Sitting in a Rowboat Throwing Marbles at a Battleship | Being LDS and Overcoming Pornography Addiction

If we have a broken leg, we go to the hospital and have a doctor set the bone and put the leg in a cast. We do not seek out a priesthood holder for a blessing and then head back to the armchair in the living room for more prayer and meditation and a recommitment to spiritual growth. Although a blessing may be helpful for the healing of the broken leg, we recognize that the Lord expects us to get medical help to fix our injury.

Disease in a broken brain, however, is often treated differently. For some reason we think that a broken brain can be fixed by praying and asking the Lord to heal our unhappiness. Because I suspected that my friend suffered from depression, I told her that I thought she needed to see a psychiatric specialist to consider that possibility.

My friend seemed surprised. This had never occurred to her before. I was also surprised. During all this time and throughout all her interactions with people close to her, it appears that no one before me had ever raised to her the possibility of depression. Eventually, she met with a psychiatric professional, was indeed diagnosed with depression, was prescribed the proper medication and blessedly began enjoying the happiness that can occur when a brain fires on all cylinders.

For years, my friend had been looking in the wrong direction for a solution to her problem. For years, she had been praying with ever increasing fervor for the Lord to remove the burden of her misery. The Lord did finally answer her prayers, but it was not in the way she was expecting. She assumed she would get direct intervention from God. Instead, God put a friend in her path that observed her and, relying on his own experience with depression, was able to convince her to seek a doctor’s help.

I believe that addiction—and sex addiction, in particular—is treated in a similar way by addicts and those around them. Sexual transgressions are second only to murder in seriousness. Sexual sins are a blatant violation of God’s law and therefore evidence of a deficient moral character. Sin and immorality can only be overcome by the Atonement of Christ after faith and sincere repentance accompanied by a broken heart and a contrite spirit. In effect, God (through Christ) intervenes in the life of the sinner and purifies him of the sin. The sinner repents of his sins, focusing on his direct relationship with God and Christ, but also confesses his sins to a church leader. In some cases, church discipline follows. Through the miracle of the Atonement, the sinner is born again and becomes holy, without spot. But what about the sex addict and his sex addiction?

Like depression, addiction is, in large part, the product of a broken brain. One LDS neurosurgeon has documented the destructive physical effect that pornography has on the brain. It eventually incapacitates parts of the brain in the same way that cocaine or alcohol can destroy an addict’s resistance to the compulsion to take those drugs into his body. Because of the neurological component of sex addiction, treating it as one would treat sexual transgression—as a purely spiritual malady—is ineffective.


Comments

Sitting in a Rowboat Throwing Marbles at a Battleship | Being LDS and Overcoming Pornography Addiction — 32 Comments

  1. Andrew,

    Thank you for your book I’ve been sharing it with people since you spoke to a group of us [at a fireside in Utah].

    Your book helped me take the hard step of attending my first ARP meeting and later SA meeting. (I’ve only been to one SA meeting, I didn’t find it to be like you described in your book here in UT)

    I’ve been attending ARP meetings and seeking sobriety for the last 4 years. I was able to have long stretches of sobriety my longest lasting 10 months last year. I’m currently working on 153 days of sobriety, but this time I’ve just finished the arpsupport.org 90 program.

    During the program I was finally able to see the devastation my addiction has caused, and I was able to ask God to take away my lust. Up until the day I offered that prayer I always thought I just needed a little help… I almost have this thing beat… I just need a little more help.

    When I finally prayed and told God “I want to lust, I want to look at pornography, and I want to masturbate, but I hate the devastation these things cause in my life. Wilt thou please take this character weakness away.” God did take it away that day. and everyday since as I pray for him to humbly.

    I’m now sponsoring people in the arpSupport.org program and finding progressive victory over my character weaknesses.

    Thanks for your well written book, I’m glad you had to ability to put into words what I’ve felt.

    • Mike,

      I just wanted to share my experience with SA in Utah briefly.

      I have been to SA meetings in Provo, Pleasant Grove, Lehi, and Sandy. I tried out a lot of meetings because I wanted to meet more guys in real recovery and not just stick with my home group.

      I went to one meeting and I was very off put. It felt like people shuffled in, said stuff, and shuffled out. I really did not intend to ever go back. But it is a very convenient time and location for me so I went back. It was a very good meeting. I felt connected to the other guys and was very glad I went. In the weeks since, that meeting has been one of my favorites.

      One of the meetings I attend has a part of the script- “we recommend you come 4-6 times before you decide if this is for you.” I think that is great for the program, but would suggest 3x minimum on a particular meeting.

      Regardless, I hope things are going well for you.

      • Thanks, Things have been going really well. I’ve been to that same SA meeting twice now. And my second meeting was worse than the first. For me ARP support’s 90 day program and the ARP meetings is working well. I will still plan on visiting the SA meetings in the future. Thanks for your feed back!

      • Post script: a few months later I shuffled into a SA meeting and Michael went out of his way to make my first experience a very good one. Because he stuck it out, and kept going, I am now a regular attendee and beginning recovery in a way I never thought possible.

  2. I am super grateful for all the information on this blog. I am grateful for your courage to share your strength, hope, and wisdom to all of us who struggle with the gripping addiction of lust. I look forward to your posts, it has become a part of my daily meditation and study. Again thank you.
    Will

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