Let’s define pornography addiction.

10 Aug

It’s become increasingly clear to me, at least, that we don’t have a handle on what “pornography addiction” actually means in the context of doctrine and culture.

I’m mostly calling on people who consider themselves to be addicted to pornography to say exactly what that means. You have an entire porn library that you watch on a regular basis? Or, every once in a while, you catch a dirty picture in the course of your normal activities, you stop and look at a few, get off, then go about your day? Or you saw a naked person once and you can’t get the image out of your mind?

Before we can really talk about it in a constructive manner, we need to know people’s definitions and then maybe establish some sort of baseline.

What does “pornography addiction” mean to you?

Advertisements

75 Responses to “Let’s define pornography addiction.”

  1. SingleE August 10, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

    To me, an addiction means I can’t function without the “hit”, so to speak. I am addicted to sugar–I’ve tried going cold turkey, but I make it about three days and the craving is so bad I have to have it again. I feel cranky and hungry and unsatisfied without it.

    I don’t think I’ve ever been addicted to porn, although I’ve consumed it some: film, image, and word. It was very stimulating, and usually lead to masturbation (and orgasm). But I didn’t skip work to do it, or look at it so that I could actually *have* an orgasm. In my mind, someone who is addicted to porn NEEDS it, like I need sugar, or like a smoker needs a smoke. They need it to have sexual release, and can get that release any other way than by viewing/reading porn.

    So I do believe there’s a difference between just occasionally consuming porn, and being addicted to it. But in my mind, for my comfort level, it doesn’t matter if it’s an addiction or not. I’m avoiding it. The problem with that is, what I’ve seen/read in the past? It’s still there, in my brain. So while I’ve let go of my guilt over masturbating, I’m not sure what to do with those memories that like to come out and play.

  2. Aprillium August 10, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

    To me it means A) “You have an entire porn library that you watch on a regular basis” and I think by defining it as any less is not very constructive and may actually cause people to stress out so much that they actually DO become addicted.

  3. Lucy W. August 10, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    I agree with that.

    I think I forgot a level, though: “You’re sitting at your computer night and day, your work is suffering, your family’s being neglected, and you can’t tear yourself away.” That’s probably more like the clinical definition of any addiction, isn’t it?

  4. SingleE August 10, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

    The clinical definition? Yes…except when it’s not. You know the alcoholic who doesn’t drink him/herself into a stupor every day, doesn’t miss work, has a decent relationship with family, can attend to daily matters…but really needs that one or two glasses of wine or a beer at the end of the day to “wind down”? And if you try to get them to skip it, they get kinda belligerent? Not in an alarming way, but in a “I can stop whenever I want to, but I don’t WANT to!” kind of way?

    I think that counts as clinically addicted, too. Thinking of porn addiction that way makes me wonder about my experience with it. I mean, I don’t seek it out anymore–the desire to do so isn’t there–but that could be the Atonement working in my life. If I picked it up again, what would happen to me then? How far would I go? This is why try very hard to not mess with it anymore.

  5. SingleE August 10, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

    Why *I* try very hard. Sorry, dang typos.

  6. Mouse August 11, 2011 at 2:46 am #

    I think it becomes an addiction when it starts to interfere with your life. Spending money you don’t have on it, skipping work, messing up your IRL relationships… I think the problem we have as members of the church is that we attach so much guilt to the idea of porn that people who would normally only have a casual dabble get sucked into a guilt spiral and end up more obsessed than they would otherwise be.
    I also think we set the panic threshold way too low. I have personally known women who freak out and decide to divorce their husband because of his “pornography addiction” which was actually just a normal, healthy, adolescent curiosity. I’m talking they found out he looked at a Playboy in highschool and are now demanding a divorce level of craziness surrounding this issue. I would hope there were other underlying issues in their marriages, but that was the issue they felt justified in publicly blaming.
    I’m sure that there are people with real problems, and I’m sure it must be devastating to your relationship to deal with them, but we really need perspective.

  7. Winterbuzz August 11, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    Lucy, thanks for asking this question! I think many women I know have found out their husbands either ‘like’ pornography or have ‘viewed’ it and then think their husbands are addicted.
    I think addiction is anything that is compulsive and fills a void and stops you from being in control. You can be addicted to anything. Right now, for me- it’s Diet Coke. Sweet, sinful Diet Coke. Everyone has a vice right? But at least with Diet Coke, I’m a functioning addict. 🙂

    Can I repost this on FeministMormonHousewives? I’d love to see the answers? I’ll give credit!! Pretty please??

  8. Lucy W. August 11, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    Winterbuzz, absolutely you can!

  9. Lucinda M. August 11, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    and a link to MMP so those that want to be a little more open can share their thoughts over here.

    We don’t have to worry about keeping up appearances like you do at fmh. .

  10. Winterbuzz August 11, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    Thanks Lucy! Absolutely a link! Lucinda,you’re so sassy. I love it!

  11. Lucinda M. August 11, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    Sassy? Moi?

  12. alex .w August 11, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    I agree with Mouse.
    A friend of mine said her former YW leader was divorcing her husband because of porn, and they have three kids. Besides wondering why this woman was sharing the information with my friend, I couldn’t understand why that was the reason, and from the sound of things, the only one. When my friend told me about this, I said “surely there are other problems in their relationship on top of this,” and she said she didn’t think so. This made me sad. It’s like someone who ends their marriage because their partner because they don’t go to church anymore, which I’ve heard about, too.

  13. Michelle August 12, 2011 at 2:07 am #

    I shared this comment over at fmh, and will share some of it it here, because I find the S-Anon standard really remarkable.

    At mormonwoman.org (http://mormonwoman.org/2011/03/12/hope-and-help-for-sex-addicts-a-personal-story/), we had a man who is in recovery from his sex addiction share his experience, and he noted something that kind of blew me away. One of the most reputable organizations for dealing with sex/porn addictions (S-Anon) sets the standard at NO sexual involvement except with a spouse. Zero. He says: “When I talk about sexual sobriety, I mean nothing more or less than “no form of sex with self or any person other than husband or wife.””

    And that got me thinking. What if the very fact that people are splitting hairs about what really constitutes addiction is part of the problem? If those in the business of helping people overcome addiction demand absolutely sobriety to be in recovery from addiction, why not demand such standards to protect people from/avoid addiction in the first place?

  14. Michelle August 12, 2011 at 2:16 am #

    As to making judgments about someone’s decision to divorce. Really? Because an outsider ‘didn’t think’ there were any other problems (as though a porn addiction may not be enough reason), she must be overreacting by getting a divorce? Really?

    I totally get being concerned about women panicking and running away at the first possibility of any exposure to any pornography. Of course there needs to be some recognition that just because a man has been exposed to pornography doesn’t mean one’s life or marriage is over. But wow. I would think that people might consider that they may not have all the story and not cast judgments on people who make such a decision as significant as divorce.

  15. Lucy W. August 12, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    Michelle, you make excellent points.

    My concern (which led me to request the splitting of hairs) is the sheer numbers of people who may be suffering in unrighteous guilt for the smallest of things. I have nothing to back up my suspicions, but if there are more people like me than like “real” addicts, then I think it’s helpful to relieve their burden.

    I am very very prone to guilt over the smallest things, and I personally lived in guilt for years over things like looking at lingerie ads longer than a simple flip-through because I didn’t know if it was or wasn’t actually pornography.

