Overcoming Pornography – Using the Atonement of Jesus Christ

Objective 3: Using the Atonement of Jesus Christ

These interventions are designed to help you better understand how to invite and receive the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ into your life to overcome all weaknesses, trials, and struggles.

Intervention 1: Learning Your Identity and Purpose 

Prior to the session, have the client read “Our Identity and Our Destiny” by Tad R. Callister ([Brigham Young University devotional, Aug. 14, 2012], speeches.byu.edu).  At a recent training session for General Authorities, the question was asked: “How can we help those struggling with pornography?”  Elder Russell M. Nelson stood and replied, “Teach them their identity and their purpose.” (Tad R. Callister, “Our Identity and Our Destiny” [Brigham Young University devotional, Aug. 14, 2012], 1, speeches.byu.edu)

Intervention 2: Identifying Stumbling Blocks 

Ask the client what he believes about the atonement and work through beliefs that prevent him from fully utilizing it.  Have the client keep a thought journal for three to five days. Ask him to record the negative recurring thoughts he has about who he is. Ask the client to come up with a truth statement for each negative thought on the list. Have the client write down these replacement statements and review them daily.

Overcoming Pornography – Realize Trials can be opportunities

Objective 2: Realize Trials can be Opportunities

These interventions will help you understand that trials, failures, and individual weaknesses can provide opportunities to change direction, progress, and become more like Heavenly Father.

Intervention 1: Developing Empathy and Connection 

Men who use pornography may feel abnormal, isolated, and lonely which leads to more use.  Men need to feel connected with others, including Jesus Christ.  Ask the client if he knows any men who may be going through a difficult experience. Discuss ways he might connect with and serve those people.

Intervention 2: Learning to Be Appropriately Vulnerable 

What does it mean to be vulnerable?   Focus on healthy ways the client can reach out.

Intervention 3: Developing Connection with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ 

Explore the client’s relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and how he can strengthen his connection with Them. Ask the following questions:

  1. What have we been taught about the love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for us?
  2. What is it like to feel love from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?
  3. When was the last time you felt Their love?
  4. Can you share an experience of when you felt Their love in your life?
  5. What would it be like to feel that love more regularly?
  6. What would it take for you to feel that love more regularly?
  7. What are you willing to do to invite Their love into your life?

Intervention 4: Differentiating Worth from Worthiness

Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught: “Let me point out the need to differentiate between two critical words: worth and worthiness. They are not the same. Spiritual worth means to value ourselves the way Heavenly Father values us, not as the world values us. Our worth was determined before we ever came to this earth. “God’s love is infinite and it will endure forever” [D. Todd Christofferson, “Abide in My Love,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2016, 48].

On the other hand, worthiness is achieved through obedience. If we sin, we are less worthy, but we are never worth less! We continue to repent and strive to be like Jesus with our worth intact. As President Brigham Young taught: “The least, the most inferior spirit now upon the earth . . . is worth worlds” [“Remarks,” Deseret News, Mar. 6, 1861, 2]. No matter what, we always have worth in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. (Joy D. Jones, “Value beyond Measure, Oct. 2017 general conference)

Consider asking the client to report in the next session at least one way he attempted to connect with Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ.  Read Alma 7:11–13

Intervention 5: Understanding Weakness and Your Role as a Child of God  

Read Ether 12:27 and Moses 1:12–13.   Ask the client questions such as these:

  1. What insights might these verses give us regarding our human nature? 

2. How are these verses relevant to your current situation? 

3. How might these truths influence your use of pornography? 

Our weakness is a direct invitation to acknowledge our dependence upon our Savior Jesus Christ. With His help, our weaknesses can become strengths. Discuss what strength means. Discuss how a struggle with pornography might teach us that we need to rely on the Lord continually. It might lead us to have greater empathy for others who struggle with various challenges. Ask, “What weaknesses in your life have become strengths?”

Consider how we might draw inaccurate conclusions about ourselves from our fears, failures, and weaknesses. We are not defined by our weaknesses. We are not our failures. We are children of God.

Intervention 6: Learning from Challenges 

Have the client describe a difficult life event during the session, or ask him to write about it before the session. In the session, have the client share at least two important life lessons he learned from the event and two things he learned about his ability to manage trials and stress.

Ask the client the following questions:

  1. What positive qualities or abilities did you develop because of this experience?   

2. What negative habits or concepts did you learn?  

3. How do you apply the lessons you learned in your daily life? 

Intervention 7: Learning from Your Patriarchal Blessing 

Before using this intervention, determine how the client feels about his patriarchal blessing. If he has positive feelings about it, ask the client to read his patriarchal blessing at home. Invite him to note statements that describe his character and his relationship with divinity.  In session, without asking him to share specific statements from his blessing, discuss with the client what he has learned in general about his identity, how Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ feel about him, and his personal relationship with Them.

  1. What do these insights suggest about your ability to face life’s trials and tests?   

2. How can you hold fast to these truths when you are faced with stress and difficulty?  

Overcoming Pornography – Better Understand and Accept Eternal Identity

Objective 1: Better Understand and Accept Eternal Identity

The following interventions are designed to help you better understand and accept your eternal identity.

Intervention 1: You Are More Than Your Negative Behaviors 

Use this with clients who are struggling with shame.  Ask the client to list negative and positive behaviors he uses to define himself and the thoughts/feelings that arise from each.  There should be at least one positive for each negative. Next, have the client list what is real about himself: “I am a kind and generous man who sometime acts selfishly.”

Intervention 2: Developing a Direction 

Have the client write about the future he desires (including eternal future) and the behaviors required to achieve that future.  Set goals based on those behaviors.

Intervention 3: Understanding Sexual Feelings

Understand the Purpose of Sex:

  • To draw the sexes together for the ultimate purpose of forming a marriage and family. 
  • To facilitate procreation. Within the confines of marriage, providing earthly bodies for spirits is among the most godly of human activities. 
  • To lead to the physical union of husband and wife, which symbolizes union with God (see Jeffrey R. Holland, Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments)
  • To increase emotional closeness between husband and wife. 
  • To foster the development of personal identity. 
  • Sexual feelings are normal, God-given, and part of being human. Sexual feelings are to be managed, not eliminated. As Alma counseled his son Shiblon, “See that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love” (Alma 38:12). Discuss with the client how this scripture might be applied to the management of sexual feelings.

Intervention 4: Understanding Yourself as a Child 

Most people with compulsive pornography problems were first exposed to pornography as children. Have the client bring a picture of himself when younger and talk to him about it.

