What Every Mormon Should Know
I wish I could put into words what I have learned in such a way that people could not only hear, but understand in their hearts the hope that I have now. I have dedicated this page to some, but certainly not all, of the things that I think every Mormon should know. And every other Christian or every other person for that matter.
God’s plan of salvation included the agency of man. Through the atonement of the Savior, mercy could answer the demands of justice and we would be able to repent and obtain forgiveness. Though Christ carried out the plan, all glory was to go to the Father.
Satan’s plan was one that would remove the agency of man, a key component of God’s plan, so that all could return to the presence of God. And the glory was to go to him, Lucifer.
The war is not yet over and Satan is still trying to implement his plan by removing our agency, distorting what our relationship to God really is and by making a mockery of anything sacred. He does this in so many ways. I will mention a few of the ways he is removing our agency.
Tyranny and oppression by political forces.
Addiction to what? Anything and everything.
Food Addiction. Gambling addiction. Drug addiction, street drugs and perscription. Caffeine. Nicotine. Video game addiction. Internet addiction. Pornography Addiction.
A simple definition of pornography will hopefully suffice. Any arousing media of any kind. Whether written, verbal, visual or otherwise. If it is sexually suggestive, or otherwise illicit it should be counted as pornography.
Suggestive or often times explicit, common music on the radio, music videos on the top ten countdowns, pictures (even selfie’s) on Facebook, memes or anywhere else on the internet. Stories, novels, chatrooms and forums can all apply. Inappropriate text messaging or “sext” messaging, audio or “phone sex’. And any type of media that stimulates sexual thoughts or arousal all counts as pornography.
It is important to see the common threads of addiction. Each of the addictions mentioned above all have something in common. When allowing certain chemicals into our bodies or by stimulating these same chemicals by certain unhealthy activities, reward centers are triggered in our brains telling us that this was an exciting, rewarding, pleasurable experience and our brains make note of that experience as one worth repeating.
Our brains release dopamine at unnatural levels due to the type of stimulation the activity or consumed product provides. Our brains become desensitized to that level of dopamine and our bodies then need something different or something more intense to stimulate the same level of excitement. The dopamine excess actually creates holes in our brains and damages the part of our brains that are designed to make decisions. Our decision making ability is pushed to our limbic system which is responsible for emotional or “flight or fight” responses. Our ability to make rational decisions is literally impeded. So, all of these addictions escalate from what they started with into bigger and bigger issues. Pornography addicts brains compare best to those brains of Heroin addicts.
All addictions are accompanied by some kind of guilt and shame. These feelings of self loathing tether individuals to their addiction and destructive cycles become the norm.
The other obvious, but important common thread of these addictions is….it is an ADDICTION. You cannot stop on your own. If you could, you would not be an addict. But you cannot stop, because you are addicted. How many of you reading this have tried to stop on your own, hundreds of times? How did that go for you? That’s right, not well, cause you’re an addict and you need help. I don’t say that to shame, just to emphasize that you really do need help. And that is ok. I could not have done what I have done so far without admitting this myself.
We hear how we need to avoid pornography like the plague. That is good advice. We need to. We need to fortify and educate ourselves and our families to stay away from it. But possibly more important, we need to learn how to confront and properly deal with inevitable exposure, how to recover from an addiction that has already taken root and to help our loved ones find there way back.
The average age of beginning pornography addiction was 11, that stat was just updated. The average age of exposure is now 9. The demographic that is the largest consumer of pornography is ages 12 to 17.
Another experiment, in 1993, showed that college students who were assigned to watch MTV developed more liberal attitudes toward premarital sex than their peers who did not watch MTV as part of the study. Another study in 1986 found that seventh and ninth graders were more likely to approve of premarital sex after watching MTV for one hour. Now if the MTV of 1986 and 1993 could do this then, what do you think the effects of MTV on young people are now? What do you think the effects of an equal amount of pornography would be?!
Currently, it is estimated that the average tv watcher is exposed to over 14,000 sexualized messages annually.
