Kudos to the Church!

jmb275 accountability, church, depression, families, media, Mormon, pornography 70 Comments

We spend a lot of time in the bloggernacle analyzing, critiquing, and otherwise discussing the church and its culture. I think there is value in this for those of us who need this type of engagement. However, Mormonism (like many other religions) is a topic that few are able to dispassionately discuss. Some of us lean toward criticism, others toward apologizing. I do not know how those in the b’nacle (those who actually read what I write) perceive me, but my posts are not exactly oozing with praise most of the time! 😉

But I want to give credit where credit is due. If you have not seen the church’s new Combating Pornography website, may I suggest you check it out. It is not just for those struggling with the addiction of pornography (yes, I said addiction), but for spouses of those struggling, parents, leaders, etc. I think everyone could glean some useful insight about an epidemic that has proved to invade nearly every life in one way or another.

In short, I think the site is brilliant, and I give much kudos to the church for the content and purpose. I really think it’s great! Here’s what I like about it:

  1. The star article (IMHO) is a well researched, well documented, elaboration on the nature of pornography addiction, by a renowned expert in the field. The second to last paragraph is my favorite:

    Why is it important to understand that compulsive pornography use is an actual addiction? By recognizing this, we will treat it with the respect required to overcome an addiction. For instance, no spiritual leader would tell a member who confesses an alcohol addiction to pray and repent without recommending counseling and 12-step support in such programs as the Addiction Recovery Program with LDS Family Services and Alcoholics Anonymous. Similarly, with the proper perspective on sexual addiction, we should also recommend that those afflicted with pornography and other sexual addictions, in addition to proceeding through the steps of repentance, will also seek recovery with therapy and group support.

  2. The site references sources and scholarship about overcoming pornography. While I am not a social worker, or clinical psychologist, I recognize the most commonly accepted patterns in treating addiction/depression. See here, and here for great examples.
  3. There is practical advice in Mormonism’s favorite form – a checklist. 😉
  4. There is a good mix of emphasis on moral cleanliness, openness in discussing human sexuality, physical reality, and spiritual ideology. When I read the articles I get the impression that we’re not in the business of simply condemning this as sin and parroting to people they “pray and read scriptures” more diligently. We are acknowledging a deeper problem in human psychology/biology that warrants our most sincere efforts.
  5. The church is sincerely dedicated to helping people with this problem. There are conference talks (at least one every six months), there is a website, there are very inexpensive counselling and other professional services, there is a booklet and associated meetings for overcoming addiction, etc.

I really do believe that the LDS church does a lot of great things in this world. There are people who are hurt by the culture, there are social and cultural problems I wish were different, and there are issues in our theology that don’t work for me. But for this very uncertain Mormon, I am truly grateful to be a part of an organization that does try, in many ways, to influence people for the better.

Comments

comments

Comments 70

  1. Are you kidding me? Kudos? Should be Sexually Repressed Victorian Bronx Cheers. Sincerely dedicated to helping people deal with this “problem?” How about the Church creates the problem by inflicting sexuality with guilt and shame, then confusing the young questioning, historically inquisitive adolescent mind with polygamy and thoughts of multiple partners.

    I went to one of the so-called enlightened links of a Mormon therapist down in St. George. First, I noted that he doesn’t not that sexual addiction (or porn addiction) isn’t even listed in the DSM-IV. Second, he describes the more classic definition of addiction: 1) if you want to stop the behavior, 2) but you can’t, and 3) the behaviors are causing life-damaging consequences, 4) then you’re probably addicted. Third, he goes on to describe how he treats the sexually addicted to guy who looks at porn three times a year — not a day, not a month, not a half-year — a year. Because by definition 3-times annually porn guy is an addict — 1) He wants to stop the behavior because he knows he should based on his religion; 2) He can’t stop his sexual behavior because, uhh because he’s human and human’s are by necessity and nature sexual creatures; 3)The behaviors are causing life-damaging consequences because his wife is distraught over the fact that he has actually sullied himself in the devil’s playground and his bishop is calling him in to discuss it and he gets bombarded every six months with conference talks on how he is evil (I could go on.); 4)thus 3-times porn guy is an addict — who can be treated.

    This isn’t kudo worthy. This is malpractice lawsuit worthy.

    Joseph Smith and Brigham Young would be sex addicts today. More than one wife? Do you see her more than three times a year? Pervert. Weirdo. (I got those two words from St. George therapist’s website — they aren’t mine, so blame him, not me.) The Church hides from its sexual history, like a modern Mormon male hides from porn — tries to ignore it, but it just keeps popping up.

    From this vantage point, the entire sexual addiction crisis is a figment of a sexually repressed culture’s lack of imagination and compassion.

    I’ll tell you what would be kudo worthy — eliminating the guilt and shame that we train our adolescents with in regard to sexuality, eliminating the ability of charlatan therapists to make grundles of money off of well-meaning, normal, healthy couples, who happen to belong to a not so healthy religion, eliminating the cry of sex addiction any time someone shows the slightest interest in being sexual, generating a concept of sexual morality that is tied to honesty and acceptance; eliminating the heart wrenching, family dissolving disputes caused by a person desiring to be sexual, whether it be male or female, gay or straight. Now that would be worth some kudos.

    P.S. to jmb275 — It’s OK, I like porn too.

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    Re #1

    P.S. to jmb275 — It’s OK, I like porn too.

    Ouch! That’s not very respectful by any standards. What heterosexual man doesn’t like to look at naked women, I admit. But I actually don’t like porn! I have been on both sides of the fence on this issue, and while I don’t think it is damaging for everyone, I do think that, on the whole, it is destructive for most people. I agree that much of this is because of the Victorian culture in which we live. I have lived in Europe and I know how casually nudity etc. is taken there. I also don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with seeing someone naked, or with sex. I think perhaps, by not knowing who I am, you have made some poor assumptions.

    I do, however, feel strongly that any addiction is harmful to the individual and family members of the individual regardless of what leads to said addiction. I would be surprised to hear arguments to the contrary. In other words, porn addiction is a problem, even if the porn itself is not (though I think the culture of sex workers/pornography is a rather sad sample of humanity).

    Do you honestly believe that if you could somehow convince porn viewers not to be ashamed by their actions that this would solve the addiction problem they have? Do you seriously believe that porn addiction is caused by the preaching of porn as a sin? Did you even read the scholarly article on the site, detailing what exactly addiction does to the brain? Your view seems so narrow. What about biology, predilections toward certain sexual appetites, etc. etc. I don’t deny that culture is a component, but it is not the entire cause either.

    To me, your arguments are not touching on the point. I agree with what you say. I agree that “eliminating the guilt and shame that we train our adolescents with in regard to sexuality…” would help. I can also see the point of view that Joseph and Brigham would be sex addicts. But I also don’t think that doing away with the preaching of “body is a temple” concept would be good either. In the field of positive psychology, we are realizing more and more that treating some things as “sacred” (even if they really aren’t) makes people happy. I view the stance of “body is a temple” as one of those things we deem sacred. I think that has value.

