One of the sad ironies of 21st century life is that as technology advances and is able to connect more people together, that same technology is being used by "conspiring men" to exploit and debase the human condition.
Satellites and the Internet can connect people across the world, from those living in the busiest urban setting to those found in the most remote locations on earth. What we choose to download from those digital pathways, however, is up to us. Not too many years ago, pornography was confined mainly to a few magazines and a few films with very limited audiences. City officials would confine such "adult" entertainment to a single area of town. It was heavily patrolled by police to keep the unsuspecting out and arrest the violators who tried to peddle their wares outside those boundaries.
Today, with the click of a computer mouse, or the ease of direct dialing, information is readily at hand. Unfortunately, so are the smut peddlers and pornographers. Even the most adroit computer users can find themselves unintentionally connected to a "porn site" through no fault of their own.
In his address to the youth of the Church last November, President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "We live in a world that is filled with filth and sleaze, a world that reeks of evil. It is all around us. It is on the television screen. It is at the movies. It is in the popular literature. It is on the Internet. You can't afford to watch it, my dear friends. You cannot afford to let that filthy poison touch you. Stay away from it. Avoid it. . . . Don't waste your time in destructive entertainment . . . . I plead with you my friends, to stay away from such. It will not help you. It can only injure you."
In a conversation with some friends a man, now nearing retirement age, remarked: "I remember my first brush with hard-core porn. I was about 10 years old at the time. My father, a police officer, had left some magazines he had seized in a raid on the seat of his patrol car. I still remember to this day (nearly six decades later) the images from those magazines."
The apostle Paul wrote: "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." (Romans 8:5-6.)
If an image, viewed at an early age, remains with us years — even decades later — what does that say about our ability to block it out of our lives?
President Hinckley reminded his young listeners, "Pornography has become a $10 billion industry in the United States, where a few men grow rich at the expense of thousands upon thousands who are their victims. Stay away from it. It is exciting, but it will destroy you. It will warp your senses. It will build within you an appetite that you will do anything to appease."
More than a century ago, President Joseph F. Smith warned Church members: "No man is safe unless he is master of himself; and there is no tyrant more merciless or more to be dreaded than an uncontrollable appetite or passion. We will find that if we give way to the groveling appetites of the flesh and follow them up, that the end will be invariably bitter, injurious and sorrowful, both to the individual and society." (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, p. 372.)
He continued, "Many are lovers of pleasure and lust more than lovers of God. They delight in the lusts of the flesh, the gratification of their appetites, having virulent desire, living in corruption, debauchery, revelry and all manner of wickedness. Many people do not know how to be happy, not knowing how to use the blessing that God has given unto them." (Ibid, p. 373.)
President Hinckley reminded the youth, "Now if there be any who have stepped over the line, who may already have transgressed, is there any hope for you? Of course there is. Where there is true repentance, there will be forgiveness."
Our leaders have warned us of the dangers and pointed us in the right direction. It is our responsibility now to obey their words and keep ourselves unspotted from the world.