Jesus Christ set the example of one who is pure in thought and action (see 3 Nephi 27:21). Even though He was “in all points tempted like as we are,” He remained “without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). He kept Himself clean, pure, and virtuous, and we can do the same. The Lord encouraged us to “let virtue garnish [our] thoughts unceasingly” (D&C 121:45).
Pornography is any depiction, in pictures or writing, that is intended to inappropriately arouse sexual feelings. Pornography is more prevalent in today’s world than ever before. It may be found in written material (including romance novels), photographs, movies, electronic images, video games, social media posts, phone apps, erotic telephone conversations, music, or any other medium.
Physical intimacy is a sacred part of Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness. However, the adversary tries to thwart the Lord’s plan of happiness by suggesting that physical intimacy is only for personal gratification. Pornography is a tool of the adversary and its use causes the Spirit of the Lord to withdraw from us (see D&C 63:16).
Potential effects of pornography include isolation, secrecy, and deceit that damage relationships and leave one vulnerable to poor self-esteem, anxiety, and depression; unrealistic expectations and misinformation about sexual intimacy; conditioning us to see people as objects to be used and abused; and the development of obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.
Elder M. Russell Ballard counseled:
“If you are involved in it, if you are entrapped in this practice, get spiritual help now. You can overcome pornography with the Savior’s assistance. Do not wait.”
Letting virtue garnish our thoughts unceasingly and living the law of chastity will help us follow the virtuous example of the Savior.
How can I overcome the traps of pornography?
If you already indulge in pornography to any degree, you can stop. You have agency to choose your thoughts and actions. This requires an honest admission of the problem and a willingness to be responsible for your actions and the pain those actions have caused others. The adversary may have misled you in the past, but you have the final choice. You can regain the strength of the Spirit in your life. To do this, you need most of all to know that your Redeemer loves you. He has the power to help and to heal you. He died to pay for the sins of all who repent and follow Him. You can draw on the power of His Atonement for hope and strength as you repent. Remember the words of the Apostle Paul: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).
Multiple resources are available to you. The Overcoming Pornography website and the Addiction Recovery Program offers a gospel-centered recovery program for you and your family.
- Read words of hope.
Study, ponder and discuss the guide “Let Virtue Garnish Thy Thoughts” with your spouse, parents, or bishop.
- Make a plan.
Write and share your personal plan for recovery and make changes if necessary.
- Find support.
Understand how you can enlist the help of those around you to support you in recovery.
- Participate in the Addiction Recovery Program.
Visit the website, read the guidebook, or go to a meeting.
- Consider professional help.
Determine whether or not professional help may be needed.
How do I teach my children about the dangers of pornography?
Parents have a sacred duty to teach their children and instill righteous values in them. Parents who have open discussions and talks with their children about intimacy and its role in our Heavenly Father’s plan help protect their children from the influence of the adversary.
The Overcoming Pornography website includes resources to help parents protect and instruct their children. Some family home evening lessons you might want to consider are:
- My Body Is from God
- The Spirit Can Help Me Choose Good Media
- What Should I Do If I See Pornography?
- The Savior Desires to Forgive and Heal the Wounds of Pornography
- Sexual Intimacy Is Sacred and Beautiful
How do I know if someone is struggling with pornography?
Accurately discerning whether or not an individual is struggling with pornography is difficult, but there are a few signs you can look for. While just displaying one of these signs might be a poor predictor, the more that are present, the more concerned you may want to be.
- Loss of interest in sexual relations or insatiable sexual appetite.
- Denial behaviors such as defensiveness, rationalization, minimization, and so on.
- Neglect of responsibilities.
- Increased isolation (such as late-night hours on the computer); withdrawal from family.
- Emotional withdrawal from family; critical of spouse and children.
- Easily irritated; irregular mood swings.
- Unexplained absences.
- Unexplained financial transactions.
If you suspect that a loved one might be struggling with pornography, read the following advice on OvercomingPornography.org.
How do I cope with the use of pornography by my spouse or child?
If you learn that a family member is involved with pornography, it is common to feel angry, discouraged, betrayed, or distressed. In these difficulties, you may find and receive strength as you counsel with your bishop. You may also want to ask for a priesthood blessing from a worthy priesthood holder. Gain strength from the stories of others who have dealt with similar experiences.
You may also participate in support groups for the spouses and family members of pornography addicts through the Addiction Recovery Program.