    But none of this is the point. You are arguing for porn, for the way we treat sexuality. I am promoting a site that helps people overcome addiction. The point is, many many many people are addicted (yes, clinically addicted) to porn. The beauty of the site (to me, and the reason I wrote the post) is that it is a step toward eliminating the guilt and shame by focusing on the biological nature of the addiction, rather than just a morally reprehensible sin. Rather than encouraging more prayer, more scripture study, there is real advice for people hurting. And the truth is, in real life, millions and millions hurt from being addicted to porn regardless of the causes.

  3. #3 chanson, apparently the author at the link you provide did not read the article that jmb275 references in the OP. Well researched and documented, though admittedly acknowledges the still emerging research on the subject.

    #1: Alcholism was also not recognized as a disease when Bill W. and his friend formed AA and so named it. Many still do not accept it as a disease, but the 12-step approach has helped many to cope with the disease of alcohol addiction.

    jmb275, thanks for OP. I agree that it’s a helpful resource.

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    Re #3
    I’m really confused although I agree it is debatable. I think Dr. Hilton (from the scholarly article I referenced) admitted that. From the link you gave:

    So, the only reference I can find that actually says anything about pornography being unhealthy on the page for individuals is to the work of Victor Cline, who appears to be a crusader against pornography.

    Umm, not sure what he/she’s reading, but I link to the most scholarly article (by Dr. Hilton) on the Combating Porn website. All the references are from at least the year 2000.

    My interpretation, as a scientist, there is no evidence that there is such a thing as “sex addiction” or “porn addiction.”

    Again, not sure what kind of scientist he/she is but I am too, and here is a link to a simple search on scholar.google.com. It appears to me there are plenty who have evidence that it is an addiction. The author sounds like he’s setup a straw man, and then knocked it down. Furthermore, what of all the references made by Dr. Hilton?

    The wikipedia article makes it fairly clear that there is not consensus on the issue of whether or not it’s an addiction. That doesn’t mean it’s not. The DSM defines (as best it can) what is the consensus. What should we say before it existed? That there was no evidence that bi-polar disease was a disorder? The DSM changes constantly as new research emerges. The author of the article I referenced makes it clear there is no consensus and that it is an area of research. That doesn’t mean the viewpoint isn’t valid just because it’s not in the DSM. Seriously, if the DSM defined what all the mental disorders are, why not just stop all research right now?

    Finally, regardless of the addiction issue, there is boatloads of research indicating that pornography (particularly the harder stuff) incites violence in the viewers. A simple search on scholar.google.com will reveal lots of good information. I find that porn advocates tend to ignore that tidbit.

    Finally, chanson, why don’t you read the article by Dr. Hilton I referenced and decide for yourself if it’s good research. You don’t need to take that guy’s word for it. He is not an expert in that field.

  5. I will cheer any step forward on helping people understand that addictions are not a choice…. at least once they have become addictions. And some people seem to have addictive personalities and that makes it all that much harder. Though I would like a bigger step I’m happy for any step forward at all in this area. Thanks for the article.

  6. This is the topic at every general conference that just makes me roll my eyes. Every time there’s a talk on pornography addiction, I feel more like I’m being lectured to rather than lifted up in the comfort of the spirit. Every time there’s a talk on the subject, I hear more of “You won’t have a happy marriage,” “Your life is over,” and “One slip-up is what will doom you forever.” This leaves me afraid. Afraid of having a healthy sexual relationship with my wife. Afraid of even finding a wife who will love me despite a mind that has been subjected to pornographic images and content from all over, intentional or not. Afraid of ever being considered worthy.

    Not only that, I’ve been afraid of an intimate relationship for years because of all of the anti-porn and anti-premarital sex lectures thrown at me ever since my first wet dream. I had no clue what was going on with my body and all I ever heard when trying to find out was “It’s bad. Don’t do it.”

    But ever since I learned to start taking EVERYTHING that’s said over the podium at general conference with a grain of salt and begin asking questions. Guess what I found out: God still loves me and I still feel the calm and serene spirit that comes with entering into the temple despite the fact that I’m not perfect. I have my shortcomings and bad habits, including fantasies that can be considered pornographic in my imagination, but I’ve also learned to be able to draw a line and say, “Okay, these thoughts are just getting nasty,” and maintain self-control. Even my ex and I were able to discuss the fact that we had fantasies and could talk about our shortcomings, but if the other was uncomfortable with the idea we would never make those a reality after we were married (though we broke up before marriage for an entirely different reason).

    I guess the point I’m trying to make is that the church’s attempted approach of “one size fits all cure” for fighting pornography will NOT work. I personally find the hardcore stuff disgusting, nauseating, and deplorable and I feel sorrow for the sons and daughters or God who would willingly place themselves in such a situation. And yet some of them will say that they became involved with it because they could not find love or support to help them feel self-worth. But at the same time I grew up on a tropical island and seeing girls my age in swimsuits was very much a daily occurrence and, for a horny teenager, that was heaven. Would some people consider that pornographic? Yes. Others, no. Much like the idea that the definition is different for each person, then what constitutes becoming addicted and the process by helping people to overcome that “addiction” are all different as well.

  7. Do you honestly believe that if you could somehow convince porn viewers not to be ashamed by their actions that this would solve the addiction problem they have? Do you seriously believe that porn addiction is caused by the preaching of porn as a sin? Did you even read the scholarly article on the site, detailing what exactly addiction does to the brain?

    Yes, yes, and yes.

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    Re #8 kuri
    I read the links. I acknowledge your point. I think it’s a good one. However, what I see is that there are two opposing views. One group says it’s all in the way you are raised, and because of the church and because of the Victorian culture in which we live, people get “addicted” (or see a problem with porn). Remove the culture/victorian era and the problem goes away. The other group claims it’s morally reprehensible, and an addiction that should be shunned by all, citing (admittedly exaggerated) problems associated with it.

    Here is my analysis. I think both groups are right and wrong. For the first group, if they really believe that people are purely products of the way they are raised and their culture, they are grossly misinformed about the nature of psychology. People have proclivities, personalities, genetics, and other factors beyond the ability to be completely influenced by childhood and culture. Why don’t we just blame all our problems on the sins of our parents and culture? Because it’s a stupid, idealistic position to take that was popular over 60 years ago but somehow makes its way into popular culture, but only when it suits our agenda. Parents do not have that much influence over their children that they can control the long term outcome of their child’s personality, disposition, and habits. Studies of monozygotic twins show this over and over again.

    For the other group, they take the “sin” aspect to the extreme and create the self-fulfilling cycle which you illustrated in your linked-to comment. But they also have a good point. Porn damages the lives of millions regardless of what you, or anyone else thinks about it. Note everyone is damaged, I admit, but there are many. Spouses feel hurt emotionally, don’t feel “good enough,” and in some cases the individual will have a tendency to be more violent (see my comment #5).

    What I glean from this is that neither group wants to admit that the other has a good point. They want to sit on their idealistic high horse and parrot the parts of their argument that make sense in supporting their agenda.

