LDS View | The Silent Seventy Percent of Men with a “Little Porn Problem”

Seeing the sex and pornography crisis among the Latter-day Saints as it really is.

CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:

• More than seventy percent of men ages 18 to 34 visit a pornography site on the internet in a typical month.

• “We suspect that the LDS community is not any different from the rest of society when it comes to prevalence or magnitude of sexual addictions.”

• “The tsunami is coming.”

The numbers in the first bullet point above are taken from the statistics page at SafeFamilies.org. The quote in the second bullet point is by Dan Gray, a licensed clinical social worker and director of the LifeSTAR Network, which specializes in helping Latter-day Saints deal with sexual addictions. He was cited in a series of articles on pornography addiction in the LDS Church News in 2007. The quote in the third bullet point is by Todd Olson, also a licensed clinical social worker and program director of the LifeSTAR network, again in the same Church News series.

If someone asked me to describe how a typical Latter-day Saint might view the “pornography problem” amongst the men in the Church, I would use the numbers 85, 12 and 3. I think a lot of Latter-day Saints would estimate that about 85 percent of male Church members have no problem with pornography. These men may have been exposed to it at some point but have since shunned it as the filth that it is. Our typical Latter-day Saint would also peg the percentage of priesthood holders with a “little pornography problem” at around 12. While this number would be disappointingly high for them, it would acknowledge that pornography is a growing epidemic even among the Saints. That leaves a mere three percent of members who might be considered true addicts, men who (we incorrectly believe) are sadly beyond hope and will struggle through the miserable remainder of their lives before dying and going to hell. In this view of the LDS world, the ranks of the incorrigible are thankfully fairly small.

If this is the perception of the problem in the Church, it is completely off base and is something we must change. As mentioned above, according to SafeFamilies.org, 70 percent of men under age 35 look at porn in a typical month. Based on his experience, Dan Gray believes the statistics are roughly the same within the Church as without. What this means then is that possibly 70 percent of the men in a typical elders quorum are looking at porn each month.1

[1We don’t know the exact numbers of Latter-day Saints who regularly consume pornography. We do know that it is a lot. Even if the 70 percent figure is too high by double, this would still mean that approximately one-third of our young adults are getting crushed by the “pornography problem.” From the research I have done and from anecdotal experience, both my own and that of others, the 70 percent figure appears to us to be “in the ballpark.” Whether you, the reader, accept this number or not, I ask you not to dwell on it too much. The point is that a huge portion of our church population currently suffers directly or indirectly from the effects of the pornography epidemic.]

The Lord is very clear on the subject of pornography. “And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out” (D&C 42:23). To reinforce the point, the Lord later says that if Melchizedek Priesthood holders look “on a woman to lust after her, or if any shall commit adultery in their hearts, they shall not have the Spirit, but shall deny the faith and shall fear” (D&C 63:16). Elsewhere, the Lord says that a sinner must not only confess but also forsake the sin in order to repent (D&C 58:43). To forsake  means “to quit or leave entirely; abandon; desert;…to give up or renounce.” (Dictionary.com: forsake (my emphasis)).


Comments

LDS View | The Silent Seventy Percent of Men with a “Little Porn Problem” — 42 Comments

  1. Pingback: How LDS Husbands Can Overcome Porn Addiction | Recovery is Possible!RowboatAndMarbles.org

  2. “Another part of the answer is that those surrounding sex and pornography addicts need to quit enabling the addicts. So many wives are understandably in pain from the damage caused by their husbands’ addictive behavior. But they, too, don’t want to admit that this is anything more than a “little problem.” “If he really loved me,” they say, “he’d just stop doing this!” These wives should be assured that their husbands really do love them. Their addiction, however, doesn’t love these wives—at all. It loves only itself. It just wants to keep feeding on lust, whatever the cost to the wife, the husband and everyone around them. These husbands are in little rowboats and they each have a handful of marbles. Their addiction is a battleship. No one can sink a battleship with marbles—not even the strongest, smartest, most spiritual guy on the planet.”

    So what do I do? How do I stop enabling him? How can I make him be desperate enough to seek help in an earnest way? Do I have to leave him? What about our children?

