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    5 Things Worth Knowing about Pornography

    David A. Edwards Church Magazines

    A boy having fingers pointing at him.

    Of all the things you might hear about pornography, here are a few that can really make a difference.

    You may feel like you know all you need to know about pornography: What it is. Why it’s enticing. How widespread it’s become. How habit-forming it can be. The bad consequences of viewing it. How you should turn away from it and stay away from it. (See For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 12.)

    But here are five other things that are really worth knowing about pornography.

    1. Worldly ways of justifying pornography are bogus.

    In the world, pornography has become almost mainstream. A lot of people view it. Many of them justify it, saying, “It’s normal.” But when people say this, what are they actually saying?

    They may say, “Everyone’s doing it.” That, of course, is not a persuasive defense. There are plenty of harmful things we would never do, no matter how many people are doing them.

    They may also be saying that pornography is “natural.” This, too, is less than convincing. We’re taught that “the natural man is an enemy to God” and that we should “[yield] to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and [put] off the natural man” (Mosiah 3:19). “Natural” doesn’t necessarily mean “good” or “right.” It’s pretty clear that hyper-fueling our sexual desires with pornographic imagery is not a very natural thing. In fact, it’s entirely artificial.

    2. Being against pornography means being in favor of love and healthy sexuality.

    Sometimes when you tell people you want nothing to do with pornographic images, videos, or stories, they’ll say you’re repressed or sheltered.

    But by opposing pornography, you’re really standing up for God’s plan of real love and healthy sexuality in marriage. In Heavenly Father’s plan, a man and a woman are meant to bond together in a loving relationship that includes emotional and sexual intimacy. Pornography gets in the way because it produces opposite results. It makes a mockery of this kind of relationship. It focuses on selfish indulgence and objectifying others.

    Sexual feelings and desires aren’t evil; they just need to be kept in alignment with Heavenly Father’s plan and laws, which He has given for our ultimate happiness and joy.

    3. The shame cycle is one of the adversary’s tools to keep people trapped.

    Viewing or reading pornographic media may bring temporary pleasure, but shortly afterward come feelings of guilt. These feelings are normal, because each of us has been given a conscience, or the Light of Christ, so that we can know good from evil (see Moroni 7:16). Those who have the gift of the Holy Ghost have His warning voice, and they notice when He withdraws. But Satan tries to get us to either dull our spiritual sensitivity or transform our healthy feelings of guilt into destructive feelings of shame.

    The difference between guilt and shame comes down to its focus. Guilt is focused on our relationship with God. The scriptures call
    it “godly sorrow,” which “worketh repentance to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10). It’s a good thing because it can lead to real change. Shame, on the other hand, is focused on self—self-image, self-regard, and what others think of us—rather than on how to draw closer to God. Instead of thinking, “I did something bad; I need to repent,” we think, “I’m a bad person, and I can’t change, and nobody could ever love me, including God, so I may as well stop trying.” That’s the cycle: sin can lead to shame, which can lead to self-loathing and despair, which can lead to continued sin.

    4. The sooner you talk to someone, the better.

    If you’ve been viewing pornography, one thing that will help you greatly is probably also something that can feel really uncomfortable: talking to someone.

    Some people tell themselves they’ll quit pornography on their own first and then talk to someone about it. The longer it continues, the harder it is to quit. It’s better to talk to someone. If you find out that a friend has been viewing pornography, be loving and kind, but be firm in encouraging him or her to talk to parents or another trusted adult, as well as his or her bishop. That’s the best thing you can do for your friend.

    5. There is always hope for someone who wants to break away from pornography.

    Nobody is ever too far gone. If you have a desire to change, Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost will help you. Though your path of healing may not be easy and will likely include spiritual, physical, psychological, and social changes, the Savior will be there to lift and bless you. He has carried the burden of all of our sins—all of them, including the ones we can’t seem to shake yet. Be patient with yourself, and rely on the Savior’s healing power as you improve, step by step.

    Whether you are struggling with pornography yourself or are aware of a friend or loved one who is struggling, remember the Savior’s grace and mercy. There is always reason for hope.

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