Women are Addicted to Porn too

By: Mormon Heretic
October 28, 2013

Over the weekend, Christianity Today (CT) put out an article stating that women “make up an estimated one in three visitors to adult entertainment websites.”  A 2007 study by “Nielsen/NetRatings found that approximately 13 million American women click on pornographic sites each month.” It’s not just a man’s problem anymore.  CT interviewed 3 women who were addicted to porn as early as 9 years of age.  Rachel said

It started when I was 9. A few days before, some friends were giggling about this thing called sex. I searched for it on Google, and up came countless links to pornographic websites. I clicked on many of them, and the screen was soon covered with explicit pop-ups. A flood of intense shame came over me, but I wanted to see more. I almost got caught, so I resolved to never do it again. I came too close to being exposed, and the shame was too much.

As a teenager, I became romantically involved with a guy who had just graduated from my school. Before long, we were discussing sexual fantasies. I went back to pornography, and I began to masturbate frequently. When things between us ended, I combated rejection and heartache with pornography and masturbation. It was an intimacy that I could control.

Every morning and evening—sometimes even in the afternoons—I would engage in those things. On the outside I was a straight-A student, a leader in my high school’s chapel band, a core part of my youth group, a social butterfly, and a talented athlete. On the inside I was slowly wasting away, chained to my addictions and the woundedness that I was trying to avoid. For those four years I led a double life, and I was good at it.

CT states,

Even as Christian groups work to combat our culture’s porn addiction, their efforts continue to skew male. The Gospel Coalition editor Joe Carter published helpful findings on the effect of pornography on the brain, adding to the ongoing discussion over men and porn.

It’s much harder to find similar articles tailored for women, leading many to deduce that pornography remains a struggle only for men. When we don’t talk about women and porn, women everywhere hide in the shadows with this deep-rooted secret. Thousands, perhaps millions, of Christian women struggle with sexual sin, and we must speak openly about these temptations.

Thankfully, it wasn’t mentioned in General Priesthood meeting, but Apostle Quentin L. Cook said in the Sunday afternoon session,

The impact of drugs and alcohol, immorality,pornography, gambling, financial subjugation, and other afflictions imposes on those in bondage and on society a burden of such magnitude that it is almost impossible to quantify.”

Is this something that should be brought up in the Women’s meeting more often?

How do you think the subject of porn should be handled?

  • By discussing it so much, Church leaders are making the problem worse. If they ignored it (for both men & women), the problem wouldn't be so bad. (60%, 24 Votes)
  • Women should hear it as much as men (20%, 8 Votes)
  • Other (I'll add my answer in the comments) (13%, 5 Votes)
  • The church is handling the issue perfectly (7%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 40

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35 Responses to Women are Addicted to Porn too

  1. Hedgehog on October 28, 2013 at 4:21 AM

    I also found it interesting that as a topic it came up in a General session of conference rather than the Priesthood session this time around. I also thought it was good that Elder Cook included with all those other things, rather than singling it out for special attention as it were. I think that is probably the way to go. Take an approach that talks about agency, and warning against those things that limit agency focuses more on the positive of agency, rather than the negative of any one particular type of bondage. It’s a carrot (agency), as opposed to a stick.

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  2. Jack Hughes on October 28, 2013 at 5:24 AM

    “Men, we must avoid wearing tight pants and sleeveless shirts, so as not to become walking pornography to the women who see us.”

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  3. Howard on October 28, 2013 at 6:59 AM

    A flood of intense shame came over me, but I wanted to see more. This is a very insightful statement because many people with porn addiction or fetish compulsion are strongly driven by shame that they were innocently exposed to during childhood. Sexual pleasure and shame can become oddly paired in a sweet and sour mix of shame = pleasure and/or pleasure = shame and these themes will play out repetitiously during the balance of their lives as they subconsciously attempt to return to the scene of the crime. When shame is strongly associated with pleasure they will create opportunities to experience shame or flirt with being caught in a shameful situation. When pleasure is strongly associated with shame they may become society’s strict moralists. When we (or the church) shame or guilt them for being involved with porn, it further isolates them and psychologically feeds into their addiction by providing a shameful payoff which they often subconsciously crave. They should be shown love and acceptance, they should not be shamed or guilted.

