Viewpoint: A plague among us

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Someone once told me, “Prophets don’t talk about pornography for fun.”

In the past five years, hardly a session of General Conference has passed without the brethren warning about the dangers of pornography. They have reason to warn. Pornography creates a shattering ripple effect impacting the viewer and surrounding.

From friends, I have heard the heartache that inevitably follows its destructive path. For those trapped in its addictive cycle or affected by it, life can seem hopeless. The statistics are grim, but turning a blind eye only compounds the issue. It is only by facing reality that we can begin to learn how to change it to find hope, healing and recovery.

In 2010, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “Tragically, the same computer and Internet service that allows me to do my family history and prepare those names for temple work could, without filters and controls, allow my children or grandchildren access to a global cesspool of perceptions that could blast a crater in their brains forever.”

The ease of access to pornography through the internet has led to a dramatic increase of consumption and acceptance in society despite its negative effects.

The adage is “sex sells,” but the business isn’t just selling, it’s booming. In 2003, the ABC News’ article “Porn Profits: Corporate America’s Secret” reported that the pornography business was bigger than the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball combined.

A 2008 study in the Journal of Adolesent Research found that among college students, 87 percent of men and 31 percent of women reported using pornography. Among the same group, 67 percent of men and 49 percent of women believed viewing pornography was acceptable. In 2009, University of Miami researcher Simon Louis Lajeurnesse abandoned a study of the effects of pornography on young men because he could not find a control group of men who had not viewed pornography.

Statistics can seem distant. Too often we believe: This is the way for most of the world, but surely not for us in our community, surely not to me?

In 2007, the LDS Church News published a seven-part series on the issue. Hundreds of bishops and stake presidents had reported that pornography was their top concern for members of the Church.

A study in 2009 found that Utah had one of the highest paid subscription rating to Internet based pornography websites in the United States.

This is one area in which we simply cannot be complacent. We must be involved in the fight because it is no longer a question of if this will affect you, but when.

Ralph Yarro, a former Novell executive and anti-pornography advocate, told the Church News in 2007, “Wake up. Apathy will kill you here. If porn hasn’t touched your life already, it is going to rip huge, gaping holes in it.”

This is by no means a happy subject. But with understanding comes hope.

First, we must understand that pornography addiction is a real addiction. It cannot be stopped or changed by willpower alone. In “He Restoreth My Soul,” one recovery addict wrote, “When craving begins, reasoning ends!” If you are struggling with pornography addiction, you are not alone. Seek out and find help. Only then can true recovery begin.

Second, remember that wonderfully good people suffer from this addiction. Many pornography addicts were exposed at a young age (the average age of exposure is 11-years old). As a society, I think we need to remember that these men and women are not just their addiction. Their addiction should not define them.

Third, for those who are watching a loved one struggle, you need to know three important things: you didn’t cause it, you can’t control it and you can’t cure it. Your loved one’s addiction is not a reflection of you. You cannot make your loved ones change or even make them want to change. You can only take care of yourself and support them if they are willing to change.

There is hope. Change can happen.

Katie Harmer is the opinion editor at The Daily Universe. This viewpoint represents her opinion and does not necessarily represent the opinions of BYU, its administration or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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