  9. Imho, we really need to move on from the “porn is either good or bad” dichotomy. It is SO much more complicated than that. We need to be studying (and some are) for whom is it a problem, why, and what specifically about it makes it a problem for some people and not for others. This argument that porn wouldn’t be a problem if we weren’t all repressed has some face validity, but little else. Incidentally, I’m writing a paper right now on treatments for (insert term of choice here: hypersexuality, problematic porn use, sexual compulsivity or impulsivity, internet addiction with subtype problematic porn use…).

  10. Fwiw, I also think that the GenCon addresses on this may really only address those who don’t have a problem. Those who do will not be helped in this way… and will probably only feel more ashamed, which will only make their compulsive cycle harder to get out of. Many people who struggle with porn specifically seek out material that is shame based – they do this on purpose – for some reason it is more alluring. Taking the shame out of porn may or may not help, but it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t just seek something else out that is shame-based.

  11. “I guess the point I’m trying to make is that the church’s attempted approach of “one size fits all cure” for fighting pornography will NOT work.”

    The point of this post is that the Church DOESN”T take a “one size fits all” approach.

    Thanks for the post, jmb. I appreciate the information. I have nothing against nudity, in and of itself or in a culture that can handle it properly. I have a HUGE problem with porn and anyone who argues that it’s not a destructive force manipulated by evil people. I appreciate that you separated the two in this post. I wish we could all do so in the comments.

  12. jmb,

    I don’t think porn is cool actually. It often exploits and degrades the people in it, and it can create unrealistic expectations in its consumers. I’d just as soon porn didn’t exist.

    But it does exist, and Mormons are going to look at it. So the question is what to do about it. I have no problem with the church saying that porn is bad, inappropriate, sinful, etc. I don’t disagree with that. I just think it’s a matter of degree. It’s fine if Mormons who look at porn are taught to think, “Well, that wasn’t appropriate. I’m sorry I did it.”

    But that should be the end of it. They shouldn’t be taught that they’ve done something horrible, and if they do it a few times they’re “addicts.” Almost always, they’re not. They’re just people who’ve indulged in a minor human weakness. Treat it that way. Treat it as something that LDS should aspire to avoid, but don’t make a big deal out of it when someone doesn’t achieve perfection. That is so counterproductive and harmful.

    Take the example Ulysses gave. A person who looks at porn three times a year is not an addict. He doesn’t even have a “porn problem,” much less an addiction. He has a small weakness that he wants to overcome. But his church leaders turn it into a horrible sin, their teachings convince his wife that he’s some sort of pervert, and his doctor turns it into pathology and illness. No wonder he’s messed up. Certainly something is “destroying his life,” but it’s not the porn itself. It’s the reaction to the porn.

    And the LDS reaction to porn is unmistakeably a “moral panic.” Except in this case, rather than demonizing outsiders, LDS porn consumers are treating themselves as the “folk devils.” The results are tragic.

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    Re #13 kuri

    But it does exist, and Mormons are going to look at it. So the question is what to do about it. I have no problem with the church saying that porn is bad, inappropriate, sinful, etc. I don’t disagree with that. I just think it’s a matter of degree. It’s fine if Mormons who look at porn are taught to think, “Well, that wasn’t appropriate. I’m sorry I did it.”

    But that should be the end of it. They shouldn’t be taught that they’ve done something horrible, and if they do it a few times they’re “addicts.” Almost always, they’re not. They’re just people who’ve indulged in a minor human weakness. Treat it that way. Treat it as something that LDS should aspire to avoid, but don’t make a big deal out of it when someone doesn’t achieve perfection. That is so counterproductive and harmful.

    I think we agree completely on this. It’s the same “slippery slope” argument as alcohol. Sure many of us could handle a few drinks a year, or per month, etc., but the church, obviously, goes to the far end and just condemns it all.

    Re AdamF
    Thanks for showing up! I was hoping you would.

  14. When a post comes up on something I’m currently studying or involved in clinically, I’ll always try to comment. As John knows, doing this phd stuff is a little crazy.

    I also want to add something on mutual use of porn by a couple (as this definitely takes out the secrecy and etc.) There are a small minority of couples whom this *may* work for, but not many – it depends on their sexual style. Here’s a brief article discussing sexual styles, if anyone is interested… http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/whats-your-sexual-style/200902/what-is-the-right-couple-sexual-style-you For the couples who use it successfully, it is used as a “bridge” to arousal, rather than an end unto itself. The prof. re: the article though (and my hunch as well) suggests that most couples cannot/would not/do not benefit from mutual pornography use.

  15. Kuri, I have never once heard anything from the global leadership in my memory that labels someone who views porn a few times a year an addict. Please link to something that does so. I really would like to read it.

    Elder Holland’s last talk is an example. He very clearly talked about addictions – not very rare viewing. He talked about wives whose marriages were destroyed by obsession, not an occasional mistake. This post links to an official effort to categorize porn addiction – and it focuses on real addictions, not once or twice viewing.

    Again, it would be really nice if BOTH sides dealt with real complexity and not strawmen – and the “church is butchering this issue” crowd is just as guilty of creating strawmen as the “all viewing of nudity is porn addiction” crowd. The first crowd also is every bit as numerous. Both sides are extreme and wrong, imo.

  16. From the bishops and other leaders I have discussed this with, it seems pretty clear to me that a large portion of bishops’ support is helping people who are coming to them with this as a problem.

    Perhaps that warrants more research and understanding on the root causes of the problem (they way porn is taught/talked about, the sources of guilt/shame, the perceptions, the family members, etc etc etc).

    However, in the mean time, it seems pretty clear it is a common issue for people to be dealing with (both bishops and professional counselors, both in the church and out of the church). So if the church is getting that feedback that it is a common thing people really need help with, it is good they are providing some sources to help those who need it.

    We all have our vices…what is an issue for one is not necessarily an issue for all, but for the one that is an issue for (or in this case…lots of “ones”), there should be something to guide them.

    So I guess I disagree with the church is making this a big sin or a big issue…it seems it is in society and the church is lovingly trying to help prevent people from getting stuck in it, and providing ways to help those who want help.

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    Again, it would be really nice if BOTH sides dealt with real complexity and not strawmen – and the “church is butchering this issue” crowd is just as guilty of creating strawmen as the “all viewing of nudity is porn addiction” crowd. The first crowd also is every bit as numerous. Both sides are extreme and wrong, imo.

    I couldn’t agree more.

    @Ray
    Kuri is referencing the first comment by Ulysses who was referencing an article referenced by the Combating Pornography website which I linked above. In the article the author is speaking of how viewing pornography 3 times a year could be an addiction. The point, to me, is that addiction is not a function of the frequency, per se, but more a function of the cravings and psychology behind it. Just because the addiction only manifested 3 times in a year doesn’t say anything about whether or not he’s addicted (except perhaps the severity with which that is manifested). Though I confess that looking at porn 3 times a year and equating it with any real addiction is a bit excessive. Though again, I’m no psychologist.