In a study in 2008, a survey conducted over 6 universities found that 87 percent of the young men sought out pornography during the last year.
A more recent study that was conducted with the intention of measuring the negative effects of pornography on young people attempted to find a control group of college aged kids that were not currently using pornography. They could not find a control group large enough to conduct the study.
For every 400 movies made in Hollywood each year there are over 11,000 porn movies made. That does not include the home or amateur videos made and uploaded to the internet, and that stat is from 2011!
For those of you that may be tempted to say, “yeah, but all is well in Zion…” I offer the following information.
A study just concluded by the University of Utah found that nearly 20 percent of 14-18 year olds have “sext” messaged or sent explicit photos of themselves to other teens or even adults. Talk to any high school student and they would agree that that number is grossly underestimated. I did, I asked a number of high school kids in a densely Mormon populated town and everyone of them said that number was “way too low”.
Brigham Young University found that 21% of male college students view pornography ―every day or almost every day, and another 27% view pornography ―1 or 2 days a week.‖ (Robert Peters. ―The 2008 Presidential Election and Its Impact on Enforcement of Federal Obscenity Laws. Morality in Media, 9 Sept. 2009. Web 4 Dec. 2009.) (F)
That statistic doesn’t even account for those that might view pornography slightly less than weekly and they are already up to nearly half, 48% of the male student body of BYU.
As of 2009, Utah was the highest state per capita of paid pornography use. The states that have the higher consumption rates of pornography tend to be more conservative in religious beliefs and political views.
Another study estimates that 50% of Christian men and 20% of Christian women are addicted to pornography. Because of the higher standards they subscribe to, the shame they feel for having participated in pornography spirals them further into addiction.
It is important to note that this in not an issue solely for men and that women are the target market for pornographers, because that demographic represents the greatest potential for growth. Women are often targeted more by stories, books, text messages, and chat rooms as opposed to visual pornography which usually ensnares males. The thrill of the fantasy these women get from those mediums often lead them to visual pornography as well as illicit or extramarittal relationships.
As noted above, 100% of us are exposed to pornography at some point, usually the first introduction is at a very young age. It is a common misnomer that if parents openly discuss sex or pornography, that they will only generate curiosity that will lead their kids to what the parents were trying to avoid. Though this may be true in some cases, a study found that 92 percent of kids that are educated early, consistently and openly avoid pornography and premarital sex. That doesn’t mean that they don’t get exposed, it means they have a healthy place to report and process that exposure with mature healthy adults. (This doesn’t mean sitting them down once. It means continually being open to questions that aren’t greeted with disdain, shock or embarrassment.)
There are so many avenues that children can fuel an addiction with if parents are not involved. So many are walking around with smartphones, ipods, tablets, Nintendo DS’s, PSP’s, gaming consoles, computers, laptops with plenty of apps to access, hide or otherwise facilitate…. The lists go on and on.
Many of these devices are handed over with little training and little to no supervision or clue of what can actually be accessed.
I have a family member who bought his son an iPod touch for his 8th birthday. When asked if he was planning on putting any restraints on the boys internet access he replied, “The kid needs to learn how to drive sometime.”
He is correct that kids do need to learn how to “drive” sometime. But would you buy an 8 year old a car and let him take it out on the highway, or any other road for that matter, by himself because “The kid needs to learn how to drive sometime.” That is absurd! So why in the world would you allow an 8 year old kid unrestrained access to the information superhighway with no parental supervision or direction? When my relatives kid is exposed to pornography, as he most certainly will be, his first exposure will likely be high definition hardcore video as opposed to a magazine near a dumpster like it was in “my day”. This type of flippant arrogance or absolute ignorance is incredibly dangerous. Common justification is also, “He’s a good kid, he wouldn’t look at that.” To which I would reply, “SO WAS I!!!!”
Sex is not the problem, nor is it inherently evil and should not be demonized.
President Spencer W. Kimball said that, “a sexless civilization would die in one generation, if indeed it could be born. A sexy civilization will die of its own rottenness when it is ripe in iniquity.”