    • This is the tough part for the spouse of an addict. The truth is that you can’t fix him. You can’t make him desperate enough. You can’t make him seek help. Nothing you do will fix him. That will have to come from inside of him and maybe he’ll get serious about it when his life falls apart. It’s what the alcoholics in AA refer to as “hitting bottom.” If you choose to leave him, it should NOT be because you’re trying to get him to be serious about recovery. You should leave or be ready to leave because you’re unwilling to live with an addict who won’t get help. Living with an addict is unbelievably complicated and so is trying to extricate yourself from his mess.

      I strongly encourage you to get S-Anon literature and read it to become familiar with ways of separating yourself from your husband’s addiction. Trying to make contact with local S-Anon members. You might also ask if they know of any LDS members you could talk with. Most likely they do. Look for a counselor who has experience counseling spouses of sex addicts. Be aware that counselors at LDS Family Services may not be your best bet. LifeSTAR is one place to look.

  3. I know this is not a little problem. Can you truly give advice on how not to enable? Filters are on the computer. I have asked and begged him to go to recovery programs but he fits group 2 or 3–he has not yet hit rock bottom. I have read the literature so I know I am dealing with some co-dependancy. I still love him so WHAT MORE CAN I DO not to enable him. Or is the ugly truth that I will have to leave someday?

    • Look him in the eye and tell him this: “I have educated myself on sex addiction. I have concluded that you are a sex addict. Being married to you is destroying my self-esteem. This is what happens in every case of the married LDS sex addict. This is what sex addiction does to marriages.”

      “There are no exceptions–even for the smartest, strongest and most spiritual Mormon men on the earth. Sex addiction is stronger than every single one of them–and it is stronger than you are.”

      “You have been unwilling to get help. Without help, it is impossible to overcome this disease. Not one single person has done it on his own–ever! You will never overcome it on your own.”

      “Since your decision is to stay in isolation and dishonesty, I must–to save my sanity and to salvage what self-esteem I have left–make some changes in the way I interact with you.”

      “Starting right now, I am going to implement a program to rescue myself from the chaos you have created for me. Beginning right now, I will be detaching with love. This means that you are on your own now to find a solution to your problem. I will not help you because I cannot help you. Only Heavenly Father can help you at this point.”

      “Detaching with love means that I will continue to love you, but I will not allow you to do anything to me that will destroy my sanity or self-esteem. No more.”

      “For the time being, I am willing to stay married to you. If you choose to find recovery from your addiction and then you live in that recovery for long enough for me to see that it’s real (likely many months or even a year or more), I may choose to stay married to you if that is what Heavenly Father and I decide together. If you do not find recovery, I will not be able to stay married to you and have any self-esteem left. Your addiction will have bled me dry.”

      “I want to live a life of serenity and I want to be happy. Your addiction makes that impossible for me. I pray that you will make good decisions and I wish you all the best. If you’re interested in recovery, you might start by reading a book by a Mormon addict in recovery called Sitting in a Rowboat Throwing Marbles at a Battleship. You might also check out the related website at RowboatAndMarbles.org.”

      “I love you and I want you to get well. I know Heavenly Father also loves you and wants you to get well. He will help–if you become willing to do whatever it takes. I will pray that you become willing to do whatever it takes.”

      ***

      In case you’re wondering, this is what my wife said to me one day. Good luck and God bless you in the tough decisions you’re going to have to make. Ask Heavenly Father what he wants you to do and pray for the strength to carry it out.

      • So, I am appreciative of what you are doing on this site. I am a recovering SA and have made very good progress as well having been able to put together several months of sobriety. I am on a good run right now and have been completely open with my wife. She never threatened me with divorce…she was kind, loving and made it clear that she wanted to help me make it through. I don’t know if it would have helped much for her to threaten divorce….In the deepest part of my addiction, I may have thrown in the towel and taken her up on it….or worse….