  18. Chanson, though the APA may have no plans to include a sexual or pornography addiction in the upcoming DSM-V, the current DSM-IV-TR does have a listing for Impulse Control Disorder NOS, and has clear criteria for substance abuse. I think that many would consider pornography use (especially those who are abusing pornography to the point of causing problems in other areas of life). The page you link to which says, among a number of truth-stretching “facts”, states that there is no such think as pornography addiction to the APA, at which point they link to a wikipedia article which states that “there is no diagnosis of pornography addiction in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” This is a different matter than saying that they state there’s no such thing. It may be splicing hairs, but it’s all too convenient for all of us to find and spread whatever form of propaganda we choose. There is, in fact, a ‘difference of opinions’ on the matter. Some colleagues of mine have provided a number of examples of this disagreement, as well as a meager base of research specifically on pornography or sexual addiction. To say conclusively that the American Psychological Association or American Psychiatric Association (yes, two different organizations) takes the position that there is no such thing as pornography addiction is bold, a vastly overbroad generalization.

    There is clear disagreement within academic and clinical psychology, and there is hardly any well-done research to stand as true support for either side. Two students here are studying the role of religiosity and shame in pornography use, and have told me how difficult it has been to find enough research to write an appropriately in-depth literature review for their theses.

    Ray’s example of Elder Holland’s talk on pornography addictions is spot-on. As with other types of addiction, if it comes to the point where use/viewing (whichever term you prefer) is damaging to health (as pornography may do, though not always), creates serious distress or impairment of the individual, or leads to family or otherwise interpersonal problems, then you really do have a problem. Frankly, it’s harming spiritually no matter what, which is also worth more than cursory consideration.

    Some of you might find the DSM-IV-TR criteria for substance abuse interesting in forming opinions about pornography use. Quoting directly from the DSM-IV-TR, page 199:
    A. A maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by one (or more) of the following, occurring with a 12-month period:
    (1) recurrent substance use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school or home (e.g., repeated absences or poor work performance related to substance use; substance-related absences, suspensions, or expulsions from school; neglect of children or household)
    (2) recurrent substance use in situation in which it is physically hazardous (e.g., driving and automobile or operating a machine when impaired by substance use) — {perhaps not as relevant for pornography use}
    (3) recurrent substance-related legal problems (e.g., arrests for substance-related disorderly conduct)
    (4) continued substance use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the substance (e.g., arguments with spouse about consequences of intoxication, physical fights)
    B. The symptoms have never met the criteria for Substance Dependence for this substance.

    Insert pornography for ‘substance’ for kicks. Sorry for the mega-long post.

  19. Kuri, I have never once heard anything from the global leadership in my memory that labels someone who views porn a few times a year an addict.

    Ray, I’ve never heard anything from the global leadership about pornography that didn’t make it out to be a Tremendous Big Deal. That’s where they’re “butchering” the issue. Call it a sin, discourage it, fine. But I think making a big deal out of it is probably exactly the wrong thing to do. That probably just a) feeds the cycle in those few people who actually have some sort of porn compulsion and b) helps turn little problems into big ones for a lot of other people.

    b) is clearly what happens to people who fall into the clutches of well-meaning fools like 3-Times-a-Year Guy’s therapist. Mostly 3TaYG just needed reassurance, someone to tell him, “You should cut it out, but it’s just not that big a deal.” Isn’t that what bishops do nowadays when youths come to them about masturbation? They don’t tell them to tie their hand to the bedpost anymore, do they? But instead, 3TaYG got put into a recovery program. Metaphorically, he got his hand tied to the bedpost. That was horrendously bad treatment. We can argue about how much of that is the church’s fault, but his bishop and/or stake president referred him to a therapist because of what the church teaches about pornography, and the therapist treated him the way he did because of what the church teaches about pornography. That’s “butchering the issue” imo.

    Again, it would be really nice if BOTH sides dealt with real complexity and not strawmen – and the “church is butchering this issue” crowd is just as guilty of creating strawmen as the “all viewing of nudity is porn addiction” crowd.

    I think you’ve got your own strawman in there. You beg the question of whether “porn addiction” actually exists. That’s a matter of dispute within the relevant fields.

  20. Kudos? #1 hit it out of the park…the only reason there is an issue is because religious prudes are making it an issue…Religions latches onto some of the most enjoyable aspects of life and turn them into something “evil” in an attempt to extort obedience out of believers.

  21. #22 plale…I don’t buy your line of thinking.

    As a comparison of “evils” – I see the Word of Wisdom is taking some joy of life (tobacco and drinking) and making it a sin. Why? Because the church needed obedience by members? No…more likely Emma was sick of cleaning up the filth it created and needed something to change because it was causing a problem.

    To make sure this doesn’t thread jack a discussion on the WoW, let’s turn it back to porn.

    Does the church get involved in promoting the porn on the web so it can then cry repentance and obedience and stay in business by getting people to need to visit their bishops to repent of it? No…more likely the porn is creating a mess and filth that families and people are trying to deal with in their lives, and the church is recognizing it as an evil that is doing this to people and warning them of the dangers. It is not creating the evil, any more than the church was creating the spit on the floor for Emma to clean.

  22. #21 and #22 – We will have to agree to disagree – extremely strongly, in this case.

    The idea that porn addiction doesn’t exist or that it exists because religions make a big deal out of it simply is ludicrous to me. You think otherwise.

    There really isn’t any point in trying to convince each other – especially since I’m right and you’re in denial. 😀

  23. “the only reason there is an issue is because religious prudes are making it an issue”

    This is a HUGE over-simplification of a complex issue.

  24. The idea that porn addiction doesn’t exist or that it exists because religions make a big deal out of it simply is ludicrous to me. You think otherwise.

    I don’t think either of those, actually. I think porn is a genuine problem for some people. I don’t know if that’s “addiction” or something else (like an expression of OCD maybe?). And neither does anyone else, if by “know” we mean “reach a firm conclusion based on solid evidence.” Nothing has been proven either way yet. I also don’t think it — whatever “it” really is — is created solely by religions. But I do think the LDS church has fallen into a kind of moral panic on the issue and that its current approach is probably counterproductive and very harmful for a lot of people.

  25. I don’t really care whether you think porn is inherently harmful or not.

    But it most certainly is something you can get addicted to – and that IS unhealthy.

  26. I remember watching a documentary once back in college on the guys who make the “Girls Gone Wild” videos.

    The exploitation of the girls, the abusive mentality of the filmmakers, the lies, and the callous unapologetic nature of the men doing the exploiting was disgusting. It’s the same callous exploitive mentality that animates the high school guys who talk their girlfriends into do a webcam lapdance and then post the video on YouTube without the girl’s knowledge or permission. The same spirit that animates Russian mafia members to offer Russian girls a chance to go to school in Britain, but then sell them into the sex trade – including explicit videos. The same spirit that pushes those who purchase Hungarian orphans for explicit videos – sometimes you can even buy a murder or torture video on the black market.

    It’s the same spirit that animates the ritual humiliation of women in porn videos. You want me to get descriptive for you?

    Would you like a blow by blow analysis of the stuff they do to women in these videos? Or shall I spare you?

