A series of recent events have brought me to this subject. I have always felt strongly about this, and recently have been reminded again of the importance of keeping a safe watch over our loved ones. I used to work with sex addicts. It was a difficult job, and I learned some things I didn’t want to learn, and I learned some things I don’t think I could have learned any other way.
I learned that there is darkness and heartache in our world. I learned that pornography is rampant and the adversary is unrelenting. He is determined to make us miserable, and is seeking every way possible to do so. Pornography is a 97 billion dollar industry. This industry makes more than NBC, ABC, CBS, NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB industries combined. A recent study of college students showed that 9/10 men and 1/3 women seek out pornography. Pornography is an aggressive and overwhelming tide, a tsunami, flooding our society with filth.
I was reminded of how crafty the adversary is recently at a anti-pornography conference. It was in the middle of a closing talk, and suddenly the speaker used pornographic material to make a point. I was reminded again of how crafty, how insidious, and how utterly cunning the adversary can be. He can creep into our lives and we may not even realize it. He actually likes it that way. If we are unaware of his presence, we will slowly become accustomed to his influence.
Here are some things I learned over the years:
1. Never meddle with filth. It will always get you dirty. As I worked with many who struggled with pornography, it didn’t start out with huge choices. It was little things. Those little things led to bigger things and so on: a very slippery slope. It is those little choices that we make that either keep us safe, or open us to the influence of the adversary. He wants us to be miserable. He wants our hands dirty, because then, he can perhaps convince us that we are too far gone, too alone, and too filthy for good things. Please stay away from pornography. Avoid it with all the power of your being.
2. People can change. When someone truly commits and desires to change, change is possible. Even in the darkest situations, even in the midst of addiction, healing and purifying of the soul can occur. It takes time. It comes with sacrifice. It is a long path, and a difficult one. But, it can happen.
3. Relapse is normal. When trying to change an additive behavior, there will very likely be relapses. Prepare for them. Have a plan. I always use the analogy of driving on the freeway. If you are driving to a destination 60 miles from home, and you miss your exit 57 miles into your trip, what do you do? You take the next exit! Missing the exit, or making a mistake, doesn’t mean you have to drive 57 miles back to the beginning. You made a mistake: acknowledge it, reroute, and get back on course.
4. Secrecy and shame perpetuate the problem. You may think, “I don’t need to tell anyone. It isn’t a problem. I can stop on my own.” And, you truly think you can. You truly think you can white-knuckle it through. But, then you mess up, again. You feel that you are unworthy of help. No one could possibly forgive what you have done. We must learn to establish safety and transparency in our homes and marriages. We must learn to stop the secret cunning of the adversary. Unlike most living, beautiful things, Satan’s garden grows in the dark.
5. Healing comes through the power of the atonement. Although I have seen all sorts of healing, the purest and most complete healings that I have seen have come in and through the atonement of Jesus Christ. He has the power to pull each of us out of the darkest of dark places. He has the power to purify our minds, hearts and spirits. He has the power to refine and decontaminate all unclean things, if we allow Him. We must seek Him!
“If we want it dearly and deeply enough, that enemy can and will be rebuked with the redeeming power of the Lord, Jesus Christ.” Jeffrey R. Holland
If you want further reading on this, please refer to Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s talk: “Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul”
I know that sexual addiction can be overcome. I know that God loves each one of us, and weeps when we choose darkness. And, I know that when we reach for Him, and seek His healing, His arms will be open to us.
I hope to do more posts on the fight against pornography. I hope you will all join me in this worthy cause.