    The church needs to take a hard look at where the formula sexual pleasure = shame originated and the sublimation they recommend for it. To some the concept that “happiness is living is the gospel” may be little more than ecclesiastical (parental, psychological) shame relief via successful strict obedience! Isn’t that good? No it’s twisted! They are still enslaved by their innocently acquired compulsion, it’s just the other side of the same coin.

    Our LDS Puritanical disgust for almost all things sexual may be far more shame based than God based! Yes, of course, we are all sinners. But confessing that you’re a sinner should be an expression of humankind’s current state and the need to become more Christlike not a shameful self deprecating apology for innocently acquired traits that passes for humility in LDS speak. In truth this “humility’ is psychologically dysfunctional and spiritually pointless.

    Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

    Obedience, discipline and slogans like “Just Say No” or “Not Even Once” however well intended work far better on people without compulsions than people with them. So while the church outwardly appears to be right and well intended, it ignorantly misapplies these approaches to people with compulsions setting them up for failure by applying one rule to fit all.

    The actual solution is to create a conscious awareness of the root cause and psychologically release the shame. When done effectively this ends much of the the craving but not the habit. Since this takes time to correct including the spouse non-judgmentally in porn addiction and fetishes helps reduce the isolation and shame and works to bring the couple closer together provided the non using spouse is open to it. Keep in mind the user is completely innocent of their compulsion! It’s time to bring member porn use out of the closet and de-stigmatize it without condoning it of encouraging others to take it up.

    A step forward for the marriage might be for the couple to include some softer porn in their foreplay or lovemaking. The more the non using spouse accepts and embraces the using spouse the better things will be in the marriage. The healthier final solution may even be some compromise of porn and fetish use within the marriage rather complete abstention.

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  4. nate on October 28, 2013 at 7:20 AM

    Is this the kind of porn women are addicted to?

    “…Prepare to enter a fantasy world. A world where clothes get folded just so, men insist on changing diapers, delicious dinners await, and flatulence is just not that funny.”

    http://www.wannasnuggle.com

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  5. MH on October 28, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    Howard, remember that Christianity Today is an evangelical publication, so references to “the church” apply more broadly than typical in this conversation. It isn’t just a mormon problem.

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  6. Howard on October 28, 2013 at 8:51 AM

    Well here’s is more of a Christian perspective Asking David 3 – Sex Addiction & Shame-Based Personalities. It seem they are further along in understanding and forgiving sexual sin and expressing love for the sinner.

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  7. Brad on October 28, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    The porn women are addicted to is emotional pornography: vampire novels, romantic comedies, romance books, etc. It gives unrealistic expectations for members of the opposite sex and produces an ideal in the woman’s mind of how men should behave, just as visual porn teaches men how women SHOULD look. They are both destructive to a marriage. I am never going to run down the airport hallway and beg you not to get on that flight to that high-paying job in New York or come up with the perfect anniversary gift (again) and there are times when, well, I’m just not thinking about you. But these types of media teach women that the ideal man SHOULD act this way but it is still an unrealistic expectation.

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  8. mh on October 28, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    Brad and Nate, I think your comments illustrate that you deny the problem of female porn addiction. You turn it to a pet peeve instead of addressing the real problem. Your comments absolutely dismiss Rachel. Rachel was watching and acting on porn, not worrying about anniversary gifts and vampire novels. You are missing the point.

    I think there are plenty of people that feel it is only a man’s problem. This article begs to differ.

