, but it is also an animal instinct. When we elevate it solely to the “sacred,” like Mormonism tends to do, we put unnatural inhibitions on ourselves.”

    Yeah, this is an unfortunate interpretation of sacred. It seems that many take “sacred” to mean “slightly awkward, hushed, with a lot of concentration” or something. I think that “animal instinct” as you say is not in conflict with “sacred” at all, but many don’t I think. Sacred to me just means we hold something close, and have respectful boundaries, etc. Within those guidelines “animal instinct” is no problem at all, and is absolutely good and natural, imho.

  22. That is a good question, Natasha, and some of the comments have been excellent, too!

    There is a line between pornography and erotica, and I think there, too, it’s impossible to draw a line that would work for everyone. You are correct about “feeling uncomfortable,” because you tend to have kids brought up with “sexp-is-bad-sex-is-dirty” mantras, and then when they’re together with their spouses, they feel awkward being naked or touching them/letting them touch.

    I have talked with my adult children about the subject a little, and I think they’ve mostly escaped the typical Mormon repression. I like to think it’s at least partially due to our having had the dinner discussions ramble along on every possible subject (yes, stuff that would make most of you say eeewww!). The only thing we haven’t tolerated in those discussions are ad hominems and outright blasphemy/vulgarity. Curiosity has been rewarded, not punished.

    Thus, they knew that sex is something beautiful, something that can make you feel closer together than anything else. When my daughter was getting impatient for her baby to be born, I suggested they set up a really romantic night and have some especially good sex; perhaps a good orgasm might start the contractions, too. Neither of us were uncomfortable about talking about her possibly having and orgasm that night.

    Mind you, I am not a voyeur; I don’t ask for details, never told the kids too intimate details about our sex life. Some of our kids showed some curiosity about pornography, and that was basically short-lived because before puberty they had read books where there are images (photos or drawn) of women giving birth, plus drawn descriptions of how the sperm originally gets there to fertilize the egg. We never felt that was inappropriate. Our son went through a book that has in utero images of developing fetuses in different states (nobody was hurt in the process), then one picture manual about natural birthing, spending a lot of time wondering how it happens actually. But the first thing when he saw his little brother was: Show me his toes! He just had to see those tiny little toes to make sure it really can happen that way or something…

    Anyhow, I have decided for myself, that movies, photographs etc. that portray real live people acting out sexual intercourse constitutes pornography. There you have to decide where you draw the exact line, and that can vary. But if it’s clearly just made to arouse you sexually without any further real story, I think you’ll see the line’s been crossed. And naturally, what we call hardcore or “hydraulics” is always way across it. In a relationship-oriented book you may have drawn images of couples doing different things, but their purpose is not just to arouse but to instruct, give ideas what you can try — what ends up feeling good…

    Another simplified maxim I have is: Does this make me desire/lust after some other woman. If so, why? Because normally when I read/watch a good romantic comedy or the like, if I get any sexual arousal it normally is directed toward my wife, not an actor or something (for some reason I never lusted after screen stars as a teen, my lust was also for flesh and blood — I wasn’t brought up Mormon). Perhaps instead of walking out of the cinema we should start whispering about something personal???

    As you see by now, I’m offering no answers, just ideas of how an individual can navigate in the jungle that is “entertainment” these days. But I certainly suggest that adults should do their best to go by Strength for Youth in their relationships with others than their spouses. I take it that I can lust after my spouse, if it doesn’t fill my whole consciousness.

  23. I like the idea of ‘bridling our lusts’ which suggests that their power can be harnessed in a creative way.That works well for me,in this model lust is simply a power source that we can use.

    I think we missed out on the fun of sex for years because I thought of it as sacred in the way that you mention.What a downer.

    So,no-one out there willing to share their erotica? I’ll put in Nancy Friday and Anais Nin,although neither worked for me,and I’ve also heard that Georgette Heyer is good, although a slow burner.

  24. Stravinsky’s music sparked riots in Paris for being obscenely erotic, yet I doubt anyone finds it that way today. There is a wide range of what is erotic and what moves people.

  25. I am in complete and utter disagreement with stephanieq. Pornography is desensitizing. Certain things simply must be avoided at all costs. President Kimball had an analogy.
    3 men were applying for a job to drive a truck. Certain parts of the route were on a mountainous highway. All man were asked about how they would drive in this dangerous area.
    1. Well, sir, I am such a good driver that I go real fast it’s like I am almost hanging over the edge.
    2. I am the best driver for the job. I drive so well it will almost be as though I will be driving on air.
    3. Well, sir, I stay far away from the edge at all times.

    You can guess who got the job. Certain things just cannot be rationalized. Does anyone think that crystal meth is good?

  26. JMB275 (#27):

    Yeah, speechless is about right. I’m giving Carlos the benefit of the doubt that this was just a well disguised joke for his benefit only – still it comes across as being a little too confessional for comfort…in which case…yeah….speechless…

    A note on sex and sacredness. My wife and I now joke about this, but on our wedding night (both of us Mormon to the core) she suggested that she wanted the experience to be “sacred”. I can completely agree with the idea of boundaries, privacy, and mutual respect, but if you want to kill any sense of sexiness start relabling it as “sacred”. Also, we need drop the old conversation that sex is private matter between couples and God. I’m satisfied believing that God is prepared to leave this aspect of marriage strictly to the couples.

  27. #26 “I was married for seven years before I had an orgasm”

    Wow, now there’s a problem! Maybe if the couple there had grown together sexually and communicated openly and fully about what was going on in bed, maybe just maybe an orgasm would’ve happened earlier than it did. Doesn’t change the fact that may women in porn are exploited and manipulated into the industry. Now retired actresses like Tracy Lord and Linda Lovelace are good references to start off with to see what actually happens in the ‘industry’. but there are many many more studies and bio’s which disagree with your point of view. But then if you need porn to reach an orgasm, well I’m not judging you there, you can do whatever you want to with your husband -not any of my business.

    #27 “if we have a “grossest comment” in the Niblets, I nominate Carlos with this:….”

    I’m flattered. A Niblets nomination for me? wow…..!!! My dumb comments really do go far these days!!!

  28. #25 brjones,

    “Carlos, you always keep me coming back.”

    Is there a pun in there somewhere? …..sorry, sorry……dumb comment I know…. 🙂

  29. I’m afraid that the current campaign against pornography has made any rational discussion of erotica almost impossible. I’m a clerk in a YSA branch and our president spends most of his time counseling with kids that are feeling guilty about pornography. The problem though is that anything remotely related to nudity or sexuality is being construed as pornography and seems to be making these kids almost paranoid. A good example is when Rodin’s “The Kiss” couldn’t be displayed at BYU. Another is when there was a discussion in our presidency about whether or not to even post an announcement about a fireside on pornography on the bulletin board for fear some tender young sole would read it and become curious. It really has gone too far. Way too far.

  30. Oh boy, we are now comparing porn to crystal meth…

    Back to the op -“Have you found it beneficial in your life? ” YES, YES, and YES! No need to say more.

  31. #32 – He also taught that rape victims need to repent. Please save your SWK quotes that have anything to do with sex or “chastity.” I think even most moderately reasonable active church members recognize at this point that spencer w. kimball’s views on sex were archaic at best, and flat out disturbing at worst.

  32. 32 – I have to agree with 38. I have felt way too much unneeded shame, mainly thanks to “The Miracle of Forgiveness.” Hence, advice from SWK on matters of sexuality just get a shrug of the shoulder from me. I ignore and move on.

  33. Regardless of one’s personal opinion on the rights or wrongs of pornography, I have always found the idea that all women involved in pornography are victims and are being degraded or manipulated in some way against their will to be terribly condescending and presumptuous. I also find this view ironic, considering the fact that many people outside the church have similar views about mormon women, albeit not in a sexual context; a view which I’m confident most mormon women would find highly insulting. The fact is, just because you think something is wrong or destructive does not mean that everyone involved in it must be doing it against their will or without sufficiently understanding what they’re doing. If an individual thinks pornography is destructive, he or she should avoid it. It remains an unfortunate reality for opponents of pornography, though, that many, many people enjoy viewing pornography, and many people, believe it or not, enjoy participating in pornography, and not everything pornography touches is instantly destroyed, as so many would have you believe. As much as some would like it to be the case, just repeating something enough times (in this case that pornography is inherently evil and absolutely destructive) does not make it so.

  34. #38 – Sorry, it was richard g. scott who taught that sexual abuse victims might need to repent to their bishops for their role in their abuse. Spencer w. kimball may have taught the same, but I was specifically thinking of his admonition to women that they are better off being killed than allowing themselves to be “soiled” by sexual assault. I hope he didn’t have any daughters.

  35. I have yet to hear of a marriage being damaged because a woman reads romance novels. I tend to think that we can know these things by their fruits. If anything, the women I know would say that reading romantic stories or watching romantic movies might help them to feel more positive about sex, usually a win for the husband. I don’t see the harm, although I do think that some of the content isn’t appropriate for teenagers. Pornography on the other hand seems to have an addictive quality for a lot of people. There are lots of stories of how it ruined marriages, or became an all-consuming problem.

  36. 42 Rebecca, you raise an interesting question. I’d also be interested in why it is that romance novels (erotica?) for women would not hurt a marriage, but pornography for a man might. I am not an advocate for pornography (depite suggestions in comments here I do find it objectifies and demeans women, though I acknowledge that there may be women who willingly participate I also trust sources that suggest that there are many who do no participate willingly), but I note that I’ve never heard of a talk in which a brother has written to Salt Lake about how a romance novel has broken his marriage, though letters from sisters about their husband’s use of pornography have been referenced.

  37. #42 – Rebecca, I don’t necessarily disagree with you. The problem I have is that pornography is such a loaded issue in the church that, in my opinion, you can’t take any anecdotal evidence from church members at face value. For example, I know of numerous women who have actually divorced their husbands because of pornography, and others who threatened divorce upon learning of their husband’s viewing of pornography. Although every situation is unique and personal, these reactions are fomented by the church’s militant and reactionary position on pornography. If the church taught women that pornography use, while wrong, is not the end of the world, and should be worked through like any other problem, the wildly disproportionate reactions of many lds women to the problem would be significantly reduced. Instead, the church teaches that pornography is absolute poison, destroying every person, marriage and family relationship that it even touches, and that it is a slippery slope leading to all manner of deviance and nefarious behaviors. How in the world, within that framework, is a woman supposed to remain reasonable when she finds out her husband has viewed pornography? According to the church, her family’s survival is literally in immediate peril. In my opinion, the church’s position on pornography is more damaging, and has ruined more relationships and families, than pornography itself will ever be able to match.

  38. #42 – And I would submit, in direct response to your comment about romance novels, that if the church began systematically painting every woman who reads romance novels as a despicable, disgusting pervert, who, in time, will begin reading novels about child pornography and possibly even begin engaging in such activities herself, that the number of families ruined by the reading of romance novels would fall right into line with that of families ruined by pornography.

  39. I partially agree with brjones in that women might be overreacting to some of this. Couples should engage in some introspection about what is going on in their particular case before getting hysterical or assuming things. There are shades of gray I believe. For example, I don’t hear a lot of general conference talks about how we should stay out of museums so apparently nudity isn’t the whole issue. I don’t feel offended that my husband would think the female body is beautiful. I’d be concerned if he didn’t.

    In theory, I can see where a couple might find pornography helpful in some cases. Maybe. Personally, I guess having my husband look at other women, particularly other women engaging in sex, might make me feel insecure because I’d feel like I want his desire pointed at me, not over there at some other woman. The idea of him watching other women engage in sex acts makes me feel uncomfortable. Having your wife feel uncomfortable or insecure is usually not an aphrodisiac. Apparently, most romance novel readers seem to channel their passion back toward the marriage if anything. I’d hate to see the GA’s come down hard on the romance novel readers, causing guilt for women who may have found a safe place to nurture a healthy interest in sex as an expression of romantic love.