  • How old were you when you were first exposed to pornography?  What were you involved in at this time in your life? What grade level in school, interests, activities, friends? 
  • How have these things changed?  How has your understanding of the world around you changed? (For example, current events, politics, gospel doctrines, and so on.)
  • Do you assume that you should have understood these issues at that age in the same way you do currently? Why or why not?  Do you sometimes blame your younger self for not understanding sexuality the way you do currently? 
  • Was anything missing from your life as a child? Emotional nurturing?  Safe, open communication with parents?  Connection with siblings, friends, or both?  Education about and normalization of sexual development? 
  • Is it possible that any of these factors made you vulnerable to making false attachments or managing emotions through pornography? 
  • How does understanding yourself as a child, including understanding the context in which you viewed pornography, make a difference for you now? 
  • How can you properly have compassion for yourself as a child while taking responsibility for the decisions you make today?

Intervention 5: Conversation with Your Younger Self

Consider asking your younger self the following questions:

  1. What vulnerable feelings might you have experienced at that time? Sadness, loneliness, anxiety, shame? 
  2. If you could go back in time and address your younger self, with all of those vulnerable feelings, what might you say? (Have the client direct his responses to his younger self.)
  3. What messages might your younger self have been craving at that time?  
  4. Can you speak to your younger self about any of those needs?  
  5. What might you say to help your younger self feel understood? 

Intervention 6: Decreasing Shame 

Explain that shame is the internal narrative that says one is “bad” or not worthy of love. Discuss the difference between guilt (“I did something wrong or bad”) and shame (“I am wrong or bad”). Help the client identify the negative stories or lies he tells himself that fuel his problematic behavior. Ask him to describe the positive traits he ignores due to the shame narrative.    Have him develop a list of affirmations he can use when he sees himself getting caught up in a negative narrative.  These could include:

  • I am improving. Every day is an opportunity to grow.
  • I can do hard things.
  • I am enough.
  • Be yourself. You are good enough.

Discuss how speaking compassionately to ourselves can help us change.   Ask, “What are other ways you can learn and believe the truth about yourself as a son of God?” Answers may include seeking a priesthood blessing, reading his patriarchal blessing, fasting, searching the scriptures, and reading general conference talks.

Intervention 7: Personal Narrative about Your Eternal Identity 

Ask the client to write a personal narrative, either in session or as homework, about the following:  His eternal identity in general as a son of God, as described in revealed doctrine on the topic.  His eternal identity specifically, based on information about his character, spiritual gifts, and promised blessings as indicated in his patriarchal blessing, personal revelation, or other personal experiences.

Intervention 8: You Are a Son of God 

Read Romans 8:16–17 and Moses 1:39 and discuss what it means to be the offspring of Heavenly Parents. Ask the client the following questions:

  1. How have you felt known and cared for by Heavenly Father? 
  2. What evidence do you have that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know you personally?   
  3. What difference does that make to you generally?   
  4. What difference does that make with regard to pornography use? 

Ask your client to look for tender mercies or blessings each day and to record them in his journal. Ask him to consider how that divine help might extend to his struggle to overcome his pornography problem.

Moving through the Stages of Change

Recognizing the Stages of Change

First, try to see where you are at in your readiness to change. The Trans-theoretical model of change suggests that there are 6 stages of change that include:

Stage 1: Precontemplation – No intention to take action to change in the next 6 months.  Person is unaware of the problem and consequences.  Underestimate the pros of changing and focus too much on the cons.

Stage 2. Contemplation – Person intends to start changing in the next 6 months.  Behavior is starting to be seen as problematic as pros of change start to match the cons of change. Ambivalence remains.

Stage 3. Preparation (Determination) – Person intends to act within the next 30 days and makes small steps towards change, believing change will lead to a better life.

Stage 4. Action – Behavior has been recently changed and the person intends to maintain the change.  Person begins to acquire healthy new behaviors.

Stage 5. Maintenance – Behavior change has been sustained for more than 6 months and the person intends on maintaining.

Stage 6. Termination – Person has no desire to return to the unhealthy behavior and relapse is very unlikely.

There are 10 major processes of behavioral change that can help you move through the stages of change which include:

1. Consciousness Raising – Increasing awareness about the healthy behavior.

2. Dramatic Relief – Emotional arousal about the health behavior, whether positive or negative arousal.

3. Self-Reevaluation – Self reappraisal to realize the healthy behavior is part of who they want to be.

4. Environmental Reevaluation – Social reappraisal to realize how their unhealthy behavior affects others.

5. Social Liberation – Environmental opportunities that exist to show society is supportive of the healthy behavior.

6. Self-Liberation – Commitment to change behavior based on the belief that achievement of the healthy behavior is possible.

7. Helping Relationships – Finding supportive relationships that encourage the desired change.

8. Counter-Conditioning – Substituting healthy behaviors and thoughts for unhealthy behaviors and thoughts.

9. Reinforcement Management – Rewarding the positive behavior and reducing the rewards that come from negative behavior.

10. Stimulus Control – Re-engineering the environment to have reminders and cues that support and encourage the healthy behavior and remove those that encourage the unhealthy behavior.

Motivational Inertia

What is Inertia? Simply speaking, inertia is the tendency for objects in motion to stay in motion or objects at rest to stay resting.  People are also subject the law of inertia. Often the hardest thing to do is starting a task and overcoming our tendency to stay at rest. Once we begin the task though we find that we have created the momentum to keep going.

The natural state of motivation is to remain the same. Begin a task you want to be motivated to do and you will find that motivation begins AFTER you start the task and not before. Each good act adds to our momentum.  Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught: “Each assertion of a righteous desire, each act of service… however small and incremental, adds to our…momentum. Like Newton’s Second Law, there is a transmitting of acceleration as well as a contagiousness associated with even the small acts of goodness.” (Neal A. Maxwell)

Be careful about your decision as choosing the wrong makes it easier to continue doing wrong. Use the law of inertia to your benefit.  Understand that beginning a change is the hardest part because of inertia. However, each act of change adds to your momentum until change becomes easier and easier.

Simplicity and the Hindsight Bias

Another important principle is not to dismiss simple solutions.  Steve Jobs said: “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple but it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

We often ignore simple solutions.  Dale Furtwengler observed: “A part of our human nature causes us to overlook simple solutions in favor of more complex solutions.  The result is that we often slow our own progress and, occasionally, we completely miss our goals because we’re overlooking the obvious answers to our problems.”

