LDS Church’s Overcoming Pornography website updated

Credit: IRI
Credit: IRI
Credit: IRI
Credit: IRI

The size of the worldwide pornography industry is $57 billion with revenue greater than all football, baseball and basketball franchises combined, according to BYU Women’s Services and Resources.

A year ago, the Church launched the website to help family members and spouses who carry the heavy burden of loved ones involved with pornography. Some recent updates and additions have expanded the site to help even more people deal with this complex issue.

The site is now available in English, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Russian so that more people around the world can find help.

New recovery and prevention resources have been added to the site to help spouses and families. For example, there are tips for avoiding slip ups and powerful stories of hope, healing and freedom from addiction.

Other new features contain updated information and guidance for Church leaders to help them meet the needs of spouses and family members with better awareness, understanding and responsiveness.

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “Satan has become a master at using the addictive power of pornography to limit individual capacity to be led by the Spirit. The onslaught of pornography in all of its vicious, corroding, destructive forms has caused great grief, suffering, heartache and destroyed marriages. It is one of the most damning influences on earth. Whether it be through the printed page, movies, television, obscene lyrics, vulgarities on the telephone or flickering personal computer screen, pornography is overpoweringly addictive and severely damaging” (To Acquire Spiritual Guidance, April 2009 general conference).

“The site is built around getting healing through the Atonement of Jesus Christ,” said Howard Bangerter, product manager for the Church’s Welfare Services Department, who has been working to enhance the website along with colleague Lee Gibbons of the Priesthood Department. They report a majority of those who visit the website are struggling to overcome a pornography addiction. Men admitting to accessing pornography at work is 20 percent; it is 13 percent for women (BYU Women's Services and Resources).

Brother Bangerter explained resources have been added to help leaders give guidance specifically to the spouses of those who struggle with an addiction to pornography. Discussions about the needs of families took place with leaders of the Church’s auxiliary organizations, including Relief Society, Young Women, Young Men and Primary, which contributed to the updated material.

“Our current efforts are to find the ideal blend where we can get the spiritual and the practical helps that are needed to overcome the aspects of pornography addiction,” said Brother Bangerter.

“There are both spiritual and physiological aspects of this,” said Brother Gibbons. While the focus is on the spiritual damaging nature of the problem, “we also need to focus on the rewiring of the brain that is essential for recovery.”

Experts are now discovering that pornography addiction leads to the same brain activity as alcoholism and drug abuse. “There’s a growing body of evidence that shows, just as it was recognized eventually that tobacco is a harmful substance that can kill your body, that pornography itself creates a physiological change that is just as damaging as drug abuse,” said Brother Bangerter.

“So many simply can’t overcome this on their own; it’s too powerful,” said Brother Bangerter. “The brain, having been wired to crave this dopamine hit is very unlikely to let you do that on your own; you will need help. Whether that means you talk to a bishop, or your parents if you’re a youth, or for married individuals, to your spouse and/or spiritual leader. The key is getting this out of the dark and into the open with a confidential set of supporters.” Seventy percent of women keep their cyber activities secret (BYU Women's Services and Resources).

An estimated 10 percent of Americans admit a pornography addiction and the number is increasing annually, according to an episode of “Real Families Real Answers” that aired on BYUtv. Forty million Americans are regular visitors to pornography sites. Men are six times more likely to view pornography than women. The heaviest pornography use is among young men.

The average age of a person’s first exposure to pornography is 11 and nearly 80 percent of that exposure occurs at home.

“The question of whether they will be exposed is moot,” explained Brother Gibbons. “They will be exposed in various levels to all kinds of pornographic materials of a varying nature.”

A handful of new videos that feature families battling pornography addiction have been created by the Mormon Channel for the website. The latest release features a couple, Troy and Kerri, who are dealing with Troy’s pornography addiction. Brother Bangerter expects many more videos dealing with addiction will be posted by the end of the year.

More than half of all divorce cases in the country involve one person having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites. Forty-seven percent of Christians said pornography is a major problem in the home (BYU Women's Services and Resources).

The Church’s pornography addiction resources work closely with the faith’s Addiction Recovery Program, which is a 12-step program that incorporates gospel principles while fostering recovery and healing. Two types of meetings are held, including one for those who are addicted and another for their spouses and family members. Brother Gibbons said the online resources can be especially useful in many parts of the world where those meetings are not held.

Concerning pornography, President Thomas S. Monson said, “At first we scarcely realize we have been infected. We laugh and make light-hearted comment concerning the off-color story or the clever cartoon. With evangelical zeal we protect the so-called rights of those who would contaminate with smut and destroy all that is precious and sacred. The beetle of pornography is doing his deadly task — undercutting our will, destroying our immunity, and stifling the upward reach within each of us” (“Pornography the Deadly Carrier,” Ensign, November 1979, p. 66).

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