  40. #45 – I’m guessing the male leadership of the church would be reluctant to paint their wives as perverts for reading romance novels, since they are probably happy if their wives have some interest in sex. Having your wife feel all guilty and ashamed because she wants to have sex with you is probably not on the agenda for most guys. At least it’s not something that you can admit to other guys in the locker room. Most of them wouldn’t feel very sympathetic when you complain that your wife wants to get all carnal with you ever since she started reading those damned romance novels.

  41. #45 – You know it’s gone too far when she has a picture of Mr. Darcy taped to the headboard. Maybe they could say something like that in a priesthood lesson for all those men who are feeling objectified.

  42. #47 – Agreed, Rebecca. And I definitely didn’t intend to give the impression that I think there is anything wrong with romance novels. I’m glad church leadership doesn’t demonize women who engage in such activities. I just wish there was a measure of thoughtfulness in their treatment of the pornography issue as relates to men, because, as you noted, there are shades of gray.

    And lest I seem like I’m on some kind of male empowerment rant, I understand why the focus of sexual/pornography issues is aimed at men. Clearly this is a problem that is experienced overwhelmingly by men. At least, it seems, when we’re talking about abuse/addiction. I don’t think in an effort to be “fair” the brethren, or anyone else, should ramp up the intensity and criticism of women with respect to pornography and sexuality. I do think, though, that by basically ignoring women on these issues, except, as Hawkgrrrl recently pointed out, to encourage young women not to tempt men to want to sin, the church is essentially marginalizing women’s sexual issues generally. Not just with respect to “sinful” activities, but women’s thoughts, concerns, feelings, etc. about sex. Women are painted as almost asexual beings in the church, just as men are painted as perverts in waiting, and I think it’s tragic all the way around. To be completely honest, I think the church’s approach to sexuality is frightening, and is one of the primary reasons I don’t want my children being raised in the church. I’ve watched many adult members struggle to overcome the damaging stigmas and extreme sexual policies of the church, and I just refuse to subject my kids to that.

  43. #48 – You joke, but I’ve raised an eyebrow or two listening to my wife and her friends talk about some of those Jane Austen movies. One area I think the church misses the mark is in its more or less black and white categorization of pornography generally. I heard someone in a past post comment that something seemingly benign was pornography to him. To the extent that you think pornography is a problem, I think that is a very healthy approach. I think the church would be better served by going away from the talks about the size of the pornography industry and the anecdotes about the ruined families, and focusing instead on each person identifying the things that cause problems for him or her personally, and working on conquering those things. An awful lot of people who do not engage in hard-core pornography are still struggling with the same core issues as the people who do. One man’s Sear’s Catalogue is another man’s [insert favorite comical porno title here].

  44. @stephanieq – Read ‘Empire of Illusion’ by Chris Hedges. The chapter on the Illusion of Love is a look at the porn industry; it made me physically ill. There is exploitation of women, oh yes.

  45. Oh, forgot to mention, that I have written little sensual stories for the benefit of our mutual fantasies, but they’re very personal, and I would think that some parts of them many others would find downright creepy… I wouldn’t think of sharing them.

    Once I tried to make them less personal to see if they’d interest anyone else, but then they started creeping me out, so I gave up on that. They’d be around 20 year-old word processor files now. I’m sure I have them, not so sure I have any software capable of reading them. 🙂

  46. #17-

    “Mainstream porn is not demeaning to women because these women participate willingly, are paid, and arguably enjoy their jobs.”

    PLEASE EDUCATE YOURSELF!!!! That is a RIDICULOUS STATEMENT!!!!

  47. #52 – Without speaking for stephanieq, I didn’t get the impression she was suggesting that no exploitation goes on in the pornography industry, but rather that not all pornography is per se exploitation, which is sometimes suggested.

  48. #54 – Jen, do you believe that there can be pornography in some instances without exploitation? I’m not talking about objectification, which is the entire point of pornography.

  49. 44 — I’d like to see some data (not anecdotal) to support this claim. Your suggestion is that women divorce their husbands because the church tells them porn is bad. Is there empirical evidence to support this (rather popular in the B’nacle) position? Or do women divorce their husbands because those husbands have estranged themselves from their wives through the husband’s use of pornography? Those husbands have made covenants to be true to their wives and it’s easy for me to see how wives may not feel that husbands who regularly view pornography are honoring that covenant.

    FWIW, President Benson did speak out against Romance novels in the early 80’s in a fireside or devotional address at BYU. I remember because my sister-in-law, then an English major, misunderstood him and thought he was talking about literature from the Romantic Period. He is, however, the only one I’ve ever heard of saying such a thing.

  50. brjones-

    I am sure there are women who participate willingly, but I am also sure there are plenty of them who do not. Her statement is assuming a whole lot, don’t you think?

  51. brjones #44-

    “the wildly disproportionate reactions of many lds women to the problem would be significantly reduced”

    I am tired of this being made into an LDS issue. This is a universal problem brjones, it is affecting relationships outside of LDS culture just as much as it is within the church. It is offensive to hear you talk about LDS women having “wildly disproportionate reactions.” There are plenty of women out there who are upset about this issue who are not LDS.

  52. #59 – Sorry, Jen, I didn’t mean LDS women’s reactions are wildly disproportionate to non-LDS women. I meant to suggest that often the reaction is wildly disproportionate to the action giving rise to such reaction. I’m sure you take as much offense at that statement as you did before I clarified it, but that’s just my opinion.

  53. brjones-

    “I meant to suggest that often the reaction is wildly disproportionate to the action giving rise to such reaction.”

    ??????

  54. #57 – Paul, I don’t have any evidence other than anecdotal, but my anecdotal evidence is firsthand, so it’s fairly persuasive to me. My sister-in-law left my brother after he admitted to her that he had been viewing pornography. She didn’t suspect; she didn’t catch him; it had not been a recurring problem. Obviously I’m not privy to every single detail of their marriage, but I know a pretty good deal about the situation. They had 4 small children at the time. I’m not going to tell anyone that they should or shouldn’t leave or stay in a marriage for any reason. That’s a very personal decision. In my opinion, however, a person who leaves his or her spouse for the sole reason that the spouse has been involved in pornography, is wildly disproportionate to the sin/crime/mistake, and those kinds of reactions can be laid directly at the church’s doorstep (again, in my opinion).

    This is not my only experience with this kind of situation. I have multiple other female friends and acquaintances who have divorced their husbands solely because of pornography. I think this is a troubling fact, without there being more involved. And I absolutely agree that husbands have taken vows and made promises to their wives, and that pornography can be a violation of those covenants. But haven’t wives made covenants as well? One slip-up with pornography negates every obligation that a wife has made to her husband and her children? I think there is a decided lack of rationality and level-headedness with respect to the pornography issue within the church. And I know how Jen feels about this – we have sparred numerous times about this issue. Again, it’s just my opinion, but it’s not a baseless one. I have been told by more than one woman that they would rather have their husband be addicted to hardcore drugs than pornography. That is one of the most mind-boggling, irresponsible statements I have ever heard in my life. If you don’t think a statement like that is a direct result of conditioning from the church, and has no basis in logic or reason, I think you’re in denial.

  55. brjones-

    The statement was unclear to me. Of course I have kids continually asking me questions while I am trying to read.

    “I have been told by more than one woman that they would rather have their husband be addicted to hardcore drugs than pornography. That is one of the most mind-boggling, irresponsible statements I have ever heard in my life. If you don’t think a statement like that is a direct result of conditioning from the church, and has no basis in logic or reason, I think you’re in denial.”

    I really think you need to educate yourself more about this subject brjones. There is a recent study that shows how viewing porn literally shrinks the brain. I will get the reference for it and post it when I have time (I am leaving in a minute). Porn has the same effect as hardcore drugs,it is addicting and it has been proven scientifically.

    Also, I think you need to be very careful in assuming that women are leaving their husbands just over porn. You have to be pretty close to people to know all the things going on their marriage and even then, they may not be telling you everything. Two women I know that are trying to stay with their husbands (and these men have slept with other women, even prostitutes), are LDS. Women do try to stay and work it out too. I wouldn’t jump to conclusions that’s for sure.

  56. I think saying it has been “proven” that “pornography” (the definition of which is not always clear) is not accurate. If we’re bringing science into play here, it demands precision and acknowledgment of limitations in research, as well as a refrain from bias, moralizing, and strong reactive emotions. There is an increasing amount of research on pornography and it’s effects – none of which that I have seen can conclusively prove that it is addictive, at least not any more than any other activity that produces a surge of dopamine is addictive. Yes it is obviously a problem for many. I have worked with a few clients who are/were very much caught up in an addictive cycle, and respond to their bodily urges with immediate gratification. I definitely think that whatever habits we form change our brains. I look forward to the reference though Jen! Whenever you have a minute.

    I also can’t believe that any woman has left their husband solely because of one instance of porn use. I have a close friend who left her husband but that was after years of not getting over it, refusing treatment, etc. People that bolt after one disclosure often have their own safety/security issues that are really triggered as well. Unfortunate, but I’m sure it happens.

  57. #64 – Jen, I tried to be very carefully in my comment to make it clear that I don’t know all the ins and outs of others’ relationship decisions. With respect to my brother, I’m pretty comfortable that I know the details of the situation. With the other situations I mentioned, I’m taking those women at their words that that is the reason they divorced their husbands. Beyond that, I’m not ascribing anything to anyone.

    Although I haven’t read every study about the science of pornography addiction, I think your point is still unpersuasive. Even if we assume that addiction to pornography is every bit as real and strong as addiction to hardcore drugs, that doesn’t mean the effects of the two addictions are synonymous. I don’t think it’s even close. I’ve known a number of men who feel they have pornography addictions, and none of them have subjected their families to grave financial hardships to support their addictions (although I recognize that this is a possibility); none of them have stolen from strangers and loved ones to support their addiction; none of them have begun associating with and surrounded their family members with nefarious and dangerous individuals in the entertainment of their addiction; none of them have been regularly engaged in criminal behavior that is highly likely to land them in prison; and not one of them has engaged in regular behavior, in fact the very nature of their addiction, that WILL not MIGHT, eventually kill them. Every person I’ve ever known with a hardcore drug addiction, and virtually every person I’ve listened to share at a recovery meeting, has engaged in the above activities, if not on a regular basis. So, even assuming the physical addiction is similar, for a person to suggest that he or she, or his or her children, would be better off for their spouse to be addicted to hardcore drugs, is completely incomprehensible to me. It indicates the viewpoint of a person who has not taken the time to consider the ramifications of such a statement, or myopically believes that they’d rather have every temporal aspect of their earthly life and family relationships put in peril rather than…what? What is the downside to pornography that it would justify such a ludicrous position?

  58. Jen:

    brjones is just saying that often times the extreme reactions given to those who are found to be consuming porn are not commensurate with the “crime” of porn use. For example, zero-tolerance divorces.

    There is little doubt that the Church’s emphatic cautions against porn is largely (and this goes beyond Mormon religious influence) responsible for the extreme emotions attached to that subject. Interestingly, I also think that it may serve to explain why Church members in particular seem to struggle so much with this issue. Perhaps that is the value of Natasha’s discussion here. We have shamed ourselves into a false sense of appropriate erotica, that conflicts too much with our inherent erotic natures to the point where we act out. We offer pretenses as to our true sexual proclivities, where acting out in private is a natural by-product – which coincidentally leads compulsive behavior.

    Secondly, to argue that porn is breaking up homes is akin to saying that guns kill people. Homes and marriages are breaking up because of how those intrusions are interpreted. In other words we create a sexually repressed society, one where even private sexual intimacies have been historically encroached upon by the Church, ie, approved sex acts. Sex is emphasized as something to abstain from, including thoughts, media, etc, in a social climate that both currently and historically (all the way back to the beginning of recorded history) is preoccupied with sex, followed by a polite disclaimer that it is beautiful in marriage. Still the emphasis is on the sin, not the beauty. Lastly we create conditions where a person associated with porn use is characterized as being sick, a pervert, troubled, and all of this compounded with overt seriousness. In other words, when a couple learns that there is a porn issue, they don’t try and overcome it – at least that’s not how it is discussed. Nope, instead the train comes to a screeching halt why everybody in the family, clergy, and immediate circle, begins to “help” addressing this issue with the same intensity that they would if they discovered there was cancer. Cancel plans, anticipate the death, and get the house in order.

