Still No. 1? The Utah Pornography Enigma

By: Nate
April 23, 2014
bikbabes

Google Trends search term “bikini babes”

Tom Stringham’s recent post casting doubt on Utah’s ranking in pornography consumption has been making the rounds of the bloggernacle.  It has been a relief for many to imagine that Utah’s LDS culture might not be contributing to pornography addiction, but instead helping people avoid and overcome it.  Stringham’s post was careful to note that the research cited came from just one survey, and could not be considered conclusive.  But it did illustrate some of the problems inherent in trying to analyze this complicated issue.

The biggest difficulty in trying to quantify the problem is that pornography takes on many forms, soft core to hard core, from books to prostitution to webcams.  What constitutes pornography is not always agreed upon.  Many in LDS culture consider immodest dress and commercial advertising to be part of the industry as well.  How could any survey possibly account for all of these various types, let alone be able to analyze our behavior and attitudes towards them?

Google Trends Still Says Utah No. 1 in Soft-core Internet Searches

First of all, I think we should go back to the evidence that was first cited years ago for Utah’s prime pornography rates: Google Trends.  On the Google Trends webpage, Utah still comes up as No. 1 on search after search of basic soft core pornographic keyword searches.  Here, here, here, and here are a few examples.  It’s kind of fun to type in the keywords in various combinations (hot, sexy, girl, teen, nude, naked, babes, bikini, lingerie) and try to find a permutation that DOESN’T have Utah on top. For the term “pornography” and “pornography addiction” Utah’s ranking absolutely dwarfs any other state, indicating an intense preoccupation with pornography as an addiction.  However, when the keyword searches become more hard-core and specific, Utah drops down much lower in the ranking, for example here, here and here.  (I’m not sure how Google arrives at their rankings, and whether the numbers would change if you tried to factor in for unique characteristics of Utah, like a higher number of younger people and children).

So according to Google, Utah is pretty clearly obsessed with soft-core pornography, but not so much with hard-core.  This makes sense given what I understand of LDS culture.  We are taught over and over that pornography is evil, and that even immodest clothing can constitute pornography.  It’s no mystery that Mormons would be trapped in a cycle of soft-core porn consumption which focuses on immodesty and nudity, not sex acts.  Because it is so strongly forbidden, immodesty becomes more powerful and enticing than it would be for a non-Mormon, whose exploration might move on quickly to more hardcore sex acts.  Mormons would also be actively fighting their addictions rather than giving into them, meaning that they become desensitized less quickly than their Gentile peers.

Feeling downIs Mormon Culture Contributing to or Helping the Problem?

This is a difficult question to answer.  If Mormon culture heightens the appeal of soft-core porn by increasing it’s shamefulness, but at the same time reduces rates of hard-core porn consumption by keeping members mired in soft-core guilt, is that a good thing or a bad thing?  Do cultures without shame and guilt attached move more quickly into hard-core addictions, and at what rates?  Is the behavior of LDS addicts more compulsive an than those without the shame factor?  I don’t have good answers for these questions.

The Virtues and Perils of Shame

Shame is pretty much universally decried these days, especially in the church, where you often hear “guilt says ‘what I did was a mistake,’ shame says ‘I am a mistake.’”  Sister Linda S. Reeves recent address on pornography at General Conference was focused on trying to eliminate the shaming behaviors by family and friends of addicts.

These individuals may desire with all of their hearts to get out of this trap but often cannot overcome it on their own. How grateful we are when these loved ones choose to confide in us as parents or a Church leader. We would be wise not to react with shock, anger, or rejection, which may cause them to be silent again.

While I am against “shaming,” I think that shame in and of itself, is a natural state of being, and one that is not entirely without benefit.  When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, their eyes were opened, they saw their nakedness and were ashamed.  For me this is the nature of shame: to cover the nakedness of the human body.  It is unique to humans.  There are no animals that exhibit this strange behavior.

Shame heightens eroticism, because what is forbidden on some kind of metaphysical plane, becomes more enticing.  The metaphysical shame that Adam and Eve felt in the garden of Eden is what makes sex so particularly thrilling in the human species.  I believe what is felt as “shame” is what is often described as “sacred,” by members of the church who see the sex act as divine.  What they really mean by “sacred” is that sexuality and human nudity is imbued with an aspect of mysterious ambiguity which should be carefully guarded and protected.  Milan Kundera said: “Without the art of ambiguity there is no real eroticism, and the stronger the ambiguity, the more powerful the excitement.”  Elsewhere he wrote:

“When her lover touched her naked body, she always felt ashamed; their coming close to each other was always a surmounting of otherness, and the instant of embrace was intoxicating just because it was only an instant. Shame never dozed off, it exhilarated lovemaking, but at the same time, it kept a close eye on the body, fearing that it might let itself go entirely.”

