The Flip Side of Lust – Part 1 | What Very Few in the LDS Church Understand About the Drug Behind Sex and Porn Addiction

So what's on the flip-side of the Susan B. Anthony dollar?

So what’s on the flip side of the Susan B. Anthony dollar?

For all you LDS folks who love a challenge, here’s a quick quiz for you: What’s on the Susan B. Anthony dollar? Answer: Why, it’s Susan B. Anthony, of course! Easy, right? But hold on! What’s on the back side? Most people don’t know because they’ve never paid any attention. If you had to, you could probably guess that there’s an eagle–just like there is on most larger denomination US coins. But here’s the thing you probably didn’t know: In addition to the eagle, the flip-side of the SBA coin shows an image of Earth–as seen from the moon! (You can see an image at the bottom of this post.)

Like the SBA dollar, lust–the drug behind sex and pornography addiction–has two sides, one of which is very familiar to us and the other of which is complete Greek to most of God’s children–including and especially Latter-day Saints.

A long time ago, sexaholics, members of the 12 Step Group Sexaholics Anonymous, recognized these two sides of the same coin when they penned the description of their disease of sexaholism. They said quite simply, “We lusted and wanted to be lusted after.” Eight words containing a universe of truth.

“We lusted and wanted to be lusted after.”

One definition of lust is “using ourselves or other persons or things to satisfy our own desires without regard to any harm or consequences to ourselves and others.” By definition, lust is bad. And it clearly encompasses way more than porn consumption. Latter-day Saints need to listen up.

Porn is just the soldiers in the trenches; lust is the brigadier general

Porn is the foot soldier in the trenches. Lust is the brigadier general.

One of the assertions I make repeatedly on this site is that Mormons need to focus more on lust and less on porn in the battle for the souls of God’s children. Satan is the commander-in-chief; lust is the brigadier general; porn is just one of the foot soldiers down in the trenches doing the dirty work. Latter-day Saints ignore this reality at their peril.

Everyone knows that porn consumption is merely unbridled lust. This is what the LDS Church and its members are battling against with such conviction. Men (and a growing number of women) need to quit looking at porn (lusting). Right? Of course.

But as I said, there’s a flip side of lust: wanting to be lusted after. It’s still lust. It gives the participant a great, big, giant lust hit and renders that person a lust drunk–just like the porn consumer.

Like many who attend meetings of Sexaholics Anonymous, I talk quite a bit about lust hits and whether I’m taking them when I interact with the women around me. Taking lust hits is how I describe the consumption of my drug. It’s pretty evident that I can take lust hits with absolutely no porn within a million miles–and so can every man, woman or child on the planet. To take lust hits in this way, all we have to do is look around us–and lust after someone.

So what does this have to do with Mormons? Well, frankly, a lot and in ways that are going to make many Latter-day Saints (and others) very uncomfortable. As a groundwork, I assert the following: (1) Men tend to lust after others and to a lesser degree want to be lusted after. (2) Women, however, tend to want to be lusted after, with lusting after others coming in a distant second.

When my wife and I visit Utah and drive down the Wasatch Front, it feels a little like the Twilight Zone when we can see temples up on the hills to the east and billboards for breast enlargement to the west. We are not the only LDS visitors to the Beehive State that are a bit taken aback by the noticeable numbers of clearly enhanced women in the sacrament meetings there. In 2007, Forbes magazine named Salt Lake City as the vainest city in America because of its high per capita spending on elective cosmetic surgery and appearance and beauty products. What is going on?

According to ksl.com back in the fall of 2011:

“The numbers of women getting [elective cosmetic surgery] is up dramatically since 2000. Breast augmentations have risen by 39 percent; breast lifts, 70 percent; and tummy tucks, a dramatic 85 percent in 10 years. The [American Society of Plastic Surgeons] also points out that women as young as 30 are often going in for these procedures to get their pre-baby bodies back, where 10 years ago, it was mostly women 50 and older.”

I find it interesting that during the same time period when the American male’s craving for pornography absolutely exploded, women also began going to greater and more expensive lengths to look like porn stars–or maybe just to look like a really hot LDS, Utah County resident, mother of five, Young Women’s President.

“We lusted and wanted to be lust after.”

Similar to lusting after someone, wanting to be lusted after and then taking action to put ourselves in a position to be lusted after also creates lust hits. Different behavior, same drug: lust. Take for example a woman who gets a breast augmentation and then shows up at the community pool in her “modest” tankini. As she sashays from chaise lounge to pool and back, she is aware that the eyes of the men around the pool are focused on her. Her heart beats a little faster and her cheeks flush a bit. She is being lusted after. She knows it. And she too is taking lust hits from the experience of being lusted after. She is getting her drug.