    In my worldview, having a legion of good people paralyzed by unwarranted guilt is really harmful.

  16. Megan August 12, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    Love your site! I’m glad I found it. Do you ever do polls on your site? The topic of pornography is so taboo within Mormonism that it’s hard to know how many members actually view it. It would be really enlightening to see how many women, men, and couples actually consume it. I occasionally view it if I come across it during the day. I’m open about it with my husband and usually tell him when that’s happened — not because he demands to know but becauses it usually becomes a shared erotic experience talking about.

  17. cchrissyy (@tendercargo) August 12, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    I am concerned with people using “addicted” too freely, but I am more concerned about dismissing truly addicted people as if their addiction isn’t real.

    I do know pornography addiction can be a real full-blown addiction, the kind where you lose your job and your family by taking risks you are trying desperately not to take, and you ar in 12-step and doing all you can to get free but just can’t because that’s what an addiction *is* , you know? It is crying that you can’t stop even while you relapsing, it is living in fear of the next occurrence because you can’t bear knowing that it will happen again – you hate what you do and but every effort you make will eventually be followed by relapse and you are scared of when if will come.

    I really feel for those people because I’ve known then while they’re deep in the pain and trying to stop. I have seen real and lasting recovery through 12-step.

    I get very ticked off whenever I hear folks talk about sex addiction and pornography addiction like it’s just a disapproving term for people using normal porn in a normal way. Some folks are too uptight to accept normal use so they call it “addiction” and trying to “quit”.

    Pornography addiction isn’t “my husband likes porn and I won’t live with it” or “I hide my porn use so I don’t get in trouble for it”. People need to quit using addiction language out of respect for what a real addiction is, and so that those of us talking about real addictions aren’t written off with as if we are prudes who are inappropriately claiming the word “addiction”.

  18. Lucy W. August 12, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    Pornography addiction isn’t “my husband likes porn and I won’t live with it” or “I hide my porn use so I don’t get in trouble for it”. People need to quit using addiction language out of respect for what a real addiction is, and so that those of us talking about real addictions aren’t written off with as if we are prudes who are inappropriately claiming the word “addiction”.

    I agree. Which is why I asked the question.

  19. Moriah Jovan August 12, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    Generally, I think anything can be addictive, if you have an addictive personality/genetic component. Some addictions are more or less socially acceptable and some addictions aren’t properly labeled as such.

    I have an addiction to carbs. People pooh-pooh me on that, because conventional/fad wisdom is that carbs==good and fat==bad and red meat==bad. Yet I have solid evidence that tells me that carbs are bad for me, but what do I do when I need a mental pick-me-up, when I’m hungry and haven’t prepared myself for a day of proper eating, when I’m craving something I KNOW is not good for me? I hit the carbs.

    I will tell anybody who asks that I’m a junkie. I know I’m a junkie. It’s ruined my body and quite often injures my mental health. I can reacquaint myself with Dr. Atkins and OA as many times as I want and still I have to get through that carb-withdrawal period. I also tell people that if I drank alcohol, I’d be a lush. (A funny one, I hope.)

    How I got here is a long and sad story, beginning when I was 4-5 years old and with no control whatsoever over what I ate. It would be the equivalent of a parent spiking a child’s milk. But now I’m an adult and it’s my problem to deal with (and I HAVE dealt with it, but then I got pregnant and that threw a new wrench into the works). So I try, over and over again, to deal with it.

    But here’s the problem: While the manifestation of my addiction is socially unacceptable, church members have made it very clear to me that the SOLUTION to my problem is downright sinful and I should be denied a temple recommend because it doesn’t follow the Word of Wisdom.

    So do I believe there is such a thing as pornography addiction? Absolutely.

    I do also believe that people applying the word “addiction” so very loosely is irresponsible and far more damaging to a larger number of people than the number of people who have an actual problem.

  20. Anon today August 12, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    Apologies for the long comment:

    I’ve had a history of pornography use that goes back to my adolescence. I used it, felt guilty about it, tried to quit, then used it some more. Before I married, the longest time I went without viewing nude images of women was the two years of my mission, with about 4-6 months added to each end of that time period on both sides. After marriage, I didn’t view pornography for 2 1/2 more years, but in the 7 years since, I’ve sought it infrequently but regularly (around once or twice a month). Just like when I was a teenager, I used to beat myself up about each “slip”, and conversely, I used to get really excited about going long periods of time without viewing it. I used to believe that God was extremely angry at me whenever I made a “mistake” about porn, to the point that I envisioned God “outing” me to my spiritual leaders through revelation, or punishing me through a car accident or other event to prevent further sinning. Additionally, I worried that I would lose my wife and kids if I kept messing up. I buried my problem deep because I supposed that the social, spiritual, and familial consequences of letting it be known would destroy my life. And I didn’t want that.

    Eventually my wife found out about my use, and was pretty devastated. She didn’t leave me, though. Instead, we went to counselling through LDS Family Services for about 6 months. In this counselling, I was encouraged to admit that I had a pornography addiction, and to make serious commitments to shunning it completely in the future. There were a number of benefits of going to therapy for both myself and my relationship with my wife, but treating myself as an addict is not one of them.

    I’m aware of the trust I broke in my relationship with my wife due to pornography use, and that by far is the greatest evil that has emerged from its existence in my life. After lots of reflection on the topic of pornography, I’m not convinced that what I experienced was addiction, nor that the type of use in which I participated was inherently wrong, despite the messages of the Church. As others have noted above, I corroborate that in my own experience, at no point have I ever felt that my use of pornography has resulted in a lack of interest in my wife, a lack of ability to perform sexually, a lack of attention or care or love for my wife or my children, or a lack of ability to meet all of my family, career, and community responsibilities. It has never involved any other live participants, and I’ve developed no outside relationships through porn; that’s not the kind of porn I’ve sought or used.

    In fact, infrequent pornography use whenever the urge arises has allowed me to have the “itch scratched”, as it were, after which I can move quickly past the desire and move on with my life. Previously, the emotional, mental, spiritual, and sometimes physical efforts required to redirect, suppress, and deny my thoughts and feelings occupied more and more of my time and attention, until quite literally I could think of nothing else. Now, I no longer feel like I’m out of control of my own body or my own choices. I feel that the difference is that I no longer allow myself to perceive my attraction to and use of pornography as evidence of a psychological pathology. I no longer feel the hot breath of the wrath of God on the back of my neck as he peers over my shoulder at every turn, judging everything I view. I acknowledge that sexuality is a powerful, mysterious, primal urge within us all, and I celebrate my ability to appreciate it bodily, both by myself and with my partner. I’m NOT willing to ascribe those feelings to the Devil, or as a part of human experience that should be suppressed or avoided. I’m also NOT willing to force my desire upon an unwilling spouse for any reason, requiring her to submit even when she doesn’t feel amorous. Finally, I do NOT believe that pornography is a slippery slope leading to all manner of illegal and socially destructive behaviors (and there are plenty of scientific studies to back me up on this one).

