How I Really Feel About LDS Porn Addicts

This past weekend of LDS General Conference was a wonderful one for me. My wife religiously observes a trans-generational tradition of baking German pancakes on Saturday morning and then frying griddle cakes on Sunday morning. It’s a wonderfully pleasant experience to sit in the family room with my wife and kids enjoying a breakfast that includes a choice of blueberry or boysenberry syrup while at the same time listening to the leaders of the LDS Church share their testimonies of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Sower by James Tissot (Brooklyn Museum) [in the public domain]

The Sower by James Tissot (Brooklyn Museum) [public domain]

I was thrilled to hear about the huge numbers of young men and women who are preparing for LDS missionary service. What a blessing they’ll be as they leave the selfish albeit necessary pursuit of education to spend eighteen months or two years selflessly helping other people around the world improve their lives. There are few experiences more satisfying than catching up on the phone with someone you baptized twenty years earlier and hearing something to the effect of, “Thank you for sharing the Gospel with me. You saved my life!”

After the five sessions of Conference that I watched, I had pages and pages of notes as well as some new insights about addiction recovery running through my brain. Hopefully, they’ll make it into a post or two on Rowboat and Marbles in the near future.

As I sat in our local chapel watching the satellite broadcast of General Priesthood Meeting on Saturday evening, I looked over at my sixteen-year-old son who listened attentively. Six months ago, when he heard President Monson’s announcement about the minimum age for LDS missionaries dropping from nineteen to eighteen, he was hit by a sudden realization that his mission was not too far off. He is working hard to be prepared. He wants to be a missionary who can help people. Heavenly Father has blessed him with a compassionate heart. I think he’ll be a great addition to the Lord’s team.

As I watched him, my mind drifted into the future. I pictured myself placing my hands on his head to ordain him as an elder and to give him a father’s blessing before he left us for two years. I made a mental list of the men we would likely invite to stand in the circle of priesthood holders during the ordination, men who have been very important in our lives. Here’s what’s interesting: With the exception of our bishop and stake president, every other priesthood holder that is on my list to be in that circle is a currently recovering sex and porn addict. And it would be a pretty big circle.

That’s how I feel about LDS porn addicts. And the promise of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

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

How I Really Feel About LDS Porn Addicts — 6 Comments

  1. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your hopeful blog posts. It is really helping me support my husband better in his recovery. When I first discovered how deep into his addiction my husband was, I felt hopeless. I felt even worse after reading message boards and other non religious blogs written by wives of sex addicts. Then I found your site. Your book helped my husband realize that he was an addict and your encouraging words have helped him realize that he does have hope for a recovery, however long that road may be.

  2. How do you know the Bishop and Stake President aren’t also recovering addicts? Just food for thought, Andrew. There may be some (Bishops and Stake Presidents who are recovering addicts) out there now. Perhaps the Lord will choose to call some of these priesthood holders who have walked that path and have years of sobriety to those positions, and they may be just the ones who can help a whole ward or stake full of addicts on their way to recovery and an enhanced understanding of the Atonement. Not that it requires that background to be able to lead a stake — of course it doesn’t. But just saying. Thanks for your comments.

    • They’ve been good friends of mine for over a decade–I would know and they would have told me if they were recovering addicts. In addition, working with me on my addiction recovery involved a learning curve for them as well. A recovering addict would have known immediately how to help me. As compassionate and as well-meaning as they were, they didn’t.

      As to your other point, I fully expect that many recovering addicts will at some point in the near future have significant shepherding responsibilities in the LDS Church. Can you imagine how great it would be if a distraught LDS woman came to counsel with her bishop in recovery about her husband’s porn consumption and the bishop looked her in the eye and said, “I know exactly what you need to do and what he needs to do! Here are the books to read, here are the meetings to attend, here is the phone list of women to call who can help you because they’ve had the same experiences and overcome them. You’re going to make it through this! I know, because I’ve seen it happen. You’re going to undergo a miracle in your life!”

      How about a bishop in recovery who sits across the desk from the chronic porn binger, listening to him talk about how he’s REALLY serious about overcoming porn THIS TIME and how he just lacked enough faith during the 10,000 other times he tried to quit? A bishop in recovery would ask just the right questions to help him come to recognize his powerlessness over lust and to see how his life has become unmanageable. As with the spouse, this bishop would tell him what books to read, encourage him to attend 12 Step meetings and give him a list of LDS men in recovery from porn addiction who would be willing AND KNOWLEDGEABLE ENOUGH to help him work on his recovery.

      If an LDS man came in and said, “Guess what! A miracle! I prayed and now I don’t look at porn anymore!” this bishop in recovery would respond, “Really? Let’s talk about the ABCs of addiction and you can help me understand how Heavenly Father cured you of (a) the compulsion to look at porn, but didn’t require you to do anything about (b) your obsession with lust in general and most importantly, (c) didn’t require you to make any changes to your life to address the debilitating negative emotions that caused you to want to self-medicate. I can help you stop for good–if you become willing to do whatever it takes.” I wish I’d had a bishop like that about twenty years ago. Hopefully, I will have a bishop like that for the next twenty years.

  3. Andrew, do you mean they are all sincerely recovering, or you wish they all would be? Sorry, the last couple lines confused me. I’m still with my controlling hubby. He tells me he has changed this time and he now recognizes that his resentfulness and seeing the glass half empty attitude, coupled with lust and unresolved “curiosity” was what caused his downfall. Tells me he’s sincerely not acted out in 8 months. Promises if I ever find out that he has, he will willingly pack his bags and go. Should I believe him? 4 counseling sessions, never completed a 12 step program, affair with a married lds woman bf we met(he was honest and upfront about that). I just don’t know, but I’m tired of being angry and fighting him to engage in recovery when “all those feelings are at a minimum and he recognizes all he has to lose and cares more now” This is exceedingly exhausting for any brain to keep coping with. If he’s not acting out, should I really care? I understand the muck fire is there, but if he says he will gladly pack if it ever happens, should I keep fighting? It’s draining, my friend!!

    • I’m talking about LDS men I know who are today in lasting recovery from pornography addiction. We talk regularly and rely on each other in recovery. I edited the last part of the post to make it clearer.

      About your husband, he’s talking about “self-knowledge.” He believes that since he now understands the problem, that understanding will take care of the problem. The trouble is that addiction is a disease. You can’t take care of it merely by understanding it. Try “understanding” cancer into remission. Try overcoming diabetes by “understanding” it.

      If you truly understand cancer, you get treatment before you die. If you truly understand diabetes, you get treatment before you die. If you truly understand addiction, you get help before it destroys everything that’s important to you and then destroys you. The understanding compels you to get help from other people–those best able to help you.

      Quote me on this: Self-knowledge alone never cured one single addict ever!

  4. And I just love this website, btw’s. You’ve helped me so much understand this addiction, more than anything I’ve read, and you give me hope. I believe there are varying degrees of sex addiction. Whats your thoughts on that?