The same (or a similar) woman shows up at church on Sunday to take the sacrament with her family and teach her Young Women’s class full of eager Beehives or Miamaids. She dresses conservatively, even modestly, but there is no doubt that she’s had work done and she looks fabulous. As she walks down the aisle to take up residence on the usual bench with her family, she is aware that the eyes of the men in the ward are on her. Her heart beats a little faster and her cheeks flush. She is being lusted after. She knows it. And just like at the pool, she too is taking lust hits. She is getting her drug.

As men in the Church become more and more entrenched in their lust obsession by way of pornography, I believe a lot of the women in the Church are also nurturing a lust obsession albeit from a different angle. With problem drinkers, one may drink tequila and another whiskey, but both get drunk. With lust consumers, one may lust after others while another seeks to be lusted after, but both get lust drunk.

One objection I would expect to hear about what I’ve just said is, “Well, we wives wouldn’t have to do this if our husbands would quit looking at porn! If we don’t get the work done or show off the cleavage or behave aggressively in the bedroom, how can we possibly compete with the porn?” See, that’s my point. Too many women are caught in the trap. Their husband’s lust is their compass.

The big question in their life has become, “How can I get my husband to direct all of his lust toward me?” The big lie is in believing that if the husband turns off the porn spigot, he will naturally refocus his sexual energy on his wife. Nope. That’s not how it works. Ask any sexaholic. Ask any member of S-Anon.

A related objection might be, “Well compared to what the men are doing, this is nothing! This is tossing pebbles compared to their dropping boulders on their wives and families when they consume porn and do everything else they’re doing!” My response is that we are not engaged in a contest to see who can achieve the most misery in their life. I want to be happy. I know that lust makes me horribly unhappy. I am working to get rid of lust in my life–and that involves learning to avoid the tendency to lust after others as well as to avoid wanting to be lusted after. Whether it’s the pebble version or the boulder version, lust brings misery to the consumer.

Another objection might be that I seem to be suggesting that women are contributing to the men’s problem with porn. I don’t think that’s what I’m saying at all. There is more than ample information on this site to show that sex and porn addicts are responsible for their own behavior and for their own recovery or failure to find recovery. No man on this planet can excuse his lust-driven behavior by trying to dump responsibility on the women around him.

What I am saying, however, is that many women in the LDS Church are getting flattened twice: once by the husband who is addicted to sex and pornography as he objectifies her and other women; then again by herself as she engages in her own lust-driven behavior, desperately wanting to be lusted after and then taking action to put herself in a position to be lusted after. Lust destroys. Whether we lust or want to be lusted after, the lust destroys us.

I’ve posted some discussions lately about co-addiction. One spouse becomes addicted to keeping the other spouse away from porn or sexual acting out. A huge–but ultimately doomed–attempt at control occurs when the co-addict encourages her sex addict to act out sexually with her. The lust flies back and forth. Neither partner is really happy or satisfied. Something always seems to be missing. And something is missing: true passion and genuine intimacy. Lust is such a poor counterfeit of the real thing.

An unusual view of Earth from the moon.

“We lusted and wanted to be lusted after.” There is a deadly dance going on in marriages all over the world and right in the middle of Mormondom. Whether in Spain or Spanish Fork, the rhythm and beat are the same. When the music finally stops–and it will–husbands and wives will be horrified to discover that the devil has been derisively laughing his head off the whole time. It’s just that nobody could hear him. Lust is an incredibly noisy drug.

Check out Part 2 and Part 3 of this post for more thoughts on the flip side of lust.

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Coin images and soldiers image are in the public domain. The former are images are not subject copyright; the copyright to the later has expired.

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

The Flip Side of Lust – Part 1 | What Very Few in the LDS Church Understand About the Drug Behind Sex and Porn Addiction — 12 Comments

  1. Wow, Great article! cutting edge ideas here.

    John & Staci Eldredge (evangelical christian husband/wife authors) wrote a book with his wife called ‘Captivating’ (unveiling the mystery of a woman’s soul) which touches on this idea.
    It talks about the core questions women have “Do you find me beautiful?” Will you pursue me?”. So, I think a woman’s desire to be lusted after.. signifies a god-given desire that the devil tries to abuse.

    “…Marvel not that all men AND women need to be born again…”
    “..The Natural woman and man are enemies to God and have been since the fall of adam, unless THEY yield to the enticings…. ”

    Laura Brotherson wrote THE book on sexuality for LDS women “And they were not ashamed”. In the book she discusses the idea of the ‘good girl syndrome’ and how some lds women have never even talked about sexuality before their marriages and then are expected to ‘go for it’ on their wedding night.. Some have theorized that many lds women have disowned a large part of their sexual natures… and thus their male counterparts learn to ‘compartmentalize’ their sexuality (masturbation) in order to maintain a working ‘religious’ relationship.