    Is pornography use a “weakness” that needs to be overcome? I’m not certain. It is not a requirement for survival, and it doesn’t make us a better person for having partaken. Its relationship to sexuality is analogous to Diet Coke and food: it certainly doesn’t provide any life-sustaining “calories” that an emotionally-bonded sexual relationship does, but it hits the spot sometimes like nothing else can. Overuse can create dependency, for sure, which can have deleterious effects on body and mind. Are there better uses of our time and attention? Probably. But that doesn’t stop people from watching television, eating junk food, texting, or focusing our attention on frivolous or inconsequential pastimes and pursuits. Perhaps the practice of denial of indulgences or life necessities has a positive spiritual effect in the short term (such as fasting), but like ascetic monasticism, complete denial is not for everyone, or every circumstance.

    So as for defining pornography addiction, I would define it much the same way psychology professionals define substance abuse: the overindulgence in and dependence of a drug or other chemical leading to effects that are detrimental to the individual’s physical and mental health, or the welfare of others. Affects on familial relationships in a Mormon context may be augmented and are certainly real in the sense that Mormon relationships are certainly strained by the existence of pornography use, but we should be willing to admit that some of that augmentation is of our own doing, and not due to the substance itself, or to the amount of its use. Mormon “freak out” over pornography use is akin to Mormon “freak out” over a family member’s coffee or beer use (but curiously not over a family member’s KFC Double Down use or 64 oz./day Mt. Dew use): it is much more a social construct than scientifically-verifiable evidence of an addiction. And just like with other substance abuse addiction definitions, there is no quantifiable line of amount of use that, once crossed, identifies an individual as an addict. In any case, it most certainly would not be any number greater than zero.

    Keeping that in mind, I think it unhealthy to characterize all people in the Church who have used, enjoyed, and/or continue to indulge in porn use that doesn’t match the definition of substance-abuse addiction as “addicts”, even if they’ve only looked once or twice. Trying to get a person to break an addiction cycle that wasn’t there in the first place is only going to create frustration, failure, and diminished self-confidence and trust in relationships. Reclaiming pornography use can empower the individual to take control of his or her own sense of self, and give him or her the ability to define the context and quantity of responsible use.

  21. Gorihor August 12, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    The easy and obvious answer is that anyone who uses porn more than I do (or likes kinkier variants) is an addict.

    Those who use less are obviously prudes and need to loosen up a bit 😉

    Seriously speaking, I don’t know if there are hard and fast rules that everyone could agree with, but for me these would be warning signs:

    1) Inability to orgasm without porn

    2) Consistently choosing viewing porn alone over the opportunity to be intimate with another human being

    I know in my life my porn usage is a dependent variable which is positively correlated with increased levels of depression and negatively correlated with the frequency of physical intimacy with another person.

  22. Fanny A August 12, 2011 at 3:13 pm #

    Anon for Today: Beautiful comment- I heartily agree with your position, and think it’s a healthy one.

  23. Gorihor August 12, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    @ Anon fr Today

    Wonderful Post!

    I agree with all you have said and found that in my own life de-stigmatizing pornography has actually reduced my consumption.

    Before it was like I’m going to hell anyways so I might as well make it worthwhile, whereas now I take a sip whenever I feel and don’t feel I have to drink the whole bottle.

  24. Anon today August 12, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    Thanks, Fanny A and Gorihor. My consumption has definitely decreased. Some of it, I suppose, is due to 1) age (I’m in my early thirties, so not as many teenage hormones coursing through my veins anymore), and 2) a satisfying emotional and sexual relationship with my wife. But the biggest reason my consumption is down is because I’ve de-stigmatized it, and it no longer has as much allure (the secret, illicit nature of forbidden porn is more than half it’s attraction, I would say). I’m hoping that there’s a way that I can teach my children to never have those stigma in the first place so that it doesn’t impede their emotional and social development, as I feel it did for me somewhat.

  25. Michelle August 13, 2011 at 1:26 am #

    Lucy,

    I’ve dealt with unhealthy guilt/shame, too, but I think there is a real risk of throwing the baby out with the bathwater here. I think it’s too easy to blame the standards for unhealthy shame, when I think the reality is that it’s a lack of understanding about the Atonement that feeds the shame cycle.

    But doctrinally, the Atonement can’t come into play without the law. What I think we sometimes don’t really grasp is the love involved in the commandments, and the love involved in repentance. (I think learning to really get this is part of the process of life, though, so I’m not trying to add another ‘shame’ point here, ok? 😉 )

    Because we get a lot of women searching on this topic at Mormon Women, I’ve been trying to understand it all better, and have sought insight from those who have walked this path and who are counseling those who are walking it. I talked with one of these people today and asked her this question about what constitutes addiction. She was very clear that it’s not just frequency or severity of behavior, and that was consistent with some of the other things I’ve read and studied.

    So while I totally agree with the problem of unhealthy shame, I don’t believe normalizing porn use is the answer.

    Again, I go back to the S-Anon standard. If sobriety is the standard for addicts, why should it not be the standard for everyone? This is not a Church thing, it’s a standard set by an organization that has a lot of experience dealing with this, that recognizes how the addiction cycle works and invites those who are drawn into porn use to do what it takes to really be free.

    And I will say this again in a different way — setting a standard is different from shaming people. Or it can be if approached correctlyl.

  26. Lucy W. August 13, 2011 at 1:32 am #

    I don’t believe normalizing porn use is the answer.

    I don’t understand why you think I’m advocating normalizing porn use. If I’ve given that impression, I apologize.

    My goal was to begin the discussion by defining terms. My issue isn’t with with the word “pornography.” It’s with the word “addiction.”

  27. Michelle August 14, 2011 at 1:50 am #

    Lucy, sorry, I was combining some of my general thoughts on this topic with my response to you…addressing the idea that somehow there is a level of “reasonable” or “normal” use of pornography. I think that addiction is probably more embedded in so-called controlled/reasonable use than many might realize. As such, I think the concept of normalized porn use and the attempt to define addiction are sort of intertwined. Is there such a thing as porn use that isn’t at some level driven by addiction? That’s the question I have.

    When I gathered stories for our website from women who had walked this path for our website, I saw a pattern that sobered me. By the time the women actually saw visible evidence of an addiction (or when their husbands finally confessed — sometimes there weren’t concrete evidences even tangibly noticed or known), the addiction had been part of their spouse’s life for years, often since childhood (!!). That leaves me not super comfortable with those who want to define addiction as only show-stopping “serious” problems like crime, adultery, job loss, extreme debt, etc. Should the label of ‘real’ addiction only be reserved for people whose lives are falling apart in a visible way? I think this may very likely be putting the baseline too high (or too low, depending on what kind of scale you are using 😉 ) , too late in the process of addiction, and consequently only fueling the more subtle, hidden addictions some may be dealing with.

    I also think you are going to have a hard time getting current (and comfortable) porn users to give an accurate definition of addiction, because denial of the problem seems to be part of the problem. 😉

    Maybe I’ll email the guy who submitted his story to our site and see if he’d give his perspective on this. I think it’d be good to hear from someone who’s engaged in recovery from addiction to get that perspective.

  28. Lucy W. August 14, 2011 at 7:48 am #

    Is there such a thing as porn use that isn’t at some level driven by addiction?

    I don’t know. Is there such a thing as Coke use that isn’t at some level driven by addiction?

    Sorry, Michelle, but that’s where you’ve lost me. Asking people not to normalize porn use is one thing. Equating all use as fueled by some amount of addiction is an entirely different level of hyperbole.

  29. Fanny A August 14, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    Is there such a thing as porn use that isn’t at some level driven by addiction?