    Lastly, women oriented magazines would play the part of casual porn consumption for men, if books are to be considered an aggressive internet porn addiction. In other words, a small group of women read the romance novels, compared to the masses who consume the check out isle sex gossip magazines disguised as pop-culture. If internet porn is the elephant in the living room, then these magazines are elephants in the basement.

  59. Brjones – I wonder if the porn issue is worse to some than drugs because sex is such a sensitive and vulnerable topic. People probably say that because there is so much more vulnerability and shame and etc. involved.

  60. #65 – I agree, Adam, and I should acknowledge that such a reaction is certainly not typical, even within a religion that takes such a hard line on pornography, such as the LDS church. That said, I think the church’s position on pornography has been extreme, and it has led to a level of terror and despair when a woman in the church finds out their husband has been engaged in it, that is almost unmatched. I think the church’s position (for many, many years) has been counterproductive to communication and the resolution of this problem in marriages. I’ve mentioned before that my wife and mother went to a Stake Relief Society fireside a couple of years ago, where the women were trained in ways they could search their computer’s files to find out what their husbands were doing online. I think a wife has the right to know what her husband is doing online, and even to search the computer to find out. But I think that is an absurdly inappropriate subject for a RS fireside. The church should be encouraging behaviors and strategies that will encourage spouses to be MORE honest with each other so that such problems can be shared and dealt with together (the only way they will ever be resolved, in my opinion), not encouraging spouses to spy on each other and try to catch each other doing something wrong. From a male perspective, I can say that ironically this is a HUGE contributing factor to the ongoing pornography problem in the church.

  61. This:

    “You have to be pretty close to people to know all the things going on their marriage and even then, they may not be telling you everything.”

    Contrasted with this:

    “Two women I know that are trying to stay with their husbands (and these men have slept with other women, even prostitutes), are LDS. Women do try to stay and work it out too.”

  62. In using science to prove or disprove a position on a subject it is always critical to look at the motives of those quoting the science. I recently read two articles, one by an anti-gay rights person claiming how the pro-gay organizations misuse science to prove their point and another article by a gay rights person showing how anti-gay groups misuse science. We must be critical of all studies. It is only after reading both sides of an issue that we should come to a conclusion.

    I say this realizing that we go into reading both sides with a predisposition which sometimes is hard to overcome.

    On this issue I have read several books which are decidedly anti-porn and one that is neutral. While it is hard to disagree with someone’s individual experience on this subject I will have to say that I agree with brjones that the harm seems to come from ones attitude towards porn. Some of the countries with the most liberal porn laws also are among the lowest in reported violence against women.

    While there is a real sex trade which abuses young girls there is also cases where professional porn women enjoy their career. In Debbie Nathan’s book “Pornography: A Groundwork Guide” Debbie reports interviews with some of these professional women and found differing feelings amongst the group.

    While it isn’t my place to judge, I’m guessing on the whole these women don’t make the best wife’s/mother’s but are still valued for the tension relief they provide for some men.

  63. #68 – I don’t think there’s any question about that, Adam. I think that’s the problem, and I think it’s largely the church’s problem. Whether you think it’s good or bad, church members take their cues about rights and wrongs from the church. The church, in my opinion, has pushed the vulnerability and shame of sex to an extreme and unhealthy level. Therefore, when anyone does anything that isn’t on the approved list, it leads to an disproportionately negative reaction. I don’t think it’s unnatural for a woman to feel betrayed and hurt that her husband has been looking at pornography without her knowledge. I do think that to equate that to some kind of spiritual death or the potential end of a marriage (without more) is not reasonable. But I think that is the kind of reaction the church’s policies on pornography have fostered.

  64. #68 – And I would add, Adam, that this was exactly my point about the porn vs. drugs thing; namely that such a position is driven by emotion and irrational fear, and in no way informed by reason or logic. And again, I think the church’s position on sex and pornography have nothing to do with logic or reason. They are emotionally based, and feed on people’s fears and insecurities. This is unfortunate because I don’t think people need to be convinced that pornography is only for sick perverts in order to be dissuaded from engaging in it. Yet that’s the strategy the church has engaged to deal with the problem. Interestingly, that strategy has been an abysmal failure.

  65. I agree with you on the shame and etc. that the church has contributed to. Preaching hellfire and damnation against porn in GenCon does little more than make people afraid of it, and/or potentially keep some people who are not caught up in it away from it. For everyone else it can really make things worse. Right now when that happens they end up (hopefully) in family services or elsewhere, where I have to re-teach them that it’s not the porn per se that is the root of the problem, but how they react to their urges, working in secrecy, surrounded by shame, etc. etc. We do know a lot more effective ways to deal with pornography problems with individuals, and I don’t have all the answers, but I know how it has been dealt with in the past (and possibly in the present) is not where we need to be.

  66. adamf-

    I am working on getting the reference and will post it as soon as I do. Please post the studies that you are referring to which cannot conclusively say that porn is addictive, I would like to read those as well. Also, I’m curious, are you specifically trained to worth with sex addicts?

    brjones-

    “Although I haven’t read every study about the science of pornography addiction, I think your point is still unpersuasive.”

    I’m not interested in persuading you, I understand your position well enough.

    “none of them have subjected their families to grave financial hardships to support their addictions”

    Men do lose their jobs when caught viewing porn at work, that would be considered a financial hardship, let alone trying to find another job after that.

    “none of them have stolen from strangers and loved ones to support their addiction”

    Does time away from their family count as taking something from them? If they are busy on the internet for 3 or 4 hours a night instead of spending time with their wife or kids, that is taking something away from them is it not? Time matters….it doesn’t have to be money.

    “So, even assuming the physical addiction is similar, for a person to suggest that he or she, or his or her children, would be better off for their spouse to be addicted to hardcore drugs, is completely incomprehensible to me.”

    That’s because your not the wife who is being asked to perform sexual acts that her porn addicted husband is watching which demean her and make her feel worthless. Your not the woman who has lost complete trust in her husband because he has betrayed her through his choices. Of course it is incomprehensible to you, what basis do you have to even understand?

    “It indicates the viewpoint of a person who has not taken the time to consider the ramifications of such a statement, or myopically believes that they’d rather have every temporal aspect of their earthly life and family relationships put in peril rather than…what? What is the downside to pornography that it would justify such a ludicrous position?”

    This comment doesn’t surprise me at all coming from you brjones. You’re the expert.

  67. #67 Cowboy: “There is little doubt that the Church’s emphatic cautions against porn is largely (and this goes beyond Mormon religious influence) responsible for the extreme emotions attached to that subject.”

    Again, empirical evidence?? I have read anecdotal evidence here and in other similar posts, but that’ all. Brjones’ story is compelling but does not make the case by itself (and sharing three or twelve other bits of anecdotal evidence won’t either).

    Brjones, Regarding the question of hard core drugs vs. pornography — I agree that someone who wishes this does not understand addiction. I would not wish addiction of any kind on anyone. I do wonder, however, if you would have felt your SIL was justified in leaving is her husband had been an adulterer? Or a drug addict? Or an alcoholic? I raise the question only because it is difficult to know others’ motivations for their actions and to parse their motives.

    Regarding the RS’s teaching sisters how to search for their husband’s (or children’s) internet activity — it’s reasonable to have standards in a home, and it’s reasonable to have ways to measure compliance. It is a sad marriage relationship where one spouse must resort to such detective work to ensure compliance, and it signals a far greater problem in the marriage in my view. That said, LDS are not unique in policing their children’s internet activities, and such a RS meeting might have been helpful in that regard.

    I would also observe that what you heard of took place in a stake RS meeting, so it was that stake, not The Church, in that instance who did what they did.

    I still maintain, however, that a husband’s seeking to gratify his sexual urges through pornography can be remarkably injurious to his spouse who believes him to be faithful to her. I would recommend that a couple in that instance seek counseling rather than divorce. But a husband who is not willing to change for the benefit of his spouse may make that decision difficult for his wife.

    I suppose for that reason alone such discussions have value, particularly between marriage partners, so that they can continue to explore their emotional intimacy together in a setting of safety with sensitivity for the needs of both partners.

  68. Paul,

    “I still maintain, however, that a husband’s seeking to gratify his sexual urges through pornography can be remarkably injurious to his spouse who believes him to be faithful to her.”

    You’re right on here Paul, I appreciate the fact that you get that.

  69. Jen,

    Thoughts about leaving your spouse over porn…

    I live in the heart of the Book of Mormon belt in an extremely active family ward – way above average in terms of tithing receipts, home teaching, church attendance, etc.. Of the High Priests in our ward, more than half have served as a Bishop, Stake President or Mission President elsewhere in the church. When I was the EQP, we had over 90 percent home teaching per month; and, more than half of the Elders had served as the EQP in another area. I use this as a reference to emphasize my next point.

    Our Bishop sent a letter to all the women in the ward and in effect stated “There is a 100% chance either your husband or children are involved with pornography in some manner”. I am paraphrasing and this was several years ago so my wife no longer has the letter. In conversations with my Brother and best high school friend, who are both Bishops in Bountiful (Utah), they agreed in general terms with that statement. At least acknowledged it is a serious problem impacting almost every family.

    If women are leaving their husbands over this problem, there are going to be a lot of single families.

  70. Thread jack (for Jen) –

    By the way Jen, last time we interacted you asked for documentation that Joseph Smith lied to Emma about polygamy. Just a few brief references from Mormon Enigma. Because the book has been through a few re-printings page numbers may not totally coincide, but the chapters are correct.

    There are other accounts also, but these are just a few select references.

    1) Chapter 9: Eliza Snow makes veiled reference in her Journal about her marriage to Joseph Smith.

    “Eliza had been living with Sarah Cleveland since her parents moved fifty miles east to Walnut Grove. The 1842 city and county tax records place Sarah’s husband, John Cleveland, several blocks away. No date is known for Sarah Cleveland’s own marriage to Joseph, but she stood as witness to Eliza’s while Brigham Young performed the ceremony. This and her living apart from John Cleveland suggest that she was probably already married to Joseph. Almost certainly Emma was not aware that both her secretary and her counselor in the Relief Society had become Joseph’s plural wives.3 (Chapter 9 Pg. 119)

    The footnote discusses, among other things, that Eliza makes no mention of Emma having participated in this event.
    In a couple of pages, the story is then told about an altercation between Emma and Eliza, where some have argued that Eliza may have lost an unborn child as result of an assault by Emma. The details about that frankly are sketchy, but there is little doubt that some type of altercation occurred. This furthers the point that Emma was unawares. It is much too long to copy, so here is the reference. (Chapter 10 Pg. 134)

    2) Probably the best example – Chapter 11, Page 158:

    Clayton (William Clayton, personal scribe to Joseph Smith) reported under the date of August 16, 1843, “This A.M. Joseph told me that sin[c]e Emma came back from St. Louis, she had resisted the P[rinciple] in toto, and he had to tell her he would relinquish all for her sake. She said she would give him E[liza] and E[mily] P[artridge] but he knew if he took them she would pitch on him, & obtain a divorce & leave him. He however told me he should not relinquish anything.”4 In the most serious crisis of their marriage, Joseph backed down. He told Emma that he would give up his wives, but he confided to Clayton that he did not intend to keep his word. (Pg 158)

    3) Still smarting from finding Eliza’s letters to Joseph the previous day, Emma went for a short carriage ride with her husband on August 22. She called on the Lucian Woodworth family while Joseph attended to some business at the temple. Emma apparently did not know that the Woodworths’ sixteen-year-old daughter Flora had been Joseph’s plural wife since spring. What probably began as a casual social visit resulted in a confrontation between Emma and Flora when Emma discovered that Joseph had given Flora a gold watch. She would have recognized the implications of such a gift, since he had also given one to Eliza Snow. Joseph returned just as Emma “was demanding the gold watch” from Flora, and he reprimanded her. Once in the carriage, however, Emma vented her own frustrations. Joseph told Clayton she continued “her abuse” after they arrived home, and said he finally had to employ “harsh measures” to stop her. (Chapter 11, Page 159).