        I recommend those counseling others take a very loving and kind and non-fatalistic and not “absolute” approach. Let’s not encourage divorce as an option for solving this problem. I understand the trauma this introduces into the life of the spouse. I think for the spouse to reference and try to describe that pain to the addict is an important part of the process here. But, I am not sure threatening divorce is advisable or helpful to anyone….as an addict who has talked with many others in the same position, I speak from experience.

        This is the “sin” or “challenge” of our day. At 70% of the men in the church who may be caught in this, do we really want 70% of the women in the church considering “divorce” as the fallback plan if their husband doesn’t proceed in his recovery according to their notion of how this recovery should look?

  4. Thank you for your postings. My wife found your website and I have been reading the essays (and comments) the last two days. I agree with most everything you say. This article is especially meaningful to me, because I can relate so well to it. I have had so many bishops/leaders enable me in a confession. Right before my mission, I confessed to masturbation and porn, but no girl contact (which was the truth) and my stake president said I was ‘one of the most moral young men he had talked with’. What a relief, right? After 5 yrs of marriage, I tell another bishop I have a problem with porn and masturbation. Bishop eventually asked, “and have you gone to any strip clubs?” I look at my hands, then at him, and say “…no…?” – which was the honest answer. But then, 3 months later, I’ve found the strip club scene, and WOW! isn’t this cool! Same thing with another bishop a couple years later, when he asked me about lingerie studios…and on and on and on. Ignorance can indeed be bliss!

    Where I have a real point to make, however, is that this article – its stats, identity group and main focus seems to be on the 18-34yr olds, the Elder’s Quorum. I sincerely believe you are missing a VERY silent group-the 45+ crowd, guys well into their 60’s and 70’s and beyond. Keep in mind, while the young people today are growing up with internet, sexting, and condoms in the school nurses’ office, my generation grew up under the guise that all sex was secret – movies and TV showed married couples in twin beds, belly buttons were lewd, etc. We didn’t go to movies with family that were anything other than Walt Disney. But we did go to “Summer of ’42” with our brothers and friends. And no one knew. We had the stash of mag’s. And no one knew. And we had to be very creative in the hiding of them, unlike a flash drive the size of a nickel. In other words, we grew up totally in secret, totally in silence, totally not talking with any adult about our “little problem”. Believe me, I can live this life in secret wayyyyy better than any one in their 30’s.

    Bottom Line – Don’t let the High Priest’s group off the hook by letting them think, “whew, at least our guys aren’t THAT bad…” Because they are. And their problems are as bad, or worse. They started as kids with lingerie sections of Sears and JCPenney catalogues, moved to Playboy, saw the ‘hard-core’ introduction, graduated from VHS to DVD to jumpdrive to video on the web, and on and on. And again…sadly… No One Knew.

    • sh: Thanks for your comments. When writing, I was limited because I only had statistics for men under 35 and so I could only relate my 70 percent assertions to them. If I were a betting man, however, I’d say you were probably right that the over-35 men in the Church are probably just as steeped in sex addiction as the younger men are.

      As I discuss in the essays, I used to gauge my success in battling Satan by how long I’d gone without looking at porn. What I now realize is that porn is the wrong standard. Lust is the more accurate standard. Where is the lust in my life and what am I doing to keep it out of my brain and my behavior? If LDS men would get educated and then get honest, I think a lot more of them would realize that they’re in trouble because lust permeates their lives–even if they never look at computer porn.

      Your voice is so very important because you’re part of the Silent Generation, you’re acknowledging lust addiction and you’re identifying the lust-addict behaviors that your generation has secretly engaged in for decades. Hopefully more men like you will come forward and break down the Great Wall of Silence within the rank and file members of the Church so we can start talking meaningfully about what is necessary for individuals to recover from lust addiction.

      • I’m in the older 50+ crowd. My first experience with porn was finding a washed up girlie magazine by the side of a lake while on a youth conference trip. Me and my two friends couldn’t believe what we saw. And so it began – and still continues. I’m active LDS, been on a mission years ago, and try to do all the right things. Still it persists. I do feel like I’m going insane. But, as an educator, I fear attending a local 12 step program and seeing a student’s parent there who realizes his son/daughter is being taught by a man who has a pornography problem. When that hits home (and neighborhood), I’m sunk. I can’t risk my profession, retirement – not to mention my reputation. I need help. I know I can’t conquer this alone. But the price I fear I would pay is too much to bear. I can’t even tell my bishop, as a previous bishop I had confessed to in a prior ward shared this information with the bishop in the ward I moved to. I felt branded. So I continue to suffer alone in silence. I feel like I’m in a cage.