    This is absurd and is a ridiculous naive strawman. There are legions of normal, well-adjusted, healthy people who have added images or films occasionally to their sex lives that are in NO shade, way, shape or form “addicted” to pornography. It’s hardwired in the human brain to like beauty, and to be sexually drawn to images and sensory experiences that we like. Pornography is addictive only in the psychological sense that anything can be problematic if one neglects the rest of their real lives to subsist within it. Yes, there are outlying cases where this happens, I know.

    The problem in our LDS culture is the we’ve fetishized modesty and fetishized any sexual expression outside of behind-the-locked-married-bedroom door that we’ve created our own set of disorders. It starts with men and women being afraid of their own sexuality, of married couples, as evidenced by the emails and comments we get here on this small blog, where one or both partners are so marred by the modesty fetish, the good girl/boy disorder, that they cannot have healthy discussions or expression of sex. It has to do with such a strong prohibition against viewing or reading anything labeled “unwholesome” that it then becomes even more of a forbidden fantasy, and we create our own vortex in our own teapot.

    No man or woman, “addicted” to porn, has sold their children for money to get the next hit. Or left their porn lying around for their toddler to pick up and overdose and die from. Or mistakenly shot themselves because they were so high from porn they didn’t know what they were doing. Or had to go through vomiting, shaking, heart wrenching withdrawls in the bathtub for three days while the porn worked its way out of their fragile, wracked bodies. Sorry. Not reality.

    Now, Michelle, this next is directed specifically at you: I know you from around the bloggernacle. If you come back and disregard the points I’ve made and simply trot out your overbaked, same-old argument, and passive-aggressive smiley-faced sprinkled comments, I will delete you. If you are interested in actually talking about what I’ve said, then we can behave like grown ups and have a discussion.

  30. Andrew August 14, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    Hi, everyone. Michelle let me know about this thread and I thought I’d chime in from the perspective of a recovering addict. I am in recovery from a sex and pornography addiction that nearly killed me. I wouldn’t wish what my wife and I have been through on anyone. Gratefully, I have now been sober and in complete recovery for seventeen months, and these have been hands down the best seventeen months of my adult life. I would wish this recovery experience on everyone. Our marriage is infinitely better. My relationship with my kids is better. I am right with God. I am no longer miserable and far less self-absorbed than I was for most of my life. I no longer binge on self-sex and porn–ever.
    As an addict in recovery, I take what some might consider a hardline position on the “pornography problem.” I do so because I have experienced firsthand and have also seen in the lives of other addicts what the “little problem” can lead to. (Sex addiction is always progressive–one day porn will no longer be enough.) My position is also based on the belief that many who struggle with (or enjoy) the “little problem” are in fact confused and in denial about much bigger problems.
    Unlike some of the other commenters here, I think we need to use the word “addiction” more not less. I think we need to destigmatize the word so people understand it as a description of compulsive, repetitive and harmful behavior, and not merely as a synonym for “that poor, lazy loser who’s going to hell because he’s got no self-control.” I think a lot more of our collective behavior has an addiction component than many realize.
    I have long been troubled by the term “pornography addiction” because it’s misleading. Pornography is not really the problem; lust is. Lust is what I’m addicted to and, before recovery, porn was how I often got my drug. I injected it into my brain through my eyes. The thing I never understood was that even when I wasn’t binging on porn, I was ingesting lust into my brain in just about any way I could–fantasy, masturbation, lurid movies and television, sexual imagery in novels, objectification of the women around me (including my wife), making “harmless” (but lust-driven) connections and friendships with women other than my wife. If porn was the standard, I was spending 99% of my time in celestial territory, with only an occasional and brief “slip” down into the telestial behavior of the whoremonger. Once I switched from the porn standard to the lust standard, however, I was shocked to discover that I was lusting pretty much 100% of the time. Like an alcoholic, I was impaired by my consumption of my drug. I was literally drunk on it. I was self-medicating with it. I was feeding my addiction even when I wasn’t consuming porn.
    I absolutely don’t see porn consumption as akin to Diet Coke consumption. People I know with multiple addictions have told me that lust addiction is just as destructive as cocaine addiction and much harder to overcome. Also, if you consider what porn actually is, you’ll have to admit that there is nothing benign about it. Viewing hundreds and eventually thousands of pictures and videos (complete with sound and with absolutely nothing left to the imagination) of women engaging in sex acts with themselves and others– and viewing this stuff while masturbating–and doing it on the sly so your wife doesn’t catch you–that’s harmless behavior just because you only do it a few times a year? That’s something just to chuckle about and then dismiss? I don’t think so.
    And, what about the women in those videos and images? Were they really as happy, joyful and carefree as they appeared? Or were these daughters of God also self-medicating with drugs and alcohol just so they could numb themselves enough to be able to submit to such degrading behavior in front of a camera? How many of them wanted to go blow their brains out afterwards because their self-loathing was so overwhelming? Do we care about that when we “harmlessly” look at porn?
    I would hope that most men who view porn are, in fact, addicted. It would explain quite a bit and allow us to see them (or ourselves) as sick people who need help. If not, then a huge percentage our “healthy” men are deliberately choosing to “entertain themselves” or “just relax and destress” by enjoying the degradation, objectification, and dehumanization of women. That frightens me. Even if a guy only binges on porn once every three to six months, it still frightens me. Cigars four times a year–no temple recommend. Cocaine four times a year–no temple recommend. Porn binges four times a year–ha ha ha–chuckle chuckle–just harmless fun–I’ll see you at the endowment session on Friday night.
    I hate pornography. I hate what it has done to me, my wife and my family. I hate what I have seen it do to the lives of hundreds of other LDS and non-LDS men, women and their families. (By the way, non-LDS wives are freaking out about this just as much as LDS women.) I am saddened that our society (including so many Latter-day Saints) seems hellbent on minimizing and normalizing pornography consumption as not only harmless, but also as a good thing!
    In contrast, I am grateful for God’s grace. I am grateful for Christ’s infinite and unfathomable Atonement that has healed us when we couldn’t heal ourselves. I’m grateful for angels in the form of other men in recovery who walked the path to complete sobriety and freedom before me and then helped me find it. I never EVER want to go back to the binging. How grateful I am once again to have the choice not to go back.
    Sorry for the long missive. I feel strongly about getting the word out that recovery from addiction (including binging) is possible and that being in recovery is more wonderful than I ever could have known. If you’re interested, my website is rowboatandmarbles.org.

  31. Lucy W. August 14, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    Andrew, I found your post fascinating and inspiring. I think what you’ve achieved is awesome, and hat’s off to your wife for sticking with you through it.

    However.

    You are in a very small minority of people who a) have an addictive personality and b) has an addiction that manifests itself thusly. We all have our issues. It’s likely that addiction (in any form) is not one of them.

    I am getting irritated with the idea that because a relatively few people in the church find pornography and lust and sexual feelings so problematic that it destroys their lives, that ALL OF US will too.

    Furthermore, as Fanny notes, the fetishization of modesty artificially inflates what is otherwise a statistical anomaly, and I (for one) am becoming desensitized to the anecdata and scare stories.

  32. Fanny A August 14, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    Andrew, thank you for your comment. Your experiences are yours, and its not for me to diminish or dismiss what you felt or feel. Kudos to you for tackling a personal demon- that’s always worth celebrating.

