Pornography Use
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“Pornography Use,” Counseling Resources (2020).

“Pornography Use,” Counseling Resources.

Pornography Use

Pornography is any material depicting or describing the human body or sexual conduct in a way that arouses sexual feelings. The Church has consistently taught that using pornography is sinful behavior.

Most individuals who use pornography experience varying degrees of relationship difficulties—with God, self, and others. They also may be experiencing feelings of guilt or shame. Regardless of the degree of pornography use, expressing love and gratitude to individuals for their strength in coming forward is an important step to help them increase their sense of worth and ability to overcome the problem.

As you minister to individuals struggling with pornography use, seek to guide them to Christ. Encourage individuals to understand the factors that influence their pornography use and develop plans to change their behavior.

Seek to Understand

Pornography use can become addictive, but the majority of individuals who struggle with pornography issues should not be considered or labeled as “addicts.” Prayerfully consider asking questions like these to better understand the member’s pornography use and discern his or her needs. (See “What do I need to understand about the scope of pornography use?”)

  • What effect has pornography use had on your life?

  • How often do you use pornography?

  • What has helped so far in overcoming this challenge?

  • How have you implemented gospel principles in overcoming this challenge?

If you become aware of any viewing, purchasing, or distributing of child pornography, contact civil authorities. A help line is also available for your bishop to call when dealing with this issue

Help the Individual

Using pornography is often more than just a moral weakness and has many influencing factors. Helping the individual gain a greater understanding of the factors that influence the pornography use can strengthen his or her ability to overcome it.

Strengthen the individual’s understanding of doctrine that can help him or her overcome pornography use:

  • Help him or her understand the role of the Savior and His ability to help us through His Atonement.

  • Help the individual see his or her identity as a child of God and recognize his or her own individual strengths, talents, and abilities.

  • Help the individual understand agency and his or her responsibility to work through this problem.

  • Help the individual understand one of the destructive effects of pornography use is that users often start seeing others as objects to satisfy their desires rather than as sons or daughters of God.

  • Discuss the difference between guilt (”I have done a bad thing”) and shame (”I am a bad person”), and help the individual understand the importance of appropriate guilt, while avoiding shame.

  • Encourage the member to seek information about healthy sexuality, proper sexual expression, and the role of a sex drive within the boundaries God has established.

Encourage the individual to create a plan to discontinue his or her use of pornography.

  • Invite the individual to seek his or her own inspiration in developing a plan that can work.

  • Encourage the individual to plan ways to limit access to pornography, such as installing internet filters and allowing others access to mobile devices, computers, and passwords to monitor his or her viewing history.

Encourage the individual to identify the most common situations that increase the temptation to use pornography and how to avoid them.

  • Determine the “where,” “when,” and “how” of each situation (consider limiting access to and use of media, such as magazines, books, television, movies, music, the internet, and so on).

  • Explore the feelings behind those situations (such as bored, lonely, angry, stressed, or tired).

Invite the individual to discuss the issue with his or her spouse or a parent.

  • Encourage the individual to develop a plan to restore trust with those who feel betrayed by the pornography use.

Invite the individual to meet regularly with a trusted person to discuss progress.

Consider connecting the individual with support groups or programs that support shared values around overcoming pornography.

  • Invite the member to attend a local recovery support group (“Addiction Recovery” section of ChurchofJesusChrist.org) where available.

  • If no local support program exists, consider what other options may be available, such as community-based or online support groups or programs.

Support the Family

Pornography use has an impact on the spouse and other family members. As you seek to support the spouse or other family members of the user, listen to their fears and worries. Make sure to show love and empathy as the Savior would. Additionally, make sure to provide adequate support to a spouse who may be struggling. See Support for Spouses of Pornography Users for more information.

Encourage the spouse or family member to determine the impact this situation is having on him or her and to seek help when needed in addressing those issues.

Help the family member understand how the Savior can help, regardless of whether his or her loved one stops viewing pornography (see Alma 7:11 and Matthew 11:28–30).

Invite the family member to attend a Church spouse and family support group or a similar support group if available. See the “Addiction Recovery” section of ChurchofJesusChrist.org for support group times.

Encourage the family member to review the resources for spouses and family members in the “Addressing Pornography” section of ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

Use Ward and Stake Resources

Consider asking ward leaders or other trusted individuals to provide continuing support. Request the individual’s permission before discussing the situation with others.

Identify a trusted person to be a support person for the member, and encourage them to meet regularly.

  • Ideally, this person should be someone the individual is comfortable with and someone who has either had success in overcoming pornography or has a good understanding of these issues.

  • This person could be a ministering brother or sister.

In some cases, an individual’s pornography use may continue despite extensive efforts by the him or her and help from others to overcome pornography use.

  • Consider referring the member to a mental health professional who provides services in harmony with gospel principles.

  • Family Services (where available) may be able to assist or make referrals to local resources, which may include treatment programs or centers, community-based programs or support groups, and government agencies.