        • Have you attend a meeting yet? I understand your concern. I work in a very public position with 200 employees. I only went when it was the only way I could keep my wife from leaving. The first week there, I saw the person I hometeach. Soon, I saw a person that I had just fired weeks before. I thought for sure that I was ousted at that point because he had been so bitter at me and blaming. He pulled me aside a week later and let me know that I didn’t need to worry about him ousting me. That he knew that he deserved to be fired. What a relief. I still worry each time I go but much less now. What I have learned is that they keep their oath not to reveal because they too have much to lose and secondly, they understand that having this addiction doesn’t make you a bad person or a danger to the community. Your fear is due to satan trying to keep you in the addiction. He knows if you go, you will lose the shame that is a primary source of your continued addiction. Your Bishop is there to help you. Your not branded as we are all sinners and we are all children of God.

          Please go and get the help you need.

        • You will be forgiven, by yourself and others. The bishops should be educated in addiction recovery. They, and the fear of your future, is destroying your salvation. Step up, get help, ignore the ‘unhealthy competition’ of the church. Remind others, they should remove the stick of righteous indignation jammed up their keesters. They were not born with that trait, they learned that at church. I am an employee of the church, temple recommend holder, and recovering alcoholic and porn addict. I use my real name, we meet on Tuesday evenings, 7:30 pm, LDS Church on the corner of Puget and Yew, Olympia, WA. Bless you.

          • LOL! As only you can say it, Terry. Thanks for being there for my husband and the many others in our stake. As wives, we have confidence that our husbands are finding recovery with each other in those meetings. Thank you! 🙂

  5. Reading the 85-12-3 numbers makes me realize why it is so difficult to discuss this topic. I love my husband enough that I don’t want anyone to believe (or act) like he is part of the 3% of hopeless porn addicts. I only trust a handful of people to believe he is part of the 12% with a little problem.

    Thinking of those common misconceptions in this way, shows a very clear picture (to me) of why we all keep up the secrecy.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could speak up because we knew that we were adding to the support of the 70%??

    • Amen, Sister!

      When I speak to groups of LDS men, I sometimes start by saying this: “We know that about 70 percent of North American men regularly look at porn. We also know that the numbers are probably about the same in the Church as outside. What this means is that if you’re not the one with the porn problem, the two guys sitting on either side of you are. What this also means is that many–in fact, most–of you have a pornography problem. And it also means that nearly all of you need to listen carefully to what I’m going to talk about today.”

      I think it changes things dramatically when people realize that having a ‘porn problem’ doesn’t make them sick little weirdos on the periphery of the Church. Quite the contrary, they’re actually pretty typical. Most LDS men are, to a greater or lesser extent, having trouble staying away from porn–and other less obvious sources of lust.

  6. btw- THANK YOU to those in recovery who are standing with the life preservers we (family and addicts) need… even before we realize that we need them. Your strength is amazing!

  7. I wish my soon-to-be-ex-wife would have read all of this article, including your reply to the first comment. I know I didn’t take the 12 step program too seriously until I was in it for about 2 months. But after that, when I really reached out to my sponsor, things started to click. By then however, my wife had already made up her mind to divorce me.

    Rather than see the progress that I made in getting from steps 3 to 6, she spent her days planning her move out of state without telling me. I came home from my meeting with the Bishop and proudly declared: “I’ve now completed Step 5, and am ready to begin Step 6.” Her comment to me was: “Is that it? Do you think that I have to forgive you?” I wish we could have had the heart-to-heart conversations that were required to heal both her heart and our marriage, but instead she decided to leave for another state and file for divorce as soon as I left on a business trip.