    You do bring up some very valid points, as well. There are huge human rights and feminist issues within the porn industry- that’s a huge issue in and of itself. Know that when Im arguing that porn is not a genuine addiction that I am in no way condoning the objectification and abuse of women. It’s abhorrent and offensive to me, but that’s another discussion entirely.

    I’m with Lucy in the above comment. An alcoholic cannot take even one drink- but most of the normal adult population can have a social drink just fine and not fall into the desperate and destroying pit of alcoholism. It’s the same with anything. I think we are fairly isolated and insular as a community, and we create these straw men all the time in our naivete. Never have I heard the trope about “one drink, and I might become an alcoholic” anywhere but within our own community. And when we only deal with others in our communities, we normalize what is otherwise peculiar behavior.

    I stand by my original comment.

  33. Lucy W. August 14, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    And, by the way, just generally–

    One’s experience is not universal. I am dismayed when I see so many adults (educated ones, even!) assuming that because THEY experienced it, everyone else must have, too, and in the exact same way.

    Sometimes paying attention to the details of other people’s problems is more instructive than instructing them on what one THINKS is their problem.

  34. Andrew August 14, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

    Lucy: Seventy percent of men in America regularly look at porn. The numbers are probably about the same in the Church. A lot of these guys have tried to stop repeatedly and can’t. I don’t think I’m part of a very small minority. I’m part of the majority. I think most guys don’t stop because they can’t stop. If you asked them to make a list of their history with porn, you’d see the progression both in terms of frequency and harshness of the subject matter.

    Since the web opened access to free porn on demand inside the home in the 1990s, we have been engaging in one giant social experiment to see what happens when human brains have twenty years of inundation by porn. Well now we know: lots of men can’t stop looking now. I do agree that I am in the very small minority to the extent that I’ve found a way to stop binging. More men would keep trying to stop but for the fact that at this point they no longer think they can stop.

    If you’re suggesting that I’m the one making assumptions, I disagree. I share my experience so others know what’s possible. Of course I’m not saying that everyone will pass through my same set of circumstances. I am saying that like cocaine, lust (including pornography consumption) is progressively addictive and destructive. Recent research in the area confirms this. Go to any singles ward bishop in the Church and ask him about the biggest issue he faces. In ten times out of ten, he’ll tell you it’s porn and masturbation.

    Again, I’m not part of a very small minority. I fit right in with the modern American male–except for the fact that I found a way to stop acting out and binging.

    Best of luck to you with your blog. Bye.

  35. Fanny A August 14, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    Andrew, no need to take umbrage. We congratulated you on conquering your demons. We just wanted to point out there are different ways of looking at the data.

    Porn might be the biggest problem a bishop in a singles ward faces, but I’m saying that’s a tempest in a teapot. Again we fetishize these thing to the point where we can create problems where none (or very small ones) actually exist. And masturbation is a natural and private matter, as far as I care, and nothing a bishop has any business asking me or my sons about.

    It all depends on your focus. Again, very happy for you that you conquered a difficult compulsion that was harming your life- this deserves kudos. But not everyone is facing the same demons as you faced.

  36. Fanny A August 14, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

    One more thing-

    If a bishop’s biggest problem is masturbation and members who might look at porn (somewhere along the spectrum of normal) then I’d say he’s got a pretty rockin’ righteous ward. All the poverty, faith crisis, hunger, employment difficulties, grief, loneliness, and human sorrow must have been dealt with already. Lucky bishop.

  37. Michelle August 14, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

    I’m actually a bit surprised by the hostility to my thoughts. I was posing my questions based on what I have read from others’ experiences, like Andrew’s, and from real stories from real women whose lives have been seriously affected by their husband’s addictions. But that doesn’t mean I’m not aware of how some people can have unhealthy views of sex going the other direction, too. I think maybe you are reading a bit too much into what I’m saying. Or maybe it is that we really do just disagree at the core.

    Still, I was asking a genuine question because I think there is a bit of a catch-22 here. If porn use is normalized, within that definition of ‘normal’ use, there would be no felt need to stop or change. But I’m coming at it from a different point of view. Pretend for a moment that your worldview included the notion that pornography use is harmful. My question is would those using it who think it’s ‘normal’ be able to stop?

    One reason I’m not convinced they would be able to is because often when I see masturbation or porn use defended, it’s often with the notion that NOT using porn or masturbating is what is abnormal or unhealthy, as though people simply cannot live without sexual release, as though that it is somehow like cruel and unusual punishment to expect people to abstain from such behavior. .

    Now again, I’ll say that I do agree that people can approach sexuality in such a way that dysfunction can happen to the other extreme (good girl/boy syndrome in marriage, etc.), but I think that if one’s sexuality is defining one’s life to the point of not being able to function without sexual release, then I would say that could fall under the possible definition of some of the symptoms of addiction. If sex is the driver, than the person is not in control. The standards of programs like SA (I said S-Anon earlier but then realized I was a little off — apparently S-Anon is for spouses, SA is for the addicts) and, for LDS folks, of the Church, are about being free from the dynamic of having sexual drives be a driver in your life.

    Now, as to this comment: “No man or woman, “addicted” to porn, has sold their children for money to get the next hit. Or left their porn lying around for their toddler to pick up and overdose and die from. Or mistakenly shot themselves because they were so high from porn they didn’t know what they were doing. Or had to go through vomiting, shaking, heart wrenching withdrawls in the bathtub for three days while the porn worked its way out of their fragile, wracked bodies. Sorry. Not reality.”

    This comes across to me as you suggesting that addiction to pornography in general is really just a myth, or so rare that it’s not even really worth attention, or not anywhere near as severe as drug addiction. Is that what you are trying to say?

  38. Anon today August 14, 2011 at 11:42 pm #

    I talked with a marriage and family therapist friend of mine a couple days ago about addictions in general. He says that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) used by the American Psychiatric Association gives degrees of addiction diagnoses, including dependence (the worst, requiring residential treatment), abuse, and substance-related disorder NOS (not-otherwise-specified). Only at the level of dependence does one witness withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, erratic behaviors, desperate attempts to procure more of the substance, harm to self or others, etc. Lower on the scale of addiction are those who abuse a substance, but don’t have such physiological reactions to it. Still further down are those people who use in some pathological way, but which isn’t classified as as severe as abuse or dependence.

    So in brief, addiction exists in a spectrum. Some people who are addicts are further on the extreme side of the scale than others. I suspect that although pornography is not a substance identified in the DSM, those who have an addiction to pornography exist in various degrees on the scale of addiction just like other substance addictions that are classified in the DSM. Perhaps we’re talking too much in black and white here: not all addicts are as addicted or dependent than others, and because of this, what’s applicable to one case isn’t necessarily applicable to everyone.

