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

As I’ve read your e-mails, I’ve noticed that you talk a lot about what people and circumstances around you are “compelling you to do” and how they don’t allow you control over your life. Then you describe looking at porn as “expressing your free agency.” I think you have got it backwards. A lot of what you’re expressing about other people is resentment. While you don’t have control over how other people around you behave, you do have control over how you respond to them and your circumstances. You can choose whether to let the resentment continue to seethe inside you, or whether you will do something to get it out of you so you can deal with it. You need to understand that resentment is one of the biggest poisons that trigger addicts to act out, whether with alcohol, cocaine or porn.

About this whole free agency thing, I suggest that you take a fresh look at that kind of thinking. When you (and I’m talking about just you, not anyone else) look at porn, you are not “expressing free agency.” You have lost your agency. When you look at porn, you are responding to a compulsion that is bigger than you are. You need to see yourself as an alcoholic only instead of being addicted to alcohol, you are addicted to lust.

When your brain demands a hit, you go looking for lust and you satisfy that overwhelming compulsion by looking at porn and engaging in masturbation along with it. That is not free agency. It is the opposite: no agency. Latter-day Saint men who have agency don’t look at porn or masturbate. They choose not to do it because, when they think about it, looking at porn and masturbation are insane. A sane person wouldn’t engage in that behavior if he had a choice about it.

One of the biggest hurdles for an addict to get over is that first admission that he really is addicted, that he is powerless over his drug and that it will beat him every time if he keeps fighting it on his own. Addicts are frequently willing to say they have a “little problem” or that they occasionally have a brief lapse of self control. Addicts minimize the issue. They are usually unwilling to acknowledge to themselves or to anyone else that they are addicted, are powerless and have completely lost control.

That’s one of the reasons why sponsors are important. They are recovering addicts themselves. When they look the addict in the eye, they can say, “You are an addict,” and they are saying it not in derision, but from the position of those who know because they’ve been there.

So here’s the question for you: Do you believe you are an addict and are powerless over your drug (lust), or do you just think you have a “little problem” with porn? By the way, admitting that you are an addict is not admitting that you are a bad person. It is not admitting that you are a loser, or that you are a failure or that you have no self-control whatsoever. It is not admitting that you are sub-intelligent. It is not admitting that you don’t have enough faith in Christ.

When you admit that you are an addict, all you are doing is acknowledging that you are powerless over lust, and that as a result of that powerlessness, your life has become unmanageable. Once you do that, your life actually will change in some amazing ways. You should be excited; things are about to get great.


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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