A couple weeks ago, I posted about the Sexual Addiction Reading List found on the LDS Church’s pornography addiction recovery website. One thing I mentioned was that while the site was a good initial effort, the Church hasn’t really done a whole lot to update the site or keep it current.
Well, I guess someone over there in Salt Lake City heard me, because I noticed this past Sunday that the website had not only been refreshed, but had also received a new URL, overcomingpornography.org. I think the name change is significant because it gets away from the combat-battle-fight imagery that is so appealing to addicts who want to get over their “little problem” on their own–through willpower–and focuses instead on what really works–overcoming addiction by using the tools that Heavenly Father has given us, including other addicts who are further along in recovery.
The new website’s full title is “Overcoming Pornography Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” On the front page is the image of Harry Anderson’s famously moving painting of the Savior looking to heaven as he kneels beside an olive tree in the Garden of Gethsemane. This landing page is clearly intended to be simple. It contains little more than link buttons for just three topics: “Individuals,” “Family and Friends,” and “Church Leaders.” If you click through, you’ll find three similarly formatted pages with links to relevant information.
The following is from a Church News article yesterday by staff writer Ryan Morgenegg: “Working together under inspired leadership, the Church Welfare and Priesthood Departments pooled resources and knowledge to build a site that provides practical examples, tools, and prevention techniques with spiritual power to change and overcome addiction.” While that’s all well and good, you see pretty quickly that this “new website” is really nothing more than four or five new landing pages slapped in front of the old content. Addicts need more than this. We need more than a new front page with soft, inviting colors. I hope someone in Salt Lake is listening.
The article also quotes Elder Craig A. Cardon of the Seventy: “While with His disciples on the eve of His gift of the Atonement to the world, the Savior declared, ‘In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33). Through the enabling and the redeeming power of the Atonement, all those affected in any way by the pernicious plague of pornography may be strengthened to overcome it and be healed of its evil consequences.” Sounds good to me.
I have witnessed this very miracle as addicts I know became willing to do whatever it took and then actually did whatever it took to overcome their addiction. The Atonement of Jesus Christ took root in their lives as they became able to “forsake the sin.” Heavenly Father changed their hearts in ways that only He can. Through recovery and the Atonement, addicts become not merely good men and women, but actually powerful and enthusiastic disciples of Christ. I aspire to be like them.
Unfortunately, the same shortcomings of the old site persist in the new one. Surely someone at Church Headquarters will address them in the near future. Two of them are:
1. There is no consistent definition of addiction on the site. The articles float back and forth between pornography consumption as an addiction or as merely a bad habit. Sometimes the pieces even use the words “addiction” and “habit” interchangeably in the same sentence. Speaking as an addict in recovery, that’s bad, bad, bad! It’s confusing and harmful to addicts who are just trying to figure out addiction, let alone find recovery from it.
2. The site zeroes in on porn without reference to the more deadly problem of lust. As I’ve said many times, when we focus exclusively on pornography, it’s kind of like focusing on Coors Light in the context of alcoholism. Giving up Coors Light is only meaningful to the alcoholic if he or she also gives up all alcohol at the same time. Lust addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful in the mind of the addict. It is tough to spot and incredibly difficult to overcome if you’re addicted to it–usually because you don’t understand it. A big reason why most “porn addicts” fail to recover is because they have absolutely no clue that they are continuing to feed a steady stream of lust into their brains–all while they’re fighting to stay away from porn. The site needs to do a better job of teaching addicts how to overcome lust–not just porn.
My favorite part of the Morgenegg news articles was the quote from President Monson’s closing address in the April 2009 General Conference. To those who were addicted to pornography, he said very simply, “Seek the help you need to overcome and to change the direction of your life.” Translation: Get help from others because secrecy and isolation don’t work! For that single message alone, this new website is important for Latter-day Saints.