Sex used as is it is intended is the most wonderfully tender expression of love that a husband and wife can participate in. It is beautiful and creates and sustains love and life.
Sex outside of marriage is Satans’ counterfeit. It is selfish and lustful. It is robbing each other of a sacred experience, leaving shame and sorrow in its wake.
In a study among a over 50,000 university students from campuses all of the country, students were surveyed on their sexual activity as well as their overall happiness. Those that were sexually active were less happy, more depressed, and 70% of those surveyed indicated that they harbored guilt and shame for their sexual behavior and many of these people did not consider themselves religious. They were seeking for happiness where the world, media, and Satan promised they would find it, what they got was misery, shame, sadness and in many cases disease. The US government reports that 1 in 4 Americans have an STD. And another study found that America just crossed a threshold, more than 50% of children in the US are born outside of wed-lock.
Think for a moment what these stats mean. 1 in 4 Americans. There are approximately 300 million Americans. Which means about 70 million Americans have STD’s. Now think about how many of those 300 million are children not yet sexually active. Think about how many of the older generation may not fall into that category either. The concentration of the demographic carrying the diseases narrows even further.
Plants grow by converting light energy and carbon dioxide into sugars that can be for growth. Imagine a plant that doesn’t feed on light, but on darkness. When isolated from other living things it grows larger, when concealed in darkness its vines grow stronger and more entangling. Finally it gets so large that it spills out into the garden from which it was isolated and chokes the life out of the plants living closest to it.
That is the nature of the addiction. It grows in darkness; it is fertilized by shame, and finally reaches maturity in selfishness and pride. It grows until that duplicity finally, but inevitably collides with reality and the addiction is exposed and the lives of those closest to the addict are destroyed or severely damaged and they can only be healed by hard hard work, spiritual intervention, support through accountability, professional counseling, and the atonement.
For those that may believe that they are only affecting themselves, it is a terrible mistake. The addiction affects every facet of life. You brain is literally damaged! Other side effects include “brain fog” or the inability to concentrate, jobs lost, or promotions past by, school work impacted, social anxiety, depression, erectile dysfunction, objectifying or viewing people as objects, isolation, inability to connect or to have a normal relationship, those are just the scientifically observed affects. That doesn’t mention the spiritual impacts.
There are ripple effects on women. Some may feel like they have to look a certain way to feel a connection with or to feel desired by their partners, so they resort to surgery to try and compete with the girls in the pornographic films. Cosmetic surgery increased 446% in the last decade to reach 12 billion dollars.
Other women fall into despair, knowing there is no way to possibly compete with the bodies and worldly allure that these so called “stars” exhibit. After all, a real woman has feelings, wants to be listened to, wants her voice heard, wants to be touched gently, held tightly and loved completely. Physical and spiritual imperfections included. An emotionless screen illuminated with pixels requires no effort, no conversation, no emotional input or connection and can be used and discarded at will. No one, male or female, can compete with such fantasies.
Another serious ripple effect is that now, after constant exposure to a sexualized world, 49 Percent of 18-29 year old women and 87% of 18-29 year old men, believe that viewing pornography is acceptable.
Fantasy, lust, dopamine deficits and addiction lead to escalation, more shocking forms of pornography or sexual activities, affairs and even crime as those caught in the addiction continue to seek for something that does not exist. Covenants are broken, families are destroyed, and children are left in the ruins now more vulnerable to repeat the cycle.
We have been told that we sat among the Noble and Great Ones in the council’s in heaven. Some of whom included the prophets of old and modern times, our pioneer forbears and our patriot forefathers.
The prophets were outcasts, lonely and acquainted with grief, often beaten or killed for their faith. The pioneers are famous for having their faith purified on trails marked with blood, tears and shallow graves. The patriots of 1776 faced potential execution, war and the destruction that comes with it to do what they knew was right.
So, I submit to you, that if you want to earn your title as Noble and Great you have your own Abrahamic test coming. After all this is the last days. A time that has been prophesied that “the very elect will be deceived“, “men’s hearts shall fail them“, and “children will be dashed to pieces before their eyes and their houses shall be spoiled and their wives ravished“.