    4) I don’t have my history of the Church, library at my office, so I had to pull this reference off of the internet. However the History of the Church reference is attached for your benefit. Here we have Joseph Smith lying to about everybody as result of the accusations issued by William Law. This is just before Carthage.
    Another indictment has been got up against me [the polygamy indictment]. It appears a holy prophet [William Law] has arisen up, and he has testified against me [causing the polygamy indictment to be brought forth]…. God knows, then, that the charges against me are false.
    I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made one proclamation of the Gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives. I mean to live and proclaim the truth as long as I can.
    This new holy prophet [William Law] has gone to Carthage and swore that I had told him that I was guilty of adultery. This spiritual wifeism! Why, a man dares not speak or wink, for fear of being accused of this…. William Law … swears that I have committed adultery. I wish the grand jury would tell me who they [the alleged wives] are—whether it will be a curse or blessing to me….
    A man asked me whether the commandment [revelation] was given that a man may have seven wives; and now the new prophet has charged me with adultery…. Wilson Law [William’s brother] also swears that I told him I was guilty of adultery…. I have rattled chains before in a dungeon for truth’s sake. I am innocent of all these charges, and you can bear witness of my innocence, for you know me yourselves…. What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.
    I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago [when charged with polygamy shortly after his marriage to Emma Hale]; and I can prove them all perjurers. (LDS History of the Church 6:410–411; italics added)

  71. Will,

    I’m not sure what your point is? I have not suggested a woman leave her husband over porn use, in fact, that is a very personal decision for a person and each situation is different. Where are you getting the idea that I suggested this?

  72. I just don’t have the energy to try and engage the type of thinking that concludes porn use is equal to or greater than drug use.

  73. #75 – Jen, I’m sorry that you are unable to discuss this without becoming emotional. The points I made were to demonstrate that those behaviors are the rule, and almost the absolute rule, with respect to drug addicts. So the fact that you may know of a number of extreme cases where those things take place with respect to pornography addicts doesn’t in any way speak to the point I was making. If I had said those things never occur in cases of pornography addiction, your points would be salient. Additionally, I have stated numerous times that I know many men who have a problem with pornography. I’m not sure why your anecdotes are completely accurate and reliable, but for some reason mine are not. Actually I suspect I know why, and I think it has everything to do with the existence of a penis. I’m happy that you are willing to look at fringe cases of behavior and paint every other case with that brush. I’m sure it makes for a rosy outlook. Unfortunately, it doesn’t change the point I was making, which is that the consequences I discussed with respect to drug addiction are the rule, and they are not the rule with respect to porn addiction. And you didn’t even address prison or death, although undoubtedly you’ve got a friend whose husband went to prison and killed someone through his pornography use.

    Incidentally, I resent your level of hostility to me in this thread. Prior to this comment I have not been personal or emotional. You and I have had a pretty cordial relationship to this point and I think it’s lame that you can’t keep it that way just because you happen do disagree with my opinion. I’ve said numerous times in my comments that this is JUST MY OPINION. Apparently you’re the one who knows everything.

  74. “I still maintain, however, that a husband’s seeking to gratify his sexual urges through pornography can be remarkably injurious to his spouse who believes him to be faithful to her.”

    I completely agree with this statement. I think it is absolutely a betrayal of trust and possibly marital vows. My issue isn’t with whether or not I think pornography is right or wrong. The only thing I’ve been arguing is the point of the church’s focus in how they deal with the issue.

  75. #76 – Paul, I’m not even suggesting a woman would never be justified in leaving because of her husband’s pornography use. As I’ve said a number of times, it’s impossible to be privy to every aspect of someone else’s relationship. In my SIL’s case, my brother told her he had had experience with pornography and she literally turned around, took the children and left. In that instance, my brother and his wife actually reconciled, but I was using that as an example of the unneccessarily severe reaction that many people in the church have to the very existence of pornography use, and nothing more. And by the way, when I say unneccessarily severe reaction, I’m not just sympathizing with the man in this situation. I think it is tragic that women in the church are traumatized by situations that, sometimes, don’t need to be as traumatizing as they are. That, in my opinion, is largely due to the church’s policies regarding pornography.

    Back to your question, Paul; I would rarely question a person’s decision to leave their spouse under any circumstances, on a micro scale. I recently went several rounds with my wife over this very topic, arguing that if someone decides they cannot be married to someone anymore, it’s no one else’s place to judge. My point is more to the general attitude in the church toward pornography use. I just don’t think that demonizing it to the degree the church does is effective. If a man shuts his wife out of intimacy or seeks it somewhere other than with her, then I think she is justified in taking action. I would hope that as a rule any spouse would at least take the time to discuss the matter and attempt to work it out, though. It goes without saying that a spouse who disregards his wife’s feelings and refuses to alter his behavior or attempt to resolve the problem is completely in the wrong. I don’t think I ever suggested otherwise. And, as you’ve pointed out, Paul, my anecdotes are just that. They’re interactions I’ve had and they don’t constitute scientific data, which is why my opinion remains just that. But I have heard the comment “pornography use is adultery” from church members more times than I can remember, and I think that is a severe and extreme viewpoint. I’m not talking about using porn at work and losing your job, a man who spends hours a day on the computer at the expense of family time or forcing one’s wife to perform sexual acts she doesn’t want to engage in. The existence of those activities is a no-brainer.

  76. I think saying it has been “proven” that “pornography” (the definition of which is not always clear) …

    Some time ago, I witnessed a missionary’s reaction to an illustration in an investigator’s copy of Dante’s Inferno. I think it was the Dore woodcut that can be seen here (advisory: 19th century woodcut with violence, male nudity):

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/79/Inferno_Canto_28_verses_30-31.jpg

    He instantly hissed (quietly, so as not to offend the investigator, who was more distant than I) “pornography!” and went through a vampire-shrinking-from-garlic kind of thing as he hastily closed the book.

    I was as surprised as if he had reacted in the same way to a photo of, say, the planet Jupiter. I can only conclude that for him, pornography was exactly equivalent to nudity, because the notion that that illustration had any kind of erotic aspect for him was (and is) beyond my ability to believe.

    This was just one young man in a perhaps more innocent pre-Internet era, and I don’t claim that he was typical of anything. But it was a vivid experience for me, and I’ve never since been sure I know what anyone means by the word “pornography”.

    Does anyone know of a good book or article on working conditions in the pornography industry? I have occasionally read firsthand accounts by legally employed sex workers, and it’s pretty clear that just imagining what their work day is like often doesn’t get anywhere near reality. For example, one article on phone sex, although disturbing in places, had me laughing out loud in other places at just how un-sexy the experience on the “production” side can be. The customers are definitely not necessarily getting the full attention of the workers taking their calls. But I’d be interested in reading a more systematic overview, suitable for the naive outsider, of a wider variety of occupations and experience. As things stand now, I am unable to have more than an extremely superficial understanding of issues like exploitation.

  77. Pornography is not the problem. Acting like its the end of the world is the problem. People who view pornography and then hate themselves because they think they are deranged or think they offended God deeply is the problem. I know dozens of people in mormon land whose marriages were “ruined” by pornography. None of my non mormon friends have had a marriage end due to pornography. Lighten up about pornography, and it will stop ruining lives.

  78. Jen – “Please post the studies that you are referring to which cannot conclusively say that porn is addictive, I would like to read those as well. Also, I’m curious, are you specifically trained to worth with sex addicts?”

    My bad! I didn’t mean to imply I was referring to studies that showed that porn was not addictive, only that the burden of “proof” (although I don’t like that word) is on those who say it IS addictive, hence my interests in any studies that support the idea that “porn” per se, as in just the sole content of pornography (NOT necessarily the way it is used, but just singling out the content, because that’s what it sounds like you’re saying) is what is addictive, almost like a drug.

    We have to be very careful and precise about what we mean, and what these studies say. Me, personally, (just my bias, and not researched) am fairly sure that the specific content of “pornography” is not what makes it “addictive” – only 10% or less or so of people who look at porn with some frequency become “addicted.” (I’ll find that study for you if I don’t forget). What IS addictive (based on my reading, and experience with clients) is how they relate to their bodies, urges, environment, shame, stress, guilt, perfectionism, need to feel anything different, etc. etc. combined with anonymity, accessibility, and affordability. Of course, porn is used in all that as the “content” of the addiction because it fits into those categories SO easily. I just am not convinced that the content of any pornographic picture or movies (from underwear ads for some to hardcore porn movies) is necessarily the “source” or “cause” of addiction.

    Gosh, I don’t know if that makes any sense, hah! All that being said, I don’t think and never said that porn is NOT addictive – I just don’t see a lot of good for me professionally working with clients, and probably in my own life, to frame it–the substance of porn–as addictive or not addictive. So yes, I have received training, some of which from Michael Chamberlain, who is somewhat of an expert in Utah on this treatment. I think he’s in South Jordan. Granted, I’m still a neophyte, with only 3 years or so of counseling experience, and only a handful of clients with “sex addictions.”

    All THAT being said (haha!) I do think that for some of my clients, framing it as “addiction” has been very helpful. They have gone to the 12 step meetings, and made TREMENDOUS progress in their lives, which includes admitting they are “powerless” over “the addiction” or something like that.

    Have I contradicted myself yet? 😀

  79. #87 – Dexter – “Pornography is not the problem. Acting like its the end of the world is the problem.None of my non mormon friends have had a marriage end due to pornography. Lighten up about pornography, and it will stop ruining lives.”

    Anecdotal evidence from both of us, for sure, but I disagree with this. I do agree that “acting like it’s the end of the world” DEFINITELY makes the problem a lot worse, but from what I’ve learned and seen, it’s not “THE” problem. Problems with pornography affect all kinds of marriages, even atheists, believe it or not. The shame and stigma and often extreme verbiage around porn in Mormon-land does indeed (I think) contribute to the problem, but this problem exists EVERYWHERE, even for the non-religious, totally secular, “porn is okay” couples.

  80. No, my mistake. I’m saying I agree with what you said, and I certainly wouldn’t split hairs with your views compared to mine because they are so similar. So, I agree with what you said.

    Anything can cause problems in marriage. Shopping, while not inherently wrong, can cause big problems if someone does it too much or is addicted to it. Same with porn. Now, we may disagree on whether porn is inherently wrong, but we certainly agree that making too much of porn can make the problem much worse.

  81. Okay yeah, gotcha. Porn is such an ambiguous term that I couldn’t say actually whether I thought it was inherently wrong. My bias is some forms of it I DO think are inherently wrong, obviously child porn but that’s not all. Anyway, thanks for the comments…

  82. brjones-

    “Jen, I’m sorry that you are unable to discuss this without becoming emotional.” brjones, I’m sorry that you are confused and think I am emotional.

    “So the fact that you may know of a number of extreme cases where those things take place with respect to pornography addicts doesn’t in any way speak to the point I was making.”

    I’m not talking about “extreme” cases. I have been working with a very large group of women and men who have been affected by this, I just told you of two that I was aware of, but there are many more.

    “And you didn’t even address prison or death, although undoubtedly you’ve got a friend whose husband went to prison and killed someone through his pornography use.”

    Aren’t you funny. I’m not sure how you think you are cordial in your conversations with me. I find you extremely disrespectful to those people who have suffered deeply because of these issues. I do know several men who are spending the rest of their lives in prison strictly due to issues with porn, and it has severely impacted their families and children.

    BTW, I never claimed to know everything, just that porn does and will continue to destroy lives. Think what you want, there are a huge amount of people out there suffering because of it and they aren’t all LDS. The church isn’t to blame, people making the choice to get involved in porn are, they are accountable for what they view and the choices they make in relation to it no matter what the church says about it.

