Leaders can assist individuals, spouses, and families as they seek to draw closer to God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
As priesthood leaders, auxiliary leaders, and teachers, we have the unique role of inspiring others to become true followers of Jesus Christ (see Mosiah 18:18–30). We should focus on teaching and testifying of the pure doctrines of Jesus Christ. In our roles, we can strengthen individuals and families as they strive to keep their covenants.
Together, we work to minister to others by providing encouragement, fellowship, and feelings of belonging and support and by encouraging service. (See Handbook 2, 1.2.2.)
The Bishop’s Role
Bishops have a unique and sacred role to serve as judges in Israel (see D&C 107:74). As a spiritual leader, the bishop encourages members to strengthen their relationships with Jesus Christ. With his loving support, the bishop can help individuals, spouses, and families during their trials.
In most cases, the bishop should encourage the members he advises—whether individuals or spouses—to reach out to other adult family members, friends, and ward members for love and emotional support. The bishop should ensure that he is providing support to both the individual struggling and his or her spouse.
The Role of Ward Leaders
At the request of the ward member in need, auxiliary and quorum leaders, along with family, friends, and other qualified members of the ward, can also provide emotional support to individuals and their spouses (or their parents, in the case of children or youth).
Counseling together in ward council and other leadership settings can help leaders understand the challenges associated with pornography. It is often appropriate to talk about how best to combat pornography and strengthen members of the ward.
When working with youth, the first priority is to involve their parents. Use caution when responding to specific questions related to pornography and sexuality when parents are not present. Focus on teaching principles that help youth grow their faith in Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the restored gospel. Bishops have a unique role as judges in Israel (see D&C 107:74). They are the only ones to conduct worthiness interviews; however, they should counsel with their stake president in reference to how this is to be done. Parents are the first line of information in teaching principles related to sexuality.
The following articles may provide additional insights to leaders and teachers. We can offer hope, love, and support as we assist individuals struggling with pornography and minister to spouses and family members who are struggling with this situation.
How can I support spouses and families?
Spouses and families should not be overlooked as we support individuals in their efforts to overcome pornography. Often, spouses and family members are grappling with difficult emotions and decisions and need Christlike love and support. The Spirit can guide us in approaching, ministering to, and supporting spouses and family members. (See “Support for Spouses of Pornography Users” for more information.)
What do I need to understand about the scope of pornography use?
Understanding the spectrum of an individual’s pornography use is often important in determining how to provide support. The spectrum of use varies from occasional use to intense use to compulsive use. Additionally, the intensity of the type of pornography viewed also affects an individual and his or her spouse. (Read more.)
What should I teach?
Many approaches exist for addressing pornography. As Church leaders, we have been called to teach and testify of the pure doctrine of Jesus Christ. Teaching and testifying of the power of Jesus Christ to forgive and help members repent is important. As we encourage individuals to draw closer to the Spirit, we can seek divine guidance from the Spirit regarding specific truths to emphasize and teach. (Read more.)
How can I support change?
We can support change by helping individuals believe that change is possible. We should emphasize principles of agency, accountability, consistent worship, and patience. We can also encourage members to consider other helpful resources if needed, such as trusted professionals, self-help books, and credible websites. (Read more.)
How can I support individuals as they develop their plans?
As leaders, we can be supportive and encouraging as members develop personal plans for change. Each individual has the responsibility for making changes in his or her life and should seek personal revelation. We can encourage members to embrace this responsibility and to believe in their ability to receive personal revelation.
While our role is to nurture spiritual development, we can suggest that members explore other resources they may wish to utilize in addressing their unique biological, psychological, and social needs. Encouraging individuals to consider all their needs may help them find the best solutions for their personal circumstances.
We can guide and empower individuals as we emphasize their personal responsibility to discover and pursue solutions to their challenges with pornography. (Read more.)