Viewpoint: Avoid “Spiritual Crocodiles”
Contributed By From the Church News
“We live at a time when the adversary is using every means possible to ensnare us in his web of deceit, trying desperately to take us down with him.” —President Thomas S. Monson
Crocodiles are large reptiles that live in the tropics of Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Australia. Some species can grow as long as 23 feet and weigh as much as 4,400 pounds. As ambush predators, they wait for fish or land animals to come close, and then they attack.
These massive animals feed by grabbing and holding onto their prey. They have sharp, piercing teeth and powerful jaws.
President Boyd K. Packer has said that as we travel through life and probe the water holes around us, we should all be aware of crocodiles that wait to attack. “Not just the big, gray lizards that can bite you to pieces, but spiritual crocodiles, infinitely more dangerous, and more deceptive and less visible, even, than those well-camouflaged reptiles,” he said. “These spiritual crocodiles can kill or mutilate your souls. They can destroy your peace of mind and the peace of mind of those who love you. Those are the ones to be warned against, and there is hardly a watering place in all of mortality now that is not infested with them” (“Spiritual Crocodiles,” Apr. 1976 general conference).
One of the largest spiritual crocodiles to infest the water holes around us today is pornography.
An estimated 47 percent of families in the United States report that pornography is a problem in their home, according to the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families, an Ohio-based nonprofit organization working to promote Christian values.
It is no surprise, considering the breadth and reach of pornography. According to Enough Is Enough—a Virginia-based nonprofit organization formed in 1994 with aims to make the Internet safer for children and families—worldwide pornography revenue is estimated to be more than $97 billion with $13 billion of that spent in the United States.
The pornography industry in the United States rakes in more money than ABC, NBC, and CBS combined. Every second, 28,258 viewers are watching pornography and 372 Internet users are typing adult search terms into search engines. Every 39 minutes, a new pornographic video is made in the United States, according to Enough Is Enough.
President Thomas S. Monson said there is a great war waging today for the souls of mankind.
“Some publishers and printers prostitute their presses by printing millions of pieces of pornography each day. … One of the most accessible sources of pornography today is the Internet, where one can turn on a computer and instantly have at his fingertips countless sites featuring pornography. …
“Tainted as well is the movie producer, the television programmer, or the entertainer who promotes pornography. Long gone are the restraints of yesteryear. So-called realism is the quest, with the result that today we are surrounded by this filth.
“Avoid any semblance of pornography. It will desensitize the spirit and erode the conscience. We are told in the Doctrine and Covenants, ‘That which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness’ (D&C 50:23). Such is pornography” (“True to the Faith,” Apr. 2006 general conference).
The Savior taught that “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).
President Gordon B. Hinckley counseled Latter-day Saint young men during the April 1998 general conference to avoid pornography as they would avoid a serious disease. “It is as destructive. It can become habitual, and those who indulge in it get so they cannot leave it alone. It is addictive.”
He said those who produce pornography make it as titillating and attractive as they know how.
“It seduces and destroys its victims. It is everywhere. It is all about us. I plead with you young men not to get involved in its use. You simply cannot afford to” (“Living Worthy of the Girl You Will Someday Marry”).
President Packer said he once traveled to a game preserve in Africa. He came across a watering hole where the animals did not drink. “What is the problem?” he asked the guide.
The answer: “Crocodiles.”
“I couldn’t see anything except the mud, a little water, and the nervous animals in the distance,” recalled President Packer. “Then all at once I saw it!—a large crocodile, settled in the mud, waiting for some unsuspecting animal to get thirsty enough to come for a drink” (“Spiritual Crocodiles”).
President Monson has warned us against a great and mighty spiritual crocodile that catches unsuspecting prey and holds on with sharp teeth and powerful muscles.
“Now a word of caution to all—both young and old, both male and female,” he said during the April 2009 general conference. “We live at a time when the adversary is using every means possible to ensnare us in his web of deceit, trying desperately to take us down with him. There are many pathways along which he entices us to go—pathways that can lead to our destruction. Advances in many areas that can be used for good can also be used to speed us along those heinous pathways.
“I feel to mention one in particular, and that is the Internet. On one hand, it produces nearly limitless opportunities for acquiring useful and important information. …
“On the other hand, however—and extremely alarming—are the reports of the number of individuals who are utilizing the Internet for evil and degrading purposes, the viewing of pornography being the most prevalent of all these purposes. My brothers and sisters, involvement in such will literally destroy the spirit. Be strong. Be clean. Avoid such degrading and destructive types of content at all costs—wherever they may be! I sound this warning to everyone, everywhere. I add—particularly to the young people—that this includes pornographic images transmitted via cell phones.
“My beloved friends, under no circumstances allow yourselves to become trapped in the viewing of pornography, one of the most effective of Satan’s enticements. And if you have allowed yourself to become involved in this behavior, cease now. Seek the help you need to overcome and to change the direction of your life. Take the steps necessary to get back on the strait and narrow, and then stay there” (“Until We Meet Again”).