    It’s the conversion of the the male sex drive to the urge to see the female object degraded and helpless before him. He feels powerless and weak, so he takes it out on some woman by putting her at a disadvantage. And that’s really all the majority of the porn industry is. Disadvantaging women (and children) to help some guy feel powerful at their expense.

    Quite frankly, some of the people here seem naive in the extreme. Do you have any clue what they DO to women in the porn industry? Do you think these women are well paid? Treated fairly? OSHA compliant work conditions, do you think? And how about a “high class” outfit like Playboy? You think those women usually end happily? I listened to about an hour’s worth of testimonials from those women later in life that says otherwise.

    Oh no. Porn doesn’t hurt the women doing it. It’s their free choice. They like this stuff.

    Grow up.

    And wise up to the filth of the society you live in. And the horrible things people do to each other. And the overwhelming base urge to dominate, to subdue, and to triumph at the expense of someone else.

  27. Personally, I don’t particularly care whether it’s technically an actual addiction or not. We can probably all agree that there are vast numbers of people who engage in porn who wish they did not, and for whatever reason struggle to control it. This kind of problem requires some attention.

    That said, I agree that the church is largely to blame for the porn epidemic in the church. Obviously it’s not the church’s fault that men (and some women) desire to and do engage in pornography. However, the biggest hindrance to getting over this problem, in my opinion, is the lack of communication with one’s spouse/partner. This is where the church comes in. By demonizing not just pornography, but the person who engages in it, even a little, and worse, the very desire to view pornography, the church has attached a shame and taint upon the person who views it that is almost unrivaled among church teachings. In many ways the porn addict is beneath even the adulterer in the church, because the adulterer is someone who just couldn’t control his or her natural desires. The porn addict is a shameful, dirty pervert, skulking in the blue glow of his computer late at night doing unspeakable things. A porn addict is someone who may only be looking at naked women today, but who will undoubtedly be viewing child porn in the near future. A veritable pedophile in the making. This is absolutely tragic. In addition to shaming the user, the second thing the church’s attitude achieves is a completely disproportionate reaction to pornography from women in the church. I can’t count on my hands and toes the number of women whom I have heard say that pornography is the same as adultery, and I know personally of several women who considered divorce or actually left their husbands upon learning their husbands had viewed it. Do you think these women are coming up with these extreme attitudes on their own? Of course not.

    In this kind of climate, what person in his right mind would be honest to his spouse about his pornography use, even in the context of repentance as the church understands it? The fact is, most men in the church who dabble in porn to any degree, adopt a position that they will absolutely lie about their involvement in porn unless they are caught red handed. And this is absolutely true even of men who desperately want to stop but are unable. And who can blame them? How many men are there who would have success at quitting porn if only they felt they could be honest with their spouse and work on it together? Unfortunately these men know exactly what kind of reaction they will get if they come clean. And this, in my opinion, is the fault of the church.

    Only by creating an atmosphere that promotes the idea that porn use is not outside the fringes of normal social behavior will you ever create an atmosphere where men will be honest about doing it. And it is a subject that has been well treated here that the church has a vested interest in strictly controlling sexuality. And we all know that you don’t control sexuality by making people feel ok about it. You control sexuality by demonizing it and making people afraid of it.

    I think it’s tragic.

  28. #28 – Seth R., I’m not sure to whom you’re addressing this comment. I don’t recall reading any comments here that paint pornography as an uplifting social movement. In fact, I don’t think the commenters here are actually defending pornography at all. The debate is largely about the issues of 1) whether pornography addiction is actually an addiction; and 2) whose fault is it that it’s such a problem. Obviously you strongly disagree with many of the commenters, but I think the specifics of your comment are badly misdirected. If I’m missing something, I apologize. I just don’t think anyone needs a primer about the inner-workings of the porn industry. At least not until someone attempts to make the argument that there’s nothing wrong with pornography, and again, I don’t think the comments here are making that argument.

  29. brjones,

    That’s what I get for letting my feelings get away from me. This article is just the latest in a string of articles I’ve been reading here and there where the theme “porn isn’t a big deal” arises in some fashion or other. I guess I was tired of it and took the chance to vent. You’re probably right that the comments in general didn’t warrant it.

  30. #28 “Would you like a blow by blow analysis of the stuff they do to women in these videos?”

    Given your stance I’d just suggest another choice of words. (Just a helpful hint for dealing with perverts and weirdos like me.)

    #2 I’m sorry about the P.S. I did not mean disrespect, sometimes satirical, ironic writing gets away from me, understand that from my perspective a lusty libido would have been a great thing, not something that should have hurt. Which actually brings me to your criticism of my post that I wasn’t touching on your original point. I took your original post as saying that the Church should be praised for the approach it is taking towards porn.

    My response was not that the Church was responsible for porn/porn addiction/sex addiction/homosexuality, but that the Church’s responses exacerbate the problem and does not help. To use a cliche, gasoline on the fire to put it out. We shouldn’t give kudos to an institution when it is harming individuals and wreaking havoc on lives. Yes, it is tragic when a family is torn up over porn. It is equally tragic — and there should be no moral distinction — when a family is torn up over religion. The fact that the religion’s attitude and treatment of the sexual harms individuals is born out in thread after thread on this site of those who have been damaged and injured by judgmental, fundamental and puritan attitudes.

    Both sides express hurt, pain and sorrow, but it always amazes me how the rigid belief structure of both sides doesn’t allow for this more expansive moral vision.

    Kudos? No, the Church is not helping with its current guilt/shame model of enforcement. AdamF encourages me, because at least he acknowledges that this is “SO much more complicated”, but this is coming from academia, not the theological. Reserve the kudos until the Church recognizes that it is much more complicated.

  31. Having run support groups for people dealing with divorce for over a decade, I’ve seen a lot of what porn can do to destroy families. Anything that can destroy families is worth working at healing. I’m glad the church has put a web site out there to help. I wish it were more extensive informationally, but it’s a start.

  32. “this is coming from academia, not the theological”

    I guess I’m from the Eyring Sr. school of thought – whatever is true IS theological, but I get your point. 😉

    I’m fine with the church’s teaching of “looking at porn is bad” – it’s the added “looking at porn makes YOU bad” that creates the shame, I think. Shame does no one any good. It doesn’t even pull others to be empathic. It just makes things worse. Perhaps we need to lessen the focus on “unworthy” vs “worthy” or “dirty” vs “clean” and focus more on the more effective teachings we already have: We are all daughters and sons of Heavenly Father, with a bit of the divine in all of us. Sometimes we make mistakes, sometimes they’re BIG. But that does not make the “self” unworthy or unclean, it just means we have done something wrong that we need to repent of.

  33. I’m surprised at the hostility in some of the comments.

    I appreciated Seth R’s reminder about the “victims” of porn within the industry, lest we assume this is just an issue for the viewer and the viewer’s family members.

    I struggle with the notion that the Church is somehow to blame for a porn “epidemic” in the church.