    Michelle: correct me if I’m wrong, but I get the sense that perhaps there’s a “us-vs.-them” thing going on as a subtext to what you commented above. I hear this a lot in our Church culture’s worldview: the “World” thinks one way, but “We” know better. The World tries to tell use what is good and bad, but they are mistaken, because they don’t have prophets, the Spirit, etc. This works well for people who think in black and white, but people outside this loop have no way to respond to such an accusation. The wisdom of “the World” is simply humankind’s best efforts to explain the world around it. The language, science, is imperfect, yet the scientific process is our best attempt to explore, explain, test, draw conclusions, retest, re-explore, retest, etc., refining our understanding at every step. Science doesn’t claim ultimate knowledge of everything, but it certainly does not accept claims that something is one way or another simply because a human says that God says so (note: this doesn’t represent a denial of the existence of God per se, just that one cannot replicate with regularity communication with Deity to verify the truth of one person’s claims). Thus, we may want to believe that all pornography has a universal deleterious effect on viewers of it, but experimentation just doesn’t support that assumption. I’m not saying this to be mean, and certainly scientists will continue to study and explore the nature of human response to pornography and learn more, but if we start with a preconceived notion and try understand everything else accordingly, we’re intentionally putting blinders on, so to speak. Scientists have a term for this type of reasoning, which they seek to avoid as they design and conduct experiments and interpret their results: it’s called confirmation bias. Subscribers of both viewpoints (pornography is bad and will make you addicted — pornography is harmless and will not make you addicted) need to be cautious of confirmation bias affecting their interpretations of scientific data.

  39. Fanny A August 15, 2011 at 12:00 am #

    Thank you so much Anon Today- your response was much more reasonable and levelheaded than mine would have been, and is pretty much what I would like to say. So again, thank you.

  40. Michelle August 15, 2011 at 2:42 am #

    “The World tries to tell use what is good and bad, but they are mistaken, because they don’t have prophets, the Spirit, etc. This works well for people who think in black and white, but people outside this loop have no way to respond to such an accusation. ”

    I think I can see why you think that I’m only addressing things from a faith perspective, but that isn’t the case. Of course, my faith informs my own personal beliefs on this, but I am actually trying to put things on the table that go beyond just our faith.

    I understand confirmation bias, which is one reason why I sometimes like to jump in and give a different perspective, and why I like to engage in places where I know my perspective won’t be the majority view. I like to try to understand others’ perspectives and experiences. I would hope you would give me a little more benefit of the doubt that there may be more here than just my faith informing my perspective.

    And I hope you might be willing to consider the reality that there are many people, including scientists, therapists, community groups, and others, who also take the position I’m sharing here. This isn’t just a Mormon view. Not at all.

    One last thing — if you think I’m only concerned about porn or masturbation, you are wrong. Like I said before, I agree that unhealthy attitudes about self and sex can come with abstinence behaviors as well. I believe there is a lot in our doctrine that can help prevent problems on either ‘side’ of this coin, and so that is where my faith does come into play a lot, in engaging the tension and problems that can show up either way. But still, I consider a lot more than just my faith as I mull over all of this.

  41. Megan August 15, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    Hi Sister Wives- I sent an email over the weekend asking you a few more questions about this topic. I sent it to mormonmissionaryposition at gmail dot com. Is that the best way to reach out to you all besides comments? Hopefully it got through and not spammed 🙂

  42. Patty B. August 15, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    Pretend for a moment that your worldview included the notion that pornography use is harmful. My question is would those using it who think it’s ‘normal’ be able to stop?

    You’re asking others to accept as a basic premise that any and all porn use is harmful. That’s simply an unacceptable basic premise, and one for which I can’t suspend my disbelief long enough to enter into your imaginative realm. The fact is that very few behaviors are inherently harmful. There are some, but not very many. Usually the problem is one of conjunction, not one of isolated behaviors being inherently bad in every circumstance. I know far too many functional, normal, productive, healthy adults who have consumed some porn (including myself) to do anything but immediately dismiss as histrionically ridiculous your premise when presented as a universal truth. For some people? Sure. For some people porn use is harmful, period. But that is not a universal.

    And that’s not even to mention the slippery slope of determining what constitutes porn. As soon as you want to define all porn as inherently harmful for all people, you’ll land us in a spot in which those people who advance this theory dictating policies and standards for dress and behavior and art and advertising. I for one will err every single time in the direction of more freedom in our society, requiring people to learn how to control their own behavior and make their own decisions than in the direction of policies and definitions that lead to dictating others’ behavior and practice, removing their right to make their own decisions. And I’m pretty sure I could use Mormon doctrine to back me up on that stance.

    As for the notion that somehow it’s false that people can’t live without sexual release…well, there is plenty of evidence to show health benefits associated with sexual release for both men and women. And a huge number of men and women experience sexual release without seeking it (I certainly have and did as a very young child), so preventing sexual release is not a matter of will as you suggest. I just don’t buy this theory that there’s nothing wrong with teaching an absolute abstinence approach as universally appropriate. I’m not suggesting that we cannot learn restraint and appropriate control. I’m simply suggesting that such restraint and appropriate control is not destroyed by healthy sexual practices, whether with or without a partner. I masturbate on a pretty regular basis but it’s not controlling my life; it hasn’t caused me problems. I’ve had sexual relationships outside of marriage. Yet that has not destroyed my ability to exercise restraint, common sense, and control; I don’t run out every weekend looking for a new one-night stand because I can’t live without a bit of action. And not only has neither practice harmed my relationships with God and others, I think they have actually led to stronger relationships. Because my decisions and practices are based on a healthy self-knowledge, rather than repression (and no, I’m not suggesting that my practice is the only healthy one; I’m simply saying it is healthy for me; no one else needs to agree that applying my decisions and practices to their life will be healthy; this is the key difference between what you’re suggesting and what I’m suggesting). The thing that my sister wives have responded to so strongly in your comments is this all-or-nothing mentality that accepts only one experience as The Right Experience (the rest of you be damned).

    The reality is that there are hugely varying sexual behaviors for human beings and there is no one single right standard that everyone should subscribe to. Instead people should know themselves and know their own limits and bodies and behave accordingly. If that knowledge means subscribing to the kind of absolute practice you and Andrew are proposing, that’s fine with me. What’s not fine with me is you then prescribing that policy as the only appropriate policy for everyone who has ever lived. Just as it is not okay with me to ban all drinking, smoking, coffee, tea, and other behaviors that human experience has demonstrated are socially functional and do not necessarily lead to destructive practices and physically destructive side effects.

    Also, I really object to stretching language to mean things it does not. “Addiction” has a very specific definition and to stretch it to mean any degree of use of some substance or product which might for some people prove an addictive substance is deeply problematic and will, in my opinion, result in more harm than good. Just as it results in more harm than good to attempt to achieve any good thing by way of deceit and misrepresentation.

  43. Michelle August 16, 2011 at 12:01 am #

    I understand that our worldviews are probably too different to be able to talk more about this (and I realize that the very reality of different worldviews is part of what you are trying to communicate). But I did want to respond to this:

    ““Addiction” has a very specific definition and to stretch it to mean any degree of use of some substance or product which might for some people prove an addictive substance….”

    I get that, but that isn’t the definition I gave. I realize the risk of overusing the concept of addiction, but like I said, I think our worldviews mean we engage the concept differently. And that shouldn’t be a surprise — there are different opinions about this in the mental health and scientific world, too. I guess I just hope that as you take your approach, you can also acknowledge that the perspective I’m sharing is not just some isolated Mormon viewpoint.

  44. Fanny A August 16, 2011 at 1:23 am #

    Sister Patty, I LOVE YOU!

  45. Gorihor August 16, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    @Andrew – If purging your life of pornography has brought you happiness, congratulations. Reading your comments however is quite frightening.

