Pornography's great threat

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling held that pornography involving children was legal so long as the characters involved were animated, rather than real. This unfortunate decision is likely to increase the amount of degrading filth that is coursing through the Internet and piling up like sewage in otherwise respectable book stores.

For members of the Church, it should be a clarion call to acquire the best defenses and to batten down all hatches against a threat that can destroy families, shatter lives and cause untold misery. Pornography is more of a threat today than ever before, and it is invading far too many of the homes of Church members.

The animation in question is not the typical cartoon-like characterization with which many Americans are familiar. It is computer generated and extremely lifelike — so much so that it satisfies the needs of people who are addicted to perversion and debauchery. Were it not deceptively lifelike, it would not have been a matter for the high court's consideration.

In its ruling, the court's majority said the Constitution can't prohibit such pictures and films because no real children were involved in the production and because no clear connection exists between the viewing of such pictures and the commission of real-life acts imitating what is being shown.

And yet there is plenty of evidence linking the viewing of pornography with crimes. In a recent interview, Dr. Victor Cline, clinical psychologist and psychotherapist who also is a member of the Church, said his years of work with pornography addicts makes such connections clear. He has identified a four-step process of addiction. Step one is to become obsessed with visual images that the viewer finds stimulating. Step two is to seek more hard-core and violent images in order to achieve the same state of arousal. Step three is a desensitization that makes the viewer accept things he once considered repulsive. Step four is the desire to begin acting out what the viewer has seen.

Unfortunately, the pages of newspapers are filled with too many sad stories of people who have followed this pattern and now find themselves in prison, their victims scarred for life.

Members of the Lord's true Church should not rely on governments to define what is pornography. They should let the scriptures and the prophets be their guide.

Pornography is defined as writings, pictures or movies that are intended to arouse someone sexually. Whether as entertainment or an idle diversion, such things have no place in the lives of Church members. They are antithetical to the gospel and serve to quickly offend the Spirit.

In the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior taught that "whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matthew 5:28.) Elsewhere, Jesus called a little child to Him and taught, "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6.)

The connection between mentally and physically committing sin is clear. If pornography is allowed to enter into and control one's thoughts, the spiritual consequences are dire, and sincere repentance is in order. It should be equally clear that Satan understands this destructive power, which is why he is influencing its frenetic expansion worldwide.

Because of easy access through the Internet, the pornography industry is growing rapidly. Worldwide, tens of billions of dollars are spent on it each year. Many people with e-mail accounts are finding frequent unsolicited invitations in their mailboxes from web sites featuring filthy pictures. The owners of these sites are well aware of the addictive powers of these images and are searching everywhere for new victims willing to spend money.

Some Church members might be lured. At first, they might think it is harmless to view so-called "soft" pornography or to watch television shows that contain strong sexual themes. Some young people might be tempted to view such things on the Internet out of curiosity. Some might feel that animated pornography doesn't count.

All should be aware that these things, in all their forms, lead to the same end. They pull people away from our Heavenly Father and deaden the senses. They should be avoided at all costs.

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