Miracles will happen once we all get on the same page.
LATTER-DAY SAINTS can make a difference in the struggle against sex and pornography addiction, a battle raging for the souls of God’s children. One big problem we have, however, is a hand-wringing, stomach-churning fear that we have no idea what we’re talking about. The following points can help get us all going in the same direction against a cunning enemy that we must understand and see as it really is.
1. We Need to Quit Speaking in the Future Tense. “If you don’t stop looking at pornography, you are going to become addicted.” We need to quit talking about what’s going to happen—because it has already happened! We should say this instead: “You are unable to stop looking at pornography because you are addicted.” Addiction loves denial. In fact, it depends on it. The longer the addict stays in denial, the longer the addiction gets its drug.
When well-meaning people around the addict keep encouraging him to stop the “little problem” before it turns into the big A-word(!), they are unwittingly abetting him in his denial. When an addict hears the future tense, his addicted brain rejoices and he says to himself, “See, there’s still a chance for me to fix this thing by myself. I just need more resolve, more determination, more faith and more time—on my own!” He couldn’t quit the last time—or the time before that or the time before that or the time before that—because he was—and remains—addicted. Let’s get ourselves into the present tense. He is not going to become anything because he already is!
2. We Need to Quit Calling It a Pornography Addiction. We should call it a sex addiction. Although this will shock a lot of folks, I’m not trying to be controversial. Like I said, I’m just trying to get people to see the enemy as it really is. Actually, it’s not even really a sex addiction. It’s more of a lust and fantasy addiction. Addicts disappear into lust and fantasy as a means of self-medicating and escaping a painful reality. Sex addicts feed their compulsion for lust and fantasy by acting out with their drug of choice, often pornography because it is so readily available and can be consumed in secret.
When we call it a pornography addiction, we minimize the scope of the crisis and again facilitate the addict in his denial. There were periods of time in my life when I didn’t look at pornography for years. Because I couldn’t see that I was a lust and fantasy addict (most addicts can’t), I thought I was beating my “little problem” and winning the war. I wasn’t. Lust and fantasy were destroying me. The type of addiction we’re dealing with here lives on in the addict’s brain even when no pornography is present. Take a look at the essay “Muck Fires in My Brain.”
Think about alcoholism for a minute. Why don’t we say, “That guy has a ‘Coors Light in twelve-ounce cans with the lid popped and served very chilled’ addiction”? Sounds nuts, doesn’t it? Why? Because we recognize that the problem is not cold Coors Light. We wouldn’t even say our friend has a beer addiction. The alcoholic is allergic to alcohol in all its forms. It’s the same with pornography. Pornography is the Coors Light of sex addiction. It is just the vehicle by which the sex addict brings lust and fantasy through his eyeballs and into his brain.
I’m not suggesting that we ignore the fight on pornography. I believe quite the opposite. But I’m also saying that we need to understand that the enemy here is much larger in scale than just pornography. The true enemy is addiction to lust and fantasy. All pornography addicts are addicted to lust and fantasy and are therefore sex addicts. If we put filters on the family computer and move it to a high-traffic area, we minimize access to pornography, but don’t really get at the real culprits that are snuffing out lives and destroying marriages: lust and fantasy. This is so much more than a pornography addiction for everyone involved.