    It is so frustrating to be making progress, and yet have all the joy kicked out of me. I wanted to share my insights about the things that I did to avoid coming into contact with pornography while I was in Europe (which is definitely more porn-ified than the US). Instead, I had to deal with trying to find a cheaper place to live, and do so within a week’s time, get my work done, and pack up everything she didn’t take, and clean up the mess she left behind. As I think about this, I find it hard to believe that I am still willing to want her back. I guess I need counseling more than ever… Somehow, my soon-to-be-ex seems to think that, if I can stay sober for 6 months after our divorce, that we could be remarried, this time in the temple. What she doesn’t seem to get is that the way that she left me was so deceptive that I don’t think I can ever trust her again.

    • WM: I would urge caution before claiming any sort of victimhood. Whenever I start to feel like the victim, I know there’s something fishy going on in my brain. After all, I’m the one who binged for years and years on porn and masturbation. I’m the one who looked my wife in the eyes and lied to her about it repeatedly. I’m the one whose behavior was slowly driving her insane.

      I’m the one whose addiction made me irritable and emotionally distant. I’m the one who ignored our children and missed important events in their lives because I was off acting out.

      I’m the one who objectified the women around me including my wife. I’m the one who brought the lust and objectification into the bedroom often leaving her feeling like nothing more than a slab of meat.

      I’m the one who entered the temple unworthily. I’m the one who performed baptisms and other ordinances on our children when I had no right to the power of the priesthood.

      I’m the one who slouched through graduate school, binging on Internet porn while she busted her butt at a difficult and exhausting job to put food on the table. I’m the one whose porn problem repeatedly put my employment at risk. I’m the one whose career has suffered because of the lost productivity associated with my sexually acting out. I’m the one who has spent thousands of dollars on my addiction and has suffered probably hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost revenues in my business because I was binging on porn or acting out instead of working.

      I recognize that my wife has no obligation to stay. With what I’ve done to her, it’s a miracle that she does stay, and one I never take for granted. I have no expectation that she forgive me. I only ask that she try and pray that she will. Nevertheless I understand that forgiving me and staying with me are two different things. I have no right to either. That’s for her and Heavenly Father to decide.

      Please, please, please don’t ever see yourself as a victim. The Internet has been right there for you for years. All you had to do was go to Google and type in, “Help! I have a porn problem.” Pages of material would have been at your disposal, with much of it eventually leading you to Sexaholics Anonymous or another effective 12 Step group. I’m guessing you didn’t do that until very recently. As I recall, SA has been around since 1978. You started working on your problem in 2012.

      Also, my wife suggested that perhaps your concern about never being able to trust your wife again because of her behavior might help you to empathize with her possible inability to ever trust you again as a result of your behavior. Traffic flows both ways on that street.

      Finally, in addition to learning to pray for those I lust after, I’ve learned to pray for those I resent. If you feel resentment toward your wife, I urge you to pray for her. Pray that she’ll find healing from the emotional, physical and spiritual harm you’ve inflicted on her. Pray that she’ll find peace. Pray that she’ll be happy. She could use your prayers.

      I wish you all the best in your recovery.

  8. I have recently discovered your website and have found strength in most of what I have read so far, as well as courage to face and heal my own codependent self, regardless of the actions of my addicted spouse. However, after reading this article and pondering on the magnitude of what you are saying, I feel more discouraged, disappointed and disturbed than ever. If the majority of the men on the church are struggling with this problem, how are we ever to trust our priesthood leaders? I joined the LDS church as a teen, coming from a family of alcoholic parents and broken families. Learning about the church and the teachings of how to have happy families, I was more than eager to join and do whatever was being taught in order to have the family of my dreams. I married a return missionary, in the temple (at the sacrifice of the relationships with family members), telling myself all along that any sacrifice was worth obtaining that family and marriage I yearned for. I spent the firs8 years of my marriage feeling insecure and completely inferior to my “spiritual giant” of a spouse, believing I would never catch up. I diligently followed all counsel given by church leaders, believing without a doubt that it would bring me that family/marriage, yet struggling with my own confidence in myself when it wasn’t “working”, feeling defective in many ways. Now discovering that addiction has made its way into my marriage and. As you suggest, 70% of the men in the church…how can we have faith in and trust the men who are leading this church? Locally and higher up? Because addiction is wrought with lies and deceit, how can we sit in interviews being asked by these same men if WE are honest in our dealings with each other, if WE are keeping the law of chastity, if there is anything in our dealings with our family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the gospel, etc…? Is that not the height of hypocrisy? Yes, I am responsible for my own actions and need to ensure I am living that way in order to be in God’s good books. But how can we raise our hand in a sustaining vote for these men? How do they have the right to ask me whether I am living right in order to receive the blessings of the gospel and temple, yet they could have been acting out that very day? This is very disturbing to me to realize that the majority of the men I am supposed to follow and take counsel from are in fact addicts, liars, adulterers, evil doers and whoremongers (as described in this article). My heart has sunk even further.

