My brothers and I did everything together growing up. We journeyed together from training wheels to driver education class. They asked me to dance when no one else would and stayed up late getting my advice about the girls they liked. They’ve always been my best friends and protectors. I want to marry someone who loves and respects me the way my brothers do.
But there’s something that poisons the kind of relationship I’m looking for. I first became aware of it with a close friend of mine. He and I grew up together from Primary lessons to high school dances and cared about each other deeply. I was excited to see him get ready to serve a mission. Then one day he had a look on his face that made me think he was going to announce he had a terminal illness. He blurted out he would have to delay his mission because of morality problems he’d had that started with pornography. I felt so bad for him. I still cared about him and all the memories I had with him, but the blow was a difficult one for me to handle.
My experience with my friend made me think. Even if I never viewed pornography myself, I realized it could still hurt me if people I loved chose to look at it.
As I reached the age to seriously consider marriage, I discovered an even more personal way pornography could hurt me. As I dated one young man, we became close enough that I told him about my fear of pornography. Being sensitive to my fears, he told me about his struggles with it. He told me he didn’t realize at the time that his choice to view pornography would hurt someone he hadn’t met yet.
By now I was carrying around a bundle of questions that grew larger the more I realized how widespread pornography’s poison was. Did every boy have problems with pornography? The more I thought about the effects of pornography, the more discouraged I became. Most young women feel insecure about their appearance, and I was no exception. Pornography’s degrading emphasis on the physical only increased the pressure I already felt about my appearance. Every time a boy looked at me I thought, “What is he really thinking?”
I might have been overwhelmed by my fears if I didn’t have such good, loving brothers. I knew there must be other guys like them.
Then one day I was shopping with my younger brother. As we were driving home, he said that every store we went in had posters and magazines with inappropriate images of women displayed everywhere. His voice was full of nervousness as he proceeded to tell me he had looked a little at pornography and later repented of it but felt so discouraged when everywhere he went he was bombarded with it. He mentioned that my other brothers had struggled with similar problems.
At first I didn’t know what to think. I couldn’t believe that my brother had involved himself in something like that. But looking at his eyes filled with tears and pain made me realize how hard it is to stay clean in a world where we are confronted by inappropriate images every day.
I could tell that my little brother felt horrible, but I wanted him to know how pornography made me feel. I told him how hurt and how afraid I felt because of pornography and the power it had over those I cared about. He listened intently and said he hadn’t realized how awful it made girls feel. He apologized for hurting me.
Satan wanted my brothers and friends to believe that if viewed in private, pornography wouldn’t hurt anyone. Satan also wanted to convince me that I could never trust anyone and that I would never be truly loved.
Satan is a liar.
My dad’s example gives me hope. He cherishes and respects my mother. Every time women or physical love are displayed in inappropriate ways on TV, my dad changes the channel. I see the deep respect and love my parents have for each other, and that’s what I want for myself and my brothers in our future marriages. That kind of love is seldom portrayed in movies and never in pornography.
My brother later told me that every time he saw women displayed inappropriately, he thought of not disappointing me and turned the other way. These images became less enticing as he realized that he was looking at someone’s mother, sister, wife, or daughter, that he was hurting people he loved, and that he could poison the way he would see his future wife.
Understanding what pornography does to my brothers and to me only strengthens their resolve to stay away from it. And now that I’m more aware of what boys are facing, I do everything I can to help them stay strong, like trying to dress modestly, choosing not to watch inappropriate movies or TV shows, and letting them know how I feel when they talk about women in inappropriate ways.
Editor’s note: Your bishop or branch president can provide much needed spiritual guidance and help with pornography-related problems. For professional help, contact the LDS Family Services office nearest you by visiting www.ldsfamilyservices.org or by e-mailing email@example.com.
For more information on avoiding pornography, you can read these articles in the Gospel Library at www.lds.org: Q&A: “Pornography is ruining my life. …” (New Era, Aug. 2005); “A Tragic Evil among Us” (Ensign, Nov. 2004), by President Gordon B. Hinckley; and “Danger Ahead! Avoiding Pornography’s Trap” (New Era, Oct. 2002).