Eternal Marriage Student Manual, (2003), 264–67

You cannot afford in any degree to become involved with pornography, whatever its form.

—President Gordon B. Hinckley

Selected Teachings

Effects of Pornography on Dating, Marriages, and Families

President Spencer W. Kimball

“We urge, with Peter, ‘… Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.’ (1 Pet. 2:11.) No indecent exposure or pornography or other aberrations to defile the mind and spirit” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1974, 8; or Ensign, May 1974, 7).

“We hope that our parents and leaders will not tolerate pornography. It is really garbage, but today is peddled as normal and satisfactory food. Many writers seem to take delight in polluting the atmosphere with it. Seemingly, it cannot be stopped by legislation. There is a link between pornography and the low, sexual drives and perversions. We live in a culture which venerates the orgasm, streaking, trading wives, and similar crazes. How low can humans plunge! We pray with our Lord that we may be kept from being in the world. It is sad that decent people are thrown into a filthy area of mental and spiritual pollution. We call upon all of our people to do all in their power to offset this ugly revolution.

“It is ridiculous to imply that pornography has no effect. There is a definite relationship to crime. Murder, robbery, rape, prostitution, and commercialized vice are fed on this immorality. Sex crime statistics seem to reflect a relationship between crime and pornography.

“It is utterly without redeeming social value. We urge our families to protect their children in every way possible. We live in a permissive world, but we must make certain we do not become a part of that permissive world, that degenerate world. We are shocked at the depths to which many people of this world go to assert their freedom. We fear that the trends of permissiveness toward immorality are destroying the moral fabric of our generation. …

“Every form of homosexuality is sin. Pornography is one of the approaches to that transgression. There is no halfway” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1974, 7–8; or Ensign, Nov. 1974, 7–8).

“‘Pornography degrades sex and humanity. Sex is an extremely delicate part of our human relationships. When you assault that and degrade it, you make it an animalistic act and it is an assault on our humanity generally.

“‘As that spreads, it has an over-all effect on our population. Obscenity is counter to civilization. It attacks our basic beliefs. It’s an attack on the family ethic.’ (Larry Parrish, U.S. Assistant Attorney, in “War on Pornography,” p. 76.) …

“Sins spawned by pornography unfortunately perpetuate other serious transgressions, including abortion” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1976, 6; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, 6).

“We need continually to fortify our homes and families and defend them against the onslaught of evils such as divorce, broken families, brutality, and abuse, especially of wives and children. We need to constantly guard against immorality, pornography, and sexual permissiveness that would destroy the purity of the family members, young and old” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1979, 5; or Ensign, May 1979, 5).

President Ezra Taft Benson

“Virtue is akin to holiness, an attribute of godliness. A priesthood holder should actively seek for that which is virtuous and lovely and not that which is debasing or sordid. Virtue will garnish his thoughts unceasingly (see D&C 121:45). How can any man indulge himself in the evils of pornography, profanity, or vulgarity and consider himself totally virtuous?” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 60; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 46).

President Harold B. Lee

“There are insidious forces among us that are constantly trying to knock at our doors and trying to lay traps for our young men and women, particularly those who are unwary and unsophisticated in the ways of the world. I speak of the battle against liquor by the drink, gambling, prostitution, pornography, and our efforts to aid Christian people who desire to have one day dedicated to keeping the Sabbath day holy” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1970, 54).

President Howard W. Hunter

“Be faithful in your marriage covenants in thought, word, and deed. Pornography, flirtations, and unwholesome fantasies erode one’s character and strike at the foundation of a happy marriage. Unity and trust within a marriage are thereby destroyed. One who does not control his thoughts and thus commits adultery in his heart, if he does not repent, shall not have the Spirit but shall deny the faith and shall fear (see D&C 42:23; 63:16)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 67; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 50).