    Your condemnation of denigration of women is quite stark and shows neither nuance nor compassion. If you have credible (i.e. peer reviewed) evidence of these women “self-medicating” or “numbing” themselves or of the extreme “self loathing” and wanting to “blow their faces off” because of their “degrading behavior” beyond what individuals of either gender in other occupations might suffer from, I would be eager to hear of it.

    It would seem that your affliction is not an overabundance of lust, but rather an absence of empathy.

    @Michelle – Words matter.

    Effective communication depends on using vocabulary and definitions that are common to all participants. Twisting meanings to fit your particular needs slants the conversation unfairly and is a significant barrier to honest and open discussion.

    It would seem that the more apt terms for the pornography issues in discussion here are either ‘compulsive’ or ‘obsessive.’

    The use of the word ‘addiction’ regarding pornography seems to be the same purpose as those who throw around the word ‘cult’ when describing the mormon church. While the definitions of both words can be stretched to fit the writer’s intentions, they also betray the fact that the intention is not one of inquiry or open discussion, but is to cast unneeded emotional disdain against any opposing viewpoint.

  46. Lucy W. August 16, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    Well, to be fair, I did ask the question, “What does pornography addiction mean to YOU?”; however, it seems Michelle wants us all to agree on her definition of addiction to go forward with a discussion. I just don’t see that happening.

    As I’ve said before. The word “addiction” as it’s used in the context of pornography + church is not only misleading, it’s harmful.

  47. Patty B. August 16, 2011 at 9:23 am #

    Michelle,

    You claim to not be stretching the definition of “addiction” to be more inclusive than it actually is. Here are a few of your comments that lead me to conclude that you are in fact doing just that:

    What if the very fact that people are splitting hairs about what really constitutes addiction is part of the problem? If those in the business of helping people overcome addiction demand absolutely sobriety to be in recovery from addiction, why not demand such standards to protect people from/avoid addiction in the first place?

    Clearly you are proposing that we treat any and all consumption of porn (and, given your allusion to abstinence from any sexual activity other than with one’s spouse, any masturbation, any sexual contact outside of marriage) as at least potentially addictive if not actually addictive. You also fail to acknowledge that “those in the business of helping people overcome addiction” are just that–in the business of helping addicts. To suggest that everyone should just live by that same standard is the same as suggesting that no one should drink an alcoholic beverage for fear they will become an alcoholic or that no one should eat chocolate and other sugary sweets for fear that they will become a compulsive eater of sweets and end up obese. If we were living in the alternate reality proposed by Lucifer in Mormon cosmology, these might be viable alternatives. But we’re not.

    If sobriety is the standard for addicts, why should it not be the standard for everyone?

    Maybe because not everyone is an addict? Maybe because this standard is designed to help people dealing with particular difficulties, rather than as a universal? And again, you’re suggesting that everyone with any degree of porn consumption or sexual involvement other than your prescription for “appropriate” sexual involvement be treated like an addict. Another expansion of that word’s definition and the population to whom you’d like to apply it.

    I think that addiction is probably more embedded in so-called controlled/reasonable use than many might realize. . . . Is there such a thing as porn use that isn’t at some level driven by addiction? That’s the question I have.

    Again with the implication that addiction is much more common than acknowledged by those of us who want to use “addiction” based on its actual definition rather than your re-definition thereof. And the fact that you even pose the question implies that you think it’s at least possible that any porn use is driven by addiction. Combine that with your other comments and it’s pretty clear that you have re-defined “porn addiction” to include any amount of porn consumption.

    I also think you are going to have a hard time getting current (and comfortable) porn users to give an accurate definition of addiction, because denial of the problem seems to be part of the problem. 😉

    Again you conflate “porn user” with “porn addict” by implying that it is impossible for anyone who uses any amount of porn to be objective enough to acknowledge the nature of “porn addiction” (or, you imply, even that such a problem exists). This is like saying that because I had a drink last week when out with my co-workers I couldn’t be asked to define “alcoholism” because clearly I’m in the throes of alcoholism myself and am denying that fact. Sorry. I call bullshit. I also would like to point out that cute little smiley faces inserted after comments that insult others’ intelligence and integrity not only does not make your comment nicer, it’s disgustingly passive aggressive. I could insert a smiley face here but then I’d be doing to you what you’re doing to others.

    If porn use is normalized, within that definition of ‘normal’ use, there would be no felt need to stop or change. But I’m coming at it from a different point of view. Pretend for a moment that your worldview included the notion that pornography use is harmful. My question is would those using it who think it’s ‘normal’ be able to stop?

    Again with the “normalized” strawman. No one here has suggested “normalizing” porn use. What we have suggested is recognizing that human sexual activity, drives, and expression exists on a spectrum which includes pornography use. And that pornography use is no more inherently evil than doggy style sex or oral sex or anal sex. for some people any one of those things might not be okay. But that is a particular circumstance for particular people and should be treated as such, rather than issuing edicts that lead people who are engaging in what is for them a perfectly reasonable sexual activity that does not cause disruptive patterns of behavior or compulsiveness or impulsiveness to think they are guilty sinners. And need I point out that the formulation of your last two sentences implies that any and all use of porn constitutes “addiction”? And yet you try to deny that you are so re-defining “addiction.”

    Can I acknowledge that there are others like you out there? Sure. That doesn’t mean I have to be okay with you (and them) misusing language in an effort to wield an emotional and spiritual stick with which to batter people into taking your view as Truth. I couldn’t agree more with Gorihor that you (and others who share your view) are using the term “addiction” in the same fashion in which critics of the church use the term “cult.” And I’d like to take your approach and apply it to a different situation:

    Some people are brutally hurt–spiritually, emotionally, psychologically–by the LDS church. They are led to depression (sometimes so severe that they commit suicide). They are taught to loath themselves. They are told they have no value unless they conform to a prescribed gender role. They are misled by a missionary program which fails to acknowledge the more difficult beliefs of Mormonism (like the continuing belief in polygamy, never mind all that bullshit hogwash about one-man-one-woman being the definition of marriage). Therefore, no one should ever join the LDS church. Since some people are hurt by the church it is categorically an abusive institution which will destroy people’s psychological health and spiritual well-being.

    Yeah. I’m pretty sure you’re not going to get on board with that one. But it’s exactly what you’re doing with porn. I do not deny that there are people who are terribly hurt by compulsive porn consumption. I would hope you would not deny there are people who are terribly hurt by their involvement in the church. Neither reality means that we should therefore set as a universal standards that porn or the church should simply be avoided by anyone and everyone altogether. Yes, yes–we could get into arguments about the prevalence of the harm caused by these two things. My point is, however, that there are people who consume porn without it controlling and destroying their lives. To treat them as if they are addicts because there are other people for whom porn is deeply problematic is as disingenuous as to suggest that no one should ever even consider Mormonism as a viable avenue to spiritual and emotional self-expression and fulfillment. No matter what problems I have with the church (and as someone who has felt abused by the church I have plenty of problems with it), I would never suggest that it should never be considered by anyone as an organization that might help them return to God. Because I have the basic decency to recognize that my experience is my own and not universal. So while I’ll certainly share my experience and encourage people to consider it as they find their own way, I would never prescribe certain decisions and behaviors as the only appropriate ones. Because my experience is particular, not universal.

