When I was young my school showed all the students a film titled Say NO to Strangers. In the film several young children were confronted by strangers and had to choose whether they should go with the stranger or not when, for example, a stranger would try to lure them away with candy or ice cream. If a child gave in, tragedy could result.
I thought of that movie recently when I read what the Lord said through the Prophet Joseph Smith at a conference of the Church in 1831: “The enemy in the secret chambers seeketh your lives” (D&C 38:28).
Pornography is like that evil stranger, that enemy operating in secret chambers. It targets children, teens, and adults—both male and female. Its purveyors often operate in secrecy and seek to deceive us by claiming to offer something normal and pleasurable that doesn’t harm anyone.
Pornography pretends that it is no evil stranger—that it is not a problem and is not addictive. That is a lie. One 12-year-old boy recently wrote to the New Era, telling of his experience viewing pornography when he was alone at home. While initially it was exciting, he soon felt deep despair. He wrote: “I have been trying my best to forget those images. I would like to say to anyone reading the Friend or New Era that while porn might be pleasurable, it really wrecks your soul and is hard to recover from.”
Pornography is more prevalent today than at any other time. For most people of earlier generations, pornography was something hidden in the dark corners of society. Nowadays, because of the Internet, it seems that encountering pornography is increasingly not a matter of if but when. That is why it is important that you decide now to prepare a way to flee from this evil stranger.
Dr. Donald L. Hilton Jr., a specialist in neurological surgery and a Church member, says that even one viewing of pornography can be enough to sow the seeds of a future addiction. Its allure and the accompanying act of self-stimulation may not seem horribly bad at first. Excitement, fascination, and gratification all accompany the viewing of pornography, and because of that, he warns, you may not believe you are addicted until it is too late.
If you are tempted to view pornography, there are ways to resist. If you have developed a habit of viewing pornography, there is help. Talking with your bishop about these things may seem scary, uncomfortable, or embarrassing, but he, along with your parents and your Heavenly Father, loves you and wants only the best for you.
The best way to stay safe is surprisingly simple—talk to your parents and ask for their help in avoiding pornography. Make a plan together so that they can support you.
The best way to escape if you need to repent is also simple, though it may require courage: go to your bishop and confess completely and honestly. “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them” (D&C 58:43). Complete truthfulness with the appropriate authority is a necessary step. Talk to your parents, your bishop, or a professional counselor. You cannot overcome pornography alone; it will not stop without help. Willpower alone will not be enough to help you back on the road to recovery and peace.
“Addiction is a collision with the adversary that causes a wound on the soul,” Dr. Hilton says. But although there may be a wound, even a deep one, repentance is the process by which there can be a complete healing of that wound.
For those in the grip of pornography addiction, there is a way out. Happiness, joy, and peace of mind can eventually be regained. The Church pamphlet Let Virtue Garnish Thy Thoughts (available from your bishop) offers encouragement: “Your desire to change must be powerful—more powerful than your desire for pornography. Ponder your most sincere desires for your life and the life of your family, and focus on accomplishing good instead of dwelling on your struggles with pornography” (, 10; also available at the Church’s website OvercomingPornography.org).
Remember, there is hope. The Lord has said, “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more” (D&C 58:43).
You can avoid and overcome the enticements of this enemy of your soul. You can take control and banish pornography from your life.