LDS People Potentially Have Better Sex Because of Shame

NakedAshamedWe live in a society saturated with shamelessness.  Nudity, casual sexual behavior and dirty jokes are everywhere.  Sex is not special or shameful in the modern world.  This pornographic inundation has actually made us less sexual and caused libido to drop in modern men.  Naomi Wolf said: “The onslaught of porn is responsible for deadening male libido in relation to real women.  In the end, porn doesn’t whet men’s appetites — it turns them off the real thing.”

By reintroducing shame into a shameless world, LDS culture makes the sexual world more erotic and appealing, and this is great news for exciting marriages and baby making.  But it also gives Mormons a unique challenge, because we live in a sex saturated society.  Non-Mormons may not feel constant arousal from the eroticism everywhere because they are not ashamed of it.  But Mormons do, and this makes them more prone to soft-core pornographic addiction.  However, I believe the extra vulnerability is worth the price.

Questions:

  • Is LDS culture helping or hindering the pornography addiction problem?
  • Do you think that Mormons are more vulnerable to sex addiction because of LDS teachings on sexuality?
  • Can a certain degree of shame be a good thing?

28 Responses to Still No. 1? The Utah Pornography Enigma

  1. Douglas on April 23, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    I woiuld say LDS culture and current practices BOTH help and hurt. Help in that we’re willing to admit that it’s enough of a problem that leaders have been constantly harping on it. Hurt in that too many leaders, both local and General, get on their respective self-righteous high horses about it and probably drive more members (MOSTLY men, but some women likewise indulge in that crap) underground when their job is to help them repent. A case of good intentions run amok.

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  2. The Other Clark on April 23, 2014 at 5:26 PM

    Shame is never a positive outcome. Satan told Adam and Eve to feel ashamed, not God, and it is still one of Satan’s tactics.

    While preaching against pr0n is good, I’d like to see more explanations of the “why” behind the command. It would also be useful to recognize that exposure, curiosity, and even casual viewing is not the same as addiction, that it’s a very common and widespread problem.

    The shame and stigma that’s been attached to this sin make it more difficult to admit guilt and seek help. I know of several active sisters who have said if their husband had a porn habit, it would be automatic grounds for divorce. Pr0n is not the same severity as actual adultery, but you’d never know it judging from mormon pop-culture.

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  3. Nate on April 23, 2014 at 7:31 PM

    Clark, I agree with what you say about trying to minimize the stigma. I think it is telling that a few years ago, Elder Holland started his talk on porn by saying that he met with three sisters on a plane, all of whom were divorcing their husbands over issues related to pornography. And now we have Sister Reeves telling us in General Conference that we should not react to an admission of an addiction with shock, anger or rejection.

    About “shame” however, I probably need to come up with a better word. I mean shame as in the phrase “Have you no shame!?” Or to speak of something as “shameless” as being extremely casual or immodest attitudes towards sex. I don’t think that humans cover their nakedness because Satan told them to, and this is bad. I think humans cover their nakedness because it’s inherent in the tree of knowledge of good and evil to do so. It is a particularity of self-concious human behavior, as opposed to animal or innocent child behavior, which revels in nudity.

    So when we talk about eliminating shame as a way of trying to combat pornography, I think we should understand that we don’t need to become casual about the way we talk and think about sex. Perhaps we need to be a little less uptight about it, because hightened shame is driving people to addiction. But we should also recognize that being at least a little uptight about sex is normal, natural, and it’s what makes sex special and powerful.

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  4. Kristine A on April 23, 2014 at 7:54 PM

    I appreciate this post, I was frustrated by Stringham’s post and his conclusions and further analysis into red state/blue state. It just seems like social conservative prooftexting in taking one small minor study wherein little reliable conclusions could be made and stating all the suppositions in his post . . . ie, our conservative teachings are working, y’all!