  83. Statistic I’m currently aware of: 70% of sex addicts (which can include more behavioral than porn viewing) come from “rigid” families – inflexible and not comfortable with views which oppose the status quo. Unfortunately this describes many religious families – not just Mormon. 80% of sex addicts have been sexually abused.
    I dont have the numbers in front of me, but many who work in the sex industry (whether or not they are being exploited or enjoy what they do) have a
    history of sexual abuse. Thus, their sexual perceptions and development have been altered in ways they may not even be aware of.
    I’m not trying to take sides – just sharing research I’m aware of. There is truth for me in much of what is being said – even things that seem contradictory.

  84. “I do know several men who are spending the rest of their lives in prison strictly due to issues with porn”

    Please elaborate.

  85. Natasha-

    Those are just the sex addicts that talk about their sexual addiction, what about all the sex addicts who keep it a secret and no one knows about it? It is hard to quote percentages when it really isn’t measurable due to those who don’t talk about it.

  86. Cowboy-

    They aren’t my stories to tell, but they both started out viewing porn and over a period of time it turned to child porn. Eventually they were both caught (two totally different cases in different states) and are they serving life sentences because of the amount of charges against them. Of course it was a choice to turn to child porn, but pornographers are big on promoting teens in the porn industry. I don’t think it is a difficult line for men to cross in our society.

  87. “Statistic I’m currently aware of: 70% of sex addicts (which can include more behavioral than porn viewing) come from “rigid” families – inflexible and not comfortable with views which oppose the status quo.”

    I’d be interested to read more deeply into how “inflexible” and “status quo” are defined.

  88. Thomas,

    In response to Natasha’s comment; and, to quote the wise philosopher Homer J. Simpson “Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything. 14% of people know that”

  89. #96 NHP “….Thus, their sexual perceptions and development have been altered in ways they may not even be aware of.”

    That’s the main issue here with porn industry workers. They, the workers, may claim to be freely in it for the money for a while (since later on things change) but there are surely underlying issues that makes an attractive, healthy person choose this line of work rather than something else.

    “70% of sex addicts…come from “rigid” families” By the way I would include here those who found my comment back in #23 on “a right way and a wrong way” for erotica inside marriage as being amongst these rigid people who have some issues with full and correctly expressed sexuality.

  90. “I don’t think it is a difficult line for men to cross in our society.”

    I do.

    The problem wasn’t porn – but child porn. I think that is an important distinction make Jen, and though we have a) been the rounds on this one before; b) despite your assertion that devolving to child porn/abuse is a natural progression for porn users, it is not empirically so. You are entitled to your strong opinions regarding pornography, and I wouldn’t even fault you or disagree with your overall position that it is harmful. Still, needing to pack a little more oomph into your objection with notions that porn use breeds child molesters, and shrinks brains, etc, overall detracts from reasonable conversation. The two clinically trained experts here have been careful to tread lightly in the speculative, here, ie, overall psychological and physiological impacts to porn users, and have instead dealt more directly with relationships and culture. It may be wise to follow their lead.

  91. Cowboy-

    “despite your assertion that devolving to child porn/abuse is a natural progression for porn users” You asked for more information on the two men I knew about that went to prison so I told you what happened. What assertion was I making that child porn was a natural progression? It was for them, I didn’t say it is for everyone.

    Teenage girls are considered child porn. I believe it is naive to think that men aren’t viewing teen girls more than you realize. I am not talking about babies,toddlers and undeveloped children, but developed underage girls.

    “The two clinically trained experts here have been careful to tread lightly in the speculative, here, ie, overall psychological and physiological impacts to porn users, and have instead dealt more directly with relationships and culture. It may be wise to follow their lead.”

    Just because someone is clinically trained doesn’t mean they have all the answers. I respect their position, but I will be wise and follow the lead my heart and mind tells me to take. That is what I have always done and always will do.

  92. Jen, first off, something I may have said that you find offensive or insensitive to people who have suffered, has no bearing on my cordiality to you. I’m speaking about tone and civility. Until my last couple of comments, I don’t think I had been remotely confrontational toward you. I’m sorry if you took offense at my comments. That was not my intention.

    With respect to insensitivity toward others’ experiences, I think you should take a page out of your own book. I’ve heard you say incredibly judgmental things about people who may have problems you can’t relate to. Frankly, some of your comments in past threads about men who have used pornogeaphy have been horribly insensitive. Your opinions are colored by your experiences, as are mine. And for the record, you have made numerous comments in similar conversations indicating your belief that porn use is a slippery slope towards criminally deviant behavior.

    It’s disappointing to me that you took my comments personally when I made every effort to be civil and what’s more, they weren’t even directed at you. I’m not sure why you can’t allow me to simply have a different opinion from your own, without getting angry and spiteful. Perhaps you feel that because this topic is so sensitive that only those with correct opinions should be allowed to discuss it. I have known you to be a generally reasonable and tolerant person on this site. For some reason, you seem to have difficulty maintaining that disposition when discussing this issue.

  93. brjones-

    Your definition of angry and spiteful are much different than mine. I never said that you weren’t allowed your own opinion, and I haven’t been angry or spiteful, I have expressed my opinion just like you have expressed yours.

    “Frankly, some of your comments in past threads about men who have used pornogeaphy have been horribly insensitive.” Unless you have something from past threads to show me what you are talking about, I would ask you to refrain from making comments that about my “horrible insensitivity.”

    “For some reason, you seem to have difficulty maintaining that disposition when discussing this issue.” I’m sorry that you feel that way, I don’t feel I have been unreasonable or intolerant. You’re right, my experience is different than yours, let’s just respect that and move on.

  94. Cowboy,

    From a practical standpoint, there is little difference between viewing a nude female in her late teens and an adult female under 30. Maybe a little more firm, but the general image is about the same. The difference in my opinion is exploitation. If an adult female decides to expose herself to the general public that is her decision and she has that legal right. Also, if an adult male decides to view this image than that is his legal right. The problem with viewing porn from a legal standpoint is that you don’t know if that girl is an adult or a teen. Viewing older women is probably not high on a perverts list. Thus, you might be guilty of Child porn without knowing; and, whether you know or not the law would treat you the same. This is one of the more serious risks on viewing porn over the internet.

  95. “Just because someone is clinically trained doesn’t mean they have all the answers. I respect their position, but I will be wise and follow the lead my heart and mind tells me to take. That is what I have always done and always will do.”

    For one who consistently challenges opposition with quippy retorts like “perhaps you should educate yourself”, I find this statement quite odd. Let’s see, an experts training vs. Jen’s heart…yep, I’ll go with expert training.

    Thanks for the clarification on what constitutes child porn. Having read your description I can conclude that we both perfectly understand it to mean the same thing.

    “What assertion was I making that child porn was a natural progression?”

    It is tempting to go back copying and pasting all of your clear comments that make this assertion, but that would be tiring and not at all helpful. All one needs to do is go back a few comments to find those allegations in your comments. I’m out of this discussion now, frankly we are treading towards a level of irrationality that I’d rather not contend with. Jen, take your own advice and educate yourself.

  96. Cowboy,

    “For one who consistently challenges opposition with quippy retorts like “perhaps you should educate yourself”, I find this statement quite odd.” Oh please, you can educate yourself by going to the library, reading studies online, etc. Seriously Cowboy?

    “I’m out of this discussion now” Bummer and we were having so much fun.

    P.S. Jen’s heart ROCKS!!

  97. Jen, my sense is that you’ve already cemented conclusions based on anecdotal evidence, and refuse to admit anything that might contradict it. Maybe this is hindering further understanding on the issue. Just my $.02.

    I do agree with the idea that grouping pornography with sins like murder and abuse and such, and continually demonizing it as much as possible, can indeed have an unintended and tragic effect when the infractions are more treatable and minor. I think this applies to anything, not just pornography. Yeah, it’s bad, but I’m sure that many of the incidents brjones mentions are largely preventable. When a wife leaves a husband because he willingly and voluntarily admits a problem with pornography, it means he is seeking help, and I’d like to think that cases like that shouldn’t lead to an inevitable divorce.

    Interesting discussion.

  98. I’ll back up Cowboy, Jen. You didn’t directly assert that any pornography viewing inevitably leads to child pornography, but it’s a strong underlying inference. That’s just the vibe it’s giving off.

  99. Trevor-

    “Jen, my sense is that you’ve already cemented conclusions based on anecdotal evidence, and refuse to admit anything that might contradict it. Maybe this is hindering further understanding on the issue. Just my $.02.”

    Trevor, my sense is that you don’t know me and should refrain from making judgments about me. Just my 2 cents.

    “When a wife leaves a husband because he willingly and voluntarily admits a problem with pornography, it means he is seeking help, and I’d like to think that cases like that shouldn’t lead to an inevitable divorce.” I know plenty of women who have spouses that are involved with porn. Some are seeking help, some are not and have made it clear that they will not. People get divorced over issues with money, parenting, etc. Most divorces could probably be avoided if people chose to work through their issues, but when one spouse refuses to work on issues in a marriage it is very difficult to get past that and often leads to divorce. It really doesn’t matter what the issue is, it matters if the couple is willing to work through it together.

  100. Trevor,

    I don’t know if Cowboy will like the vibe thing, he didn’t like my heart, so you might want to be careful on that one.

  101. Trevor-

    If you are referring to my comment here “Of course it was a choice to turn to child porn, but pornographers are big on promoting teens in the porn industry. I don’t think it is a difficult line for men to cross in our society” What I meant by that comment is that I don’t think it is a difficult line for men to cross because it is not always easy to differentiate between underage teenage girls and older women, NOT because they are aware necessarily of what they are doing. Cowboy, you may have assumed that I meant it is easy for men to cross that line KNOWING what they are doing and maybe that is where there is some misunderstanding here. I don’t think men realize sometimes that they are viewing what is considered child porn, because they don’t know the age of the girl. I don’t believe that viewing porn inevitably leads to child porn, but I do think that line can be crossed easily without even knowing it. Hopefully that clarifies what that comment meant. I can see how it can be understood differently, but that wasn’t my intention.

  102. We should not be piling actual child porn, which depicts prepubescents and otherwise clearly children, together with “teenage sluttz” or whatever that market adult-looking women, be they whatever age they may.

    AFAIK, the big turnon for an actual pedophile is the very fact that the child is NOT by any stretch of imagination able to understand what’s happening. And this despite all the talk about “loving” these children. That, if you want to know, is how you could define a “sick” and “perverted” sexuality.

  103. Oh, and forgot this: If there’s “evidence” that viewing porn actually shrinks the brain, how about soap operas and Harlequin novels? I’d love to see a real comparative study…

    Mind, I am NOT DEFENDING pornography as such; I think the faster one’s rid of it the better, but there again, I’d say that spouses should consider each other and be honest with each other.

    That a man reacts to an X-rated image is not an indication of a wandering heart, it’s an indication that he has adequate testosterone to react to certain signals he’s supposed to react to. But then, watching a 90 minute (or even one minute, I guess) tripleX feature is a quite different thing, IMHO.

  104. Hi, just wondering if my comment was deleted or if there is a glitch. I can repost if there was a glitch, but if it was taken down, that’s another story.

  105. 119 – It’s probably in automatic moderation for some reason… who knows, so yeah, probably a glitch. Someone needs to go in and let it out if that’s the case.

  106. I had a good laugh at the fact I missed most of this discussion because, whereas I can access this site at work, I couldn’t access this particular thread because of “pornography” in the title. The hilarious irony: I work for the church.

    I used to be of the mindset that “I’ve seen it once, I’m unclean forever,” and that guilt was part of the enormous burden that led to the literal nervous breakdown that brought me home from my mission. Since then I’ve come to realize that yes I do have fetishes that I fantasize about and there is porn of that fetish all over the place on the internet. However I’ve also come to learn that I can fully well control what I think about and look at. I’ve set a limit and, through personal willpower and prayer, have been very successful in sticking to it. It also helps that I find anything beyond said limit disgusting and can’t even stand to think about/look at it beyond that point.

