My two oldest kids are in high school and attend early morning seminary. I am thrilled that this year’s focus of study is the Book of Mormon. In solidarity, I started re-reading the BoM on my own at the beginning of the school year. It’s refreshing and inspiring and gives me one more thing to talk with my kids about. They have a couple great seminary teachers. The result is that when I ask them questions about seminary lessons, I actually get full-sentence responses instead of just the typical “yeah” or “no.”
So as I’ve been re-reading the Book of Mormon, it is of course through the lens of addiction recovery. It’s been wonderful. The Book of the Mormon is providing a new depth of inspiration for me. In my study these days, I am guided by several strongly held convictions:
1. The Book of Mormon is the word and will of God through the writings of ancient prophets.
2. The Book of Mormon was written for our day; we are the intended audience.
3. Pornography consumption, lust addiction and compulsive sexual behavior are the defining challenges of our generation. They are tearing our world apart by destroying marriages, families and individuals.
4. The insanity of addiction leads the addict to twist and manipulate many truths of the Gospel so as to minimize the problem and maximize secrecy and isolation in the life of the addict. “I can fix this ‘little porn problem’ on my own,” he (or she) says.
5. The Book of Mormon is not the only–or even the best–source of information on overcoming addiction.
As to this fifth point, I know it’s borderline heresy to suggest anything other than that the Book of Mormon is infinitely powerful and completely enveloping of all time and space–and comes with its own carrot dicing attachment. Still, I believe it’s accurate to say that the Book of Mormon is not the best source of information for brain surgery, car repair or building the Hubbell telescope. While the BoM will change the hearts and enlighten the minds of the brain surgeons, car mechanics and NASA engineers who read it, they still need to go to the best specific sources of information about their particular tasks at hand. In my mind, it’s the same with addiction. I need other sources of information to help me understand and overcome addiction. The Book of Mormon can then help me take that information and apply it in the context of God’s will.
If you put these five ideas together, you see what I deal with. I have a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. As a volume of scripture, it speaks to my soul. It inspires me. It makes me want to be a better man. It confirms that I can overcome my addiction to sex and pornography with God’s help and ultimately through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
More specifically, since the BoM was written for our day and since sexual insanity has overrun our modern society, it is impossible for me to believe that Heavenly Father would fail to provide us with clear guidance in the BoM on how to deal with the lust demon of sex and pornography addiction. But in studying the Book of Mormon, I also have to be careful. I know that for decades my desperately addicted brain scoured every verse of the Book of Mormon for support for the idea that I could use my own strength and will-power (in the false robes of faith) to overcome my “little porn problem” on my own in secrecy and isolation. As I’ve said before, I was a dishonest Book of Mormon reader.
Over the course of the next nine months, I’m going to share the new insights I’m gaining as an LDS addict in recovery who loves the Book of Mormon. As the Book of Mormon speaks to your heart and mind about recovery issues, I hope you’ll share them, too.