The principal of personal responsibility has been hijacked by addicts as a justification for remaining in isolation. The fact that so few men in the Church regularly attend 12 Step meetings to assist their recovery from addiction is evidence that pretty much everyone in the Church with the “little problem” is desperately holding out for the Lord to make this all go away as a reward for this demonstration (in isolation) of their acceptance of personal responsibility. For addicts, “accepting personal responsibility” is really just cover for what their addiction craves: isolation. “Accepting personal responsibility” nearly killed me. It has killed other men.
Summing It Up. We’ve talked about the many reasons why a large number of Mormon men are unable to kick the “pornography problem.” Pornography is just one sliver in the wood pile of acting out options for those addicted to lust. When we focus exclusively on abstaining from pornography, we will always fail because our addiction to lust will merely compel us to act out in other ways. If we wait long enough, the lust addiction will even eventually drive us to act out with pornography again. Lust addiction is not just addiction to pornography, but is also made up of connection addictions, relationship addictions and fantasy addictions.
Without recovery, we addicts can fuel lust indefinitely even with no pornography in sight. Men who lust necessarily objectify women and this objectification extends even to their own wives. Debilitating negative emotions create emotional pain which pushes the addict to self-medicate with his drug of choice. He feeds lust because lust makes him hurt less. Sex and pornography addicts inside and outside the Church are doing whatever they can to continue conning themselves and others that all this addiction stuff has nothing to do with them; they just have a “little problem.” And speaking of the “little problem,” LDS men gladly accept full personal responsibility for it—because doing so allows them to continue to fight their losing battle on their own, in isolation.
Calendars with little Xs on the porn-free days are not going to solve this complex and monumental problem. Keeping our days occupied with “positive and uplifting activities” won’t either. Singing a hymn or reciting a scripture won’t do much if anything to address the depression, rage, resentment or fear that is compelling the addict to self-medicate. None of these tiny Band-Aids, by themselves, will even begin to cover the gaping, gushing wounds of lust, connection, relationship and fantasy addictions brought on by debilitating negative emotions.“It Seems So Hopeless!” Not long ago, my wife was talking to a friend about our view of the pornography addiction problem in the Church. The friend shook her head despairingly and said, “How can you stand to look at it in this way? It seems so depressing! It seems so hopeless!” We don’t see it that way at all.
Thousands of years ago, the children of Israel stood crowded and cornered on the banks of the Red Sea. The armies of Pharaoh were bearing down on them. Annihilation seemed inevitable. The situation was hopeless. Then Moses turned to face the flood and raised his arms. From somewhere in the eternities, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob invoked His omnipotent will and the waters of the Red Sea parted to the left and to the right. The children of Israel passed over on dry land and the waters then came crashing down into their place again, destroying Pharaoh’s armies.
For years now, hundreds of thousands if not millions of Mormon men have—along other men worldwide—been struggling to overcome pornography addiction and compulsive sexual behavior. Rather than our men getting stronger, however, it appears that the compulsions are the ones getting stronger. We are losing the battles; we are losing the war. The casualties—husbands, wives, children, families, and communities—have been immense. As individual addicts each in his own isolation, we have proven definitively that we cannot overcome this enemy by flying solo. The situation is indeed hopeless. But…
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