Before I learned that I was an addict and began working on a recovery program that included lots of 12 Step meetings, a sponsor, and meetings with the LDS bishop and stake president to talk about my recovery, I used to do a lot of dishonest things. One thing was dishonest scripture reading. Another was dishonest prayer.
I engaged in dishonest scripture reading when I would “search the scriptures” for proof that I could deal with my “porn problem” and compulsive sexual behavior on my own, in isolation and secrecy. I refused to clear my mind of fear and look at what the Lord could teach me through the mouths of His ancient and no-so-ancient prophets.
Below are a few of my formerly favorite “scriptures for the dishonest porn addict.” You’ll see as you read about them that while they’re important for the healthy and honest disciple of Christ, these scriptures can be twisted and manipulated by the dishonest and unhealthy addict who is not in recovery.
1. Enos. I refer to Enos as the Patron Saint of LDS Addicts in Denial. For years, my reading of his experience as recounted in one of the shortest books in the Book of Mormon gave me so much hope–hope that I could resolve my problem secretly and without “outside involvement.” It was not a very honest reading on my part.
You’ll recall that as Enos went into the wilderness to hunt, his souls hungered so he knelt and prayed all through the day and night and into the next day. He had to “wrestle…before the Lord” to obtain a remission of his sins, thereby demonstrating the strength and willpower that were ever so appealing to a self-absorbed addict like myself.
But the single most attractive thing to my addict brain about the Enos experience was that there was no other human being in the story other than Enos! He did it all on his own! Of course Heavenly Father was involved up in heaven and so was Jesus and his Atonement, but to me with my inability to read the scriptures honestly, Enos appeared to have resolved his “sin problem” without a bishop or a stake president or a spouse or a therapist or a 12 Step group. Oh, how I wanted to be like Enos! Strong and solo! See what I mean about dishonest scripture study?
Until recovery, I didn’t realize that in order for the story of Enos to apply to an addict like me in the way in which I interpreted it, there would have had to be an additional verse that went something like this: “And I, Enos, being an addict, nevertheless being a man of incredibly powerful mental, spiritual and emotional fortitude, did go forth in the power of my intellect, spirituality and willpower and did beat down and overcome my addictive behavior without the help of one single other human being, and blessed be the name of the Lord for my massive strength, brains, self-discipline and ironclad spirituality.”
As far as I can tell, Enos was a sinner but he was not an addict. He was able to repent because he was able to confess his sins to the Lord and then forsake them for good–on his own, I guess. He didn’t seem to have the “forsaking problem” that all addicts have when they stop repeatedly but can’t stay stopped because they’re trying to do things on their own, in secrecy and isolation. Enos is a great example of the penitent disciple of Christ, but he simply doesn’t provide the clear and complete blueprint for the forsaking of sin that addicts need. A dishonest scripture-reading addict like me refused to consider that possibility.
Stay tuned for more on addiction and dishonest scripture reading in Part 2: Alma the Younger and the incredibly appealing story of “instant forgiveness.”