It is through consistent simple acts that great things are accomplished.  Vincent Van Gogh said: “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

If we humble ourselves and perform simple prescribed acts then we can be healed.  This is illustrated in the story of Namaan in the Old Testament.  Namaan was a mighty captain of Syria who became infected with leprosy and was eventually sent to Elisha the prophet to be healed.  Elisha told him to wash in the river Jordan 7 times and he would be healed.  Namaan was prideful and refused until hsi servant pointed out that if Elisha asked him to do some great thing, Namaan would have done it.  Namaan humbled himself and performed Elisha’s simple solution and was healed.

The same principle is also taught in the story of the Brass Serpent found in the Book of Numbers chapters 20-21. Speaking of this story, Nephi said: “He [the Lord] sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished” (1 Ne. 17:41).

Hindsight Bias is one of the reasons why simple solutions are often dismissed.  Hindsight Bias occurs when you overestimate how likely you would have predicted the correct outcome after hearing the outcome.  his is also known as the “I knew it all along” phenomenon.

Psychologist David G. Meyers writes:

“One problem with common sense, however, is that we invoke it after we know the facts. Events are far more “obvious” and predictable in hindsight than beforehand. Baruch Fischhoff and others  have repeatedly demonstrated that when people learn the outcome of an experiment, that outcome suddenly seems unsurprising…People overestimate their ability to have foreseen the result.

Daphna Baratz (1983) tested college students’ sense of the obvious. She gave them pairs of supposed social findings, one true (for example, “In prosperous times people spend a larger proportion of their income than during a recession” or “People who go to church regular tend to have more children than people who go to church infrequently”), the other it’s opposite. Her finding: Whether given the truth or its opposite, most students rated a supposed finding as something “I would have predicted.” (Excerpt from: David G. Meyers, Exploring Social Psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994, pp.15-19.)

The “I-knew-it-all-along” phenomenon not only can make social science findings seem like common sense but also can have unhealthy consequences. It is conducive to arrogance — an overestimation of our own intellectual powers. (Excerpt from: David G. Meyers, Exploring Social Psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994, pp.15-19.)

Reasons to Change

One simple but powerful exercise is to brainstorm all of the benefits of changing and the cons of not doing the same.  You can use the following worksheet to help you find the motivation to make positive changes in your life:  Pros and Cons of Change

Overcoming Pornography – Clinical Interventions

Assessment Questions

Consider the following questions to help you identify what you believe about sex:

  1. How was the subject of sexuality addressed within your family?
  2. Did anyone in your family talk to you about sex?
  3. Were any indirect messages about sex expressed within your family? (For example, in some families where physical affection is rarely shown, parents might indirectly send the message that sex is shameful.)
  4. What was the nature of these communications?
  5. What messages did you internalize as a result?
  6. What other messages about sex did you absorb as you were growing up? from friends? at school? at church? elsewhere?
  7. What lessons did you learn about sex from pornography?
  8. How did these messages influence your view of self as a sexual being?
  9. When did you first tell someone about your pornography use? Who did you tell? How did he or she react?
  10. How did you feel about yourself after disclosing your pornography use?

BLASTO: People often use pornography when bored, lonely, angry, stressed, tired, and other.

The Following modules will help you to overcome your pornography addiction:

  1. Recognizing the Stages of Change
  2. Better Understand and Accept Eternal Identity
  3. Realize Trials can be Opportunities
  4. Using the Atonement of Jesus Christ
  5. Learn More about the Brain
  6. Learn about the Compulsion/Addiction Cycle
  7. Identify Triggers
  8. Move Towards Recovery
  9. Learn that Emotions are Gifts
  10. Learn about Healthy Attachment
  11. Repair Relationships
  12. Learn Boundaries
  13. Identifying Distortions
  14. Changing Core Beliefs
  15. Becoming Self-Reliant
  16. Setting Healthy Expectations
  17. Talk Openly About Sexuality

The Dangers of Pornography Use

The Purpose of this post is to challenge the belief: “Watching pornography doesn’t hurt anyone.”  This is to help members move from a naive and simplistic perspective on pornography to a more nuanced and holistic view.  Watching pornography harms the self, your current/future spouse and society. Justifications for pornography are usually reductionist and distorted.

Case Overview

Arguments to support the claim are broken down into the following four sections:

Section  1: Pornography Harms the Self: Kills your spirit, Primes Negative Behaviors, Fosters Addiction & Has Many Opportunity Costs.

Section 2: Pornography Harms Your Current/Future Relationship with a Spouse. It contributes to role dysfunction, fosters dishonest behavior and affects sex life.

Section 3: Pornography Harms Society: Changes culture and leads to role dysfunction.

Section 4: Justifications for pornography use are reductionist and distorted.  

Section 1: Pornography Harms the Self

i.) Leads to Spiritual Death

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has taught:“Setting aside sins against the Holy Ghost for a moment as a special category unto themselves, it is LDS doctrine that sexual transgression is second only to murder in the Lord’s list of life’s most serious sins.   “Clearly God’s greatest concerns regarding mortality are how one gets into this world and how one gets out of it. These two most important issues in our very personal and carefully supervised progress are the two issues that he as our Creator and Father and Guide wishes most to reserve to himself.”” (Jeffrey R. Holland)

President Hinckley taught that Marriage is the Institution God has ordained for Children to be born into: “ I believe that it should be the blessing of every child to be born into a home where that child is welcomed, nurtured, loved, and blessed with parents, a father and a mother, who live with loyalty to one another and to their children.” (Gordon B. Hinckley)

President Hinckley Continues:“As we look out over the world, it seems that morality has been cast aside.  But, my dear friends, we cannot accept that which has become common in the world. Yours, as members of this Church, is a higher standard and more demanding. It declares as a voice from Sinai that thou shalt not indulge. You must keep control of your desires.”

The scriptures teach us that there are severe consequences for breaking the law of chastity that include:

a.) Destruction of the Body:  “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?  If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Cor. 3: 16-17, 6: 15-18)

b.) Destruction of the Soul: But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.” (Proverbs 6: 32)

c.) Loss of Peace: “No family can have peace, no life can be free from the storms of adversity unless that family and that home are built on foundations of morality, fidelity, and mutual respect.” Gordon B. Hinckley

d.) Loss of the Spirit & Excommunication: “And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out.” (D&C 42:23)

e.) Addiction: “Pornography is as addictive as cocaine or any illegal drug.” (James E. Faust‐The Enemy Within)

f.) Destruction and Impairment of Family Relationships: “Pornography impairs one’s ability to enjoy a normal emotional, romantic, and spiritual relationship with a person of the opposite sex.” (Dallin H. Oaks‐ Pornography)

g.) Forfeit the Priesthood: “Those who seek out and use pornography forfeit the power of their priesthood.” (Dallin H. Oaks-Pornography)

ii.) Primes Negative Behaviors

Pornography also primes negative behaviors in the following ways:

a.) Frontal Lobe Shrinkage: For more than 10 years, studies have shown that addictions can cause the brain’s frontal lobes to start shrinking leading to poorer decision making and inhibitory control.