    My current issue is trying to find a girlfriend who’s willing to accept me for that mindset. The “zero tolerance” divorces are no doubt far more destructive in the long run as the whole thing becomes a Catch 22 for husbands.

  107. #46. I’ve been mulling over something I said previously here about things that might make me uncomfortable. I’m not so sure discomfort is always a good guide for weather we should do something or not. For example, maybe getting naked in front of your new spouse for the first time is going to make you feel pretty uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Maybe knowing that my husband was looking at Victoria’s Secret or even Playboy type pictures might not bother me (I can also appreciate how beautiful the body is), whereas having him watching graphic video of other women might make me feel very insecure and uncomfortable. In this case, my discomfort would be in line with what the church teaches. Generally speaking, it seems that making sure that what you’re doing doesn’t result in insecurity or discomfort for your spouse would be a good guide, but sometimes people should look closely at why something is making them feel that way. I’m thinking of couples where there are sexual problems related to a wacked out sense of modesty or undue guilt or prudishness.

  108. I thought about reposting, but my moment of genius is gone. 🙂 (I did use the “p” word for a male body part in it, so maybe an automated moderator stalled it.)

  109. Stefani:
    I went to comments awaiting approval and didn’t see anything from you. Plus I approved them. I don’t think the site would stop the penis word- I’ve seen it go through before (this post can be a test as well). So I’m wondering if it was on your end somehow?
    I’d love to hear your genius 🙂

  110. I’ve only read a few of the comments on this post and I ran into the same typical LDS fare that makes me partially roll my eyes and partially chaff at religious thought in general.

    In my opinion I think people become a little bit fanatical and ridiculous when it comes to religious proscriptions about sex. Honestly, the notion that sex is some sort of sacred communion creeps me out. I don’t think of sex as a “sacred” thing…. like going to the temple or getting baptized or praying. I fail to see how rutting around in bed is religious. I find the idea to be ooky. We’re talking about rubbing body parts together until people squeal with delight. Add God into the mix, call it a sacred act, and I feel like I’m discussing the plot of Eyes Wide Shut.

    There are very practical, sound, good reasons for postponing sex until marriage. The consequences of sex are dangerous. Broken hearts, disease, children without homes, etc. These are all VERY good reasons to wait until marriage. I think the church’s stance on sex outside of marriage is a practical thing…. not some sort of a spiritual development thing.

    This practical view of sex is probably what fuels my opinions on erotica (and pornography). We are human beings — biological creatures. As such we have sexual drives that respond to stimuli. Being human is not a sin. The notion that the only acceptable sexual response or titillation is the one that comes from married people in their bedroom is ridiculous and can lead to some really neurotic behavior.

    Here is an example:

    I used to be part of a now defunct religious online discussion group. A woman started a thread about how her husband’s pornography addiction was ruining their marriage. She went on and on about how she thought they had a good marriage and that learning of his “infidelity” made her question their marriage. It was all a sham! A lie! Through the course of discussing the issue, she revealed that this so called “addiction” consisted of her husband looking at pictures of naked women without gratifying himself maybe once or twice a year. No video. Nothing that would be considered hard core. Not even pictures of genitalia. Just your standard centerfold type pictures. Naked women posing for a camera with a hitherto look expression on their faces.

    Seriously? A normal “red blooded American male” looks at naked pictures of women once or twice a year and your entire marriage is a sham? He lied to you any time he did anything loving or kind to you?

    Why can’t we just accept that as human beings we have natural desires…. that every once in a while we are going to see or read something that excites us and it’s normal? I honestly think this denial of human nature is why many religious people have so many sexual hang-ups, including pornography addiction. Maybe if we didn’t eschew natural biological responses, we wouldn’t have so many people neurotically consuming sexual imagery and maybe we’d have fewer people with unsatisfying sex lives / frustrated & bereft spouses.

    So basically what my long winded overly judgmental post comes down to is this:

    I see nothing wrong with the types of erotica discussed in the actual blog posted above. (I can’t speak to the erotica discussed in the comments as I don’t have time to read them all.) I see liking these things and responding to them as natural, normal and NOT sinful. If I see a passionate scene in a movie and it turns me on, I find my husband and we have satisfying sex. I don’t run to my bishop and confess an impure thought.

  111. I was just going to say that I am a normal 34 year old middle class woman with two kids (ages ten and eight) and a great husband.

    I also watch porn.

    I have a subscription to brazzers dot com and I often watch one of their 30 minute videos to get me in the mood, so to speak. I don’t find watching men and women having sex problematic, but rather enriching. It is hard for me to orgasm and watching women enjoy sex with men can definitely stimulate desire.

    I guess I could forego watching these movies but then how happy do you think DH is going to be when I constantly turn him down? More important, life just sucks without orgasms.

    Word on the street is that even LDS doctors have “prescribed” pornography for men with erectile dysfunction.

    I wish I could convey to people that porn is a medium, it is not good or bad. People can use it to many different ends. I also wonder, however, as others have mentioned, if it isn’t our own views of porn that can make it so injurious? My husband could divorce me for watching porn (he did marry a BYU grad RS pres), but he is one of my greatest champions in this respect.

  112. In my life, I’ve had a fair amount of exposure to what I would term “erotic” art, as well as to what I would term “pornography”. I would say that the difference between the two usually has something to do with the intent of the image/video/words: do they celebrate sexual response as something beautiful, loving, sharing, alive, etc., or does the viewer’s gaze reinforce a sense of pyschological, physical, or emotional power over the individual portrayed? In my experience, the “camera lens” of pornography seeks to provide illicit or emotionally disconnected access to human sexuality, one that on the surface might seem sex-positive in its brazen libertarianism, but that only reinforces dominant/submissive roles in men and women, often without consequence for the viewer of said pornography.

    Porn sex favors positions that expose body parts to the camera at the expense of close body and eye contact on the part of the participants. It encourages those who believe it portrays real sex to believe that sex is at its core solely a personally gratifying activity, where the existence of the partner is simply to provide a requisite orifice or appendage to provide personal gratification.

    Erotic art, on the other hand, emphasizes the physical bond as a symbol of an emotional and/or spiritual bond between individuals. Erotic art may or may not be just as “explicit” visually as pornography, and may or may not “arouse” the viewer just as much as pornography can, but the intent of the creator of the image/video/text is very different. Erotic art tends to evoke a consciousness of our own sexuality through the sexual expression of others, but its fruits are not selfish, solitary acts. Rather, they provide a vocabulary with which we learn to express our own sexuality to our partner.

  113. Am I the only one who immediately came to check for a surge in comments in here after all the talks about porn in Conference today?

  114. SteveS,may I quote you extensively in years to come? That was the best bit of thinking I have ever seen on the subject.

  115. I would agree SOMEWHAT that the Church’s stance on pornography gets a bit over-the-top. Of course it’s wrong, it’s very wrong (because in the final analysis, it’s a counterfeit). Yet a man’s (occasional) viewing of pornographic images is not considered unhealthy by virtually ANY psychologist or sex therapist. Pin down any qualified professional in LDS Family Services on this and they will likely (though quite confidentially if they wish to keep their jobs) confirm this.
    Yet, what ELSE should the Church say? “He will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this…”(II Ne 28:8, in part). I suppose that it’s possible for a man to get an occasional eyeful of T&A, but, like the so-called “social drinker”, where then is the line drawn then? Even the late Spencer W Kimball related an instance of man who had a nudie calendar on his office wall and thought it to be a joke…until later the man sorrowfully related that he’d comitted adultery. Certainly the calender didn’t provoke all or even a majority of the misdeed(s),but it did open up a proverbial chink in the armor. On this subject, not only to protect marriage but also to set the example for children (especially pubscent, hormone-raging young lads!), it’s up to fathers to control their baser urges.
    I don’t blame technology in and of itself, but the Internet and now better mobile apps and devices have made it possible to spread almost ANY form of communication to just about ANYONE, ANYWHERE. Please keep in mind that only a few decades ago one had to visit a vile so-called “adult bookstore” in the seedier part of town (risking discovery and/or harrassment by private detectives, cops, etc.) to indulge one’s baser appetite for the visual ‘arts’, and pay good money, and have evidence on one’s person or quarters. Good grief, when I was a budding lad I had to go to trouble of building a “stash” location in the house crawl space! NOW, you can just whip out your iPhone (better be ALL that is whipped out!) and download all kinds of garbage at speeds heretofore unimagined, and store a libary of erotica that a Hollywood warehouse couldn’t hold in print form on a memory stick. And not just quantity, but “quality”…in that, there are so many specialized genres that have little difficulty finding the way from purveyor to consumer. And that’s just what I’ve heard anecdotally. As a staunch Libertarian, I don’t favor censorship (by the Government) at all. Still, we have to not kid ourselves that this stuff isn’t pervasive. That’s why I strictly supervise my ten-year old’s Internet and TV activity. Not that I’ve every seen signs that she’d do something I won’t approve of, but her welfare is too important to let my guard down…AND…I have to keep myself aboveboard to have any credibility and spirtual ability, in spite of this very thing being a temptation. As for my grown children…if they view porn, they have to do so outside my home with their own means.
    #129 (Heather) – your observations on erotica and how you handle it in your marriage and personal life seem to be the healthiest that I’ve noted. Your balance and candor is refreshing.
    #130 (Stephanieq) – INTERESTING. Were I your bishop, if everything else in your life was hunky-dory, then I’d say, “though I won’t suggest this form of visual therapy to anyone else, if it works for you in achieving a satisfying sex life in your marriage, then by all means proceed as you see fit – but don’t go public with it lest all the prudes get freaked out!”. Just proves two things: (1) it ain’t just the brethren, and (2) even some ‘poisons’ have legitimate medicinal value.
    #132 and #133 – add me to the list. In fact, let me add more long-windedness. My wife was VERY uncomfortable with Elder Packer’s talk yesterday, he did seem unduly obsessed with the porography issue. She felt that it was something more appropriate for the Priesthood session (I recall that the only mention of porn in PH session was Pres. Monson’s mentioning BRIEFLY that it could be accessed by pressing a computer key – actually, methinks there is no “porn” key on ANY keyboard but pardon his hyperbole). Now, I have no issue with any of Elder Packer’s words per se, nor his motives. But I do feel that the old boy is getting even crankier in his dotage. At the risk of steadying the Ark it might be a good idea if Elder Packer was made as “emeritus” as an Apostle can be, or at least his Conference time was reduced. His message, though well intended (and I never presume that any full-time servant of the LORD has anything less than the noblest of intentions) was badly delivered, IMO. Comments, anyone?
    Lastly, the Church needs to get off the “guilt trip” and simply profess that there’s a better way than viewing porn so that those ensnared in its grasp will feel welcomed to get free.

  116. “#130 (Stephanieq) – INTERESTING. Were I your bishop, if everything else in your life was hunky-dory, then I’d say, “though I won’t suggest this form of visual therapy to anyone else, if it works for you in achieving a satisfying sex life in your marriage, then by all means proceed as you see fit – but don’t go public with it lest all the prudes get freaked out!”. Just proves two things: (1) it ain’t just the brethren, and (2) even some ‘poisons’ have legitimate medicinal value.

    As an honest question Doug, would your acceptance of Stephanie’s situation change if she were a man. I partly ask because I’ve recently become aware of the aversion therapies studied through BYU’s psychology department, which utilized various types of pornography (heterosexual and homosexual) in research on the questionably practice of homosexual therapy. I find this exception to the rule personally troubling at several levels, largely because of the Church’s position on pornography. For many of these test subjects, this was likely their first exposure to pornography (late 1970’s) and almost certainly their greatest exposure to it. Therapy sessions which would roughly happen every few weeks over the course of several months into several years. Even if they managed to “cure” someone of homosexuality, it would seem likely that they are just trading a conflict of sexual orientation (as per the Church) with a pornography addiction, which is more or less equally damning – doesn’t really make sense to me.

