“In our day the dreadful influence of pornography is like unto a plague sweeping across the world, infecting one here and one there, relentlessly trying to invade every home, most frequently through the husband and father,” President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said. “The effect of this plague can be, unfortunately often is, spiritually fatal. Lucifer seeks to disrupt ‘the great plan of redemption,’ ‘the great plan of happiness.’”
President Packer said that the patrons of pornography not only damage marital relationships, but they also lose the Spirit of Christ and forfeit the power of the priesthood. However, he stressed that we all have the ability to choose—and we will be blessed if we choose to never partake of such evils, or, if already involved, if we will repent and forsake them.
We Have a Choice
“The old saying ‘The Lord is voting for me, and Lucifer is voting against me, but it is my vote that counts’ describes a doctrinal certainty that our agency is more powerful than the adversary’s will,” President Packer said. “Agency is precious. We can foolishly, blindly give it away, but it cannot be forcibly taken from us.
“There is also an age-old excuse: ‘The devil made me do it.’ Not so! He can deceive you and mislead you, but he does not have the power to force you or anyone else to transgress or to keep you in transgression.”
The Priesthood Is the Antidote
“The priesthood holds consummate power,” President Packer said. “It can protect you from the plague of pornography—and it is a plague—if you are succumbing to its influence. If one is obedient, the priesthood can show how to break a habit and even erase an addiction. Holders of the priesthood have that authority and should employ it to combat evil influences.
“Priesthood holders carry with them the antidote to remove the terrible images of pornography and to wash away guilt. The priesthood has the power to unlock the influence of our habits, even to unchain from addiction, however tight the grip. It can heal over the scars of past mistakes.”
The power of the priesthood to counteract such influences must be accompanied by repentance, which “is like unto a detergent. Even ground-in stains of sin will come out,” President Packer said.
Angels Will Coach You
President Packer taught that “every soul confined in a prison of sin, guilt, or perversion has a key to the gate. The key is labeled ‘repentance.’ If you know how to use this key, the adversary cannot hold you. The twin principles of repentance and forgiveness exceed in strength the awesome power of the tempter. If you are bound by a habit or an addiction that is unworthy, you must stop conduct that is harmful. Angels will coach you, and priesthood leaders will guide you through those difficult times.
“Nowhere are the generosity and the kindness and mercy of God more manifest than in repentance. Do you understand the consummate cleansing power of the Atonement made by the Son of God, our Savior, our Redeemer? He said, ‘I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent.’ In that supernal act of love, the Savior paid the penalties for our sins so that we might not have to pay.”
There Is a Way Out
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles warned members of the dangers of rationalization. He said we cannot minimize the seriousness of pornography no matter what shape, form, or dosage it comes in.
There is a way out for anyone involved in such addictions, said Elder Oaks. “First, acknowledge the evil. Don’t defend it or try to justify yourself. Second, seek the help of the Lord and His servants.
“Third, do all that you can to avoid pornography,” Elder Oaks said. “If you ever find yourself in its presence—which can happen to anyone in the world in which we live—follow the example of Joseph of Egypt. When temptation caught him in her grip, he left temptation and ‘got him out’ (Gen. 39:12).
“Finally, do not patronize pornography. Do not use your purchasing power to support moral degradation. And young women, please understand that if you dress immodestly, you are magnifying this problem by becoming pornography to some of the men who see you.
“Please heed these warnings. Let us all improve our personal behavior and redouble our efforts to protect our loved ones and our environment from the onslaught of pornography that threatens our spirituality, our marriages, and our children.”