How Does Using Pornography Affect Me?

    “As we are honest about the effects of pornography on us and our loved ones, we can take steps to abandon pornography, reverse negative effects, and move forward. When we prayerfully seek the truth about how pornography affects us, we can find solutions to overcome our pornography use.”

    The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that pornography is immoral. The Savior counseled us to keep our minds, thoughts, and hearts pure. Using pornography evokes lustful feelings and leads us away from purity. As we seek to keep ourselves pure and to build healthy connections with others, we can find true happiness.

    When we are involved in using pornography, it can be difficult to see how it negatively impacts us. However, learning about the unhealthy ways pornography use affects and changes us can help us feel motivated to stop and understand how to do so.

    Pornography Attacks Our Identity as Children of God

    We are children of Heavenly Father with the potential and ability to become like Him. We are endowed with His power, including the power to procreate. God has given us the gift of bodies. While on this earth, we can learn to discipline ourselves and honor this gift. This includes learning to express our sexuality in healthy ways as we live the law of chastity. Healthy sexuality enables spouses to express love and strengthen their spiritual, emotional, and physical bonds.

    While many in the world portray sex as casual or crude, the gospel teaches that sexuality is a powerful gift from Heavenly Father. This gift should be used with respect and within the bounds Heavenly Father has set.

    Pornography attacks our happiness with false messages about sex. Healthy sexuality can lead us to find joy and connection, but pornography will isolate us and make us miserable. Pornography objectifies others, encourages selfish gratification, and misrepresents sexuality. It harms us physically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually.

    Physical Effects

    Our physical bodies have been created to respond to sexual stimulation. This stimulation triggers intense, pleasurable feelings in our brains. When expressed within the Lord’s bounds, sexual stimulation can bring joy and connection to marital relationships. Pornography distorts our natural sexual feelings and can cause us to become dependent on it.

    Becoming dependent on pornography can alter our brain chemistry. This may lead us to seek more intense and graphic pornographic images. These images can alter our thinking. While the brain can heal itself (neuroplasticity), pornographic images and stimulation lodged in our memory can remain troublesome for long periods of time.

    Individuals may struggle with:

    • Day-to-day tasks, including school, work, and family life.
    • Emotional stress.
    • Difficulty in dating relationships.
    • Sexual dysfunction.
    • An increased likelihood of acting in immoral and even criminal ways.

    Psychological Effects

    Pornography use can skew thoughts and emotions related to what is normal, appropriate, and healthy sexual expression. Much of pornography shows violence, domination, and aggression toward others. Watching pornography over time can normalize unhealthy behavior.

    Pornography use can negatively influence our thoughts and feelings. Some psychological effects of pornography use include:

    • A lack of empathy and love toward ourselves and others.
    • Feeling that we are unacceptable or unlovable.
    • Feelings of loneliness, despair, depression, and low self-esteem.
    • Difficulty connecting with others.
    • Denial of how pornography use is changing us.

    Social Effects

    Pornography portrays sex without emotional intimacy and isolates us from others. When we view pornography, we aren’t experiencing the closeness and intimacy that comes from a healthy sexual relationship. This can have negative effects on our social interactions, relationships, and perspectives, including:

    • Isolating ourselves from others.
    • Becoming less committed in our relationships.
    • Becoming physically abusive toward others.
    • Objectifying others or viewing them as inferior.
    • Increased risk of future marital problems and possible divorce.

    Spiritual Effects

    Pornography use is particularly harmful in how it affects our relationship with God and our ability to feel the Spirit. It is against our beliefs and God’s teachings, and it brings darkness into our lives. With continued use over time, it separates us from feeling God’s love. We may experience this in the following ways:

    • Feelings of shame or hopelessness.
    • Believing that we cannot regain the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.
    • Feeling that we are too far gone.
    • Having a distorted view of God and His love for us.
    • Not acting upon our belief that Jesus Christ can heal us through His atoning sacrifice.

    A Correct Understanding

    As we are honest about the effects of pornography on us and our loved ones, we can take steps to abandon pornography, reverse negative effects, and move forward. When we prayerfully seek the truth about how pornography affects us, we can find solutions to overcome our pornography use.

    Ideas for Taking Action:

    • Take an honest assessment of the effects of pornography on your life and the lives of those you love. What help do you need? What steps can you take to address these effects?
    • Learn more about the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual effects of pornography by reading “What influences are contributing to my pornography use?
    • Search on ChurchofJesusChrist.org for more information about why pornography is harmful, including general conference talks and the “Pornography” gospel topic page.