I believe that the stats already mentioned illustrate a fulfillment of prophesy. The elect are being deceived, not only by being ensnared in addiction, but by judging those that are. I hear regular going church members mock or snarl at the idea that somebody they knew was addicted to pornography, as if they have never sinned or had a lustful thought linger in their minds longer than it should have. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”
Men’s hearts and their ability to connect with God’s children are failing. Children are metaphorically being dashed to pieces before our eyes, and sadly, most of the time parents don’t even realize it! Houses are being left spoiled and wives are left ravished, having been used by their would be eternal companion as nothing more than a sexual object.
I promise you that the trails of addiction recovery that we will have to blaze in our day, though not as physically daunting as a pioneer trail, will be equally if not more taxing both emotionally and spiritually than any pioneer ever experienced! I promise you that it will be the hardest thing you ever have to do. I also promise that it will be worth it!
There is a tidal wave headed for the body of the church. How are children raised with addictions and duplicity supposed to serve whole-hearted missions? How are they, who distrust and shame themselves, supposed to be fully committed and healthy in their marital relationships? How are they supposed to instill faith in the next generation of saints if they themselves believe the atonement applies to everybody but them? There is a reason why divorce rates are so high, even in the church. There is a reason why missionaries have not have sufficient faith to “double the baptisms”. And this moral decay is surely responsible, in large part, for the state of affairs in America.
Please educate yourselves. Come out of hiding. The addiction cannot survive in the daylight, for light and darkness cannot coexist. The addiction will certainly fight and hang on for a time. But it can be beaten. Kids, you are exposed early and addicted young. That does not make you a bad person. It means Satan is cunning. Reach out for help. You cannot do it on your own. Talk to your parents, they will still love you. They will do whatever it takes to save your life! Your bishop will love you. Come forward before you find yourself, years down the road, holding the pieces of your shattered life.
Adults or parents who are ensnared, muster the courage. Seek help. Call the Bishop. It will be painful, it will be hard, but your faith and your soul will be purified in the process.
You may feel alone, know that you are not alone. Isolated, you go toe to toe with the devil and that is not a fight that is in your favor. United with God, your bishop, a counselor and your family, you are not alone and you will have angels round about you to bear you up. The statistics are real. The more willing you are to open up and talk about the subject the more you will realize that those addicted are not “those people”, they are your father, your mother, your husband, your daughter, your grandpa, your brother-in-law, or your son.
I have a friend that came forward and told his wife and kids. This gave permission for a couple of his own kids to come forward. They are working through this problem as a family.
I know another individual, who came forward and confided in his parents, and that brave gesture, gave his father permission to come forward as well.
Lastly, imagine, or remember for a moment, if your child, sibling, spouse, or parent had to break the news to you that they had cancer. Would your heart go out to them? Would you wrap them in your arms? Would you cry with them? Would you be afraid of losing what you thought was going to be? Would you curse God? Would you mourn? Would you pray with your whole heart and seek comfort in Christ?
Anybody reading this, whether you are struggling with any form of pornography or if you have a loved one that is, I want you to treat this addiction as cancer. Your heart will ache. There will be many long nights of tears and pain, but the cancer can be removed. You have a physician with a 100% cure rate. If you are too ashamed to admit that you have cancer, you will surely die, as the cancer spreads. If you admit that you need help and that you are not already perfect, you can be healed. After all, Christ came to the sick, for the whole need no physician.
The mind is an amazing thing. It is the medium through which your spirit is made manifest in the physical world. Your mind can heal. Through time and abstinence, the brain can physically heal from the chemical damage. Through the Savior and His gospel, your spirit can heal. The mind and spirit are the soul of man, so in a very real sense, your soul can be made whole.
Please exercise your faith, and for any of you who are ensnared and who have lost hope, call the bishop, come unto Christ and say, “Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief.” And to those that are not the addict, “have compassion on us, and help us.”
Healing is possible. I am living proof that miracles continue to happen.