    As for whether our teachings help or hurt, for what it’s worth, on Religion News Service a controversial conservative sociologist published his new findings that:

    “About 50 percent of younger evangelicals had premarital sex with their spouse, compared to 10 percent of Mormons, his study suggests. Mormons are the least likely religious group to be in a sexually inactive marriage, the research suggests.”
    http://www.religionnews.com/2014/04/22/new-study-mark-regnerus-suggests-religion-can-predict-sexual-behavior/

    Just because we may be more sexually active does not mean it is healthy sexuality. Many women report feeling coerced, unhappy, feeling they must meet all sexual needs of their husbands to keep them from straying, etc. I also strongly believe in Laura Brotherson’s writings of fear and shame playing into a “LDS Good Girl Syndrome” that causes sexual dysfunction in marriages as well. So, mixed bag? Yep, it’s a mixed bag.

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  5. Frank Pellett on April 23, 2014 at 9:03 PM

    One problem is that the analytics can’t take into account other sources of pornography. Utah has no places that sell porn, not even a playboy from a gas station dive in the middle of nowhere. Cable porn is also somewhat limited compared to other markets. (this also accounts for the high subscription rate in Utah; money not spent on strip clubs can be spent elsewhere)

    Another problem with using that analytics as a measure of porn use is that it’s not what’s being measured. To me, having the most searches involving porn just means Utah people don’t know what they like and have no idea how to find it.

    This is why the data form the porn provider was useful but not conclusive. It’s an indicator, just like this is, and I’m pretty sure the article mentioned this a few times. Now, if we only had some sort of mass data collection thing that could tell us actual duration and depth of internet porn use in an area.

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  6. Sue on April 23, 2014 at 9:42 PM

    I write from the perspective of a woman who had her parents divorce from porn addiction. My dad is very unhealthy and still has a porn addiction. I am married to a recovering porn addict after 30 years of addiction. I have a son who has been addicted for past 7 years.So why is it that the very thing I desperately didn’t want in my life was what I got?

    I was unhealthy myself. I see it as a case of having a hole and we seek out ways to fill it. In LDS culture we usually don’t drink to fill it, have extra-marital sex to fill it, or use drugs to fill it, We are at high risk for 2 addictions that are both harmful and fill the hole. Food addictions and porn addictions. I suffered from a binge eating addiction and married porn addiction. Unhealthy people attracting unhealthy people because we don’t see the unhealthiness.

    So this last year we have spent in counseling. I have 2 sons in counseling. After many hard days, I look back on my marriage to a porn addict and can say I am a better person, know the power or the atonement, and know my Savior. I don’t have to be a victim, persecute him, or rescue him. I can be authentic to where I am and find happiness regardless of others.

    Maybe porn addiction is just the manifestation of unhealthiness we each must overcome in our lives, and that the holes that must be filled with something.They either are filled by the atonement or by some physical appetite. Porn is easily accessible and easily hid. Perfect for the struggling LDS teen boy (or girl) who has a hole to fill and then get hooked on the quick fix.

    The rest of the world has more physically acceptable ways to fill holes in their hearts that are available them and they don’t care if they use the variety of physical pleasures at their disposal to fill them. Ultimately the end result is still unhappiness and failed relationships.

    The key is to talk about it and let go of the control, the pain, the shame, the walls around our hearts, whether we are the one looking at porn or the one with a loved one who looks at porn. The key is to acknowledge that we are unhealthy in our thinking, our desires, out behaviors, and seek help. Any behavior that controls us is an addiction and the same unhealthiness is a result. We pass it to our kids.

    I was studying about Jacob and his deception. I read in Exodus about how the 3-4 generation will be affected by sins but many more generations are blessed by righteousness. In the scriptures we read about putting off childish things. The problem is that we don’t grow up. We stay in these states because they are hard to see. I love what Lynne Forrest says about the three faces of victims (also known as the drama triangle).

    I love this site: http://www.lynneforrest.com/articles/2008/06/the-faces-of-victim/

    It is very complex to understand how it starts but it is the nature of being in a fallen world that even we have to admit that as LDS people we have NO upper hand on “control” of the flesh or upper hand on “spirituality”. What we sometimes don’t realize is that “surrender” is really the path to take. Many people who are not “members” find this path as well. We are just blessed with keys of the priesthood, covenants, and increased knowledge to bless our lives. We have no upper-hand on perfection, sinlessness, or goodness as we control or manipulate others or blame others.

