I Was a Dishonest LDS Scripture Reader (But Now I’m Not)(Part 1 of 4)

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.

crossing fingers while reading story of Enos

Dishonest scripture reading doesn’t help an LDS porn addict recover. It keeps the addict from finding truth–and recovery.

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.”

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.

Comments

I Was a Dishonest LDS Scripture Reader (But Now I’m Not)(Part 1 of 4) — 4 Comments

  1. Pingback: LDS Porn Addict Has Learned to Read Scriptures Honestly | Hero in Alma

  2. Its convenient for the addict to use Enos as proof that I can repent of my sins without anyone on this earth ever having to know about them. It works as long as I ignore the fact that after repenting Enos wrote his story for everyone and anyone to read, and now thousands of year later, in over a hundred different languages, millions of people all over the world have.

    Nothing secret about that.

  3. After reading this, I was thinking about if it is possible that some people don’t necessarily have to confess to another human being after viewing pornography. I was wondering at what point does the sinner become an addict and need the help of another person?

    As I was thinking about it and praying about it, I imagined a grassy place with a hole in the ground. I was sitting next to it and looked tired and dirty like I had just climbed out of it. Then, I could see down into the pit, and it was large with men all over the place struggling to get out. It was far too deep and wide for people to climb out. They needed ropes and others to help them as the rocks they gripped crumbled and broke off and those climbing the ropes were completely exhausted from exertion. I realized that the further down a person was, the more help they needed to get out. I then thought of the answer to my question: The further someone is down that pit, the more help they are going to need to get out. No matter how strong they are.

    There are some who have just started slipping into the pit, but have their arms still out on the grassy surface. They can pull themselves out with some effort of their own, but if they’re not careful, they could fall in themselves. I remember seeing my bishop’s face as he descended several times to grab men and pull them out. Inside the pit, men were struggling and the sides were crumbling to keep them there, but outside, it was surprisingly peaceful and calm. I then had the thought come into my mind that I was free and safe, but I needed to get away from that pit.

    • Cam: In my experience, I have had to get away from this idea that an addict is just a really bad sinner; in other words, wrongly thinking that an addict is merely a sinner who committed sins for so long that he became addicted to them. That’s a Mormon view (although not an exclusively Mormon view) that really needs to change in order for addicts to get the help they need. Sinners are people who commit sins. Addicts, in contrast, are people who suffer from compulsions and obsessions about one or more drugs or stimuli. Sinners need repentance; addicts need recovery. Sin and addiction can certainly be related, but they are not the same thing. Repentance and recovery are also related, but they are not the same thing.

      In my opinion, if a Latter-day Saint consumes the kind of pornography that is available in the year 2013, it is unlikely that that individual can properly resolve the sin component of that behavior without confessing it to a bishop. It is also my opinion that if a Latter-day Saint has tried and tried and tried for years to stop consuming pornography–and failed–there’s a pretty good chance that he’s trying to overcome the problem on his own–in secrecy and isolation–and will continue to fail unless he involves other people in the recovery process who understand addiction and what is necessary to find recovery from it.

      As for your interesting metaphor, I think you might add a component to it: Addicts can’t see reality. In the mind of every single addict outside recovery, he has “just started slipping into the pit.” All addicts think they just have a little problem, and that they can still pull themselves out of the pit on their own–in secrecy and isolation, of course. I thought I was just starting to slip into the pit. It took another LDS addict in recovery to explain to me what addiction was all about and help me see that I’d been addicted–and fooling myself–for years. That’s when I was able to start working on my recovery from addiction.