The Most Important Question an LDS Man Can Ask About His Porn Problem

Courage to ask one simple question about addiction.

Porn addiction LDS Mormon men help recovery

What is the most important question an LDS man with a porn problem can ask?

As an LDS addict in recovery, I have had to learn the shocking truth of how my addicted brain succeeded in lying to me for so many years. And also the truth of how I still try to lie to myself. One of the biggest lies I told was this: “I don’t have an addiction. I just have a little problem occasionally with pornography.” The fact that I was a binge addict didn’t help me see the truth. By white-knuckling (sheer willpower) I was able to go for a year or so without seeking out “traditional” porn, and then for six months or so, and then for a few months, a few weeks, a few days, a few hours. If I had had the courage to ask Heavenly Father one simple question about addiction, I may have avoided years of misery and disappointment for myself and my family.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t see that my disease was progressive. The time between binges was diminishing. The length of the binges themselves was increasing. The material I was seeking out was becoming more vulgar and I was less shocked by it.

My relationship with my wife and children and friends suffered as did my ability to do quality work for my clients. But I couldn’t see it. I grew more irritable but didn’t realize it. Without noticing, I began to evaluate the women I interacted with for their potential as sex partners. Since my measurement of success was the length of time between internet or magazine porn binges, I failed to see that I was calling up pornography in my mind through obsession, fantasy, memories and objectification. I wasn’t really binging anymore. I was a full-time addict–and still thought that I just had a “little problem.”

LDS pornography addiction recovery

LDS porn addicts wear blinders. They can’t see what their conduct is doing to themselves and those around him.

Three components of addiction are “wearing blinders,” “minimizing act-out behavior” and isolation. Addicts can’t see or think clearly, but they are unaware of their impairment. It follows then that they don’t know that people around them actually can see the impairment.

Addicts isolate physically, mentally and emotionally. Oftentimes addicts will consciously or unconsciously attempt to cover this up with gregarious behavior in social situations. I was always trying to be the life of the party, the leader of the meeting or the star of the team. On the inside, however, I was struggling under the weight of feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing. My insides never matched what I saw on the outsides of others (White Book p. xx). Even when I was the center of attention, I was isolated and apart on the inside.

A while back, I temporarily sponsored an LDS guy who was trying to find recovery and whose behavior proved to be a great mirror into my own mind and soul. He refused to work a full 12 Step program and was dismissive when I told him he needed to go to meetings and make phone calls to others in Sexaholics Anonymous. That stuff didn’t fit into his plans or schedule.

LDS pornography addiction worthiness temple

While the temple may provide protection from temptation, LDS porn addicts nevertheless have to be worthy to enter–just like everyone else. (Photo courtesy Leon7)

He limped along for a couple months talking about how great he was doing, but it was clear to me that he was merely white-knuckling. Inevitably, he slipped one night and acted out with internet pornography and masturbation. This was on a Saturday. He told me about it a day later. He also said he couldn’t wait for Tuesday so he could get back to the temple for a spiritual recharge.

“Whoa! Hold on a second,” I said in surprise. “What do you mean you can’t wait to go to the temple on Tuesday?”

“Well, yeah,” he replied, “I go to the temple to get spiritual strength. It helps me overcome my temptations.”

“But what about worthiness to enter the temple?”

“Well, my bishop says that if I ever look at porn, I should wait a couple days before going to the temple again.”

“Do you think that maybe you misunderstood him? Does that sound right to you? What about the content of the porn you looked at? What about the quantity? How many hours did you spend in front of the computer? How many sex acts did you witness? How many people did you watch engaging in those sex acts? At what point do you become unworthy to enter the temple?”

“Well, my bishop says…,” he started to say, but I cut him off. “No, I’m not talking about what your bishop says. I’m talking about what your heart says to your soul when you consider the hundreds of sex images and videos that came through your eyes and ears into your brain last night. Are you worthy to go to the temple?”

Oblivious, he said simply, “My bishop says I am–or I will be in a couple days.” His addiction blinders were on, perfectly adjusted and working as designed. His minimization of the sexual acts in which he had voyeuristically taken part was textbook. He could not see himself as he really was. In his mind, he still just had a “little problem” that a temple visit was going to fix. Temple worthiness and introspection had not even occurred to him.