  117. #136 (Cowboy) – I was assuming that the husband knew about it and concurred or at least acquised in Stephanieq’s case. If the gender’s were reserved, I’d still feel the same way. But I can only speak for myself. Some bishops would overlook what a woman does short of outright adultery (ergo, if she had a “toy” and her husband complained about it, he’d probably chide the brother to win her over from her battery-operated lover) but would come down with proverbial hellfire and damnation if the man sullied his priesthood thereby. Others would have a cow about either of them looking at porno, even if they did it mutually as a sexual prelude. Look, some presume to take away temple recommends over a married couple having oral sex! (This is why I saw there is such a thing as TMI when counseling with the “Lord’s Annointed”).
    If someone in the BYU psych dept. tried using porn in any type of therapy today, e.g. to “convert” homosexuals to heterosexuality, they’d likely be run out of Provo on a rail.

  118. This topic is something other than academic for me, as a sex (porn/masturbation) addict, and I find this distinction great fodder for denial on the part of other addicts. It sounds like this: “I’m not really viewing porn. This is erotica, so it’s okay.” It’s not safe for me to play around with erotica, if it is distinct from porn, because it will lead, most likely to p/mb (as we say at LDSR). I can deal with a little incidental contact with nudity sometimes, and sometimes I can’t, and I never know until it happens. If I can’t, I’ll do what i can do to return to that contact, or to recreate it, and then things lead to other things until the freight-train is going down the track and it’s very, very difficult to stop, even if I try to.

    Some people may be the porn equivalent of social drinkers, who can handle some erotica without it leading to any problems. I don’t know. I’m certainly not one.

    To those who are asking what’s wrong with porn, I can tell you — it is degrading to all involved. It dehumanizes the models into a set of parts to play with, rather than leaving them a person with feelings, relationships, and contributions to society. Porn lies. It’s about fantasy than can never deliver reality. It’s all sizzle, and never steak. It gets your body ready for something it can’t bring.

    It distorts sex. It teaches men (for instance) that women really want sex when they say they don’t. It desensitizes, building a tolerance like other drugs do. The things that were once very exciting to view become less so and, finally, boring, and there is a need to find heavier/harder things that can still deliver that excitement. It encourages fetishes, and other unhealthy approaches to sex, because “normal” sexual experiences are no longer enough. And it encourages affairs when one’s spouse is not able to keep up with the fantasy people on the page/screen. This is also very damaging to the relationship with the spouse, and adds all kinds of pressure to the sexual side of the marriage, that make it very problematic.

    As to love v lust, love is about caring about someone else, while lust is about excitement and consumption. Lust is selfish. Love is all about you, and lust is all about me. There certainly can be appropriate sexual expression of love in a marriage relationship. You’re not going to find me saying good things about lust — it’s taken far too much from my life for that.

    I think there’s a danger in overstating the dangers of porn. But it’s very hard to do that, in a way. When you’ve lost many things you value due to it, it’s hard to let it go with “Oh, this is very bad, and it can be addictive.” There’s a problem with the finger-wagging aspect of things, to be certain.

    I was hopeful that Tiger Woods case might bring some acceptance of the reality of SA (Sex Addiction), but it appears not. Far too many people treat it like a joke, or an excuse for lack of self control. It’s a lot like how alcoholism was viewed sixty years ago, before AA really got to be mainstream. Except more people use sex than alcohol, and everybody comes fully equipped with everything they need to be an out-of-control SA without having to spend a penny, or run the risk of being seen walking out of a bar/adult store.

    A few thoughts on your question.

  119. “It’s not safe for me to play around with erotica, if it is distinct from porn, because it will lead, most likely to p/mb (as we say at LDSR).”

    What do the gang at LDSR (what’s the “R” stand for, btw?) say about e/mb or i/mb? (“Erotica” and “imagination,” respectively.)

  120. Thomas: Thanks for asking. LDSR stands for Latter-day Sexual Recovery. The link on my “name” will take you there (my name isn’t really Tim, but it’s the name I use for recovery things).

    I don’t speak for the site — just for myself — but I don’t recall any positive comments about masturbation of any kind. The closest is an on-going disagreement between myself and Rex (the owner of the site) regarding the relative severity of viewing porn vs mb (I view mb as more serious than porn, and he disagrees) (he’s probably right) (he usually is). The consensus opinion seems to be something like the Sexaholics Anonymous (yeah, stupid name, I know) bottom line that the only acceptable use of sex is with one’s heterosexual married spouse (other SA fellowships define their bottom line behavior differently, and there is no particular connection between SA or any other fellowship and LDSR). It’s compatible with Church teachings, and it works.

    You’re right to point to “imagination” as a source of lust. Next to it comes “memory.” One can recall sexual experiences or images long after they’ve happened, and can use imagination to embellish them as needed, to make a powerful lust experience. This is part of the challenge that distinguishes SA from other addictions — alcoholics have to buy/borrow/steal booze, but I don’t need anybody or anything to feed my addiction. So nobody outside of me is going to know if I’ve been totally sober or if I’ve been acting out and totally out of control. Nobody will smell porn or lust on my breath or clothing. That doesn’t make it any less destructive — just a lot easier to hide.

  121. #139, #141 (Tim B). Well said! I appreciate your candor and your bravery for admission of your challenge.

    I suspect that the “finger-wagging” (or what I’d term too many self-righteous members and leaders riding their respective high horses) drives many members ensared in porn to an unreasonable level of self-loathing and despair. The porn-mongers are equated with child molesters, Sadaam Hussein, etc…

    It’s not so much a “zero-tolerance” policy or the issue of “art” or “erotica” versus “porn”, it’s what I term the “loggin truck analogy”. You run a logging company and need to hire a driver for a mountain road route. The three drivers that show up for the interview come highly recommended. The first boasts that he can get the rig to the edge and not lose it. The second tops that boast by claiming that he can get half of the outer wheels to hang over the edge, and still not lose it. The third sheepishly bows his head and says that he doesn’t think he’s as skilled as the other drivers but he promises to stay as far from the edge of the cliff as possible. Who do you hire?

  122. Tim B,really useful perspective.I sometimes wonder if the counsel we receive at an organisational level in the church,such as general conference,is according to the capacity of the weakest.For those of us who are in a position to be able to control those aspects of our behaviour,this can feel oppressive.However,comments like yours help me to re-evaluate this in a more constructive light,and think about where my more liberal reactions might take me.Thanks for your patience in explaining what has been such an anguished experience.

  123. I missed the beginning of this discussion, but if you’re still reading, brjones, I want to thank you for offering such a reasonable and level-headed perspective.

  124. 143 — Thanks, but posting under a ‘nym isn’t all that brave. I’ve just found that it works better for recovery things. And this is pretty light-weight stuff I’m talking about here, compared to a recovery setting. It get’s a lot grittier in the discussion boards on LDSR.

    It’s very hard to find balance in this issue. And don’t be too certain that the self-righteousness isn’t borne from experience — this is a very wide-reaching problem. I’m the only person talking about being an addict here, but there’s every reason to believe that somebody else in the thread (with over 100 comments) has had some experience with it as well — addictive use or abuse of porn, not just exposure. Some of that can represent itself in very negative descriptions of porn, based in awareness of how insidious it is. Some can represent itself in minimizing and rationalizing porn as part of a denial process. That’s not a diagnosis or a slam on anybody else here, and I have no one in mind when I mention either thing. I’m just pointing out the possibility. Anybody who wants to do a little self-examination is welcome to click the link to LDSR on my ‘nym to see what we’ve got there, both in the blog and in the discussion boards. I wrote the article under the “Success” button on the blog, btw, and it’s directed at anybody who shows up new there.

    As it turns out, I’m not a fan of that analogy — sorry. I think there’s a balance to be reached between what is safe and what is effective. Perfect safety means you never leave the house, but reasonable caution and erring on the side of safer is still a good idea.

    144 — I don’t know. I don’t know anybody who’s all that “strong.” Ether 12:27 has some very good things to say on that score. We’re given weakness as a gift from God so that we have the chance to be humble. Being “strong” is not a characteristic of being mortal, in my experience. Everybody struggles with something or another — maybe both — and the ones that look the most perfect are the ones that scare me the most. I know people who find porn repulsive — I’ve only been able to find it thus for a short time, but I have hope that I’ll get there in time — so it’s not a struggle to not view it.

    I’m really not sure that there is such a thing as a social porn user (or whatever you’d call it), and I’m pretty sure that a major portion of people who would claim to be such are in denial about their own problems. “I have this totally under control, and could quit anytime” is something most every addict has said, and it’s true. I’ve quit porn many times. But I keep coming back to it, and that control turns out to be a lot more elusive than it feels like when you’re feeling very strong.

    I do understand the dislike to have someone in power telling you what to do. I hate that, especially when they’re right. It’s really annoying when that person’s God, because he’s so rarely wrong that you really haven’t got anything to gain from fighting with him. When it’s someone less, they’ll be wrong more often, but I’ve found that they’re usually right if they make me really mad. YMMV, of course.

    This has been interesting. I don’t often talk about this with folks outside of recovery setting. Thanks for being nice.

  125. I would not dare to think of myself as strong, Tim B and apologise if I gave that impression.What I was trying clumsily to express was your clarity in showing me why such counsel may be appropriate for all of us,and how that has led me to review my position at the head of this post.Your thoughts have been sobering.

  126. 147 — Wasn’t taking that that you were, but thanks for the clarification. However, that attitude is one I’ve heard before, and it was worth addressing, because it might be going on by or around somebody still paying attention to this thread. As I said, I don’t often talk about this around folks who aren’t admitted addicts, so it’s nice to be able to share some of the stuff I’ve learned in a more general setting for folks to think about. If that’s been helpful, then I’m very happy about that.

    Sobering? Cool! I could do with some sobering. It’s not been a good week. This conversation has been fun, though. Thanks again.

  127. Natasha – Sorry I’m a little late to comment, but I’m very curious what your thoughts are concerning SteveS’s comment (#131). In your post you mention erotica as falling under literary or artistic works. To me, this implies that the erotic depictions are subtle or at least not visually explicit. So do you feel that all explicit displays of sexuality are pornographic? Or does the intent of the creator and viewer have a lot to do with how to categorize something as either erotica or pornography?

  128. #146 – the intent of the “log truck analogy” isn’t necessarily to foster timidity. Driving a logging truck is still dangerous work even under the best of circumstances. The idea is that the first two drivers equate their skill by what would be considered an extremely dangerous (and perhaps unncessary) stunt. Driver#3 is still hauling logs, and accepting the risk, BUT, rather than blow off the very possible disaster, he scrupulousy avoids it. It’s human to disregard warnings and proceed with abandon, but the natural man is an “enemy” to God…
    This doesn’t mean that one should consider himself disobeident or a porn-monger if he watches anything other than Disney flicks (and I dunno about Fanstasia…). There’s always the proverbial T&A out there, and the lustful-minded feller can make porn out of almost anything with even a hint of sexiness. Those of us who have hormones (testosterone and so on) but seek to rein them in (and thank “Gawd” there is SOMETHING that has to be reined in) do run a slight risk but we shouldn’t let all the fear-mongering and self-righteous posturing prevent us from seeing an entertaining movie (or even enjoying the cheerleaders at a football game). As the late RAdm Grace Murray Hopper said, “A ship is safe in the harbor…but that’s not what ships are for.”

  129. 149: I believe there is a lot of gray area on this topic and I agree that intent has a lot to do with it. It would probably be case by case for me. There is a fine line drawn between “artistic” and plain pornography. And of course, many pornography creators consider the whole venue “artistic.”

    Tim:
    So glad you joined this discussion!

  130. Ive been lurking on here..
    I agree with Tim B. Is there a difference between Erotica and Porn? Yes, I think so.. but dont fool your self, you may swim too close to the waterfall and lose control. Be careful what you think about.
    Porn changes you and they way you look at others. Porn is selfish and self gratifying.. etc..
    It has a magnetic pull for me that is very intense. I am very attracted to it, but it does has no real long lasting value to me. It ALWAYS causes a hang over so to speak. Its ALL just pictures of people I will NEVER meet or even talk to. Its really quite silly.