    Here are broad messages I’ve heard related to porn in general conference (mostly in PH session) — porn is bad (sinful, wrong); don’t look at it; once you start it may be hard to stop. (That men may occasionally view porn does not make it right; gospel standards are not meant to be “normal” for the natural man.)

    FWIW, it’s not the church who compared porn viewing to adultery; it was the Savior (Matt 5:27-28).

    For quite some time, church leaders may not have had adequate training to help those who self-expressed pornography issues, beyond council to pray more, read more scriptures and to repent. Now more resources are available to help. How can that be a bad thing?

    The other message I’ve heard in those anti-pornography talks were the effect porn had on marriages, as evidenced by letters written to the leaders of the church.

  34. Re brjones
    Welcome back! I agree with much of what you have said. The shame is tragic. And it is tragic that men don’t work through it with their spouses for fear of being left etc. But think about what you’re advocating. Recognize that if the church backs off completely, and treats it as a social norm, what incentive is there for the man to try to overcome it? Why should the husband and wife work together at all to overcome something that’s not a problem?

    I do think the guilt/shame is a bit extreme, don’t get me wrong. But I think the balance of “body is a temple” (i.e. motivation that porn is something to “overcome”) vs. “it’s just a social norm” (i.e. everybody does it and it’s no big deal) is likely a difficult road to walk. I think that this website is a small step in maintaining a better balance. The focus is less on shame, and sin, and more on addiction, getting help, overcoming. I think that’s a good step.

    Re Ulysses
    No worries. Again, I really think I agree with you in part. I guess the only difference is that I see that this website is a step in that direction (which was the point of the post), not just more gasoline.

  35. “if the church backs off completely, and treats it as a social norm”

    Treating it as a norm is NOT they way to go. The research is pretty clear on this. Take a look at descriptive norms (what most others are perceived to do) and injunctive norms (what we ought to be doing)… The more we talk about how “common this is, so who cares?” from one side of the aisle and “it’s rampant, it’s taking over!” on the other side, the more we INCREASE the descriptive norm, i.e. “everyone’s doing it.”

    The least effective message for church members is “porn is everywhere” OR “everyone looks at porn now and then” combined with “porn is bad.” A more effective message would be, “looking at porn is not good, and relatively few church members look at it. For those who do, here are some problems they face…”

    This would maximize (at least from the social norms perspective) prevention. For those who are already involved, again, we definitely need less “you are bad” and more “you are good, and this choice/these choices was/are wrong.”

  36. Someone who views porn (especially occasionally and not addictively) is worse than an adulterer?? Someone thinks that message is taught by the LDS Church?

    Wow. I’ve never heard that stated or implied in all my decades in the church. I have no other response to that, and that’s rare.

  37. #s 36 and 37: Obviously I didn’t make myself clear enough on this point. I am in no way suggesting that the church capitulate with respect to its position as to the sinfulness of being involved with pornography. That said, I don’t think it’s necessary to demonize a behavior to condemn it as sinful. Many behaviors considered highly immoral by the church are not demonized to even close to the level that involvement in pornography is within the church. Even the highest of sexual sins such as fornication and adultery are treated as highly sinful, but not necessarily deviant. By suggesting that the church, or anyone else, acknowledge that pornography is not outside the norms of social behavior, I’m not suggesting that anyone accept it as acceptable, or certainly righteous, behavior. However, the vast majority of men either do engage or have engaged in pornography to some degree in their lives. That puts pornography use within normal social behavior, as it is completely common to the majority of men. This is all I’m suggesting. I don’t think acknowledging pornography use as normal behavior and condemning it as highly sinful are mutually exclusive positions. Unfortunately, as discussed above, the church’s position is much more in line with the somewhat archaic concept that viewing pornography is a deviant and perverted behavior. As sinful as pornography may be, I don’t believe it is deviant behavior. And the fact that a certain percentage of pornography users will end up being involved in pornography in ways that most of us would consider deviant and perverted is not at all unique to pornography. Many people engage in deviant and perverted sexual practices, but I don’t hear many people rushing to condemn sex or arguing that being sexually active is a slippery slope that inevitably leads to deviant sexual practices.

    But, as I said, I did not intend to suggest that the church should soften its position on the sinfulness of the practice.

  38. #38 – I believe this comment is a response to my comment, so I will respond. I did not intend to suggest that a porn addict is “worse” than an adulterer in terms of the gravity of the sin. I was speaking of the shame and stigma that is uniquely reserved for users of pornography within the church, and I stand by that statement. There is a shame and sense of debasement that exists with respect to pornography users in the church that is absolutely not present with even much more grave sexual sins. On this very site I have, on numerous occasions, seen comments from multiple people equating pornography, as a matter of inevitable course, with rape, bestiality and pedophilia. I would challenge anyone to demonstrate to me that a similar attitude exists within the church to any other sinful behavior, including those of serial fornication or adultery. Again, I’m not suggesting that anyone in the church thinks that viewing porn is in and of itself worse than adultery, but I do think that in many ways the porn addict is absolutely viewed with a greater sense of shame and revulsion than the adulterer.

  39. brjones, let me take a stab at this with one simple observation and explanation:

    Porn itself is founded on perverse and deviant behavior. Viewing porn supports an industry founded on perverse and deviant behavior. We aren’t talking about simple nudity or instructional sex; we’re talking about porn. There’s a huge difference between those things. Maybe viewing porn rarely in a moment of weakness doesn’t constitute terrible deviance, but it supports and enables terrible deviance.

    Seriously, the porn industry is the very definition of great abomination. The industry is sickening beyond imagination for most people. This isn’t an academic statement; it comes from talking with people involved tangentially. There might be more perverse and deviant and flat-out evil industries in existence, but there might not be – and that’s not hyperbole, imo. Viewing porn even occasionally and non-addictively supports that industry – and for that reason alone, guilt SHOULD be attached to it to some degree. Never viewing it SHOULD be held up as the ideal.

    Again, I believe adultery is worse than occasional viewing of porn – but that’s damning by faint praise.

  40. As to the porn addict vs. adulterer issue, I think most members (including leaders) would rank serial adulterers as worse than pron addicts – and porn addicts as worse than one-time adulterers. Maybe that’s just because that’s how I see it, but I think that’s accurate.

  41. #41 – Ray, I don’t really disagree with anything you’ve said. Please understand I am not defending the pornography industry in any way. I have 3 daughters and the thought of any female I know or care about being touched by it in any way sickens me. I agree 100% that never ever touching pornography in any way is a noble ideal. My point really is that I believe there is a break-even point where the strenuousness of the church’s disapproval begins to have a counterproductive effect. I believe this to be the case with pornography in the church. This has nothing whatever to do with the right/wrong of pornography itself or even of those who view it. Even if you believe porn addicts are deviant perverts, is the goal to ultimately help those people or not? Do we want to encourage them to talk to someone about their problem or not? Do we want them to be able to speak to their spouse so they can work it out together or not? I personally believe that the church’s message has, to a large degree, created an atmosphere where this is not happening, and it’s not likely to happen. Again, I’m not suggesting the church take a position of tolerance in any way. But I think there has to be a general admission that “hey, the desires that led you to this point are understandable and very common. You don’t need to feel like a dirtbag. Let’s just work on getting it under control.” Frankly I think this message needs to be directed especially to the women in the church, as opposed to holding firesides where computer experts explain to women how to check their computers to find out what their husbands have been looking at.