As I thought about him later on, I saw similarities with myself. Over the years, I became very dismissive of the content of the pornography that I was viewing. It didn’t shock me as it might shock someone else who was less habituated to porn. Right up to the day when porn was no longer enough for me, I didn’t seem to have a problem reconciling what I was looking at in magazines and on the computer screen with my worthiness to enter the temple or partake of the sacrament.

At times I would try to time my porn binges for a Monday or a Tuesday so I would have nearly a week to “repent” before going to the temple on Saturday or taking the sacrament on Sunday. That was how my addict mind worked. Sometimes I would convince myself that certain types of porn were not “too bad” to put my worthiness at issue.

Since getting into recovery, however, I’m pleased to report that porn in pretty much all its forms has become shocking to me again. If I happen to run across a suggestive picture while on the Internet or a racy magazine cover while standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, I feel immediately uncomfortable and have to “flee” the image as quickly as I can. What a blessing to be repulsed now by the same thing that used draw me in like cotton candy and carmel apples draw in kids at the state fair.

Recovery is a marvelous blessing from Heavenly Father made possible through His Son Jesus Christ and conditioned upon our doing our part. I pray that more of us will find that recovery soon.

So what is the most important question a Latter-day Saint can ask about his “porn problem”? It’s the following directed heavenward: “Father, can I get over this problem on my own or do I need other people to help me?” I am satisfied that Heavenly Father answers prayers and that this is one prayer in particular that he will answer quickly and emphatically. “Get help now!”

When Latter-day Saints fight through their fear and shame to sit down finally with their bishops to discuss this problem, I wish more bishops would send these people home with an assignment to prayer multiple times each day for the next week and ask for two things only: first, ask the Lord if they can overcome their “porn problem” on their own, and second, ask for the strength to do whatever it takes once the Lord answers the first question.

If we ask the right questions, Heavenly Father is ready, willing and waiting to give us answers that will save our lives, our marriages and our souls. He will heal our minds and hearts and lead us to recovery, a pretty wonderful place to be!

Comments

The Most Important Question an LDS Man Can Ask About His Porn Problem — 4 Comments

  1. Do you know of any other articles or websites about pornography use and temple worthiness? I liked this article, because I too think it’s crazy that a married lds man could feel they can go into the temple after breaking marriage covenants through pornography use. I think more bishops should take away temple recommends in instances like this but don’t and I’m not sure why… maybe because many bishops are not well trained in the treatment of pornography or the severity of the problem (especially when the man who is meeting with the bishop is minimizing the addiction). Thank you!

  2. I have the same question of the above comment. Why don’t bishops take away the temple recommend for pornography use? The person in pornography if married has broken their temple covenants and marriage covenants. The degrading of women is against the priesthood. They should have a time period to show they have repented and are able to keep covenants. An adult who is baptized waits a year before going through the temple. Shouldn’t a person who is cheating on their spouse need to wait a year to show their repentance process that they are out of an addiction? I have asked some bishops, and one past bishop told me that it wasn’t right that they would have their temple recommend. Another one said that this is how it has been handled in the past and it is now. Even the stake president didn’t do anything about the situation, as if it was fine to hold a temple recommend and commit adultery. I have heard that different stakes and bishops handle the situation differently.
    Just trying to figure things out. Hoping that Bishops are better trained and follow the spirit of what to do to help the person out of this awful addiction. Hoping that they are taught as you taught the man mentioned above that viewing pornography makes you unworthy to go to the temple. Hoping I can know if I can trust my husband.

  3. I can see myself slipping what was described in this article. I was 2+ years free of porn when I first slipped. Now I can see in myself a stuttering re-commitment to abstain from porn and have Binged on occasion. The hard part is 3 years ago when I was initially dealing with my porn problem it made my wife so upset that she was physically ill, stopped eating for 3 days and barely talked to me for ~ 3 months. I don’t think I can go through that again so I have attempted to deal with my porn issue alone, but my progress is not what is should be. I just keep coming back to the fact that I am absolutely terrified of telling my wife. . . I don’t know how she will react, this fear is holding me back but I don’t know what to do. . . .