b.) Self-Hatred: “Immediately after the action of self-indulgence has been performed, when the appetite for it has been temporarily satiated, the addicts described experiencing an intense emotional and physical let-down, characterized by sadness, regret, discouragement, and guilt.”

c.) Self-Concealment: “The addict’s reaction to the addictive behavior is shame, and the reaction to shame is almost always a life-style of deception designed to hide the addiction.”

d.) Isolation: The more pornography you watch the less able you are to form relationships with real people fueling a cycle of increasing isolation.

e.) Isolating Behaviors: “The addict’s actions of self-concealment thus not only lead him or her back to feelings of isolation but also intensify those feelings, so the void within the person becomes larger than ever.” (Martha & John Beck)

f.) Isolation from God: “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2)

iii.) Fosters Addiction & Tolerance

Pornography can be just as addictive as most drugs.  Those who use pornography tend to show signs of role dysfunction, tolerance and withdrawal, the three classic signs of addiction.

Tolerance refers to needing more intense dosages over time to achieve the same effect. The mesocorticolimbic dopamine pathway in the brain is your “pleasure center.”  It is activated by a chemical in your brain called “Dopamine.”  Whenever you feel pleasure it is because dopamine has stimulated this part of your brain. Addictions occur when your pleasure center is continually overloaded with pleasure chemicals in an unnatural way. Your brain responds to this overload of pleasure by reducing the amount of “dopamine receptors” you have and thus decreasing your ability to experience pleasure. This is the biological foundation of “tolerance” and explains why addicts need more and more of the substance/activity to achieve the same initial high.

Alma reminded us that Wickedness and happiness are mutually exclusive and that pleasure is not the same thing as happiness: “Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.” (Alma 41:10)

Withdrawal refers to abnormal symptoms that develop as a result of dependence on a substance for normal brain functioning.  Since porn addiction rewires your brain it means that your brain can only function normally when using and when you are not using your brain does not function normally. This is the foundation of “dependence” as when you are not using your brain produces negative “withdrawal” symptoms that reflect its inability to function anymore without the substance.  Your brain compensates for the chemical changes brought on by pornography use and can no longer function without them.  Many experience withdrawal as feeling under stimulated and underactive.

Role dysfunction is seen as the addict falls further into a sense of isolation and meaninglessness.   Traditional experiments on addiction have been done with rats in cages. Traditionally, rats are given a choice between normal water and drug water and rats always chose the drug water. Bruce Alexander did a series of experiments in which he changed the environment the rats were living in from a cage to a “park” filled with meaningful things for the rats to do. The rats in “Rat Park” did not use the drug water but instead used the regular water. The implication is that addiction is about the environment within which people live. The rats in the empty cage used drugs while the rats in a resource-rich cage with lots of other rats did not use drugs.

Addiction can also foster a sense of alienation from God.  Paul wrote to the Ephesians: “Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:12)

Pornography addiction is often driven by a lack of meaning and connection with the compulsive behavior a maladaptive attempt to fill the void of meaning and connection.  Our culture promotes a false parody of connection and meaning within which addiction thrives.  To overcome addiction, one must establish deep connections with others and find a sense of real meaning.

Pornography undermines this drive for connection with others by providing parodies of connection that can deceive the person into believing this innate need is being met when it isn’t. It is analogous to consuming “junk food” to obtain nutrients.  You think you are giving your body what it wants when you really aren’t.

This leads to a Vicious Cycle of Loneliness in which you feel lonely so you attempt to alleviate these feelings through porn which gives you temporary relief but in the long run makes you lonelier.

Christ is the true Antidote for Loneliness.  Jesus taught: “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4: 13-14)

iv.) Has Many Opportunity Costs

An Opportunity Cost is the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.  The opportunity costs of pornography use include:

Spiritual Losses

a.) The Ultimate Cost is Eternal Life in the world to Come.

b.) Peace in this life is lost.

c.) Loss of the Holy Spirit & Excommunication.

d.) Loss of the Priesthood.

Biological Losses

a.) Loss of Decision Making Abilities & Self-Control.

b.) Loss of ability to experience pleasure.

Psychological Losses 

a.) Loss of Self-Esteem, Integrity & Honesty.

b.) Loss of Connection with Others.

c.) Loss of freedom and independence.

Section 2: Pornography Harms Your Current/Future Spouse

i.) Conditions Deviant Paraphilias

Pornography conditions deviant paraphilias, which are abnormal sexual desires.  In one study, rats were taught to associate the smell of death with sexual arousal.  Naturally the rats were turned off by the smell but through exposure learned to love it.  As a result, the rat became aroused by death.  Through classical conditioning, you teach yourself to become aroused to terrible things.

Pornography researchers have found that users acclimate to the porn they watch—they get used to it, and it stops being exciting or arousing. Why? Because their brain’s pleasure response has gotten numb.  In a 2012 survey of 1,500 men, 56% said their tastes in porn had become “increasingly extreme or deviant.”

Paul warns the Colossians against “inordinate affection” or attractions that are not within reasonable limits: “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Col 3:5)

ii.) Alters beliefs about sex, love & women

Pornography presents a distorted and false idea about what sex is and how people actually engage in it. Beliefs are altered in the following ways:

a.) Women as sex objects: In one study it was found that the more pornography a man watched the more likely he was to prefer that women were submissive and subordinate to men.

b.) Decreases Love: After men watch pornography, they rate themselves as less in love with their partner than prior to watching it.  They also are more critical of their spouses appearance, sexual performance and displays of affection.

c.) Changes Views of Love: Frequent porn use is associated with feeling cynical about love in general, less trust in romantic partners, and with feeling like marriage is confining.

d.) Changes Attraction: In a study in the 50’s researchers determined what colors male butterflies liked most in females and then created cardboard cutouts and the males began trying to mate with the cardboard cutouts and not the females.   Like the cardboard cutouts, images in pornography are not realistic.

e.) Distorted Views of Women: A study of the most popular videos found that nine scenes out of 10 showed women being verbally or physically abused, yet the female victims almost always responded with either pleasure or appeared to be neutral.

f.) Distorted Views of Sex: Sex acts shown are overwhelmingly degrading toward women, and are usually focused on enhancing male pleasure leading to warped ideas about what sex is.

iii.) Negative Effects on the Spouse

Pornography use negatively affects the spouse in the following ways:

a.) Depression & Anxiety: Many partners of pornography users report feeling depressed, anxious, and feeling like they can never measure up. Some even develop symptoms of PTSD and suicidality.

b.) Betrayal and Mistrust:  Several studies have found that partners of  users often report feeling loss, betrayal, mistrust, devastation, and anger when they learn that the other half of their committed relationship has been using porn.

c.) Feeling “Not Good Enough”:  Women are often surgically enhanced, air-brushed and photoshopped like the cardboard cut-outs referred to earlier.  In one study, 6/7 women reported that pornography use had changed expectations of how women should look.

d.) Less Attraction:  As mentioned earlier, people who use feel less attracted to their partner over time.

e.) Isolation: Many women isolate themselves as they fear telling anyone about the problem due to embarrassment or a fear of being blamed.