  42. #42 – That’s actually really interesting, Ray. I’m a little surprised to hear someone say they consider porn addicts worse than one-time adulterers. I’m not really making a value judgment on that statement, I just think it’s interesting to hear your perspective.

    By the way, I have a cousin who is a Tron addict, and he’s worse than a prawn addict.

  43. Thanks for the clarification, brjones. I don’t disagree strongly with your general point ***about much of the past focus***. That’s why I agree with this post in expressing kudos to the new approach – and the establishment of a 12-step program for members – and the movement away from how this used to be addressed. The LDS Church really is taking a different route than it used to walk in regard to this issue – so I agree with the post.

  44. Although I haven’t seen the site or read the articles, I would agree that it’s difficult to be critical of this move, even if you hold the opinion that the church is still lagging somewhat in its treatment of this issue. And in fairness, there are those of us who have been critical of the church and its members for seemingly responding to every problem with a “just pray more and the lord will take care of everything” attitude. When the church makes a move in this direction and takes actual concrete steps to address a serious problem, it should be recognized and applauded. Whatever one thinks of the nature of pornography use or the desires associated with its use, this is obviously a step to help those who want to be helped, and that is a positive thing.

  45. Ray, I think the pornography and adultery reference was from Paul #35, not BrJones

    “FWIW, it’s not the church who compared porn viewing to adultery; it was the Savior (Matt 5:27-28).”

    I appreciate your clarifying the difference between nudity and pornography.

  46. Re brjones
    I think you’ve made some great points. I think I agree with what you’ve said.

    Re AdamF
    Thanks for pointing that out. I’m wondering how you feel about the new site from your perspective as one in the field?

    Re Ray
    Yes, I actually agree with brjones in that I’m surprised to hear you say porn addicts are worse than one-time adulterers. I admit the porn addicts may have a bigger problem on their hands, but I suspect the number of women leaving their husbands over (even one-time) adultery far surpasses leaving them over porn addiction. I know my wife feels strongly that adultery would be the ultimate betrayal of trust.

  47. brjones

    “I don’t think acknowledging pornography use as normal behavior and condemning it as highly sinful are mutually exclusive positions.”

    They are not, and I understand where you’re coming from on this, but taking these two positions where the descriptive norm (what others do) and the injunctive norm (what one should do) are not aligned generally leads to people following the former. Research is very clear on this. Take for example, the “Crying Indian” commercial. It was hailed as a huge success, but basically it sends the message that “although you shouldn’t litter or pollute, everyone is doing it” and just leads to more littering. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7OHG7tHrNM

    Check out this study for some better understanding on the norms issues: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/pdf/cialdini.pdf

    Basically, people engage in behavior X much less when they perceive others as generally not engaging in it, AND when it is generally looked down on. When it is looked down on, but one perceives that most others engage in behavior X, one is much more likely to engage as well.

    The MOST effective strategy would then be “relatively few people use porn” combined with “looking at porn is wrong.” To lessen the shame factor, imho, we need to do away with “unworthiness” vs. “worthiness” in these cases and focus more on basic goodness and bad choices.

    Now, if it really is the case that MOST members do use porn/have used porn, then the most effective message would be to stay as far away as possible from the descriptive norm, and just focus on the injunctive.

  48. jmb275 – I’ve only looked around on the site for a few minutes here and there, but I like it so far. I kind of cringe at the use of the phrase “pornography user” – I guess I would like “problematic pornography user” a little more, but I understand why family services would be hesitant to call it that. Perhaps the church does not want to implicitly condone ANY use so they throw them all in one container. This has problems of itself, however, not unlike the “moral panic” mentioned above. I also hope/wish they would add more links to articles or references by more neutral sources (i.e. those with less of a bias either way). There are some people out there studying porn (including one prof at the U. of Arkansas) from a more objective viewpoint. I say keep what they already have, and include sources from the academic viewpoints as well. The glory of God is intelligence, and one thing that often helps sex/porn addicts is education/knowledge about sex, the brain, etc.

  49. Adam,

    Now, if it really is the case that MOST members do use porn/have used porn, then the most effective message would be to stay as far away as possible from the descriptive norm, and just focus on the injunctive.

    How would you describe the church’s current strategy? Because if a) the church is using an injunctive-norm strategy and b) most LDS, or even a large minority, use porn, wouldn’t that be evidence that the injunctive norm simply is not working?

  50. “Frankly I think this message needs to be directed especially to the women in the church, as opposed to holding firesides where computer experts explain to women how to check their computers to find out what their husbands have been looking at.”

    My favorite quote of the day.

  51. Not sure – As far as the norms go, if the descriptive norm really is that many people are using porn in the church, talking about that will only encourage people to use porn more, not less. We have to decide what “working” means first, but I agree, what is happening now is not a pretty picture, no pun intended. 🙂

  52. #52 – AdamF, I understand your position, but I think this is a good example of a recurring problem for religious believers. It’s similar to the approach of many to the issue of contraception and sex education in school. Even though it is irrefutable that abstinence-only education is woefully inadequate and largely ineffective in preventing pregnancy and STDs, and even though there is little doubt that teaching teens that if they ARE going to engage in sexual activity they should use protection would be an effective means of preventing a greater number of teen pregnancies and STDs, most religious believers refuse to embrace this strategy for the very reasons you discussed above. They feel that by adopting such a position they would be tacitly endorsing sexual activity as long as one uses protection. The same mindset is at play here. What I see you saying is that even though it may be absolutely true that using pornography is relatively normal behavior, and even though acknowledging this may very well foster openness and communication about porn use by those with a problem, the church should continue to either deny that this is the case, or at least ignore that it is the case, even though acknowledging that fact could remove much of the shame and stigma associated with porn use in the church. And the justification essentially seems to be that the truth wouldn’t send a strong enough message about how bad porn is.

    I have two major problems with this strategy. First of all, I see it as essentially lying. The image advanced by the church is that porn use is a fringe behavior and is perverse and deviant. I believe this is absolutely false, and as you have pointed out, the church may very well know that this is false. What makes this line of reasoning so egregious is that it is fantastically destructive, not only to individuals, but to marriages and families. It raises the stakes to a pitch that is entirely unnecessary, in my opinion, and is demonstratively counterproductive to the church’s stated goal of combating pornography use. Secondly, as Kuri pointed out, it is simply an ineffective strategy. Pornography is absolutely rampant in the church, as any bishop can attest, and the problem is not getting better. So apart from the “I just can’t bring myself to tell people that using porn is normal, albeit sinful behavior” rationale, what exactly is the benefit to this approach? Is it just a “that’s what god wants us to do” kind of thing? Because frankly I don’t think it is justified in practicality.

    Cowboy, it’s been a while. It’s good to rub elbows with you again.