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“As we have been reminded, this is a season of great evil in the world. No one needs to be reminded of that. We are constantly exposed to the muck and filth of pornography, to salacious and evil behavior totally unbecoming anyone who holds the priesthood of God” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1999, 68; or Ensign, May 1999, 51).

“There is an ever-growing plague of pornography swirling about us. … Many a man who has partaken of forbidden fruit and then discovered that he has destroyed his marriage, lost his self-respect, and broken his companion’s heart, has come to realize that the booby-trapped jungle trail he has followed began with the reading or viewing of pornographic material. …

“Portrayals of sexual perversion, violence, and bestiality become increasingly available for those who succumb to their lures. As this happens, religious activities are likely to become less attractive because the two do not mix any more than oil and water mix” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1983, 66–67; or Ensign, Nov. 1983, 45).

“You need not be his victims. You can rise above his wiles and entreaties. Get rid of the titillating entertainment, the pornography that leads to evil desires and reprehensible activity. Wives, look upon your husbands as your precious companions and live worthy of that association” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1991, 98; or Ensign, May 1991, 74).

“You cannot afford in any degree to become involved with pornography, whatever its form. You simply cannot afford to become involved in immoral practices—or to let down the bars of sexual restraint. The emotions that stir within you which make boys attractive to girls and girls attractive to boys are part of a divine plan. But they must be restrained, subdued, and kept under control, or they will destroy you and make you unworthy of many of the great blessings which the Lord has in store for you” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1992, 99; or Ensign, May 1992, 71).

“Let me read to you from a letter I received from a man ashamed to sign his name. He writes:

“‘I am a 35-year-old male and am a convert to the Church of more than ten years. For most of my adult life I have been addicted to pornography. I am ashamed to admit this. My addiction is as real as that of an alcoholic or a drug addict.

“‘I was first introduced to this material as a child. I was molested by an older male cousin, and pornography was used to attract my interest. I am convinced that this exposure at an early age to sex and pornography is at the root of my addiction today. I think it is ironic that those who support the business of pornography say that it is a matter of freedom of expression. I have no freedom. I have lost my free agency because I have been unable to overcome this. It is a trap for me, and I can’t seem to get out of it. Please, please, please, plead with the brethren of the Church to not only avoid but eliminate the sources of pornographic material in their lives. …

“‘Finally, President Hinckley, please pray for me and others in the Church who may be like me to have the courage and strength to overcome this terrible affliction.’

“Brethren, there is neither happiness nor peace to be gained from surrendering to the weakness of indulging in these things which degrade and destroy. When such material is on television, turn off the set. Stop being a boob in front of the tube. Avoid titillating videotapes as you would a foul disease. They are in the same category. Stay away from pornographic magazines and other destructive literature. There is too much of good to see; there is too much of wonderful reading to be experienced to waste time and destroy character and willpower in submitting to such destructive rot.

Be strong—in standing for the right. We live in an age of compromise and acquiescence. In situations with which we are daily confronted, we know what is right, but under pressure from our peers and the beguiling voices of those who would persuade us, we capitulate. We compromise. We acquiesce. We give in, and we are ashamed of ourselves. As men of the priesthood we must cultivate the strength to follow our convictions” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 72–73; or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 51–52).

President Thomas S. Monson

“Whatever you read, listen to, or watch makes an impression on you.

“Pornography is especially dangerous and addictive. Curious exploration of pornography can become a controlling habit, leading to coarser material and to sexual transgression.

“Don’t be afraid to walk out of a movie, turn off a television set, or change a radio station if what’s being presented does not meet your Heavenly Father’s standards. In short, if you have any question about whether a particular movie, book, or other form of entertainment is appropriate, don’t see it, don’t read it, don’t participate” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 60; or Ensign, Nov. 1990, 46).

President James E. Faust

“Surfing the Internet may draw us into that which, if pursued, can destroy our marriages, our homes, and even our lives” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1999, 20; or Ensign, May 1999, 17).