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  9. Howard on October 28, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    Here is a Catholic perspective: Catholic Answers – Women Who Suffer from Porn Addiction

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  10. Howard on October 28, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    For comparison, the LDS perspective: Overcoming Pornography

    Alarming. Evil. Destroys the spirit (it doesn’t). Satan’s enticement. Get back on the straight and narrow. Are we free from lustful desires? Give up the summer cottage in Babylon. Defiles the love a man has for a woman. Object for gratification walking by. Characterized by shame and stealth. Lust is an open appetite. Acknowledge the evil. Plead with the Lord out of the depth of your soul. Seek the loving guidance of your Bishop. Do all you can to avoid it. Do not patronize porn. Young women if you dress immodestly you magnify this problem by becoming pornography.

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  11. IDIAT on October 28, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    Am a little disappointed by comments 2 and 4 that are flippant about women having a pornography problem, as well as 7 that limits it to erotic literature. These women addressed in the article have a problem with visual pornography, not Fifty Shades of Gray. We’ve always had a culture that minimized women’s visual senses with respect to sexuality. Now it’s finally bubbling to the surface. If anything, maybe it will educate women about the struggles men have with this issue.

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  12. Frank Pellett on October 28, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    back to the OP, as one who marked “other”, I think more study should be done on the differences/similarities of male and female porn addiction, how it effects the body, mind, and soul differently/the same between the genders, and should be treated generally in Priesthood/RS&YW general meetings. More detailed information should be sent down to Bishops, RS, and YW Presidents on how to help members deal with this.

    To the comments, there have been several on how porn for women isn’t the same for men. I hope that some of these can learn that neither group is homogeneous in their use or reactions. In general, trends may go one way or another, but the general is made of individuals, who all vary greatly in tastes, habits, and amount of guilt felt over porn (&etc).

    And the idea that the guilt is worse than the addiction is just wrong. Addiction without guilt is still addiction, and is still damaging. The whole “you’d be better off if they didn’t teach you to be guilty of this (since it’s not really wrong)” kinda misses the point of the post. This isn’t talking about the occasional use, or even consentual use between partners. It’s talking about addiction.

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  13. The Other Clark on October 28, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    Despite the fact that the original post was about visual pornography, all pornography is rooted in a lust-based, unrealistic fantasy. So I give Brad’s #7 a thumb’s up.

    That’s also why I voted “women should hear it as much as men.” Men get shamed for pr0n regularly, while women get “Our women are indcredible. DesBook and D.I. sell Brad’s “emotional pornogra[hy” openly, where any similar visual representation would be immediately condemned. Even though it has the same effect.

    I’d be so happy for the “Our men are incredible” talk and “women quite reading explicit romance novels” at GenConf, but give it a less than 1% chance of ever happening.

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  14. Hedgehog on October 28, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    If it’s any consolation Other Clark, we certainly got the avoid romance novels lectures back when I was a YW.

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  15. AnonPDX on October 28, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    I’m a woman who views porn on occasion. I was introduced to it by my college boyfriend (my first LDS boyfriend, as a matter of fact) and it framed the way I see, understand and experience sexuality. For years I felt shame and guilt about it, particularly because I was told it was a man’s problem and that women were better than that. Not only was I viewing something wrong, but I was even more twisted because I was a woman with a man’s problem. I finally came to a place where I told myself that I was a terrible, bad person and I was going to accept that and move on with my life. Once I did that, I no longer felt the desire to see porn anymore. It was an odd experience because I did not expect that result at all. I still view it on occasion, but it is “on occasion.” A year might go by and I don’t see any, or there might be a month where I see it a few times. I don’t beat myself up about it and the desire to see it passes.

    The word “addiction” is thrown around so much in this context it becomes worthless. I’ve been present on many occasions at church where I have been told that if one ever views pornography, then it is an addiction. Even if it is only twice a month, then it is an addiction. One cannot possibly see it once without forming an addiction. No reasonable person would say such a thing about someone who drinks a glass of wine a couple times a month, but if it is porn, then it is suddenly an addiction. The idea being sold by the church is that one time equals addiction. Thus, guilt and shame play a huge role in making pornography a problem. I saw it once, I must be addicted, I am a sinner, I am evil, now I guess I’ll go view it some more. Guilt fuels the cycle.