  53. brjones –
    I was merely commenting on this ONE aspect of the issue (i.e. social norms) and NOT the entire strategy of how to keep members away from porn. There are obviously a lot more issues at play, and I feel like I’m repeating myself, but this issue is more complex than just social norms, or just shame and openness. Can a guy just comment on one aspect of something without it being taken as the sum of his views? ☺

    “What I see you saying is that even though it may be absolutely true that using pornography is relatively normal behavior, and even though acknowledging this may very well foster openness and communication about porn use by those with a problem, the church should continue to either deny that this is the case, or at least ignore that it is the case, even though acknowledging that fact could remove much of the shame and stigma associated with porn use in the church.”

    This is not at all what I’m saying. I TOTALLY agree with you on the openness and communication part of this. I think it would be great if people could get up in gospel doctrine and talk about their struggle with pornography just like someone talking about their temper. Not comparing the two, because that is useless, but I think it would be wonderful (and perhaps more effective) if the secrecy and shame were lessened. Feeling like “I’m not the only one” is very powerful in removing this shame, I think.

  54. #60 – Sorry, Adam. I just had a hankering to argue with someone and you were the natural target. I agree that it is not a simple issue, and I think it’s great that the church is being proactive and trying to move outside its traditional approaches to a big problem.

  55. 35 AdamF
    “Sometimes we make mistakes, sometimes they’re BIG. But that does not make the “self” unworthy or unclean, it just means we have done something wrong that we need to repent of.”

    What does “self” mean? Isn’t it the “self” that did the thing that was wrong so that it’s the “self” that needs to repent? If the “self” needs to repent than it’s the “self” that has become unclean and maybe unworthy. The bigger the mistake, the bigger the uncleaness and possibly, unworthiness, the “self” will be involved with.

  56. Rich

    Rather than pulling out just one part of one of my comments, let’s back up a little. There is a difference between guilt and shame, imho. Shame = I am bad/unworthy/unclean. Guilt = I am a good person who did something bad, and feel bad about it, so I will work to not do it again. Shame = I am unworthy/bad, and I don’t want anyone to see/know of it, so I will cover it up. This will happen so much that I will use the behaviors that make me ashamed and more “unworthy” to cover up the original shame. This is often what happens to people who struggle with problematic pornography use. I believe, quite strongly, that this focus on oneself (at least in the sphere of shame-based “sins” anyway) as being “unworthy” is Evil. Whatever inspires us to be better is from God. Whatever drives us into the ground to hide is from Satan, right? Shame does that. It inspires no empathy in others, it motivates us to continue only in the bad behavior. In addition, a focus on oneself as worthy/unworthy (READ: BAD/GOOD, because that’s what it is implying) is just plain NOT effective at leading people to repentance. If anything it does quite the opposite, leading them further down to you know where.

  57. Re GBSmith #51
    Hmm, I guess I’m missing something. I re-read Ray’s comment over again (several times in fact) and I’m still not getting it I guess. I think adultery, even one-time adultery, is far worse than porn addicts. And by worse, I mean ultimate-betrayal-of-trust-resulting-in-divorce-destroys-your-life worse. Again, I think he’s right in that porn addicts (may) have a more difficult problem to overcome, but in terms of raw consequences, I think one-time adultery is far worse. This isn’t just my opinion, this is what my wife tells me. I dunno if she’s a good sampling of most women though or not. I have a suspicion that the percentage of wives leaving husbands over one-time adultery exceeds (by far) the percentage of wives leaving husbands over porn addiction. But I might be way off.

    Ray, care to explain what you mean?

  58. Ray (#25) – I’m not actually sure we disagree. I think pornography addiction and abuse exists outside of whatever big talk exists around it, for these two reasons: a) it’s habit-forming in a serious way, and b) it can lead to A LOT of problems. The rest of the specifics depend on what the person brings in with them.

    None of my friends who are therapists have ever said anything about treatment being easy when you just pick a treatment and make the person stick with it. Everybody does require and individual tack to really help them.

    Anyway, perhaps my posting of a long list of diagnostic criteria worked contrary to my hopes. I just thought it would be helpful to actually have the DSM framework for substance abuse, since people were throwing around all sorts of stuff about the DSM and APA and what-have-you.

    And, as usual, I’m last to (re)arrive at the scene.

  59. 60 AdamF

    “I think it would be great if people could get up in gospel doctrine and talk about their struggle with pornography…”

    Cough, cough. Inhale, exhale. Okay — I can see kind of why you want something like that to be. I’m having a lot of trouble recommending it, though. Maybe in another church, but I think we can do better in this one.

    “1 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?
    2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.”
    (Rom.3:1-2)

    I’m not a Jew and circumcision isn’t relevant. So what’s the interpretation? This is. I am a Latter-Day Saint. The oracles of God, therefore, have been committed unto me: I have been baptized by authority. I have been confirmed and can have the influence of the Holy Ghost as a constant companion. I have been endowed. Maybe that’s not the case with everybody in Gospel Doctrine class but it is certainly a very achievable potential. I’ll spare you the lecture on all that – and me from not having to type it.

    Another scripture, though:

    “And now, my son, I would to God that ye had not been guilty of so great a crime. I would not dwell upon your crimes, to harrow up your soul, if it were not for your good.” (Alma 39:7)

    When the oracles of God have been committed unto you and you begin to gain knowledge and understanding and then fall to something that isn’t right, it is God who causes your guilt (and/or shame, if He sees fit). When you have the oracles of God committed unto you then you understand much more clearly what’s happening and you are able to deal with it. It doesn’t, necessarily, make sin, especially the serious sins, easy to overcome but you will know that you are dealing with God – not man (in or out of the Church).

    In my experience God is very quick to forgive (cleanse) a person of his sins, but it will be hard work to overcome weaknesses – the ones God gives us and the ones we acquire on our own – especially the ones we acquire on our own.

    I can’t feel comfortable with public confessions in church. I think the reason for that is with what we have as a church, why should they be necessary? If that is going to happen then the bishop should know about it and authorize it.

    I’m not downing professional help. If you choose that (rather than or in addition to the church) than that professional help can make the private/classroom decisions within the confines of their jurisdiction.

  60. Rich – good luck with your cough & difficulty breathing there brother. 🙂

    Who said anything about public “confession?” Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough for your oracles. I don’t really want anyone to tell me about all their mistakes in any church meeting. However, there are times when self-disclosure about weaknesses may be appropriate IMHO, and the only point I was making was that porn problems shouldn’t be more hush-hush than alcohol issues, or etc., and I have heard all kinds of AA types in testimony meeting talk about their addiction. Did I always want to hear it? Not necessarily, but there seemed to be an ownership involved and less shame.

    Also, since when is “professional help” NOT spiritual help? Everything that is good is part of the gospel. jimho though.

  61. AdamF – Maybe we’re not quite as different as what I thought. And on the ‘profesional help’ part, if profesional help is not spiritual than it is not as profesional as it could be.

  62. Rich – maybe not. 🙂 I have worked for two different religion-based counseling centers, and it was nice to be able to discuss the client’s faith more freely.

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