Latter-day Saint Life

Why Society Accepts Pornography but Not Littering


Have you heard this statement (or one like it)? 

“It’s not until porn impacts [someone's] personal life or sex drive that you should be concerned.”

The same article this comes from, which was posted on Cosmo "The Online Women's Magazine," also went on to say we should feel "OK" if our significant others watching pornography "regularly." (Read the full article at your own risk.)  


Pornography is addictive. Whether you're religious or not, there's no arguing about it. Study after study after study show that it upsets the chemical balance in the brain in ways similar to other highly-addictive drugs (think like cocaine). 

It's also destructive. On a personal level and a societal level. It's like a gateway drug. Consumers of pornography are more likely to exhibit risky sexual behaviors and have patterns of other substance abuse

President Packer said it this way: “In our day the dreadful influence of pornography is like unto a plague sweeping across the world, infecting one here and one there, relentlessly trying to invade every home. [...] Pornography will always repel the Spirit of Christ and will interrupt the communications between our Heavenly Father and His children and disrupt the tender relationship between husband and wife."

And yet, despite the numbers, the studies, and warnings, society says, "don't worry; it's fine!" and "pornography is part of a healthy sex life." It justifies that "everybody does it." (One researcher even claimed they couldn't find a single 20-year-old man who hadn't consumed pornography, even just a little.) Society would have you believe that you're the strange one for thinking pornography is a problem. 

I find that ironic.

Because this is the same "civilized" society that will harshly judge you for much smaller offenses, like dropping a candy wrapper on the ground. (Do it three times in Illinois, and you're looking at up to a $25,000 fine and 30 days of cleaning up the street--it's that serious.) We create laws and regulations about every tiny, nit-picky thing, and somehow, the plague that is pornography has escaped intense legislation? (Read more about one petition to make pornography an "opt-in" feature on all internet service providers in the US.)

Why does society so readily accept something that even secular studies have shown is a destructive influence on men, women, children, and families? Why is the stigma associated with dropping a candy wrapper on the ground worse in the eyes of society than engaging in a behavior that tears at the fundamental pillars of society?

The answer is sickeningly simple: society defines "right" and "wrong" in terms of consequences. 

Littering, and other petty crimes, are associated with fines (even outrageous ones like those in Illinois for repeat offenders). It has clearly-outlined negative effects. Leaving trash on the ground can hurt animals who might ingest it. Depending on the item, it can potentially poison water or soil or other natural resources. The US and nations worldwide spend millions each year cleaning up litter.

They also spend millions rehabilitating drug addicts. Why not make the same effort for pornography suffers?

I'm reminded of the heyday of Big Tobacco. Even after it was proven dangerous--deadly--and even after a surgeon general's warning, people still smoked. To society, smoking had become the norm, and the money backing the industry could help keep the product on the streets. Yes, society agrees it's dangerous, but not dangerous enough

Pornography is the same way. As we learn more and more about how it tears people to pieces, learn that it's addictive like a drug, that it's dangerous, society says, "It feels good, and you're not hurting anyone else." But like second hand smoke, pornography does hurt others. It hurts wives and husbands, children and families. It can even hurt society when addictions become strong enough and a private habit starts having public consequences.

Pornography is a plague. It's a cancer on our communities, less visible than litter, but infinitely uglier and more difficult to combat. Remember Sister Reeves' words from last conference: "The greatest filter in the world, the only one that will ultimately work, is the personal internal filter that comes from a deep and abiding testimony of our Heavenly Father’s love and our Savior’s atoning sacrifice for each one of us." 

If you or a loved one is struggling with a pornography addiction, these resources can help: 

For individuals, spouses, families, and Church leaders:


Overcoming Pornography

The Church offers many resources to help those recovering from pornography addiction as well as their loved ones. In this site, you will be reminded of the power of Jesus Christ and His Atonement as you discover practical guidance and resources for individuals, families, and leaders seeking healing, forgiveness, protection, and power in overcoming pornography.


For youth

Pornography, The Great Lie: A Guide for LDS Families (DVD), by Deseret Book

Through the Redeeming Power of Jesus Christ Parents, priesthood leaders, and those who lead our youth need extensive guidance and tools to assist them in fighting pornography. This DVD, Pornography, The Great Lie, specifically addresses concerns relating to adolescent exposure to pornography and its insidious attack against the family. It is meant to be viewed with your youth.

Available at Deseret Book

For yourself


Clean Hands, Pure Heart: Overcoming Addiction to Pornography Through the Redeeming Power of Jesus Christ, by Philip A. Harrison

In this book, author, Philip A. Harrison relates his journey out of addiction to pornography into recovery and freedom. Using the scriptures and teachings of church leaders, Phil leads us through the process of coming unto Christ and having our burdens lifted. For those who have struggled with sexual addiction or any other overwhelming challenge, as well as for those who care about them, this book offers welcome help, guidance and hope.

Available at Deseret Book

For families

Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged By Virtual Infidelity, by Mark Chamberlain and Geoff Steurer

There's nothing virtual about the damage pornography does to a relationship. The good news is that the marriage itself can be a couple's most powerful tool in healing in a pornography habit. This helpful, informative, and insightful book will help couples learn how to harness that strength to make their marriages more fulfilling than they ever imagined possible.

Available at Deseret Book

Heal My Broken Heart: An LDS Guide to Dealing with Those Bound by the Deadly Sin of Pornography, by Ruth Davidson and Tamara Davies

Pornography is sweeping the earth in ever increasing intensity leaving behind countless victims and untold destruction. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not immune to this devastating plague. Heal My Broken Heart is a guide for those dealing with husbands or other close family members who struggle with this damaging addiction.

Available at Deseret Book

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