The Prophet Jacob warned the men of the Covenant  of the damage they were doing to their wives when he said:“For behold, I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people…because of the wickedness and abominations of their husbands….For they shall not lead away captive the daughters of my people because of their tenderness, save I shall visit them with a sore curse, even unto destruction; for they shall not commit whoredoms, like unto them of old, saith the Lord of Hosts.” (Jacob 2: 31-33)

iv.) Pornography use is associated with a decreased satisfaction in sex. 

Pornography use is also associated with a decreased satisfaction in sex. Pornography use often leads to less sex and less satisfying sex. And for many users, porn eventually means losing the ability to have sex at all as it isn’t stimulating enough.

Whenever you experience something pleasurable your brain leaves markers that makes it easier for you to engage in that behavior again. When you stop associating certain things with pleasure your brain removes those markers making those things harder to get pleasure out of.  Many pornography users cease to associate seeing, hearing or cuddling with their partner as pleasurable and their brain rewires in response.  Meanwhile their brain starts to associate virtual images and being alone as pleasurable and pretty soon they do not associate sex with a real person.

Paul may have described this condition of Latter Day men in this way:“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves Without natural affection.” (Tim 3: 1-3)

v.) The opportunity costs in relationships include

Changing Tastes & Preferences

a.) Loss of Attraction to Healthy/Wholesome Sources.

b.) Loss of freedom from deviant attractions.

Changing Beliefs

a.) Loss of a Healthy View of Women as more than sex objects.

b.) Loss of Ability to Love Your Spouse.

c.) Loss of Realistic Views of Sex.

Effects on Spouse

a.) Loss of Esteem, Peace & Security.

b.) Loss of Trust.

c.) Loss of Attraction & Satisfaction.

Section 3: Pornography Harms Society

i.) Pornography Damages Families

Pornography undermines commitment, trust, attraction and love between partners.  This can lead to broken families and a host of other ills such as divorce, stress, trauma, poverty and role dysfunction. In a survey of members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers taken in 2002, 62 percent of the divorce attorneys surveyed said that obsession with pornography had been a significant factor in divorce cases they had handled in the last year.

Another survey of porn addicts reports that 40% lost their spouse, 70% had severe marital problems, 68% were exposed to HIV and other STD’s, 27% lost their career and 58% reported legal consequences as a result of this destructive behaviour (El Hage, 2004).

In the Family Proclamation the Lord declared: “WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.” (The Family Proclamation)

Pornography use is also correlated with anxiety, body-image issues, poor self-image, relationship problems, insecurity, and depression. Professors Jennings Bryant and Dolf Zillman at the University of Alabama have studied the effects of pornography for over 30 years and conclude that there are “no rigorous  research demonstrations of desirable effects can be reported.”

ii.) Pornography hurts women & society

Pornography has been found to hurt women in the following ways:

a.) Promotes violence against Women: In one study, researchers analyzed 50 of the most popular movies and found that 88% contained physical violence and that the typical scene averaged 12 physical or verbal attacks. Those who watch pornography are more likely endorse statements supporting aggression against women.

b.) Promotes Sexual Assault: exposure to both non-violent and violent porn increases aggressive behavior, including both having violent fantasies and actually committing violent assaults. Even Watching non-violent pornography makes men more likely to use verbal coercion, drugs and alcohol to coerce women into sex. Other studies reveal that those who watch pornography are more likely to believe that women like being raped and this belief is predictive of sexually aggressive behaviors.

c.) Promotes the Sex Trade: In one study that looked at prostitution across 9 countries, 49% said videos were made of them and that many men seek out prostitutes to fulfill fantasies they learn about through pornography.

d.) Increases Crime: When Sex businesses in Oklahoma City were shut down, rapes declined 27% while they rose 19% in the rest of the state who did not shut those businesses down. In another study, Queensland kept restrictive pornography laws while South Australia did not.  Over a 13 year period, rapes increased 6 fold in South Australia while remaining unchanged in Queensland. Another study of sex criminals revealed that 53% used pornography as a stimulant before committing their crimes.

iii.) Opportunity costs

This leads us to several opportunity costs for society that include:

Harm to the Family

a.) Loss of Healthy Relationships & Functional Families.

b.) Loss of Psychological Health & Well-Being.

Harm to Women

c.) Loss of a Healthy View of Women as more than sex objects.

d.) Loss of Ability to Love Your Spouse.

e.) Loss of Realistic Views of Sex.

Harm to Society

f.) Loss of Respect & Safety for Women.

g.) Loss of a Society free From Sex-Trade & Assault.

Section 4: Justifications are Reductionist Distortions

Reductionism is: “The practice of simplifying a complex idea, issue, condition, or the  like, especially to the point of minimizing, obscuring, or distorting it.” The Belief: “Watching pornography doesn’t hurt anyone” is naïve, simplistic and is reductionist because it seeks to reduce sex to a biomechanical reaction. It ignores the effects that sex has on a host of complex biopsychosocial and spiritual factors.

Elder Holland warns us against this reductionist view of sex when he says: “To give only part of that which cannot be followed with the gift of your whole heart and your whole life and your whole self is its own form of emotional Russian roulette…. If you persist in giving parts and pieces and inflamed fragments only, you run the terrible risk of such spiritual, psychic damage that you may undermine both your physical intimacy and your wholehearted devotion to a truer, later love.” (Jeffrey R. Holland)

A distortion is something that is not a complete representation of the facts or reality. When we distort something we give a partial representation of the facts but neglect to account for the rest of those facts.  Satan is a Master Liar and Distorter.  In Moses 4:4 we learn: “And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.”