    I think there is a lot of damage done to women by making certain behaviors, like the usage of pornography or masturbation, a man’s issue. At the same time, I don’t really want the church to talk about it to women more. I count the fact that they don’t talk about it to women a blessing. Talking about it less to everyone would be more helpful.

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  16. Howard on October 28, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    Frank Pellett,
    The idea isn’t that guilt is worse than the addiction.

    The idea is that despite all the podium jawboning a significant fraction of priesthood holders and a growing number of female members are hooked on porn anyway. So while the “guilt” may have a preventive effect with a few fence sitters it exacerbates the isolation and feeds into the craving of a much larger group, the member porn users! And btw what you’re calling “guilt” is often experienced as shame by users. Guilt is “I made a mistake”. Shame is “I am a mistake”. Anti porn talks as they are currently given reinforce the idea that porn users are shameful mistakes. It’s the wrong message to be sending to 25% or so of your otherwise \”faithful” membership.

    Check out the loving and supportive Christian and Catholic messages in #6 & #9 above.

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  17. Amanda on October 28, 2013 at 5:40 PM

    Brad, I don’t think that’s necessarily true. If I were going to watch some porn, I’d want to see some graphic Vampire Eric/Werewolf Alcide slash, certainly not the scene you described.

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  18. Nate on October 28, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    MH, no dismissiveness intended to Rachel and her story. I just have never considered this a woman’s problem. Obviously I was wrong, and I’m trying to embrace the new paradigm.

    But I have questions, however. What sort of pornography are we talking about that women gravitate too? Are we talking about provocative pictures of hunky guys like the missionary pin-up callender, depictions of sex-acts between men and women, or images of desirable women? I’ve heard that what turns women on the most is to be desired by a man, and what turns men on is to desire a woman. I think I read a study that said that women get sexually turned on when they see erotic images of other women, not because they are sexually attracted to the women, but because they relate to the woman themselves, and fantasize about how it would be to be desirable like that woman. This is also why I imagine romance novels hold more appeal for women, as they center more upon the fantasy of desirability from a female perspective.

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  19. Mormon Heretic on October 28, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    Nate, click on the first link in the OP to get stories of 2 other women. Here is what Sally described. Ill try to keep this short.

    I would stay up late at night and watch scrambled porn on my TV in my room…I found it by accident one night, and it changed my life for several years. When my friends came over, we’d watch it together.

    Isn’t it true with scrambled porn you occasionally catch an eye-ful and can hear the sound? This sounds like it would be the same type of porn that attracts men (because it is generally geared to men.) She continues,

    I eventually started experimenting while watching it. I was a virgin and I was curious, and at the time, I didn’t think it was doing any harm. My addiction with porn and masturbation lasted until I was a senior in high school, when I entered into a relationship with a guy in my church. We were both Christians, but neither had any self-control or a strong conviction about premarital sex. We swore it off at first, but after a few months, I had experienced my first kiss, and then I was rounding second base and third base and was headed quickly for home plate. It was only by the grace of God that we never actually had sex.

    After our relationship ended, I craved that feeling that I no longer was experiencing. I wanted those “feel good” endorphins. I knew it was wrong, but I still wanted to experience an orgasm. I remember watching a steamy scene from The Notebook (and if you’ve seen the movie, you know the one) on YouTube, and before I knew it I was viewing pornographic material. I was shocked at how fast it led there. The Lord had worked to get me out of that bad relationship, and I didn’t intend to go down that path again. I closed the computer and wept. It was a changing point for me. I cried out to the Lord for help. I asked to be delivered from my sexual sin, and I was.

    I’m no expert on porn, but it sounds like the same “typical, mainstream” porn that turns men on, so I’m pretty sure we’re talking about the same thing.

