Captain Moroni | A Great Example for LDS Porn Addicts (But Not for the Usual Reasons)

photo courtesy of Darcy McCartySince I began educating myself about the nature of sex and pornography addiction, I’ve realized that over the course of my life I’ve effectively created in my mind a “shadow gospel” that closely mirrors the real Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ–but allows for “minor” acting out behavior such as porn binging and masturbation. After all, if those behaviors were really that big of a deal, a man of my immense spiritual stature wouldn’t be falling into them as I have.

I mean that tongue in cheek of course because they really are that big of a deal. When the Savior said lusting after a woman in the heart constitutes a sexual sin, I don’t think he intended an exception for LDS men, internet porn and self-sex.

Since I was following a “shadow gospel” for so long, I have since had to go back through all my spiritual understanding and assumptions to see where I’d been lying to myself in order to justify myself in my addict behavior. Recently I had to take a new look at one of the great heroes of the Book of Mormon: Captain Moroni.

Here’s how my addict brain worked in the past: First you need to keep in mind that the addict is looking for anything and everything in the Gospel that points to isolation and secrecy. “If I can take care of my little porn problem on my own and in secrecy–then no one has to know! What can I draw from the Gospel that will justify my secrecy and isolation? Aha! Captain Moroni!”

Addicts love Captain Moroni. They love that Arnold Friberg picture of the Captain raising the title of liberty with those massive biceps and the killer soldier armor and those piercing eyes. That picture exudes personal, physical strength–the foundation of the faith of LDS addicts. “If I can be strong like Captain Moroni,” the addict tells himself, “I can fix this little problem on my own.”

Addicts love the descriptions of Captain Moroni as a spiritual giant. He is something of a standard for Mormons, but especially Mormon porn addicts. They all want to be like him–or rather, their version of him. (I’m not the only one who follows the “shadow gospel.”) The strong, silent type–that’s what he was. If he had any problems, surely he would have resolved them with his own massive strength and faith–without the involvement of anyone else. See what I mean about a “shadow gospel”?

OK, so here’s how my addict brain now sees Captain Moroni through the lens of recovery: Those inspiring descriptions and stories of Captain Moroni did not stop with the mere mention of what an incredibly spiritual man he was. This is where addicts never go. Captain Moroni was in fact a great leader. He connected and communicated with other people. He enlisted their help to get done all that needed doing. He didn’t try to do it all on his own. In other words, as far as I can tell, there was very little of secrecy and isolation about Captain Moroni.

So how does this apply to me now as a recovering sex and pornography addict? I am powerless over lust. I know that. I lose every time I try to fight it. Drawing on Captain Moroni’s inspiring example, I have enlisted the help of a lot of people who have experience helping those with addictions. My sponsor recently observed nine years of continuous sexual sobriety (remember this includes progressive victory over lust). He is a great resource to me.

I currently attend around five meetings a week of Sexaholics Anonymous. That’s what my recovery requires right now. I look for even more opportunities to associate with other recovery sex and pornography addicts who are further along than I am.

For that very reason, I am attending a men’s retreat at a family camp in the breathtaking redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains this weekend. They understand addiction recovery better than I do. I want to hang with them and learn.

I meet with a therapist who has a lot of experience treating sexual addiction. He knows a lot more than I do and he is helping me find recovery.

My bishop and stake president have both educated themselves about the nature and extent of addictive behavior. When we talk, they know what we’re talking about. They have taken that huge step to acquire the knowledge. Now Heavenly Father can speak through them with authority. (They don’t wring their hands helplessly and say, “Well, keep praying and reading your scriptures!”)

As an addict working on recovery, I love Captain Moroni because he understood that he needed other people to achieve and maintain the freedom of families and communities. He knew he couldn’t do it alone and in isolation by means of prayer. He prayed–and then he went to work with other people. I need to always remember that. No isolation. No secrecy. I need other people.

Photo courtesy of Darcy Mcarty

About Andrew+

Latter-day Saint, sex and pornography addict in recovery, dealing with depression, returned missionary, father of a bunch of kids, graduate degree, self-employed, Book of Mormon reader, writer and thinker. Working on understanding and overcoming resentment, the number one killer of addicts.

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