“Pornography use doesn’t hurt anyone” is distorted in the following ways:

i.) Anticipatory Beliefs: It focuses only on the pleasure associated with using and ignores the host of ills associated with it.

ii.) Helpless Beliefs: It is often justified by a belief that sexual impulses are uncontrollable and that the user is not strong enough to resist them.

iii.) Permissive Beliefs: This is a form of permission giving.  The act is justified because the claim is made that nobody is really being hurt so it’s okay to use.

iv.) All-Or Nothing:  It is an all-or-nothing statement that rejects what is really a more complex reality.

v.) Mental Filter:  This involves selectively paying attention to evidence that supports your belief and ignoring evidence that does not.

vi.)Fortune Telling:  This involves believing you can predict the future, knowing all the consequences that this behavior will have on you.

vii.) Minimization & Denial: This involves distorting the seriousness of a behavior so that negatives are either ignored or not taken seriously.  Pornography never shows anyone contracting STI’s, getting pregnant, getting injured or having to consider the feelings, opinions and beliefs of a real person.

Recognizing the importance of our beliefs, Jesus taught: “As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7).  Jesus gave a commandment to control our thoughts as well as our deeds. He said, “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). …

Chastity violation is maintained by beliefs that distort the positives of sin and minimize the consequences of it.  These beliefs include ideas that give us “permission” to sin or ideas that we are “helpless” or “powerless” before biological urges.

An essential part of overcoming a pornography addiction is to make  your mind single to the glory of God and bring all thoughts in subjection to Christ (D&C 88:67–68; 2 Cor 10:5)

Summary

The Belief: “Watching pornography doesn’t hurt anyone” is naïve, simplistic and seeks to reduce sex to a biomechanical reaction.  It is irrational in that it persists despite the large body of evidence that suggests otherwise including:

i.) Warnings from Scripture concerning the gravity and consequences of the sin.

ii.) Warning from Neuroscience concerning addiction, frontal lobe damage, loss of ability to feel joy and the formation of deviant paraphilias.

iii.) Warnings from Psychological Research concerning the maladaptive attempt to establish connection with others that paradoxically eliminates your ability to connect with real people and fuels isolation.

iv.) Warnings from Psychological Research concerning the likelihood of adopting false and distorted views of sex, women and love and ultimately losing the ability to feel love for or have satisfying sex with a real person.

v.) Warnings from Research that outlines the negative effects on the mental health of the user and on the spouse.

vi.) Warnings from Research that outlines the damages done to the spouse including betrayal, mistrust, loss of intimacy, self-esteem, attraction & Connection.

vii.) Warnings from Research concerning the damaging effects of pornography on the family and how it contributes to divorce rates.

viii.) Warnings from Research concerning how it promotes violence against women, increases crime and promotes the sex trade.

ix.) Distorting the experience to ignore all of the negatives and to only focus on the perceived benefits.  It involves reducing sex to a biomechanical reaction with no other components.

Sources

Fight the New Drug Resources: http://learn.ftnd.org/

ElHage, A. M. (2004). Sexual Degradation: How Pornography Destroys the Family. Retrieved November 20, 2007, from http://www.ncfamily.org/PolicyPapers/Findings%200407 SexualDegrad.pdf

Hughes, R. D. (1998). How Pornography Harms Children. Retrieved November 20, 2007, from http://www.protectkPornography Statistics. Retrieved November 20, 2007, from http://www.familysafemedia.com/pornography_statistics.html

ids.com/effects/harms.htm#ii

Watson, B. & Welch, S.R. (2000). Just Harmless Fun? Understanding the Impact of Pornography. Retrieved November 20, 2007, fromhttp://www.protectkids.com/effects/justharmlessfun.pdf

Weiss, D. (2005). Pornography: Harmless Fun or Public Health Hazard? Retrieved November 23, 2007, from http://family.org/socialissues/A000001158.cfm

Resources

The Dangers of Pornography Presentation

Overcoming Pornography – Parents

How Parents Can Help Children

Main Idea: Parents are responsible for teaching their kids about healthy sexuality and the dangers of pornography use.  If a child discloses that he has watched pornography don’t overreact by responding with shame or criticism but instead respond with love and understanding.  Parents should encourage children to repent but never shame them into changing.

  1. Build Strong Relationships: Focus on building strong relationships with your children based on openness and trust. Children should feel valued and loved by their parents and should be able to ask questions or disclose struggles without criticism or shame.
  1. Teach Healthy Sexuality: The home is the ideal place for children to learn about sexuality. This includes teaching about healthy touch and affection, loving words, nurturing, and tenderness. Teach children why pornography is harmful and that their natural sexual feelings are normal but must be channeled appropriately.
  • The Scriptures teach us about healthy sexuality, proper sexual expression, and the role of a sex drive within the boundaries God has established.
    • “Heavenly Father created the plan of salvation so that we can experience life, return to His presence, and have joy. Central to this plan are the spiritual, emotional, and physical unity developed in marriage and family life. He gave us the capacity for sexual intimacy so that we could strengthen and grow our eternal families. He intends for sex to be a beautiful, powerful, and joyful part of our lives—not something evil or corrupt. Sexual intimacy enables a husband and a wife to have children, express love, and strengthen their spiritual, emotional, and physical bonds. Sexual intimacy is an important part of marriage, and when it is used in the way that God has commanded, it brings great blessings and joy.” (See Matthew 19:5–6; Matthew O. Richardson, “Three Principles of Marriage,” Ensign, Apr. 2005, 20–24.)
    • Satan does everything he can to convince us to misuse the sacred powers of procreation—powers that he will never possess (see Dallin H. Oaks, “The Great Plan of Happiness,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 72–75).

Video Resource: https://www.lds.org/addressing-pornography/what-do-i-teach-my-child-to-do?lang=eng              This Video teaches the following principles:

a.) Keeping the Body Safe: Teach your children that their bodies are a gift from God and that part of taking care of their bodies is keeping it safe.  The body faces many dangers, including pornography.
b.) Definition: Pornography is defined as pictures of people with little or no clothes on. There are many places we might see pornography, such as on billboards, in the grocery store, in magazines and books, and on phones and computers. Pornography can also be more than just pictures.
c.) We have two parts of our brain: a thinking part and a feeling part. Pornography pulls at the feeling part to try and get us to look at more, but we can use the thinking part to say, “That’s pornography. That’s not good.”
d.) Feelings lead us to marriage: God gave us strong feelings of curiosity and attraction to help us want to get married and create strong families.
e.) What to do if you see it: When we see pornography, we should do three things: Identify it and say “That’s pornography.” Turn it off or turn away.  Tell a parent or a trusted adult. We can feel the peace and protection of the Holy Ghost as we strive to do these things.