    Sarah relates that she

    would stay up and watch porn after-hours on premium cable channels such as HBO and Showtime….In college, I was a virgin addicted to pornography. More of my friends were having sex and telling me about it, and I wanted to see it for myself without actually taking part. I ran into pornography on social networking sites. I would go to sexually explicit chat rooms and watch webcams. Though I was raised in the church, I did not realize my true identity in Christ and wanted to experience life on my own. I knew it was wrong, but I did not really care. I just wanted to satisfy my flesh. I went through periods where I felt completely stuck in my addiction to this stuff. I could not go to bed at night until I watched it.

    This doesn’t sound like vampire or Harlequin romance novels to me. These descriptions sound like it would include sex acts between men and women, and sound like the same stuff that attracts men to me. But I’m not a woman, so I don’t know, and I certainly didn’t interview these women.

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  20. Mormon Heretic on October 28, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    A few years ago, I was a manager and one of my female employees approached me and told me she was LDS and was addicted to porn, and she wanted my advice on how to overcome it. I was speechless. If a guy had come to me with the same problem, I would have been speechless too. Lucky for me, we had an employee helpline, so I directed her to talk to a counselor there.

    We both worked the graveyard shift. She felt that working graveyard wasn’t helpful to her addiction (especially because she had less willpower when she was tired), and asked me if I thought she should quit her job to overcome her addiction. I told her that was completely up to her. If she quit, I would understand (she was one of my more reliable employees), but I suggested that a counselor would be a better person to answer the question.

    It opened up my eyes that this is a bigger problem than most of us realize.

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  21. Geoff - A on October 28, 2013 at 9:55 PM

    Living in Australia, the only time I hear about porn is at church. It is available but is not made an issue of.

    That seems to be what 15 is saying too.

    Perhaps the problem is American puritan culture. It’s not so long ago we were being told sex was only for procreation. I’m sure elder Oaks has views on this he only seems to talk about reproductive issues now a days

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  22. We're Listening on October 28, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    I think the women are listening and applying the teachings to themselves.

    I am a woman who, by temperament, could easily slide into porn and masturbation addiction. That just happens to be one of the things I learned as a teenager that I’m susceptible to. Perhaps you are not, but I am. Fortunately, with the Lord’s help I was able to get out before I got too deeply in.

    The declarations over the pulpit in General Conference have been helpful to me in my efforts and determination to stay free and clear of it. And I am grateful to my Savior for his atonement for my sins and mistakes and his support as I make my way through life.

    The efforts in my stake and in my RS to educate us on the effect of porn addiction on the brain and the challenge of trying to extricate oneself from that addiction have not only been helpful to me in my own determined course of life, but have also helped me to be more compassionate and supportive of individuals in my own extended family who have struggled to extricate themselves from porn and those in my extended family who have had to help a spouse or child as they struggled with it. And I am grateful for that too.

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  23. Mormon Heretic on October 28, 2013 at 11:42 PM

    Pres. Julie Beck came to our ward and spoke one time. She complained about Twilight in particular (before the movies came out), mostly because it was a waste of time and the women should be engaged in more useful pursuits (like visiting teaching.) It didn’t seem to me she was as concerned about it being a form of porn. (At least that’s how my wife related it to me.)

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  24. Kevin Christensen on October 29, 2013 at 6:37 AM