    • C: You’re asking some tough questions many of which I’ve been asking myself for a while. I have to quickly point out, however, that I’m not saying that 70% of LDS men are addicted to porn. I’m only saying the stats indicate that that’s the number for American men under 36 who consume porn each month. Some experts have indicated that the numbers inside the Church are the same. They’re not all addicted but they all have a problem–they’re consuming a drug that is more addictive than cocaine.

      It is frightening to consider. I believe however that Latter-day Saints in particular are in a position to address the problem and overcome it.

      First, however, we need to help those with the problem come out into the light and move past fear, shame and humiliation. We also need to help the spouses of addicts understand and overcome the craziness they’ve been living with.

      I’m reminded of the early missionaries of the LDS Church. There were so few of them and the world was so big. Still they went out and saved thousands of souls.

      Addicts in recovery and spouses in recovery are in a similar situation today. We have felt the redeeming power of Christ’s atonement. We are supported by others further along in recovery. We are learning to live lives of integrity–something that was out of reach before. We are happy and want to share that happiness with others. We aren’t many in number but we’re growing.

      Mormon wrote a letter to his son Moroni in which he discussed the apparent enormity and hopelessness of the task of sharing the gospel with people who had lost hope–the sorrow of the damned. We’re certainly not as bad off as they were–at least I don’t think we are. Mormon told his son: 6 And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God. (Book of Mormon, Moroni, Chapter 9)

  9. Thank you, Andrew for the important work you are doing here. Make that: critical work you are doing.
    And for the wives and girlfriends, there IS hope and healing available. We know we cannot control or cure the addict, but we can take the steps necessary to both detach from the addiction itself (difficult, but possible) and then to learn how to create the environment that’s most likely to encourage the porn/sex addict to understand the impact his addiction is having on us. To learn more, there are over 100 free pages of content here:
    http://www.PoSARC.com and there is spiritual counseling/coaching specific to this addiction available as well.
    And we have to remember, his addiction is NOT a reflection on our own worthiness as women!

  10. I am dating a boy that I know has a problem because I have seen his web history. He is not an addict, but he is viewing it several times a month. I then asked him if he had ever willingly viewed porn and he said “No.” He became extremely defensive later over text message, saying that this was not the right time to ask this question until we are more serious. So, with the statistics so high, do I just need to accept the fact that whatever boy I’m dating, there is a 70% chance he is viewing porn each month? Do I still date this boy, knowing that he is viewing it? I had a friend get divorced because her husband was an addict and sexually abused her. This is my fear, so I told myself I would divorce over pornography because I would rather have my husband cheat on me with a physical woman who will vanish rather than cheat on me monthly with pictures that twist his mind and morals. I do not want to suffer as a wife for years while my husband succumbs to pornography. Do I need to just accept that this is almost a given problem in my future marriage with any of the 70% of men I might marry? I am losing hope in men.

    • My heart feels for you. I am a father of 3 girls and went through the recovery process. I have told my girls at the right time that they should expect the majority of lds boys they date to he addicted. I’ve also told them to be upfront and candid with those boys- that its unacceptable. But I’ve asked then to be understanding ane charitable too. We are all sinners.

