In a previous post, I talked about four common patterns I saw when I was a bishop in the lives of men and boys that related to the use of pornography.
- Undermined masculinity
- Low self-esteem
- Boredom and curiosity
- Addictions not fully addressed
Another observation that I would like to share is that no one who came to me with a pornography issue ever blamed their problem on someone else or claimed that someone else caused them to start using it. They always took the responsibility on themselves which is why I think the majority of them were able to make progress in overcoming it.
Another thing I saw was a lot of fear and embarrassment. These men and boys were afraid of disrupting their closest relationships, and they were also embarrassed to talk about the deepest parts of themselves, which is easy to understand.
Fear and embarrassment are threshold guardians that can prevent us from finding real solutions to our problems and the peace that follows.
Often I would recommend counseling or some kind of therapy to help them dig deeper into the root of the problem, to get in touch with what was going on inside of them. Most would follow this counsel, but some would not, which was sad to me.
When we are afraid to face our deepest issues, those issues often persist and continue to harm us and others.
Sometimes even counseling wouldn’t help immediately, which leads me to another observation. When we knowingly and willingly sin, going directly against the Word of God, it is much, much more difficult to overcome that sin than otherwise. Any rebellion against God bespeaks pride which is a barrier to change. Perhaps the biggest barrier to change.
We all need help in seeing what those issues are. If we are not willing to look down at our feet, we will continue to walk around in concrete shoes, wondering why it is so hard to move forward.
One of the reasons why pornography is such a serious problem is because, through persistent use, it makes it difficult for some men to form lasting, intimate relationships. And isn’t that the bedrock purpose of the gospel, to love one another? Isn’t the family anchored by a strong, committed couple the very best place for a testimony to grow? This must be one reason why our adversary would like this problem to be so widespread: it is a contaminant to marriage, family and strong relationships.
I can see why our modern prophets warn against it time and time again. It is a preoccupying counterfeit that separates couples and families, that isolates people, that ruins relationships.
Of all the things that helped the most, it was a tender, compassionate, understanding wife that seems to have the greatest positive effect on a man. That kind of support makes all the difference in the life of a man, just like being cherished and adored makes all the difference in the life of a woman.
The crisis that arises when pornography use is discovered more often than not brings a couple closer together, probably because it forces them to communicate on a deeper level and dig down to the foundation of their relationship. God can turn any trial into a blessing, if we will allow Him to do so.
If you are struggling with an addiction to pornography, or are close to someone who is, I encourage you to get help. Reach out to your bishop or minister for spiritual guidance. Seek counseling or some other form of therapy that you feel will help you. Right now you can visit the website Combating Pornography where you will find much useful information. Also, get involved in the Church’s Addiction Recovery Program which is excellent.
I know pornography is a pervasive problem, but it can be overcome. It can be completely overcome, if you seek the Lord’s help, and the help of others who love and care about you, with all your heart.
Once, early in His ministry, the Savior read from the book of Isaiah in a synagogue in Nazareth. These are the words He read:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. (Luke 4:18,19.)
He is ready to heal our broken hearts, to deliver us from captivity, and to set us at liberty, but we must seek it with all our hearts. Anything less than complete commitment will not be enough to purchase for ourselves this liberty and the eternal relationships that are possible only through the atonement.
P.S. I have written one more post in this series. I invite you to read it.