A Healthier Approach to the Porn Dilemma

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felixfabulous
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A Healthier Approach to the Porn Dilemma

Post by felixfabulous » 23 Aug 2018, 08:11

I think we have framed the pornography discussion in a way that creates a lot of disappointment for everyone in the church. This is again at the mercy of the leadership roulette and the approach and penalties vary with different bishops and stake presidents. By treating any viewing of pornography as a sin and any indulgence as an addiction, we have a lot of people who view themselves as addicts and we may even incentivize addictive behavior.

I would propose some healthier approaches would be: 1. Let's all acknowledge that people (mostly men) are naturally interested in pornography, this doesn't make them perverts or deviants; 2. Let's talk about why pornography can be harmful; 3. Let's frame the discussion in terms of how can we avoid this behavior, how can we do it less, instead of the standard being total abstinence; 4. Reframe this as breaking a bad habit instead of an addiction, i.e. how to phase this out, do it less, etc; 5. Move away from the expectation of total abstinence; 6. De stigmatize it and let people be real in talking about their struggles.

The Church's current 12 step program strongly encourages people to say that they have an addiction and their life is unmanageable. This seems like a big overreaction for people who occasionally view porn and are trying not to. We've demonized something that is an unhealthy, but very normal behavior. We've also told a lot of men they are addicts and are broken for doing it and have a lot of women fearing that their husbands are addicts and will inevitably become Ted Bundy.

Can we all admit the approach we as a Church have taken since the 90s is not working and we need to try something else? I think the answer is to ease up, let people talk about it, ratchet down the rhetoric and hopefully have everyone view less porn.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: A Healthier Approach to the Porn Dilemma

Post by Curt Sunshine » 23 Aug 2018, 12:30

We have quite a few threads in our archives about this issue. I will try to find one or more when I have a few minutes and provide the link(s) to supplement the comments from others on this post.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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nibbler
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Re: A Healthier Approach to the Porn Dilemma

Post by nibbler » 23 Aug 2018, 14:50

The thread A Terrific Article about Pornography got a lot of replies.
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

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DevilsAdvocate
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Re: A Healthier Approach to the Porn Dilemma

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 23 Aug 2018, 20:17

felixfabulous wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 08:11
I think we have framed the pornography discussion in a way that creates a lot of disappointment for everyone in the church...I would propose some healthier approaches would be: 1. Let's all acknowledge that people (mostly men) are naturally interested in pornography, this doesn't make them perverts or deviants...Can we all admit the approach we as a Church have taken since the 90s is not working and we need to try something else? I think the answer is to ease up, let people talk about it, ratchet down the rhetoric and hopefully have everyone view less porn.
I'm sure the Church and other moral crusaders like some feminists mean well with this but what I don't think they realize is how much of an uphill battle this really is. So instead of actually stopping or even reducing the viewing of porn/nudity in many cases the main thing all the demonization and zero tolerance attitudes have really accomplished is that they have basically encouraged many men to keep it secret almost as if their life depended on it. In fact, I think the guilt-trips and fear can quite often backfire and actually result in even more viewing of porn/nudity because then people are thinking about it more and it becomes some sort of forbidden fruit.

I also think this approach greatly increases the chances of divorce and even suicide in the worst cases because it sets the unrealistic expectation that this should never happen when it is definitely going to continue to happen no matter how terrible people act like it is. Another way it can backfire for the Church in particular is that if young men believe they are unworthy to go on missions, get married in the temple, etc. then they are more likely to drop out of the Church and I think the only reason the Church has as many men supporting it as it currently does is because many of them haven't let this discourage them as much as it could if they really took it as seriously as some of these leaders repeatedly act like it is. But I don't really expect them to change their tune anytime soon because it has become a major pet issue for the Church to harp on repeatedly as sort of a go-to scapegoat and boogeyman.
"Truth is what works." - William James

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dande48
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Re: A Healthier Approach to the Porn Dilemma

Post by dande48 » 23 Aug 2018, 21:01

The Church operates on prophetic inspiration. Because of this, it's very difficult for the leadership to admit when things aren't working and make adjustments. Reduction and rehabilitation should be the goal, and I agree that current Church practice is less effective than it should be.