    With that said,I think that as latterday saints, we should be very careful to take upon ourselves APPROPRIATE guilt. Too many feel extreem doses of guilt and shame, thus driving the attraction to porn deeper and deeper into secrecy.. thus feeding it even more.. Arousing material is all around us.. You cant escape it..Its on almost every commercial and even billboards here in Utah. So, lets admit that its a problem, and allow ourselves to be human. When we slip, we take steps to become better.. When we bleed, we put pressure on the cut.. When we get cut again, we put pressure on it again. When will we stop bleeding or getting cut? when there is no more blood in our veins, we die etc..its part of life/Mortality. Becoming a saint is the same way for me, its an every day fight to determine how much control Im going to give my body. Its my choice and discretion. I struggle with Moral purity every day. My wife knows its my challenge, so do many of my close friends. Its my fight.
    I was raised in the 70’s , and know about the messages that were given regarding sex.. I never heard of sex in positive light. I never heard of it as being fun, exciting, liberating.. and its truly all of those things for my wife and I. My parents would never talk about it or answer my questions .. so it compounded my curiosity.. Its crazy looking back.. Anyway..
    I think my children have a totally different/More healthy outlook on it, which I’m thankful for.
    But with that liberation, Lets be careful with erotic material. It has teeth!

  131. #153 – WELL SAID!

    It would help those that struggle with porn if the Church leaders would simply warn about its dangers (hard to take offense there) and invite those shackled by it to get help and come to Christ. He is mightier than any explicit imagery. Instead, it seems that too many leaders, GAs included, get on their respective self-righteous high horse and drive “underground” the very members that need to get free of the degrading habit.

  132. I’m so tired of women going to pieces because their husbands look at porn. I beg all women to read this and actually process it:

    We look at porn because it causes our brains to release incredible amounts of euphoric chemicals into our systems. When we were young teenagers we figured out that that makes us feel really good. The reason why you can’t do that for your husband is because no woman can. If your husband says you do that for him he is lying to make you feel good. I don’t mean to say that you aren’t a wonderful lover or that your husband does not love making love to you. The experiences are very different however. Making love to your eternal companion is an act of intimacy. You feel closer to your spouse, you feel pleasure yourself and feel good about giving pleasure to her. You feel an intimate connection to the Spirit if you do it right – All in all its a wonderful experience. But no woman could even try to compete with the 100 images of perfectly proportioned 20 year olds wearing heals and smiles and not much else that can fly by a computer screen in just a few minutes time. And that is what is required to get the flood of feel good chemical surging through your system.

    HE DOES NOT LOOK AT PORN TO DISRESPECT YOU!!

    HE DOES NOT LOOK AT PORN BECAUSE HE IS A SEXUAL DEVIANT WHO WANTS AN AFFAIR OR IS IN ANY WAY DISSATISFIED WITH HIS MARRIAGE!!

    Why oh why do you have to make it such an issue? I think the comment about Twilight is a perfect one. Yeah when your husband looks into your eyes and tells you he loves you it feels pretty good. But for some reason you still want to immerse yourself into the impossible world created by Stephanie Meyer. Hmmm – she has two guys after her – one a rich, powerful, impossibly fast guy who never burps or farts cause he doesn’t eat hamburgers and drink coke. Oh and he is eternally in love with you in such a deep perfect way that his every waking thought is about you. Actually since he never sleeps I guess he doesn’t even stop thinking about you at night right? The other is an even more perfectly proportioned guy, that fixes stuff, and who’s every waking thought is that of protecting you by turning into a savage beast capable of vanquishing any enemy. Yeah like your husband can possibly compete with that standard. Sound familiar? But for some reason your husband isn’t in weeping in front of his bishop going “Why oh why is this horrible nightmare happening to me?? Why am I not enough for her?? ” Instead he realizes that hey – women need that vacant euphoric grin just as much as men do. You just wear it as you drift off to sleep after three chapters of a romance novel. Men wear it after thirty minutes of creative web surfing.

    For some reason we have all decided that words don’t count where images do. But for men the written word just don’t cut it. For men its visual. Sorry – can’t do anything about that – its how we are wired. But don’t confuse the need to see the images as some indicator that we don’t love you, respect you, etc.

    For the last time – IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR MARRIAGE. HE STILL LOVES YOU! Why don’t you try a little selflessness and enjoy the fact that your husband is having so much fun. Hell, I read the fricken twilight books for her. I kinda enjoyed them when there was actually something exciting happening. Why don’t you go hang out with him while he looks at naked ladies – and don’t feel like you have to enjoy it. But don’t make make him feel like crap either. Just make fun of him for liking the stuff you think is dumb and make a comment or two about how cute you think the guy’s butt she’s servicing is. Then take him to bed and make love so he doesn’t have too rub one off alone. Isn’t that better than making him feel like he has to sneak around and worry about being caught? Why would you want your husband to feel all guilty and ashamed? Laugh it off and be a part of something he likes.

    If you just can’t pull that off I understand. many of my friends wouldn’t read a twilight novel for any amount of money. They are missing out on some fun bantering with their wife about the book’s merits though. They are also maybe making some comments that make their wives feel bad for reading the books. that’s just as bad as the wives making their husbands feel like poo poo for what they do.

    Can’t we all just chill? 🙂

    1. So disappointing! What a weak rationalization. “Can’t we all just chill?” Give me a break. Your marriage isn’t going to last long.

  133. I have never seen an active member (supposedly?) defend pornography–and at such great length–in my life. I suppose there is a first time for everything.

  134. Bryan, well played, sir, I applaud you! Your points are valid, no doubt. If I didn’t have a testimony of a living prophet, I’d completely agree with you. God through his living prophets asked us not to view pornography. End of story. Now for a wife that feels insecure about herself after finding out her husband has viewed porn and then turns around and wishes her husband were more like Edward, I think you are right on. But, for the wife who is hurt because her husband is openly rebelling against God by looking at porn, I sympathize. To me, it is no different than if I were to insist on a glass of wine with my dinner each night because I think it is alright dispite modern day revelation. In that situation I would expect my wife to be equally as devastated. However for most wives, I think you are correct, they feel it is about them and little else.

  135. I am shocked and amazed that an active (?) member of the church is defending pornography. Sex is a sacred act that is meant to be between a husband and a wife. Pornography demeans and lessens the importance of the act. In my opinion, pornography is highly insulting to the sanctity of marriage and the importance of sex in that institution.

    Bryan don’t try to justify watching pornography. Would you do that if you were in the presence of God? No, absolutely not. So why do you think it is okay to do it when you are not?

  136. Men are sexual and the church makes girls (who are not as sexual as men) feel ashamed about sex. The church needs to address this issue before everyone ends up divorced in Utah.

  137. One of the most famous examples of erotica is in the Bible itself, the song of Solomon is quite overtly sexual. While Mormon culture and prophets dictate that this is not an inspired book, I would have to disagree. A possible reason for this book being included, in my opinion, is to show the joy of romantic love. Many who read through this book very well may classify it as pornography(not true in my opinion) due to very very vivid images. For instance “I had put off my garment; how could I put it on again.. My beloved thrust his hand into my opening” and “your navel is a rounded bowl” and “between my breasts he shall lie”. I think it’s quite clear what Solomon was thinking about in this poem. And in terms of pornography, I don’t think it’s quite as simple as Bryan makes it out to be, but I do think that women do a sort of emotional pornography, such as the twilight books. I would like to see the 20 creative minutes on the computer and the trashy romance novels(which twilight is a part of) put down in favor of 20 creative minutes together

  138. I think there needs to be a post on here that doesn’t involve Bryan and actually addresses the questions posed by the author:

    Q) What are your thoughts about erotica? How would you classify it as different from pornography – or would you?

    A) I’ll tell you right now I’m one of those women who have had a life-long affair/addiction to pornography in the form of literary erotica. While I view myself as a recovering addict I feel that I can say from a broad base of experience: Not all erotica is pornography, but it’s the closest relative to it and the areas in between the two are very very very grey. It is nearly impossible to classify what, exactly, makes a work of literature cross the line to become pornographic. Here are some questions you might ask yourself when selecting reading: 1) Is the climax of the story a sexual one? 2) Do I feel unworthy to pray to my Savior after reading the story? 3) Does the material incite intense sexual feelings which if acted upon will lead to an orgasm? I have found that if the answer is yes to any of these three questions then it doesn’t matter if the book, story, picture, joke, whatever – in question is termed erotica or not, DON’T READ IT. That means it becomes pornography. To me, pornography is anything that is meant to create physical sexual excitement. Appropriate “erotica” stays at a more emotional level. But please beware, opening the door to that first book in the trashy romance section is essentially stepping onto the proverbial slippery slope and you risk gradual spiritual numbing to greater and greater excess. The mild sexuality expressed in the Twilight books I think falls completely on the safe side. It deals more or less realistically with the struggles of two teenagers in love waiting until they are married to have sex, even if it is couched in vampiric terms.

    Q) Have you found it beneficial in your life? Do you agree or disagree with me regarding its role in the human story?

    A) I agree that expressed sexuality is healthy and is vital in its role in “the human story.” However I believe that as a society in general and as Mormon society specifically there need to be more ways to safely and correctly express socially that most elemental and essential part of the human condition: sex. Realistic examples of romantic relations between kind and loving partners (aka GOOD erotica) is beneficial. The real problem is that here in america and in Anglo-Saxon/Christian society in general we have made sex such a taboo topic that it is very rare for an American teenager to obtain this sort of teaching example in a real-life setting. I believe that a desire for this example is a very fundamental human need and because our society has created a vacuum where good examples of sexually comfortable people in the home don’t exist the massive, multi-trillion dollar industry of pornography and erotica (often referred to as soft-porn) has rushed in to fill it. That being said, I believe that carefully chosen “examples of romantic relations between kind and loving partners” (once again, aka GOOD erotica) can be beneficial, and have been beneficial for me.

    Q) How do the messages we receive through church teachings form our views regarding erotica?

    A) This is such a massively grey area I don’t even know how to approach it. If there is direct revelation or even direct speech from church leaders concerning erotica I don’t know about it and would be interested in reading any links people care to post. Everything I have heard or read deals with pornography and “inappropriate material.”

    Anyways, those are my thoughts. I wish more women who have dealt with pornographic addictions of their own would speak up. We are, I think, not so much a minority as people, especially men, would like to think.

  139. I classify pornography as anything that demeans sex and objectifies the people involved (usually women). Erotica, on the other hand, is simply anything that addresses sexual arousal as part of the human experience. It does not objectify the people involved, but treats them as real people having erotic experiences.

    Clearly, by my definitions, erotica is very different than pornography. And clearly pornography has no redeeming virtue, but erotica can. Pornography dehumanizes human beings, while erotica celebrates human beings and one of the most significant aspects of the human experience.

    Now each individual has to decide for him or herself if they’re too susceptible to sexual temptation to consuem erotica, but just becuase some people are doesn’t mean erotica can’t have any redeeming virtue. Some people should avoid fattening foods, but that doesn’t mean everybody should.

    By the way, Natasha, I resent that you include thre phrase ”
    And they were both naked,
    the man and his wife, and were not ashamed
    ” as part of your example of Biblical erotica. This perpetrates the false notion that nudity must always be sexual. There is such a thing as nonsexual nudity, and I feel confident that Adam and Eve’s nudity falls under that category.

  140. “‘Pornography’ is the stuff the other guys look at; ‘erotica’ is the stuff I look at.”  In Laura Brotherson’s book, she gave some justifications for mastubation and in those cases she renamed it “self-learning”, and her differentiation was based on the situational ethics of intention, which can only be determined by the individual and God.  From a worthiness/holiness standpoint, the opinions of a third-party have very little importance.  Such could be one way to compare porn and erotica: it’s in the eye of the beholder.

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