    • Sounds like your boyfriend has an addiction to lust. If it was unwilling exposure he would not be so defensive. He would want to spend hours talking about the porn problem and how he sees many around him succumbing to it. That said, I was that guy at one point, except my wife did not ask me the questions you asked him. I thought it was a “little problem” and that marriage would be the cure. How wrong I was. By far the worst experience of my life was admitting to my wife a few months after we were married that I think I have more than a little problem. But there is hope. Through resources such as this website and 12 step programs men throughout the church are recognizing their addictions and the true source and finding recovery. I am more than positive he has great qualities but recognizing this addiction is a must. You absolutely have the right to not allow the relationship to go further. And any wife is absolutely justified in leaving a spouse who will not recognize his addiction and seek the necessary help. Unfortunately this is an epidemic and you women have been unjustly subjected to it. But there are many good men among us addicts. Especially the ones who finally admit they are addicts and seek help. Some are compelled to be humble and some humble themselves willingly. I am eternally grateful and very fortunate to have amazing wife who has stuck with me despite my addiction. It has meant all the world to have her support as I work on my recovery. I’m not sure if I’ve helped at all, but please have hope that God is working a mighty work among us men through recovering sex and lust addicts such as Andrew. Perhaps address your boyfriend directly and tell him he ought to read “rowboats and marbles” then tell you if he thinks he is in denial about his “little problem”

      • Sorry. If I were dating I’d rather be single than knowingly marry someone who is addicted. Keep looking. Maybe the wake up call will help him seek help. It’s a mess I would NEVER deliberately step in. As a parent I’d steer my kids away as much as possible. There’s still 30% pure out there. If already deceived and hitched I’d insist on treatment IMMEDIATELY. No “little problem” garbage. Make the right person cry, not to be vicious but because it is the best thing for everyone. The longer it’s not addressed the bigger the problem and the more destruction. It’s stupid to wait to address it seriously, even if it really is the first time. In our efforts to be kind we are very unkind not to INSIST on purity and what it takes to get there. Starting now.. Yes it is hard but no matter what percent is addicted, the Lord’s standard stays the same.

  11. The only concern I have is that by saying “70% of men ages 18-35 look at porn at least once a month,” because of the zero tolerance teachings of the church LDS people hear “70% of men are addicted to porn.”

    If you look at porn once a month, you are not addicted to porn. If you look at porn once a week, you are not addicted to porn. If you look at porn once a day, you are not addicted to porn. You are addicted to porn if you have compulsive and destructive habits associated with your porn viewing. Too many women of the church are victimized less by their husband’s behavior than by the feelings of victimhood engendered by the church’s teachings.

    Sexuality can be healthy. Repressed sexuality can be unhealthy, and can lead to “acting out” that is characterized as “sex addiction” by the repressers. Men are as much the victim of this unhealthy teaching as are women.

    By saying this, I do not wish to minimize the seriousness of and damage caused by actual sex addictions. I just want to point out that not all porn use falls into that category. By associating, even implicitly, any porn use with addiction, we are actually only exacerbating the problem, both for the “addict” and the “victim” of that “addiction.”

    • I’ve heard this argument over and over again. From my experience getting to know hundreds of addicts and hearing their stories, however, your argument just doesn’t reflect reality, which is that every addict on the planet will fight with all the energy of mind and body to keep from acknowledging his or her addiction. When faced with the damage caused by a porn consuming spouse or loved one, most people don’t see addiction but rather lack of willpower. From the anecdotal evidence I’ve seen, most bishops and stake presidents are loath even to suggest that someone might be addicted.

      In other words, it’s really a straw man argument to say that people are running around hysterically and falsely labeling all those poor porn consumers as addicts. That’s just not happening. What is happening is that addicts are desperately hiding in denial, repeating their flimsy but deadly mantra, “I’m not an addict! I just have a ‘little problem!'” Lots of wives are going crazy trying to compete with the “other women” their addicted husbands keep resorting to in porn. And most bishops and stake president continue to encourage the men and women they counsel to keep praying and reading their scriptures and exerting willpower.