    The savior never gave into childish behaviors. He was grown-up in every situation. She trusted, had faith, love others, stood up for righteousness, taught others, was compassionate, took care of himself, nourished his spirit, was never a victim or victimized by others. He didn’t blame others. I think shame is part of it. Our culture. Our parenting. Our lack of understanding how we shame other by our words and actions. Our lack of ability to love others when we are unhealthy in our own lives. It spreads like wildfire into the lives of our children.

    I had to learn about faith and how to build faith and hope in myself. I had lost that in my life. My goals now are to continue to be happy. To help others find faith and hope in themselves. I never thought I would be able to be happy for any length of time (even as I professed happiness and perfection to my children and others). I can say that most days I wake up and say, “I like me”. My husband does the same. We then can be happy together. We can’t love others till we love ourselves. To fill in our holes and dismantle the walls that protect our hearts. Then we can lose the shame.Lose the addiction to pornography (or other hole filler).

    Pornography is different for different people. It becomes pornography when it fills our hole. This same holds true for food, sex, drugs, shopping, gambling, video games, prescription drugs, perfectionism, and anything else used to fill the hole in our heart. I just see that we need to have a shift in how we deal with unhealthy hearts. Porn is a quick fix. People tend to want quick fixes. To much work to look inward, to grow-up, and address the brokenness in our hearts.

    My greatest desire is to scream from the roof tops. There is hope. Hope for the addict. Hope for the one betrayed. Do whatever it takes. I have faith again. I have hope again. You can to. My husband has hope. My son sees hope in us and he wants to change to. It is slow but possible. We are examples of how to be grown-up to our children and they will then want that in their lives. They are children and it takes years to learn to put off chidish things. It helps to have healthy adults to show them that path.

    Overcoming hole fillers? 12 step meetings are NOT enough. It is one tool in the tool box. Professional counseling is a must. Medication may be needed to help heal brain issues (this was huge for me in anxiety and depression treatment) and it needs to be a psychiatrist. Bishops are not counselors and are not trained to be counselors. They are a great resource and should be used for blessings and should hopefully offer love and spiritual guidance. A good network of trusted loved ones are essential. Just don’t do it alone on either side. I can say that counseling and medication were the most important tools for me. I was hesitant to go on medication but my counselor said after so many years of struggle with depression/anxiety my brain had changed. It would help to get brain help. I went to a psychiatrist who knew the medications I had tried and didn’t work that family doctors had prescribed. Through using all the tools from these resources, I finally feel like ME. A true miracle.

    It is so important that we pray, read our scriptures, go to church and temple but they are tools in our toolbox…not the end in themselves. I beat myself up regularly (called shame) that if I was more spiritual then I would be a better wife, better mother, better….fill in the blank. The problem is that if we are not educated on how to be healthy we will ALWAYS use physical/temporal things to fill in our holes. Shame is no good. We can’t be victims (or blame) to society, the church’s culture, the TV ads, the movies, the magazines, the internet, etc but until we turn inward to see what is going on inside our mind/body/spirit we will easily fine something to blame or shame. As we heal, we can inspire others on that same path but it is a path each must walk. Some it takes a path of porn to find the path to loving themselves and happiness. That is OK (can’t believe I am saying that), if ultimately Porn (or other hole filler) leads to Christ, healing, putting off childish ways, and ultimately happiness.

    Wow that is long. Thanks for letting me share. I think I will post these thoughts on my blog as well.
    Sue from Texas

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  7. ji on April 24, 2014 at 4:34 AM

    The same-sex-attracted members in the church insist that other members accept them and love them, and as a whole we are doing so more and more. We don’t vilify them anymore. But maybe we aren’t so kind to those who view adult materials? Don’t they deserve dignity and forgiveness and welcome, too?

    We would be wise not to react with shock, anger, or rejection… Yes. A person’s (teen’s) attraction to adult materials may be a bigger test or trial or refining opportunity for his spouse (parent) than for him or her. Will we still love him or her?

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  8. howarddirkson on April 24, 2014 at 7:12 AM

    The Junior Porn Leader. How adorably cute!

    Well to me this is good news because it indicated that at least something good comes from all that anti-porn jawboning that otherwise guilts and shames.

    Nate wrote: Shame heightens eroticism… Statistically this may be supportable, I’m not sure but it would be more accurate to say shame heightens eroticism in some people. As this becomes more pronounced it can seen as a fetish where shame, sexual pleasure and excitement become (innocently btw) conflated and can easily produce someone who likes to expose themselves in public for example because shame greatly heightens eroticism for them.