    12 Steps in the Book of Mormon
    1. We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.
     Even so, I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance…your own nothingness…and humble yourselves in the depths of humility. (Mosiah 4:11)
    2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
     And this is the means by which salvation cometh. And there is none other salvation save this… Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things…believe that he has all wisdom and all power…believe that man doth not comprehend all the things the Lord can comprehend. (Mosiah 4:8-9)
    3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
     But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him,… he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage. (Mos. 7:33)
    4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
     Yeah, and I did remember all my sins and iniquities…yeah, I saw that I had rebelled against my God (Alma 36:13)
     I am encompassed about because the of the temptations and sins which do easily beset me. And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins. (2 Nephi 4:18-19)
    5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.
     And whosoever transgresseth against me, him shall ye judge according to the sins which he hath committed; and if he confess his sins before thee and me, and repenteth in the sincerity of his heart, him he shall forgive, and I will forgive him also. (Mosiah 26:29)
    6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
     “Oh God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God;…wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee…” (Alma 22:18)
    7. Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
     Oh Lord wilt thou redeem my soul?… Wilt thou make me that I shake at the appearance of sin? (2 Nephi 4:31)
     I give unto men weakness that they may humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves… and have faith in me…I will make weak things become strong unto them. (Ether 12:27)
    8. Made a list of all the persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
     “And they traveled throughout all the land of Zarahemla… zealously striving to repair all the injury they had done to the church, confessing all their sins…” (Mosiah 27:35)
    9. Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
     “return unto them and acknowledge your faults and the wrong which ye have done.” (Alma 39:13)
    10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
     And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off. (2 Nephi 10:20)
    11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood
     But this was not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God. (Alma 17:3)
    12. Having had a spiritual awakening because of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
     And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul, and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some. (Alma 26:30)

    All addictions involve damage to the brain. See the DVD Pleasure Unwoven: The Science of Addiction.

    For sex addiction as a real disease, see:

    http://scottwoodward.org/Talks/html/z-Scholarly%20Articles/HiltonDL_UnderstandingTheAddictiveNatureOfPornography.html

    The remarkable thing about applying the 12 step process is that it can actually heal the damage.

    Partners of addicts need help too. See Your Sexually Addicted Spouse by Steffans and Means.

    Kevin Christensen
    Bethel Park, PA

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  25. Angela C on October 29, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    I wonder what Sis. Meyers thinks of Pres. Beck criticizing her book? Sis. Meyers (Twilight author) is in my stake.

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  26. Naismith on October 29, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    I don’t think Nate or Brad were missing the point. When measured by communication researchers, the effects of romance novels are very similar to the effects of visual porn, especially in the negative impact on a relationship.

    So to me, it doesn’t matter whether it is a vampire novel or a beefcake spread in a magazine. If it causes a person to find his or her spouse lacking, it is a problem.

    And there is a substantial body of research that both of those kinds of porn can cause dehumanization and dissatisfaction with real-life relationships.

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  27. nate on October 29, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    Thanks Kevin for the info on 12 steps and the Book of Mormon. I’ve been really impressed by the faith and transformation of those who have gone through the church’s 12 step program. It seems like it actually is a more organized and disciplined approach to the traditional 7-step repentance process we taught as missionaries. It’s more effective probably because of all the accountability and support one gets from the meetings.

    It doesn’t sound like its limited to addiction, but should apply to everyone who sins and has weaknesses to overcome.

    My beef with the Addiction Recovery Program is that it is called “addiction recovery,” which stigmatizes the process as being exclusively for addicts, mostly porn addicts, who, because their addiction happens to be more “unacceptable” in LDS culture, are pressured into taking this path, in spite of the stigmas attached to it. But the reality is that these are universal gospel principles that apply to EVERYONE, and no one should be excluded from the mark of addiction, because we all have compulsions and weaknesses of one sort, and God gave them to us “so that we would be humble.” But I won’t go to an addiction recovery meeting because by going there, I would be seen as confessing to something the church currently has “issues” with, and I don’t want to play the porn game with priesthood leadership, who could start engaging in who knows what kind of ecclesiastical abuse because I looked at the last SI Swimsuit issue. My brother never served a mission because he couldn’t keep himself clean from masturbation and porn for an entire year, as mandated by his bishop. The church has a long long way to go before I would trust them with any weaknesses relating to a sexual nature. The freak-out factor is just way too severe currently. If I ever became addicted to porn, I would much sooner go to something run by another church or clinic than to the church’s program.