  1. Establish Standards: Establish clear family standards that each family member agrees upon and can judge his/her behavior with.  Discuss with your children the negative things associated with pornography, including the messages it sends about fidelity, marriage, violence, and respect.

a.) Children should learn about pornography from you and not other people: Many parents fear that talking to their children about sexuality will awaken sexual behavior within their children. While this may be true in some cases, it is far better for children to receive information about sexuality from a loving parent than from other sources.

  1. Respond with Love: We may overreact when we discover that our children have viewed pornography. Feelings of fear can lead us to be less loving and supportive than we’d like to be. Model open communication and don’t communicate shame or make your child think they need to hide this from you.

a.) Educate on the Harmful Effects of Pornography: Consider creating a list with your children of the ways in which pornography can harm them, their future relationships, their understanding about sexual relationships between men and women, society, and so on.

b.) Normalize curious feelings: Talk with your child about the normal feelings that occur when people their age see pornography. Seek to remove feelings of fear or embarrassment. Discuss why the Lord has directed us to turn away from pornography.

c.) Understand your child’s needs: Often when children are viewing pornography, they are doing so to meet certain needs. Coming to understand our children’s needs may require learning new skills as parents, such as asking questions differently and taking time to really listen.

d.) Encourage joyful repentance: Teach that repentance is a joyful process and not a shameful one: As we teach that repentance brings joy, increased self-worth, and spiritual progression, our children can grow in their desire to follow the example of Jesus Christ.

  1. Connect with Resources: If your child is struggling with pornography use encourage him to seek support from his Bishop and if necessary from mental health professionals. Help your child identify the influencers that lead to use:

a.) Biological Influencers: It’s important to help children understand that having sexual desires is a normal aspect of life and part of how God created us is important. Also consider, diet, sleep and mental health issues.
b.) Psychological influencers: Psychological influences may include early childhood trauma, low feelings of self-worth, depression or anxiety caused by life experiences, or a number of other emotional issues. It is also caused by being unable to regulate emotions.
c.) Social Influencers: Sometimes our children use because they feel lonely or are confused about interacting with members of the opposite sex.
d.) Spiritual Influencers: Our children may need help understanding spiritual promptings, receiving revelation, and recognizing Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ’s love for us. Children need to understand that sin of any kind can weaken their ability to feel spiritual promptings from the Holy Ghost.
e.) Change is a process not an event: Seeing our children’s potential helps us to focus on all of their qualities and avoid defining them by their pornography use. Lasting change often comes by focusing on incremental changes rather than instantaneous results.   When relapses do happen, we can help our children see that all is not lost. Asking questions that reflect the progress they have made helps them evaluate their growth. What have they learned that they will do better next time? What might they do to avoid a future relapse? What help do they need?

Resources

Addressing Pornography Handout – Parents

Overcoming Pornography – Bishop

What is the Bishops Role?

Main Idea: The Bishop’s role is to judge worthiness, teach the doctrine, provide support to the member, spouse or parent, connect them with resources and encourage connection with others.

1. Judge Worthiness: Bishops have a unique and sacred role to serve as judges in Israel (see D&C 107:74). They are the only ones to conduct worthiness interviews.

a.) Assess Four Factors: Frequency (how often), duration (how long), intensity (type), and risk-taking (risky behaviors to use).
b.) Determine Spectrum of Use: The spectrum of use varies from occasional use to intense use to use compulsive. Most members who use pornographic materials should not be considered addicted. Compulsive use means the member has tried to stop and wants to stop but can’t do so.
c.) Determine Type Used: Additionally, the intensity of the type of pornography viewed also affects an individual and his or her spouse. If you become aware of any viewing, purchasing, or distributing of child pornography, call the abuse helpline (North America: 1-800-453-3860, ext. 1911) and contact your stake president.
d.) Determine Attitude: Listen to members express where they are as far as their attitude (have they been caught or are they seeking change), the scope of the use, and what they desire in moving forward.
e.) No Disciplinary Councils: A disciplinary council should not be held to discipline or threaten members who are struggling with pornography (see Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops[2010], 6.7.1).

2. Provide Support: Bishops minister to those struggling with pornography use by providing encouragement, fellowship and helping the person feel a sense of belonging and support.

a.) Express Love and Praise Courage: Begin by expressing love and gratitude to individuals for finding the courage to come forward to seek help.
b.) Instill hope: Help the member understand that there is hope and that he can be forgiven through the repentance process and the atonement of Jesus Christ.
c.) Address Shame: Help the member differentiate between guilt and shame.  Guilt is a positive motivating force that leads us to correct behavior.  It is manifested in the belief: “I have done something wrong.”  Shame is Satan’s counterfeit for guilt and is manifested in the belief: “I am bad.”  Shame makes the member believe he is unworthy of love and connection and fuels further pornography use.  Shame is not correlated with any good outcomes while self-compassion is.
d.) Change as a Process not an Event: help the member see that change can take time and to set realistic expectations for improvement. Change usually occurs through gradual improvement and not instant success.
e.) Plan for Change: Encourage the member to take responsibility in creating his own plan for change and offer to help him stay accountable to that plan. Each plan is unique, but most involve seeking inspiration, becoming aware of triggers, establishing barriers to those triggers and committing to not giving up when setbacks occur.  Plans should be written down, evaluated regularly and adjusted as needed.

3. Teach the Doctrine: Focus on teaching principles that help members grow their faith in Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the restored gospel.

a.) Teach the Doctrine of Christ: Bishops have the sacred trust to assist members in their repentance process. Focus on helping members to seek repentance and forgiveness through Jesus Christ and the gift of the Atonement.
b.) Reassure of Divine Identity: Assure the member of his divine identity as a child of God and this behavior does not change that. Worth is not the same thing as worthiness as your worth is independent of your behavior.
c.) Encourage Accountability: Help members understand it is their responsibility and privilege to seek personal revelation and receive the answers necessary to overcome their challenges. It is not the Bishops role to solve this problem for the member but to be a support to the member.
d.) Teach Healthy Sexuality: Encourage members to seek information about healthy sexuality, proper sexual expression, and the role of a sex drive within the boundaries God has established.
e.) Review Basic Doctrines (If Necessary): Consider what Basic Doctrines each individual needs reinforced. https://www.lds.org/manual/basic-doctrines/basic-doctrines?lang=eng

4. Encourage Connection with Others: In most cases, the bishop should encourage the members he advises—whether individuals or spouses—to reach out to other adult family members, friends, and ward members for love and emotional support.

a.) Make Restitution: Members are also responsible for understanding and addressing the pain their pornography use has caused others. As you work with individuals, guide them to embrace this responsibility and do what they can to make restitution.