    So, Lust is the enemy of Love.. but how for 20 yr olds to parse this out??? I’ll have some good questions for God when I get to the other side for why 14 yr olds get this power. I think it speaks to a system failure… and perhaps one solution to this is for fathers, uncles, bishops,etc.. to take a much larger interest in young women. Something that emulates our Heavenly Father’s amazing love for women. study after study show that if young women get this core need fulfilled as a young woman (to feel beautiful, desired & captivating) … that she will know what healthy attraction feels like… and then not be so interested to ‘incentivize’ the ‘carnal, sensual, devilish’ men who are lustily pursuing her body… not her whole being, her whole soul.

  2. This is a new thought for me, but it makes sense. I think the problem is everywhere though, certainly not more prevalent in lds or christian culture. Perhaps this is part of the reason that there are women out there who are willing to participate in the creation of porn — they want to be lusted after. I’ve always wondered what in the world could possibly motivate them! Thanks for your thoughts.

    • M’e, thanks for the comment. You’re right that the problem of lust is most certainly NOT more prevalent among Mormons. All we have to do is look at movies, television, music albums and ads to see that, in America, we’re a lust-driven society. Many of us have grown to adulthood with no conscious recollection of a time when we weren’t a lust-driven society. When Mormons enlist to fight the battle against porn, we would do well to remember what I said in the post: Satan is the commander-in-chief; lust is the brigadier general; porn is just one of the foot soldiers doing SOME of the dirty work. Part of our challenge is learning to recognize the other foot soldiers. “Wanting to be lusted after” is one of them.

  3. not directly related, but what’s the best way to tell your wife about your addiction?

    Also, what are your thoughts on Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES).

    • I’ve got an idea about disclosure, but it’s not necessarily the best way to do it. When I disclosed, I went in and talked to my bishop, then asked him to call my wife and have her come in to meet with us. I then disclosed pretty much everything to her there in the bishop’s office. I don’t recommend this at all. It was like dumping a ton of bricks on her. She had no support system for processing everything I’d told her and neither did I. Of course, neither of us realized at the time that we were dealing with an addiction.

      Knowing what I know now, however, I would strongly recommend finding a therapist trained in treating sexual addiction. Spend some time with the therapist coming to understand the reality and extent of the addiction. Talk with the therapist about how to bring this up with your spouse. Also, get involved in a 12 Step program like Sexaholics Anonymous, get a sponsor, get into recovery and put some distance between yourself and the acting out. Disclosure without some real recovery is just “dumping.” It can do a lot of damage to a spouse. On the flip side, dragging your feet and not telling your spouse is also seriously damaging to the spouse and the marriage. So in the end, my advice is to get help from those who have experience with the addiction and get their help in facilitating disclosure to your spouse. Good luck and God bless you in your efforts to find recovery.

      And I’m not sure about the cranial thing. Never heard of it. Makes me a bit nervous. Therapy and 12 Step seem to be the program that works for me.

      • “Disclosure without some real recovery is just “dumping.” It can do a lot of damage to a spouse” I think is important advise. My spouse was caught and then disclosure came slowly overtime mingled with half truths and a heavy tone of defensiveness. Being blamed for something that I knew nothing about was extremely painful and created in me a sense of helplessness. it has taken me several years to find my balance. I know I could have handled the truth. It was the lies and reckless manipulations that damaged our marriage and broke my hopeful spirit.

  4. Bless you, that you brought yourself to tell your wife on your own. Yes, dumping is horribly destructive for the wife. But I hope she realizes how lucky, comparatively, she is, that you cared enough and were aware enough to seek help on your own.

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  9. Re-read this post as I have been pondering the topic of lust. It seems many couples want to connect. The real kind. The honest kind. Passion and intimacy is available but the best of couples seem to find themselves focused on body parts (surgery) and erections (viagra). Gandhi wrote a thoughtful book and speaks of lust. Here is a link to a pdf of his writings. http://www.holybooks.com/wp-content/uploads/M.-K.-Gandhi-An-Autobiography-or-The-Story-of-my-Experiments-with-Truth.pdf. Chapter 4 he begins reflection that continues throughout. In Chapter 9 he shares “I was weighed and found unpardonably wanting because my mind was at the same moment in the grip of lust. I have therefore always regarded myself as a lustful. though a faithful, husband. It took me long to get free from the shackles of lust, and I had to pass through many ordeals before I could overcome it.”. The interesting thing about his comment is the lust he is wanting to overcome is within his marriage for his wife. In today’s culture this sentiment might be challenged but as your post implies there may be another way to love. Thank you.