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  28. Douglas on October 29, 2013 at 8:21 PM

    This “revelation” is much like the domestic violence issues..for a long time, it was promulgated as exclusively a male malady. Of course, common sense and experience from the field show that women can be as crass, vulgar, and susceptible to delusional fantasies as men. This doesn’t to me imply that men are at all excused to abuse their spouses, be unfaithful, or indulge in porn. It does mean that men who do their best to live honorably should not beat their collective breasts at the shrill and unfair accusations of jerkdom on the part of the male of the species; the Caucasian portion especially (ergo, sorry, the American white male is NOT exclusively responsible for the world’s ills). I can’t presume to second-guess the Church leaders who have the thankless job of delivering the message and I’m not in the habit of shooting said messengers. At least now that Priesthood session is televised I have the luxury of bellowing a profane retort in the privacy of my home should one of them piss me off.
    Just once I’d like to hear that the Sisters got dressed down in Women’s conference by one of their own. I’m not holding my breath. Part of the culture of inequality in the Church is that not only are women “put on a pedestal” and held lesss accountable; but the men in their lives, especially husbands, are blamed for their misdeeds.

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  29. Kevin Christensen on October 30, 2013 at 7:16 AM

    The LDS addiction Recovery Program is not restricted to those with addictions of various kinds, but also for “family and friends whose lives may be affected by the addiction of another.” Living with an addict can lead to co-dependence and/or trauma, as Steffans and Means have shown. The first LDS twelve step book, used by LDS ARP for 9 years, was He Did Deliver Me from Bondage, by Colleen Harrison, whose main addictions were perfectionism and codependence.

    And since the LDS Addiction Recovery Program is addressed to addiction generally, rather than a single addiction, there is benefit in also going to a more specialized addiction recovery group, such as AA, NA, or SA. I’m the Addiction Recovery Representative for my stake and I’ve conducted training for the ARP reps and stake and ward leaders for the region. I don’t recall stigmatizing anyone. Our classes have people with a wide range of addiction, trauma, and codependent issues. I have seen some remarkable healing going on, among those who are willing to do whatever it takes to heal. That includes putting up with people who don’t understand addiction. The members of A.A. observed long ago that “Half measures availed us nothing.”

    Shame and secrecy are fundamental components of any addiction. Sharing stories in meetings has the healing effect of reducing shame and secrecy via the telling and retelling stories in a safe environment.

    Addicts also tend to focus a great deal on resentments, which provide a sense of entitlement and self-justification. A lot of the fourth step work involves looking closely at that sort of thinking to see what the effects are in a person’s life. Alma’s encounter with the angel is a good demonstration of fourth step. Does the Book of Mormon stigmatize Alma for his past deeds?

    Addiction is a disease that involves damage to the brain that results in compulsive behavior via cravings and impededed judgement with respect to those cravings. Calling it anything less than addiction, say, a habit or a moral failing, or a tendency to sin, or “born that way”, or personal taste, or harmless or not as bad as other people, means that the persons who apply those labels do not acknowledge the reality of either the condition or the path to full healing.

    Kevin Christensen
    Bethel Park, PA

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  30. Nate on October 30, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    Kevin, you mentioned that the addictions that inspired Colleen Harrison’s book were “perfectionism and co-dependance.” While it may be true that perfectionism and co-dependance might manifest themselves in similar ways to an addiction to drugs or porn, that is not how society, or the church defines problems like perfectionism and co-dependance. Perfectionism would universaly be described as “a bad habit, a moral failing, a tendency…” before it would ever be described as an addiction on par with porn. So we have very different levels of acceptance for various behaviors, even though those behaviors might be similar as far as addictive brain chemistry.

    An obese person might be as addicted to soda as a pedophile is addicted to child pornography. But if you go to the temple, you will see the obese person welcomed warmly at the veil, while the excommunicated pedophile is universally loathed, and even Jesus says “it would be better that they were never born.” Yet the internal mechinisms which feed their addictions, and their respective abilities to control their compulsions might be identical.

