Pornography is an issue that’s been swept under the rug for years. But it’s 2012, and we’re running out of rugs. In a world where pornography is not only accepted but applauded, our brooms need to be used for clean combat rather than hidden anguish.
“We are being inundated with sexualized messages—even in the most benign places,” says Jill C. Manning, a licensed marriage and family therapist and author of What’s The Big Deal About Pornography? “If we are not actively protecting ourselves and loved ones from these toxic messages, we risk leaving ourselves vulnerable to attack.”
And what a brutal attack it is. Men, women, children, spouses, family members—no one is safe from the damaging effects of pornography.
What’s more, it’s not enough to simply abstain from it. Latter-day Saints need to fight the clean fight and actively rid their homes of this mess of an addiction.
“The days of simply putting the computer in an open area of the house are long gone,” says Geoff Steurer, a licensed marriage and family therapist in St. George, Utah. “We are so past that simplified form of prevention, thanks to our world of in-your-face media. We have to be more active than we’ve ever been before. Because if we don’t, we’re going to lose this battle.”
The Big Deal
We’ve all heard it before—those subtle (and not-so-subtle) exchanges on movies and television that paint pornography in a jovial light. We’re talking the “boys will be boys” mantras, the “it’s not harming anyone” claims, or the “it saved our marriage” declarations.
But the truth is, pornography is neither harmless nor helpful.
“Pornography use is not simply a habit,” says Manning. “It is a mood altering, belief changing, relationship damaging, addiction forming, socially harmful, spiritually deadening, and life crippling practice through which one practices the ways of the adversary.”
And the statistics are equally alarming. In 2006, worldwide pornography revenue was more than $97 billion ($13 billion of which came from the U.S.).
According to Enough is Enough, every second, $3,075.64 is spent on pornography; 28,258 Internet viewers look at it; and 372 users type “adult” terms into search engines.
Every 39 minutes, a new pornographic video is made in the U.S.
And perhaps most alarming, it’s been reported that 79 percent of young people’s unwanted exposure to pornography occurs in the home.
It was stats like these that propelled Pamela Atkinson, president of the Utah Coalition Against Pornography, into battle.
“The more I learned about pornography, the more I knew I had to fight against it,” Atkinson says. “It’s spreading at such a rapid rate, and not just with individuals but with entire families. I just shudder when I hear people say it’s harmless.”
Church apostles and prophets are equally concerned with how pornography is affecting us. Just take a look at their official statement on pornography, which can be found on lds.org:
It is as harmful to the spirit as tobacco, alcohol and drugs are to the body. Using pornographic material in any way is a violation of a commandment of God: ‘Thou shalt not . . . commit adultery . . . nor do anything like unto it’ (D&C 59:6). Pornography is tragically addictive. Like other addictions, it leads people to experiment and to seek more powerful stimulations. Those who experiment with it and allow themselves to remain caught in its trap will find that it will destroy them, degrading their minds, hearts and spirits. It will rob them of self-respect and of their sense of the beauties of life. It will tear them down and lead them to evil thoughts and possibly evil actions. It will cause terrible damage to their family relationships.
And “evil” is no exaggeration.
“I’ve met with people whose lives have been altered by pornography to the point of destruction,” Atkinson says. “Many people are surprised to know pornography consumption can be the leading cause of sexual violence, assault, and even sex trafficking. In fact, a high percentage of sexual predators started with what they call soft-core pornography. There are no limits to its devastation.”
Keep reading on the next page to find out who is being affected, and its effects.