Elder Ezra Taft Benson

“The Lord knew that in the last days Satan would try to destroy the family unit. He knew that by court edict, pornography would be allowed to prosper” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1970, 23).

Elder Thomas S. Monson

“The beetle of pornography is doing his deadly task—undercutting our will, destroying our immunity, and stifling that upward reach within each of us” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1979, 96; or Ensign, Nov. 1979, 66).

Elder Marvin J. Ashton

“A diet of violence or pornography dulls the senses, and future exposures need to be rougher and more extreme. Soon the person is desensitized and is unable to react in a sensitive, caring, responsible manner, especially to those in his own home and family. Good people can become infested with this material and it can have terrifying, destructive consequences” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1977, 108; or Ensign, Nov. 1977, 71).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

“A little pornography may not only lead to child and spouse abuse, but it slowly sucks out the marrow of self-esteem” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 91; or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 67).

Elder M. Russell Ballard

“We must not take lightly the confession of a recently executed killer on the impact pornography and violence in media had on his life. The Apostle Paul warned that men can become ‘past feeling … [giving] themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness’ (Ephesians 4:19). In Proverbs we read, ‘As [a man] thinketh … , so is he’ (23:7). A mind exposed to violence and immorality cannot escape the negative impact of such exposure” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 99; or Ensign, May 1989, 79).

Movies and Videos

President Ezra Taft Benson

“We counsel you, young men, not to pollute your minds with such degrading matter, for the mind through which this filth passes is never the same afterward. Don’t see R-rated movies or vulgar videos or participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive, or pornographic. Don’t listen to music that is degrading” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1986, 58; or Ensign, May 1986, 45).

Elder Joe J. Christensen

“The Savior is counting on you to avoid the immoral trash that surrounds you in the media.

“Satan has made great inroads into the lives of some Latter-day Saints through the evil in the media. I am confident that the great majority of you have not been guilty of serious sexual sin, but many are placing themselves in a path that could lead to it. A bishop reported that he had observed that the spiritual level of the young priesthood bearers in his ward was declining. Through his personal interviews with them, he discovered that many of them were watching R-rated movies. When he asked them where they went to see such trash, they said, ‘We don’t go anywhere. We watch them at home. We have cable television, and when our parents are gone we watch anything we want to.’

“Fathers, you may want to reconsider having unrestricted cable or unsupervised television sets in your home and particularly in your children’s bedrooms.

“It is very unreasonable to suppose that exposure to profanity, nudity, sex, and violence has no negative effects on us. We can’t roll around in the mud without getting dirty.

“It is a concern that some of our young Latter-day Saints, as well as their parents, regularly watch R-rated and other inappropriate movies and videos—one more reason why the ‘devil laugheth, and his angels rejoice’ (3 Nephi 9:2).

“Just a few months ago the Lord’s prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, shared with the youth, and with all of us, this clear and unmistakable counsel:

“‘Be clean. I cannot emphasize that enough. Be clean. It is so very, very important, and you at your age are in such temptation all the time. It is thrown at you on television. It is thrown at you in books and magazines and videos. You do not have to rent them. Don’t do it. Just don’t do it. Don’t look at them. If somebody proposes that you sit around all night watching some of that sleazy stuff, you say, “It’s not for me.” Stay away from it’ (Denver, Colorado, youth meeting, 14 Apr. 1996).

“The Lord and His living prophets are counting on you to avoid the trash that surrounds you in the media. When anyone chooses to ignore or defiantly go against the counsel of the living prophet, he is on very shaky ground” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 55; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 40).

Elder H. Burke Peterson

“Again I say, leave it alone. Turn it off, walk away from it, burn it, erase it, or destroy it. I know it is hard counsel we give when we say movies that are R-rated, and many with PG-13 ratings, are produced by satanic influences. Our standards should not be dictated by the rating system. I repeat, because of what they really represent, these types of movies, music, and tapes serve the purposes of the author of all darkness” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 60; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 43).