    A culture like ours that shames so called “immodest” dress and prohibits viewing nude, partially nude or sexual images generally heightens eroticism and clandestine demand by denying or suppressing normal interest through scarcity. This backfires with many youth due to the combination of inexperience with sexual self control and raging hormones causing YM to have even more sexual thoughts about images others would barely find sexually interesting.

    While you can argue abstinence works for the majority of men, it clearly isn’t working for the 1 in 3 or so who regularly use porn and share pews with you. Church culture and it’s members would benefit by de-stigmatizing masturbation for all including married members and drawing some line between soft and hard porn allowing the softer version say lovingly portrayed R rated kinds of images. The real problems with porn has nothing to do with viewing nude bodies making love. The problem is all porn is pushed into the closet making it’s use isolating and the brethren have evilized it to the point that LDS wives threaten divorce over it (ridiculous btw). Hardcore porn is disconnected sex, not loving connected sex so it’s repeated use trains one to become dissociated and to objectify sex. So the real problems are the hiding, the overreaction to it’s use, the time invested and the dissociation and objectifying all hurt the user’s real life relationships.

    Shame is a complicated issue. It seems that a *small dose* of shame, just enough to cause modest coverup within families creates a safer, healthier environment for children as they become aware of their bodies sexually than nudist colony openness does. Other than that the main cultural role of shame is the unhealthy but very effective manipulative use of it to achieve obedience.

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  9. Cosmo on April 24, 2014 at 7:14 AM

    I agree we can use different language in our sexual teachings (or lack thereof). There’s actually some pretty compelling psychological data suggesting that this metaphotical approach use does more harm than good. This author hits it pretty good here:
    http://www.dovesandserpents.org/wp/2014/03/heber-j-grant-beer-and-sexual-morality/

    It would be difficult to assimilate a more open and accepting culture with our current approach to morality and how quick we are to distance ourselves from any thought or idea that didnt originate in SLC.

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  10. New Iconoclast on April 24, 2014 at 7:24 AM

    There is quite a bit of research and common sense which indicates that the bigger a deal we make of something, the more serious it becomes. If we treat the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue as if it were a “gateway drug” to hardcore, it’s more likely to become one than if we just throw it out and shake our heads. There is no human foible that can’t be turned into an earth-shattering, marriage-breaking, disfellowship-worthy disaster with proper doses of overreaction and well-meaning panic, spiced with a few well-placed SWK quotes.

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  11. Douglas on April 24, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    Excellent points, all. There’s several conflicting points…

    1) Truly, there is NO room for pornography in the life of an LDS member, nor anyone else. There is no GOOD in it.

    2) Porn is evil, but HOW evil? Is it worth that upon discovering some bad things in the browser history on her husband’s laptop that an LDS woman should run, not walk to a divorce attorney and drop an otherwise decent and productive man like the proverbial hot potato? The degree of demonization of this problem might lead one to conclude that porn indulgence is on a par with high-risk unprotected sex with male prostitutes or Haitian heroin addicts. It’s ridiculous, and all the pontificating and self-righteous posturing is only serving to drive underground those that have a reasonable chance to ditch their indulgences.

    3) Visual stimulation, primarily though not exclusively a male prerogative in sexual interaction, is NOT of itself evil. It simply must be controlled. It isn’t evil for yours truly to see an attractive young lady and like the sight. It IS evil to keep dredging up the image to the point of either conniving ways to gain the favors of said lady or one like her, or, go indulge in some sleazy pornographic fantasy to replay the experience. Elder Packer, as much as many of the “gay-friendly” and liberal types like to excoriate, had it exactly right so many years ago. Our minds are a stage, and WE permit what players and portrayers are performing. If a “bad actor” slips on b/c we’re weak and human, then we need the Spirit to find a way to get the crook handle and yank the “bad actor” off the stage!

    4) We ought to find OTHER motivating ideas to keep folks away from porn. How about that it’s a colossal waste of time and/or money? I can only speak for myself, certainly, but with so much to learn, both in the Gospel, and just in the world in general, who has the TIME? Call me a “Nerd”, but I get my “jollies” (obviously non-sexual, I’m not a freak) off of reading about the latest discoveries in “Exo-Planets”. It won’t be long before the 2000th is found! Two Thousand! When but when I was a lad there was excitement over the possiblity, yet with the extant technology to be confirmed, that there was possibly a planet orbiting the relatively nearby Barnard’s Star (still in dispute). There’s even a known system about 40 Eridani, the Star of “Star Trek’s” Vulcan, so who knows, there might be a whole planet full of “Green-blooded, pointy-eared hobgoblins”!