    You say addictions can’t be overcome with “half-measures” or without acknowledging the reality of the condition. But this is true even of more minor bad habits, like a hot temper. In fact, minor bad habits might be even more chronic, because we overlook them and don’t think they are that bad. Even strong members of the church routinely carry these kinds of failings all the way to the grave. So which is worse, a porn addiction that lasts 20 years, or an anger addiction that lasts 90 years?

    The problem with Addiction Recovery, is that it reinforces our prejudices regarding the “loathesomeness” of some behaviors over others. This is because the word “addiction” is popularly used in the church only for certain sins: usually drugs and porn. So if someone goes to Addiction Recovery meetings to work on their hot temper, most people will assume they go because of a porn addiction. And because people in the church freak out over porn, but not a hot temper, the person going to Addiction Recovery will experience a stigma.

    I personally believe people are worthy of dignity and respect, and should be allowed to work on their weaknesses in privacy. Weaknesses of a sexual nature are particularly sensitive and should be handled with as much defference as possible. As effective and well intentioned as Addiction Recovery Program is, it still has a place within the culture of the church which limits it’s ability really address these problems in a balanced and respectful way.

    I mentioned other churches because I noticed when I lived in the Bible Belt, a lot of these mega-churches have weekly “men’s meetings” where men go to discuss problems all men face, like being good fathers, Bible study, achieving balance in life, developing manly attributes, and problems with porn. Thus the stigma of porn is diffused within a support group that focuses on broader spiritual develpment. I’m hoping the church may move in that kind of direction. This is still a relatively new program and I’m sure it will continue to be tweaked in the future.

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  31. Douglas on October 30, 2013 at 11:28 PM

    #30 – Good point about the mega-churches where the men can meet and work together to resolve their problems. Theoretically, our Priesthood quorums ought to fulfill that role; and the bishop ought to deal with the trepidation and embarrassment that men who indulge in sexual improprieties, inc. porn, with compassion and understanding. Some do. However, all too often, too many ‘leaders’ would rather pontificate and condemn and get on their self-righteous high horses. An unfortunate aspect of the corporate nature of the Church…not all “middle managers” want to work with “problem employees”.

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  32. varun on December 8, 2013 at 4:56 AM

    no one desires to sin against our God.. but the lust is main cause when start talking about porn or watching it by mistake.. it attracts our mind.. even though we flee that stuff.. mantle stronghold is very important in this thing .. better spend more time discussing about the bible and development of Gospel of God… mediating the WOG.. instead of scattering our minds and thoughts to pornography … even i’m addicted to porn.. but trying to leave it… for God sake,,, Has He done so much for us…once in a week or month i’ll watched the porn.. don’t no why n how.. i got struck in it.. so decided to relay on God and upon His Word…

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  33. Desperate Mormon Housewives | Wheat and Tares on February 12, 2014 at 8:03 AM

    […] porn consumption.  Commonly assumed to be only a man’s problem, Mormon Heretic’s recent post noted that LDS women can also suffer from porn addiction.  Or perhaps some women may be trying to […]

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  34. New Iconoclast on February 12, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    Nate said I’ve been really impressed by the faith and transformation of those who have gone through the church’s 12 step program. It seems like it actually is a more organized and disciplined approach to the traditional 7-step repentance process we taught as missionaries.

    The 12 Steps are basically the steps to repentance – not only the initial housecleaning, but then staying clean afterwards if they’re worked correctly. Whenever I’m called on to teach a lesson on repentance, the 12 Steps form the basis of it. The ARP’s “Mormonization” of them works very well for this purpose.

    However, due to the universal nature of the program itself, I’d recommend that anyone struggling with an alcohol, substance abuse, or sex problem seek out a specific 12-Step program like Alcoholics Anonymous. Frankly, members struggling with watching too much TV don’t have a lot to offer people with an irresistable compulsion to drink.

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