5. Provide Support to the Spouse: The bishop should ensure that he is providing support to both the individual struggling and his or her spouse.

a.) Validate Feelings: Spouses typically feel angry, powerless, and betrayed by the user and even by God. Feelings of panic, shock, intense pain, sorrow, and sadness, as well as anger or depression are common. Listen to the spouse with the intent to understand her and validate her feelings. She needs to feel loved, understood, heard and validated.
b.) It’s not her fault: Spouses often blame themselves and feel intense shame for not being “good enough.”  Help the spouse see that it is not her fault that her spouse is using.
c.) Instill hope: Help her realize that Jesus Christ can heal her and that no temple or priesthood blessings will be denied to her. She is not responsible or expected to endure abusive behavior.
d.) Setting Boundaries: She is not expected to endure abuse and can receive her own inspiration to know how to set clear boundaries in the relationship and in the home. Help her understand she has a right to have complete honesty.
e.) Forgiveness: Help her understand that forgiveness is a process and don’t try to dictate that process for her. Help her understand that forgiveness does not mean trust or reconciliation and that these things take time to be restored.   Invite the offending spouse to take steps to restore trust and honesty in the marriage, as restitution is part of the forgiveness process.
f.) Avoid Martial Intimacy Specifics: Church leaders should not inquire into, nor provide counsel on, intimate matters about marital relations between husband and wife.

6. Immediately involve Parents with Youth: Parents are the first line of information in teaching principles related to sexuality. When working with youth, the first priority is to involve their parents. Use caution when responding to specific questions related to pornography and sexuality when parents are not present.

a.) Help Child feel valued and loved: Encourage parents to develop open and trusting relationships with their children.  Children should feel they can ask questions or disclose weaknesses without criticism.
b.) Don’t Overreact: When a child discloses pornography use don’t’ overreact or communicate shame and contention but instead respond with calmness and love.
c.) Teach Healthy Sexuality: The home is the ideal place for children to learn about sexuality. This includes teaching about healthy touch and affection, loving words, nurturing, and tenderness. Teach children why pornography is harmful and that their natural sexual feelings are normal but must be channeled appropriately.

7. Connect the Member with Resources:

a.) Examine Biopsychosocial Influences: While spiritual strength is important, it is often helpful for individuals to address the biological, psychological, and social areas of their lives as well. Encourage individuals to explore these areas and their potential influence.
b.) Addressing Pornography Resource: https://www.lds.org/addressing-pornography

Individual https://www.lds.org/addressing-pornography/individuals?lang=eng

Spouse –  https://www.lds.org/addressing-pornography/spouses?lang=eng

Parent –  https://www.lds.org/addressing-pornography/parents?lang=eng

Leader –  https://www.lds.org/addressing-pornography/overview-for-leaders?lang=eng

c.) Spouse Support Guide: https://addictionrecovery.lds.org/spouses-and-families/introduction?lang=eng
d.) Addiction Recovery Meeting Finder: https://addictionrecovery.lds.org/spouses-and-families/introduction?lang=eng
e.) Addiction Recovery Program: https://addictionrecovery.lds.org/?lang=eng
f.) LDS Family Services: Fam-can-ontario@ldsfamilyservices.org

Resources

Addressing Pornography Handout – Bishop

Overcoming Pornography – Spouses

How can a Spouse Cope with a Partner’s Pornography Addiction? 

Main Idea: Spouses of pornography users can cope by focusing on five principles: finding peace through Jesus Christ, managing strong emotions, reaching out for support, rebuilding confidence and working to restore safety, trust and well-being.

Principle 1: Find Peace and Strength in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ

  • Christ suffered all things so that He could succor and uplift us. He understands what we are experiencing.  As we pray and offer our broken hearts to Him, He will mend and strengthen us.

Principle 2: Respond to Strong Emotions

  • The Atonement of Jesus Christ reaches beyond suffering for our sins; it reaches to Him experiencing all of our afflictions so that He can succor us and raise us above the pain, depression, and suffering that we are experiencing.”

Principle 3: Reach Out

  • As we seek the comfort and guidance of the Spirit through prayer, we can receive peace. When we are ready, the Spirit can help us know who we can turn to with our feelings and experiences. As we reach out, others can help us remember and feel Heavenly Father’s love.
  • When we’re ready, we can express our pain and experiences with friends, Church leaders, or mental health professionals.

Principle 4: Rebuild Confidence

  • As we strengthen our relationships with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, we can rebuild confidence. Making and keeping covenants binds us to Them.

Principle 5: Restore Safety, Stability, Trust, and Well-Being

  • We might consider implementing physical, financial, sexual, spiritual, or emotional boundaries based on our situation. Safety concerns must be addressed before we seek to support our spouses’ efforts to change.
  • Trusting our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ is one of the most important things we can do.
  • As we prioritize our needs, we can seek the help we need in restoring our well-being

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Are my strong emotions normal? You may feel angry, confused, rejected, frustrated, disoriented, or shocked, among other emotions. Feeling so many strong emotions is common, and you should not feel there is something wrong with you for feeling them—or even for not feeling them. Explore resources for handling difficult or negative thoughts, take care of your physical needs and draw upon your support network.
  1. Am I to blame? Your particular set of attributes is not what makes you worthy of your spouses’ love. As children of God, our worth is established and unchanging. God defines our worth, and He has declared that our worth is infinite. (See D&C 18:10.)
  • Consider learning about why you are not one of the things that motivates your spouse’s pornography habit. Your spouse’s attraction to pornography can stem from many factors other than his or her relationship with you, including some that predate your relationship.
  1. Should I share? One thing that can help is finding others you can share safely with—people who are trusted and have good judgment. Seek to share your feelings with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ through prayer. Consider seeking for spiritual gifts, such as the gift of discernment. This may help you to know who among your social circle might be an empathetic listener and able to offer emotional support.
  2. How can I help my spouse? Though you may want to make this problem go away, your spouse is the only one who can decide whether he will overcome his pornography habits. Your responsibility is to focus on your own emotional well-being by setting appropriate boundaries.
  3. How do I cope with this?   Begin by focusing on your own emotional well-being.  You can seek to forgive your spouse regardless of whether he chooses to make better choices or whether your marriage ends.  Prioritize and attend to your own physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs.
  4. How do I establishing boundaries: We cannot decide whether our spouses will stay away from pornography, but we do get to decide what we will and won’t live with. We determine the parameters and the degree to which we will be vulnerable with and connected to our spouses. Then they get to decide what they will do, and we act accordingly.

Resources

Addressing Pornography Handout – Spouse