Matthew 5 : 27-30 KJV
27. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
28. But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
29. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that they whole body should be cast into hell.
30. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
It was my last bishop who liked to repeatedly tell the members of the congregation that pornography is the Black Plague of the twenty first century. I think he is right.
The first major talk in general conference that I remember which focused on Pornography was given by President Gordon B. Hinkley in October of 2004 (link to the talk). It was in the 1990’s when the internet exploded. This is when the real poison of this new novelty known as the internet was coming to play. While the internet had wonderful new information and capabilities, lines outside of bishops offices were lining up. Good men, holders of the priesthood, young fathers in their home, had lost the Spirit of God and were dealing with confessing to the bishop of their problem with pornography.
Women were being crushed. Marriages were being destroyed. Priesthood holders either had to choose to not perform their priesthood responsibilities and to refrain from the sacrament, or do something worse…seek to hide their sin.
Here is the contents of a letter that President Hinkley read to the congregation. The contents of this letter are very atypical.
“Dear President Hinckley,
“My husband of 35 years died recently. … He had visited with our good bishop as quickly as he could after his most recent surgery. Then he came to me on that same evening to tell me he had been addicted to pornography. He needed me to forgive him [before he died]. He further said that he had grown tired of living a double life. [He had served in many important] Church callings while knowing [at the same time] that he was in the grips of this ‘other master.’
“I was stunned, hurt, felt betrayed and violated. I could not promise him forgiveness at that moment but pleaded for time. … I was able to review my married life [and how] pornography had … put a stranglehold on our marriage from early on. We had only been married a couple of months when he brought home a [pornographic] magazine. I locked him out of the car because I was so hurt and angry. …
“For many years in our marriage … he was most cruel in many of his demands. I was never good enough for him. … I felt incredibly beaten down at that time to a point of deep depression. … I know now that I was being compared to the latest ‘porn queen.’ …
“We went to counseling one time and … my husband proceeded to rip me apart with his criticism and disdain of me. …
“I could not even get into the car with him after that but walked around the town … for hours, contemplating suicide. [I thought,] ‘Why go on if this is all that my “eternal companion” feels for me?’
“I did go on, but zipped a protective shield around myself. I existed for other reasons than my husband and found joy in my children, in projects and accomplishments that I could do totally on my own. …
“After his ‘deathbed confession’ and [after taking time] to search through my life, I [said] to him, ‘Don’t you know what you have done?’ … I told him I had brought a pure heart into our marriage, kept it pure during that marriage, and intended to keep it pure ever after. Why could he not do the same for me? All I ever wanted was to feel cherished and treated with the smallest of pleasantries … instead of being treated like some kind of chattel. …
“I am now left to grieve not only for his being gone but also for a relationship that could have been [beautiful, but was not]. …
“Please warn the brethren (and sisters). Pornography is not some titillating feast for the eyes that gives a momentary rush of excitement. [Rather] it has the effect of damaging hearts and souls to their very depths, strangling the life out of relationships that should be sacred, hurting to the very core those you should love the most.”
Following reading the letter, President Hinkley quotes many statistics from 2003 which demonstrate how rampant the problem has become. I am confident that today in 2022, the problems are much worse. For statistics closer to today, here is one link. And here is another link regarding stats on porn usage.
As he continues his address, he states as follows:
Let any who may be in the grip of this vise get upon their knees in the privacy of their closet and plead with the Lord for help to free them from this evil monster. Otherwise, this vicious stain will continue through life and even into eternity. Jacob, the brother of Nephi, taught: “And it shall come to pass that when all men shall have passed from this first death unto life, insomuch as they have become immortal, … they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still” (2 Ne. 9:15–16)
President Joseph F. Smith, in his vision of the Savior’s visit among the spirits of the dead, saw that “unto the wicked he did not go, and among the ungodly and the unrepentant who had defiled themselves while in the flesh, his voice was not raised” (D&C 138:20).
Now, my brethren, I do not wish to be negative. I am by nature optimistic. But in such matters as this I am a realist. If we are involved in such behavior, now is the time to change. Let this be our hour of resolution. Let us turn about to a better way.
Said the Lord: “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
“The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever” (D&C 121:45–46).
How could any man wish for more? These supernal blessings are promised to those who walk in virtue before the Lord and before all men.
How wonderful are the ways of our Lord. How glorious His promises. When tempted we can substitute for thoughts of evil thoughts of Him and His teachings. He has said: “And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.
“Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you” (D&C 88:67–68).
In the April 2005 General Conference, Elder Dallin Oaks talked about Priesthood holders who use pornography. Quoting from scriptures, he quotes as follows: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2005/04/pornography?lang=eng
“Ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”
“Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matt. 23:27-28).
The immediate spiritual consequences of such hypocrisy are devastating. Those who seek out and use pornography forfeit the power of their priesthood. The Lord declares: “When we undertake to cover our sins, … behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man” (D&C 121:37).
Patrons of pornography also lose the companionship of the Spirit. Pornography produces fantasies that destroy spirituality. “To be carnally minded is death”—spiritual death (Romans 8:6; see also 2 Nephi 9:39).
The scriptures repeatedly teach that the Spirit of the Lord will not dwell in an unclean tabernacle. When we worthily partake of the sacrament, we are promised that we will “always have his Spirit to be with [us].” To qualify for that promise we covenant that we will “always remember him” (D&C 20:77). Those who seek out and use pornography for sexual stimulation obviously violate that covenant. They also violate a sacred covenant to refrain from unholy and impure practices. They cannot have the Spirit of the Lord to be with them. All such need to heed the Apostle Peter’s plea: “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee” (Acts 8:22).
It does not take much time in studying the topic, even from secular sources, to learn that pornography is harmful. It destroys marriages. It may hurt your relationship with your children. It causes people to lose their jobs. It causes people to have depression. It results in loneliness. It makes you feel dirty and of low self esteem. It makes it difficult to have real meaningful relationships. The list can go on and on.
If you have a porn addiction, this is what you should do:
- Fast often and pray fervently to God every day for the strength to overcome the addiction.
- Hire a clinical psychologist trained in addiction recovery. Listen to their advice.
- Find an LDS bishop to refer you to the local addiction recovery group. You could optionally find another one in your community. Attend the group weekly.
- Find a coach friend to listen to you. Keep this friend completely in the loop on your progress. When you mess up, your friend must know. This friend should not be your spouse.
- Add porn blockers to all of your electronic devices.
Except for line item 1 and a modified line item 3, This list came from listening to the audio book Sex, Porn and Masturbation Addiction Mastery, written by David Whitehead.
The Lord sees weaknesses differently than He does rebellion
One young man I’ll call Damon wrote: “Growing up, I struggled with pornography. I always felt so ashamed that I could not get things right.” Each time Damon slipped, the pain of regret became so intense, he harshly judged himself to be unworthy of any kind of grace, forgiveness, or additional chances from God. He said: “I decided I just deserved to feel terrible all the time. I figured God probably hated me because I wasn’t willing to work harder and get on top of this once and for all. I would go a week and sometimes even a month, but then I would relapse and think, ‘I’ll never be good enough, so what’s the use of even trying?’”
At one such low moment, Damon said to his priesthood leader: “Maybe I should just stop coming to church. I’m sick of being a hypocrite.”
His leader responded: “You’re not a hypocrite because you have a bad habit you are trying to break. You are a hypocrite if you hide it, lie about it, or try to convince yourself the Church has the problem for maintaining such high standards. Being honest about your actions and taking steps to move forward is not being a hypocrite. It is being a disciple.” This leader quoted Elder Richard G. Scott, who taught: “The Lord sees weaknesses differently than He does rebellion. … When the Lord speaks of weaknesses, it is always with mercy.”
That perspective gave Damon hope. He realized God was not up there saying, “Damon blew it again.” Instead, He was probably saying, “Look how far Damon has come.” This young man finally stopped looking down in shame or looking sideways for excuses and rationalizations. He looked up for divine help, and he found it.
–Brad Wilcox, Worthiness is not Flawlessness, October 2021 General Conference
If you are not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and are investigating membership yet are plagued with this addiction, you need to resolve it prior to baptism. That is just part of the covenant. You need to have faith in Jesus Christ, and repent of your sins. Then you may partake of the waters of baptism and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
If you are deep in the addiction of this plague, you need help. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has free addiction recovery courses. To enroll, contact the missionaries, or your local bishop. They will be able to refer you to the available program in your area. The church is very concerned for all, members and non-members alike. They will work with you in a fully professional program.
The Lord loves you. He wants you to come home. It is important for all of us to “lay down your burdens” at the feet of the savior. Let his love and the power of the atoning sacrifice of which he suffered succor us and cleans us of our sins.