A Letter to Theo | An LDS View of Porn Addiction, Sponsors and Moral Agency

A letter to an LDS guy I sponsored about agency and why sponsors are vital to recovery. Theo is not his real name.

DEAR THEO:

Part of a sponsor’s job is to offer experience and insight to the guys fighting addiction because the addict who is heavy into his addiction has lost the ability to see clearly. Sometimes the sponsor tells the addict things the addict doesn’t want to hear. The addict has to employ some humility, recognize that the sponsor may know and understand more, and be willing to do what the sponsor suggests.

I’m going to tell you some things about myself and by doing so, I’m hoping you will relate to my situation as it used to be and see the many similarities to your current situation. I have been a working in the professional world since 19XX. I earned a degree from a very competitive East Coast graduate school and then worked for the federal government for a time before taking a job at a big firm in a major city on the West Coast.

I worked long hours, usually going into the office in the dark and coming home in the dark. I resented my bosses. I resented my wife. I resented the government official I had worked for. I resented the graduate school and the professors who didn’t give me the grades I felt I deserved. I resented the firms that didn’t make me the job offers I expected. I resented the clients. I resented the other professionals.

At the time, I didn’t realize I was so full of resentment. At church I was first the ward mission leader, then the stake mission president. It turns out I also resented the stake missionaries, the bishops and the stake presidency. I resented the people who were taught and converted by the missionaries. In a huge way, I resented the missionaries. Resentment was eating me alive even while I genuinely thought I loved everyone and was generally living a Christ-like life.

I considered myself stronger, smarter and more spiritual than everyone around me. Although I wanted to feel like I was in command, I often felt like I had no control at all over my life because I had to do what so many others wanted me to do. And then I would binge on pornography and masturbation. After I binged, I would tell myself I had done it because I chose to do it. Although it was unknown to me at the time, I really did it because it made me hurt less emotionally for a little while, and because I felt like I deserved to hurt less.

What I didn’t understand was that I was addicted and that my addiction was fabricating reasons, feelings and justifications for acting out. Since I was the smartest, strongest, most spiritual person around (at least in my head), I could only conclude that I was in control and, therefore, that I must be choosing to look at porn. The truth was, however, that I had long since lost my ability to say no to the compulsions to consume pornography and engage in masturbation. I had no agency.


Comments

A Letter to Theo | An LDS View of Porn Addiction, Sponsors and Moral Agency — 4 Comments

  1. can you please tell me where my husband and I can find LDS Sponsors? Him for SA and me for S-Anon. We live in an area that has a severe lack in LDS resources for this problem. My husband and I are working on our individual recovery and just discovered SA and S-Anon through your site. The ARP through the church doesn’t have sponsors in our area nor is it as specific to the problem the way SA and S-Anon are. We really need help finding LDS sponsors. I spend time nearly every day trying to find this very important piece to our respective recoveries and I am not having much success. Anything you can do to help would be a huge help to us.

  2. I should state that when I say “problem” I am not minimizing the huge impact addiction is in our life and also I meant to say any info or direction you can provide would be a huge help.

  3. Hi, can somebody tell me how I can find a sponsor for my 18 year old son? He is in counseling right now, and think that having somebody besides me (his father) helping him who understood this addiction better would be invaluable.

    • Hi F.R. If you and your son are interested, there is a great program based on the Church’s ARP manual that you can sign up for at arpsupport.org. There, they will assign your son a sponsor who will work with him to get through all 12 steps in about 90 days. It is a rigorous program that requires a person to commit to doing daily step work, journaling, prayer, scripture study, and 2+ PASG/ARP/SA meetings each week. It also requires a commitment to stay sober throughout the program. If a relapse occurs, the addict will need to restart from Day 1 if he wants to remain in the program. Once he finishes the program, he will start sponsoring other addicts and, in my experience, sponsoring has been the greatest thing for my own recovery. I have been sponsoring in the program for about 8 months and have 11 months of true sobriety. This program works, if the person is willing to do the work. If you have any questions for me about the program, you can contact me at brainoncapitalist at gmail dot com.

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