In all fairness, I do think the Church's approach leads to a desire to change, which is a step up from a lot of what we see in "the World". But facillitating change is a whole new battle. The old model of faith, prayer, and repentance too often just doesn't cut it. And when it doesn't work, it makes those struggling feel even worse. I do wish we were more open about it, and less judgemental. Don't get me wrong, porn is bad. The world would be a much better place without it. But we shouldn't let perfect be the enemy of good.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

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AmyJ
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Re: A Healthier Approach to the Porn Dilemma

Post by AmyJ » 24 Aug 2018, 05:14

DevilsAdvocate wrote:
23 Aug 2018, 20:17
I'm sure the Church and other moral crusaders like some feminists mean well with this but what I don't think they realize is how much of an uphill battle this really is. So instead of actually stopping or even reducing the viewing of porn/nudity in many cases the main thing all the demonization and zero tolerance attitudes have really accomplished is that they have basically encouraged many men to keep it secret almost as if their life depended on it. In fact, I think the guilt-trips and fear can quite often backfire and actually result in even more viewing of porn/nudity because then people are thinking about it more and it becomes some sort of forbidden fruit.

I also think this approach greatly increases the chances of divorce and even suicide in the worst cases because it sets the unrealistic expectation that this should never happen when it is definitely going to continue to happen no matter how terrible people act like it is. Another way it can backfire for the Church in particular is that if young men believe they are unworthy to go on missions, get married in the temple, etc. then they are more likely to drop out of the Church and I think the only reason the Church has as many men supporting it as it currently does is because many of them haven't let this discourage them as much as it could if they really took it as seriously as some of these leaders repeatedly act like it is. But I don't really expect them to change their tune anytime soon because it has become a major pet issue for the Church to harp on repeatedly as sort of a go-to scapegoat and boogeyman.
I agree. I think that an additional unexpected consequence is the pulling away from families. The unworthiness (real or perceived) + the expectation that the partner will reject that person (whether that judgement call is accurate is a form of roulette in and of itself) + in some cases, the shutting down of conversations between partners to hide the usage = the person pulling away from the partner and from the family unit and the couple not communicating and refining expectations and championing each other in personal goals selected in this area (if there are any). This is intensified if the partner does internalize what the porn usage means in a negative way, and if shared resources (energies, finances, time) are utilized excessively.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: A Healthier Approach to the Porn Dilemma

Post by Curt Sunshine » 24 Aug 2018, 08:32

Soaking people in shame never produces good fruits.

The porn industry is evil. Flat-out evil. I rarely speak in absolutes, but anyone who doesn't see the industry as evil hasn't studied it enough. It is horrific. It thrives for two reasons: 1) We are wired to enjoy sex and sexual content. 2) Shaming drives and deepens addiction. Shaming turns simple, occasional viewing into perceived addiction, and "shameful" addictions are the hardest to overcome.

I have NO problem with the teaching that porn is bad. I have a HUGE problem with how we deal with it.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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felixfabulous
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Re: A Healthier Approach to the Porn Dilemma

Post by felixfabulous » 24 Aug 2018, 13:35

Thanks for the great responses and the links to some previous discussions.

JAC
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Re: A Healthier Approach to the Porn Dilemma

Post by JAC » 24 Aug 2018, 15:31

I have been trying to change things in my neck of the woods. I recently gave a talk in stake conference and admitted to everyone I was a compulsive user of porn for most of my life. I outlined what I did to change and invited everyone to follow my lead.

I made sure to make these points in my talk:
  • Most men and a lot of women in our church do it (about 70% and 30% among millenials)
  • It is harmful
  • Hiding the problem makes it worse
  • It is possible to be free
  • It requires more than a trip to the bishop's office
  • Allow God to change us, and then the behavior will change
My vulnerability at the pulpit has helped reduce some of the shame others feel. Since then I have witnessed that our stake has approached this problem from a fresh perspective and I've been really encouraged by what I've been hearing the bishops say and what is being discussed in all the wards.

We need to stop pretending that we're all perfect and start sharing with others about our life's challenges and truly try to help each other overcome our weaknesses. We also need to be patient with people and let them progress at their own pace.

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mom3
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Re: A Healthier Approach to the Porn Dilemma

Post by mom3 » 24 Aug 2018, 16:42

JAC - I am so glad you had the opportunity to do that. I am thrilled that it has created a space where the conversation and reactions can change. I hope it lasts a long time.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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