“How can I support change?” Counseling Resources (2020).
“How can I support change?” Counseling Resources.
Bishops have the sacred responsibility to be judges in Israel, to assist members in strengthening their relationships with God, and to act as spiritual teachers. Individuals are responsible for strengthening their relationship with God through repentance and forgiveness. Individuals, not Church leaders, have the responsibility to discover what it may require to change their undesirable behavior. (See “Identifying and Understanding Influences” on the “Addressing Pornography” section of ChurchofJesusChrist.org.) This may require personal revelation received through study and prayer. Members are also responsible to understand and address the pain their pornography use has caused themselves and others.
As you help members strive for forgiveness, focus on teaching and emphasizing:
Agency and Accountability
Consistently Exercising Faith
The doctrine of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is central to understanding how to repent and be forgiven. Helping members understand Jesus Christ and His role in their lives is vital to change. You will be guided in how to best teach these and other truths. These same concepts are also central in ministering to spouses and others injured by the behavior. Consider reviewing the following pages in Gospel Topics:
Encourage the individual to be accountable for his or her choices. The individual needs to understand when confession is necessary. A confession to his or her spouse, parents (if a minor living at home), or bishop often helps in moving forward. It may take several attempts to share before an individual is prepared to be completely open and truthful about past conduct. Exercise patience during this process, showing sensitivity, love, and warmth to inspire and encourage individuals to be completely honest. Do not shame or coerce someone to confess before he or she is ready.
Bishops and branch presidents should review General Handbook, 32.8.2, for more help. Help the individual understand that he or she is a child of God and that using pornography is a behavior that does not align with that divine identity.
Regular prayer and scripture study are essential to developing faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Exercising faith in Jesus Christ is necessary to experience a mighty change of heart. Prayers offered with real intent may lead individuals to seek forgiveness from God and from those they have injured. Individuals may also receive great strength by studying instruction from general conference and articles in the Church magazines addressing these topics.
The individual must believe that he or she can change. Be positive and review principles of faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Encourage Sabbath worship, service to others, and other behaviors consistent with the character of Christ.
The individual should seek personal revelation in developing plans for addressing pornography use. Each individual should consider his or her unique needs in determining solutions and what course of action to take. While stopping pornography use is an important goal, encourage the individual to focus on seeking Christlike attributes and becoming a converted disciples of Jesus Christ. The following pages on the Addressing Pornography website may be helpful to members in this process:
Continually remind members that change is a process that takes time. You may also need to point out that taking personal responsibility, putting in consistent effort, and recognizing the pain that pornography use creates are all part of reestablishing trust with his or her spouse, parents, or other family members. It is not uncommon to experience setbacks. Encourage the individual to be honest in reporting these setbacks to their spouse or parents, to learn from them, and to quickly return to healthy habits.