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  12. The jenonator on April 24, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    Yes, no, and yes. Great blog post.

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  13. handlewithcare on April 24, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    I think the original post, and the church generally, conflates the ideas of ‘shame’ and ‘remorse’. Personally I think there is no good that ever comes of shame, but remorse moves us towards reparation.
    Shame may well eroticise aspects of sexuality, but it also undermines the project of intimacy which I hold to be the prime purpose of marriage, so I see no good in it. Ideally we would be shameless in marriage, in enjoying our sexuality together, without recourse to synthetic replacements for intimacy. I also appreciate that this is not the real world, but it’s an ideal where we confront those aspects of our lives that are inimical to real intimacy.

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  14. ji on April 24, 2014 at 4:31 PM

    The link below discusses a 1927 Relief Society lesson (official!) that might be of interest…

    http://www.keepapitchinin.org/2011/02/21/%E2%80%9Cself-abuse%E2%80%9D-and-%E2%80%9Cself-destruction%E2%80%9D-frank-talk-in-relief-society-1927/

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  15. howarddirkson on April 24, 2014 at 5:47 PM

    Shame may well eroticise aspects of sexuality, but it also undermines the project of intimacy which I hold to be the prime purpose of marriage… Very well stated!

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  16. Geoff - Aus on April 24, 2014 at 8:20 PM

    I very strongly agree with 15. I do not see any place for shame in human relations. Living in a warm climate, average summer max 28c and winter 24c, and where members make up less than 0.05% of the population, most of the people I see do not take into account the church’s teachings on modesty or porn.

    I do not see anyone in public that I would describe as walking pornography, though I do see some I think would create a stir in Utah.

    We do have good sex education in schools here, with lots of time spent on self esteem, the ability to say no, awareness in power imbalances etc. etc.

    Was recently on a beach when a high school class of about 10 girls and 10 boys, came to learn surf safety. The girls were all in bikinis, and the behaviour was exemplary. No activity that would not be approved in a church youth activity, even to a girl sharing her towel with another girl coming out of the water, and then with the next boy.

    My grandchildren seem basically to ignore the modesty teachings of the church except for church activities when they are enforce.

    I understand that the ridiculous modesty standards of a couple of years ago are now being actively discouraged.

    If the porn that is viewed in Utah is of scantily clad persons of the opposite sex, then the reason that is not a problem here is that you are surrounded by them.

    There are still figures for teenage pregnancy, and rape which are higher in Utah than here and most other places, which are a worry.

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  17. Nate on April 24, 2014 at 9:30 PM

    Geoff, you make a good point. If Utahans are googling “bikini babes” compulsively, and they also insist that none of their young women wear bikinis, then it’s pretty obvious what the problem is. Still, I think bikinis are bad. They are something that has to be accepted as part of the Gentile world we live in, but Mormons should not lower their standards, and their standards make them more sexually alive than other people who yawn at the sight of a beautiful woman in a bikini. The fact the Mormons are googling “bikinis” is probably also a good sign of sexual virility, since they can get off on that, and not on hardcore stuff.

    Kristine A., thanks for linking that article saying that Mormons have more sex in marriage. I would be interested if this is also the case comparing Mormons to non-religious. Statistically, we know people in marriage have more sex than people out of marriage, and that they are happier.

    I think Mormons have it good sex-wise, in spite of the problems with pornography. We are wired extremely hot, because of what I’m calling “shame” but should really be called something else, something like “valuing modesty.” The trick is to be able to survive in a sex saturated world, while being wired especially hot, without burning up.

    Cosmo linked a great article on Heber J. Grant struggling with alcohol and coffee addiction. He overcame it by telling himself it was OK, he could have a drink whenever he wanted. Then he found he didn’t need it. So also with porn. Turning down the heat by lowering the shame factor is important. But also being able to be cool with living in higher sexual temperatures.

