Over the past several days, I’ve spent a bunch of time catching up with several LDS friends who are also members of Sexaholics Anonymous. They give me so much hope for the future of men and boys in the Church. These are men who struggled for decades with sex and pornography addiction. Through Heavenly Father’s grace (and often a very persistent wife), each of them has been blessed with sufficient humility to finally realize and acknowledge that he was an addict. And then each of them got help.
What followed was nothing short of miraculous. I have been able to witness a transformation in their countenances. Today, their voices are full of confidence. They speak enthusiastically of their families and their wife and their callings in the Church. Their eyes are vibrant and they look straight at me with a smile. It is obvious that they are clean and sober. Heavenly Father has taken away the obsession to consume pornography and engage in compulsive sexual behavior. They continue to work their recovery programs–and the obsession stays away!
They have temple recommends. They got them by sitting across the desk from their bishop and stake president, looking them straight in the eye and being able to answer the recommend questions with honesty and enthusiasm. They didn’t have to engage in any mental gymnastics! Recovery made that possible!
One of my friends recently returned to the temple after an absence of over ten years. Another told me the other day that he’d put my name on the prayer role at the temple. It is nothing short of a miracle for sex and porn addicts to find a lasting recovery that allows them to return to the temple worthily, participate in saving ordinances and pray for their fellow addicts.
I see some of these guys at the several SA meetings I attend each week. Others relate to me on the phone how things are going for them as they attend SA meetings in their areas. One of our favorite topics of discussion is how we find gospel principles in our Twelve Step experiences. Actually that’s sort of the default topic. One friend told me that he’d like to start working on a book about how his understanding of the Savior’s Atonement has changed and deepened since he entered recovery from his addiction.
Sometimes we share with each other insights about addiction recovery that we’ve found in the Book of Mormon. It probably should surprise no one that a book of scripture written for our day is loaded with advice for overcoming pornography and sexual addiction. Sometimes we talk about our struggles and what we’ve learned from them. After every conversation, I have a renewed desire to stay sober and work my program of recovery. The compulsions that used to cause me so much misery now dissipate quickly as these guys inspire me.
I can’t help comparing my life now to five years ago. Back then, the specifics of my addictive behavior were my closely guarded secret although the craziness that it caused was obvious and was afflicting my wife and my kids, my employees, my clients and the other professionals I worked with. At the time I had no idea that porn and compulsive sexual behavior impaired my ability even to relate to other people. They caused me to isolate and keep secrets. They made me miserable.
Today, I have a phone list of 80 men who are also in recovery from sex and pornography addiction. They know my story and I know theirs. When we call one another we immediately know what’s going on in the other guy’s head. We can relate to each other and we can help each other. It feels great not to be alone in isolation and secrecy anymore.
If you’re LDS and you’ve tried to stop your consumption of porn and compulsive sexual behavior–but can’t stay stopped, please send me an email (andrew [at] rowboat and marbles [dot] org)! We can help you! There are other LDS men and women who have stopped. They are addicts in recovery. You will never find happier and more confident Latter-day Saints anywhere else in the world. (That’s not what you’d expect to hear, is it?) They will tell you what it feels like when they finally were able to change from begging the Lord for His forgiveness to thanking the Lord for having forgiven them. Recovery from addiction makes this kind of repentance possible.
We have a message for the world: Recovery from addiction is possible and it is wonderful!