Conference examines dangers of pornography

PROVO, Utah — BYU President Merrill J. Bateman and his wife, Marilyn, recently celebrated the birth of their 27th grandchild. The Church leader recalled looking at his newborn grandchild and marveling at the purity the baby brought into the world.

Pornography stands as an opposite to such cleanliness — a growing problem capable of "destroying one's purity and character," said President Bateman of the Seventy.

President Bateman offered the opening remarks Feb. 18 at a campus conference on pornography. The daylong conference, which was sponsored by Women's Services and Resources at BYU, covered topics such as Internet safety, the spiritual cost exacted by pornography and ways individuals can rise above struggles with such material.

In his speech, President Bateman spoke of a recent talk given by President Boyd K. Packer at a Church Educational System fireside. In his speech, President Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve, said the body is an instrument of the mind.

But pornography turns that mind-body relationship upside-down, President Bateman said. "The mind becomes a slave of the body."

President Bateman called the proliferation and acceptance of pornography "a growing problem which needs attention." He spoke of a U.S. university that is offering an undergraduate course on pornography that asks students to view pornographic material while teaching them ways to access the material. Such places don't understand the sacred relationship between the intellect, mind, spirit and body, he said.

Their are tens of thousands of pornographic web sites in operation today, with some 200 new sites being added every day. Pornography thrives today on the supposed anonymity of the viewer, President Bateman said.

"[But] we know and God knows what we are watching."

All must learn to protect themselves from pornography — then protect those people for whom they are responsible, he said. President Bateman said BYU is determined to help, through ecclesiastical and campus resources, anyone from its community who has fallen to pornography. Although the school does all it can to keep such material out of BYU, "we do know people can access pornography if they are determined to do so."

Remember, one of God's greatest blessings is knowing why the Lord's children have been given a physical body, President Bateman said.

"How we approach the physical and spiritual will exalt us or stop our eternal progression."

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