    Take Rated-R movies. Leaders from the pulpit often say, when talking about how to avoid pornography say, “if you are in a movie, and something innappropriate comes up, have the courage to walk out!” I would say the opposite. Have the courage to enjoy it! Not to feel guilty, but to appreciate it for what it is: an artistically rendered, non-pornographic sex scene that is meant to stir romantic and sensual feelings, but not to jerk off to. Unlike pornography, the sex scene will pass quickly and move on to other things, so it is the perfect opportunity to learn to allow sexuality to roll off us like water off a duck’s back. Enjoy it, don’t obsess over it or feel guilty which just gives it undue influence. Learning to do this will help in all other aspects of life when we encounter temptation. In this case “avoiding the very appearance of evil” is counter productive.

    So even though it would be better not to live in a sex-saturated society, because we do, we must be able to swim in the deep waters, and that means getting used to them.

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  18. Nate on April 24, 2014 at 9:47 PM

    Fantastic comment from Sue by the way. A lot of wisdom in her account, which makes me wonder if I’m missing the whole point of this particular issue. Maybe porn addiction is a kind of “gift” from God to people, in order to get them serious about bigger issues, like the hole it is filling in their life. Everybody fills their hole with something, and usually it’s good enough to get by, like food, or blogging. But when your hole is filled with pornography, it’s unacceptable, so something has to be done. And the ultimate solution is to fill your well with the living waters of Christ. Porn addicts have the advantage of being that much closer to the desperation that will bring them to God, than those of us who live lives of quiet, managable desperation.

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  19. howarddirkson on April 24, 2014 at 9:49 PM

    I don’t think Mormons are wired hot. Many LDS women report being sexually repressed due to the church’s teachings and there is a young adult exodus that many have speculated is sorting those who are wired hot form those who are cold enough to put up with the church imposed limitations. the reason LDS men might think they’re wired hot is because they’re getting a lot less (often none!) than their non-Mo brothers.

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  20. Ken on April 25, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    “Is it worth that upon discovering some bad things in the browser history on her husband’s laptop that an LDS woman should run, not walk to a divorce attorney and drop an otherwise decent and productive man like the proverbial hot potato? ”

    Easier said than done. I’m afraid it is a larger problem than people realize. Also, it depends on what is in the browser history (bikini/nudity or sexual acts) and how deep seeded the problem is to determine the proper course of action. Jumping ship over a problem that can be fixed, especially with kids in tow, can create more issues.

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  21. Douglas on April 25, 2014 at 11:34 AM

    #20 – Of course, the converse question ALSO should be posed to the “porn”-monger: Is it worth “eighty-sixing” your marriage? Is the state of your love live so pathetic that you have to resort to this fantasy world?
    Again, self-righteous posturing is counter-productive, and hopefully one days the “inspired” Brethren in SLC will figure that out. We need to offer those caught up in this slime a way out w/o beating them up.

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  22. hawkgrrrl on April 25, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    Shame is what makes sex sexy. *mind blown* this makes a lot of sense.

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  23. Howard on April 25, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    Shame as a potentiator of sexyness is actually a perversion, but one I suspect many LDS have.

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  24. Hedgehog on April 26, 2014 at 1:33 AM

    “Shame is what makes sex sexy.”
    ? I don’t think so…

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  25. Howard on April 26, 2014 at 8:27 AM

    Shaming is an attack on a portion of the self. It is an effective means of behavior control but comes at the expense of damage to the psyche which is either placed in dissonance or split off and denied or rejected. Since few people will completely forgo sexual pleasure I think it is more likely that sex makes shame sexy (via. conflation) rather than shame making sex sexy. The church shames the natural man by shaming natural man behaviors. This is both psychologically twisted and doctrinly wrong. The natural man is to be “put off” rather than repressed through rote obediance. It is put off via transcendence accomplished through the mighty change of heart which requires communing with the spirit which is inhibited by dissonance so church shame actually limits our spiritual progress.

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  26. handlewithcare on April 26, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    Everyone go and look at Ji’s link in #14. Wow, just wow. Kudos for the normalising of libido. Where would we be without it?
    My kids just could not take all the shaming, and have decided that they can live very happily without it. We have great leaders in our ward, but the shame communicated in church materials has become pervasive. My kids have decided that their sexuality is their own business, and they are not accountable to anyone else for it. I’m sad they have thrown the baby out with the bath water in their immaturity, but not surprised.

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  27. […] increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage is not a sign of moral decline. Coincidentally, Utah is still #1 in porn consumption, while little girls get church lessons on the importance of lip gloss and on […]

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  28. […] feed the monster of immorality. (See my post at Doves and Serpents here, and some actual stats here.) If the church doesn’t talk about troubling history because it’s not uplifting, or because they […]

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