      I state clearly in essay that I’m not saying that the 70 percent of men who regularly look at porn are all addicted. What I am saying, rather, is that a lot of these men are hooked and just can’t seem to get themselves unhooked no matter how much willpower they exert. They are miserable and their families are miserable. But very few of them are willing to even consider the possibility of addiction.

      I certainly wasn’t willing–and as a result I lost at least three decades to my disease. What if someone had been able to articulate addiction to me at 18 instead of 41? What if I had had the courage at 18 to open my eyes and really look for a solution to my crazy thinking and behavior? What if my parents could have helped me see at 18 that there was something dangerously wrong with me that could be completely regulated by counseling, regular attendance at 12 Step meetings, a sponsor and a willingness to associate with other addicts who were further along in recovery? What if the bishops and stake presidents with whom I counseled had had a better understanding of addiction and how to help addicts? I want my three decades back!

      I was in desperate denial as most addicts are. And no one around me had a clue about addiction. I was never the victim of a witch hunt.

      There is no witch hunt! I’ve never met a person who was falsely labeled an addict who just turned out to have a “little porn problem.” Human beings are wired to deny addiction–both in themselves and those around them! We all assume that we behave rationally. And we all assume that a rational addict would realize that he’s an addict and fix the problem.

      I don’t think we have to worry about about an avalanche of hysteria as Mormons run around falsely accusing each other of being porn addicts. Denial and a general lack of understanding about addiction assure that this will never happen.

  12. Wow, I agree with you on the need to not be a victim. However, as one who is in a healthy recovery from porn, your email just seeps out some real strong sentiments of shame and toxic guilt. If you have repented of this addiction, perhaps it is time to forgive yourself and start letting go of some of this shame. Your extending understanding and love to your wife is admirable, but in all the experiences I have had with addicts in the past, heaping self-condemndation seems to be a path to continued addiction. Perhaps I am reading your words on intentions to the post wrong, but my experience with the Saviour thus far in my recovery, is that He extends a bit more grace here than what I sense in your comments. Hope this helps!
    Thomas

  13. I love this post. As another recovering addict, who has found a relationship with the Saviour through recovery from this addiction, I have the desire to help others find a life free from addiction. It can be done. This is a rampant problem and we need to stop condemning the sinner and focus more on the sin. In such an age, it is not hard to fall victim to these challenges. Take heart and seek the way out. It exists and there are those who are finding it. And your life isn’t a total waste, this is your path, and you are dealing with the trials and tribulations you were dealt…but do “deal” with them. Don’t hide in secrecy and “hope” it will magically go away…..that is no way to move forward and is not the path that God wants you to follow. You can be happy and have the spirit and worthily walk through life….

  14. What is the study that is referenced here? I would love to see it…
    I’ve spent the last 6 weeks re-adjusting my reality… We’ve both attended our own programs for 3 years+ and had couples counseling with a Phd. (that specializes in addiction recovery) for 9 months prior. I’ve recently joined S-anon in my area and attended convention. I now know that the 12 steps, traditions and having a sponsor is my answer to recovery for myself. If my husband chooses the same, then I believe that he will have recovery and so will my marriage. But, right now I have to work on ME. As I start to work steps 1 & 2, I see that I am a mess as a result of my childhood beliefs and as a result of living with addiction and the unhealthy behaviors I’ve developed to deal with the addiction . My recovery is MY responsibility, his recovery, or lack of, is HIS responsibility and its non of my business! I have a sponsor for my process and have recently found another sponsor for my marriage work. I did my part(by calling the wife and requesting that she would be my sponsor) and told my husband what I needed and why I needed it. He is choosing to call (the husband)and set up his part of the marriage sponsor. They require us to have worked through step 1 and go to regular meetings. Redefining what I am responsible for is freeing and scary, but I know it’s THE way. I am seeking to turn my recovery and my concerns about his process over to God. I am learning to treat myself with gentleness and accountability, to take this one day at a time and to set boundaries that preserve my serenity.

    This change in my process began 6 weeks ago when I read Rowboats and Marbles. I now have hope and a clearer vision of what this looks like that humbles me to the core. THANK YOU!!!! I believe God led me here, thank you for being an instrument in His hands.

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