  48. Alex the Guy August 16, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    I think both the Michelle camp and the Sister Wives camp are over generalizing and missing the mark a bit.  One side is saying porn use is evil, wrong, or sinful and the other side is saying it may be healthy, normal, and no more inherently evil than doggy style sex. Because both arguments oversimplify the issue, the arguments devolve into bullying and, at least to me, somewhat angry rhetoric. I think to really make progress, the debate has to take a step deeper and stop using abstractions like evil, sinful, normal, appropriate, etc. Those are conclusory statements with a lot of built-in assumptions and little explanation. Why is it evil? Why is it not?  Saying it’s normal or not addictive,  or, on the other hand, that it’s wrong or destructive, doesn’t really inform the person trying to decide how to govern themselves with regard to porn.

    Something is bad or good for a reason, not just because it’s arbitrarily decreed as such. And most things can often be both depending on context. So I think the discussion should evolve towards the effects of porn or erotica use. I’ve read several studies and articles that lay out some negatives effects of porn, such as porn-induced ED:

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201107/porn-induced-sexual-dysfunction-is-growing-problem

    Other people claim that porn can improve their sex life:

    http://www.marieclaire.com/sex-love/relationship-issues/how-to-boost-your-libido

    I think the discussion would benefit from more concrete examples and less polarizing and abstract rhetoric. For example, in what context is erotica healthy? What’s a counter argument for that? Why is it harmful and in what circumstances, etc. 

    I tend to agree much more with the Sister Wives rationales and that there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer, but may I politely say that some of your comments come across as a little too harsh and I’d hate to see that have a chilling effect on people’s willingness to participate in the discussion. Thanks for the blog and interesting insights!

  49. Fanny A August 16, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    Thanks for your comment Alex. We don’t want to stifle the discussion- I personally have a particularly knee-jerk reaction to Michelle from other discussions we’ve had elsewhere in the bloggernacle, and perhaps that colors my personal response to her. I acknowledge my curtness, but it comes from frustration with what I, along with Patty B, view as her passive-aggressive one-note answers to just about everything. It’s her thing, and she does it on mormon blogs all over the ‘nacle.

    None of us are saying that all is perfectly fine in Porn-ville. I myself commented on the social and socioeconomic, not to mention human-rights issues that come with the industry of porn. What we are arguing is that the wide-swath Michelle uses (and we admit, many in our faith community share her pov) is not helpful nor actually conducive to a meaningful dialogue about defining what porn is and how/if we chose to use it in our personal sex lives.

    …in what context is erotica healthy? What’s a counter argument for that? Why is it harmful and in what circumstances, etc.

    These are good questions. I’d be curious to hear your answers.

  50. Lucy W. August 16, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    Alex, just to clarify my personal position:

    I don’t like porn. Not to say that I haven’t seen it, viewed it, sought it out and used it (rarely), but I really and truly do not like porn as I think it’s harmful on a number of levels.

    I don’t like wine, either. I can’t stand the smell of fermented and distilled liquids. Sometimes I can’t stand the smell of rising bread, either, but that’s another discussion. That does not mean that the pretty bottles and the romanticizing of alcohol doesn’t tempt me to WANT to be a drinker.

    So what I OBJECT to, and very strenuously, is the use of the word “addiction” to encompass the spectrum articulated above (thank you!), and this discussion is devolving to focus on porn instead of focusing on addiction. Michelle defines it one way, and I solicited those definitions, and I get that. But because the subject is PORN addiction, that seems to be coloring how people want to define the ADDICTION part. I want to get away from that.

  51. Alex the Guy August 16, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    Thanks for the response, Fanny. I started to list more specifics as to why it was possibly good sometimes and bad others, but I didn’t want to derail the post since it was specifically about defining addiction. It would be interesting to see a post by one or some of the Sister Wives about how they’re either positively or negatively affected by erotica or porn and maybe start a discussion from there. I felt starting in the addiction post kind of starts the discussion with a strong negative bias.

  52. Patty B. August 16, 2011 at 11:31 am #

    One side is saying porn use is evil, wrong, or sinful and the other side is saying it may be healthy, normal, and no more inherently evil than doggy style sex.

    Okay, I introduced the parallel of doggy style sex, probably unadvisedly. I brought up doggy style, oral, and anal sex because they have, in the past, been condemned pretty strongly by church leadership and membership in terms similar to terms that have been used to condemn porn. I didn’t mean to overly simplify the concept of pornography and its use. I wanted only to point out that it’s far too easy to condemn something as “unnatural” or “demeaning” and then build on that assertion the idea that everyone should avoid that practice in order to be “Good.” And that when we do that, we slip into the territory of creating false universals rather than recognizing the inherent particularity of human sexual experience.

    That particularity is, in my opinion, at the heart of any conversation about what constitutes “porn addiction” (which, as Sister Lucy has reminded us, is the actual topic of discussion here–not just “porn”). Because different people have different tolerances, tastes, desires, and needs. All of which will affect the point at which something becomes an addiction (if it ever does). For instance, I’ve consumed some porn. But it’s just not something that holds much sway over me. I occasionally look at it, sometimes for instructional purposes (I’ve gotten some very good ideas about how to give and receive sexual pleasure from porn; and no, that’s not an assertion that a general characteristic of porn is that it is educational) and sometimes as a means of jumpstarting my libido. Both of those things are, in my opinion, good things. But I recognize that these are particular to me, my tastes, my needs, my personality. I’m not an “addict” and the suggestion that any use of porn constitutes “addiction” fails to acknowledge the particularity of my experience.

    At the heart of any addiction is a compulsive need for or dependence upon a substance or behavior. I don’t think any of us sister wives has denied that porn can become, for some people, compulsive, that it can lead to impulsive and destructive behaviors. Nor do I think any of us has argued for an uncritical consumption thereof or just a simple shoulder shrug about whether people should use porn. But the project of this blog is to open up a space in which we can help liberate people from the confines of unnecessary guilt associated with sexual practices that aren’t necessarily destructive. Defining “porn addiction” to include any consumption of porn works directly against that project because it fails to recognize the particularity of human sexual nature and experience. Reframing the conversation into terms of why porn is good or why it is bad doesn’t really help us get at the heart of this issue. Instead, the discussion should be one about why the church’s rhetoric about porn addiction is good or bad. In my opinion it is bad because it strips people of their individuality and of their responsibility to know themselves and make their own decisions about appropriate sexual behavior. It is little more than a scare tactic meant to exaggerate the reality into a caricature that demonizes behaviors that are, for some people (see my personal example above), perfectly fine for a variety of reasons.

  53. Lucinda M. August 17, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

    euuuuww! http://ldsmag.com/church/article/8500?ac=1

  54. Lucy W. August 17, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

    “Pornography is such a common struggle for so many young men these days. Naturally, I worry that this is something you have struggled with as a teenager or young adult. Will you please describe your experience with pornography and how you’ve handled it?”

    My hope is that today’s parents, especially fathers, plan to bring up this important subject when they speak with the young man who will take their daughter’s hand in marriage.

    The man is assumed to be guilty (of what, really?) straight out of the gate. If I were the future son-in-law, I would think twice about marrying the woman and with a well placed, “Go to hell, old man” on my way out the door.

  55. VirginAskingQuestions August 17, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    And did you read the warning signs? He acts like all the warning signs are proof that a young man is doing something wrong, without ever acknowledging just once, that perhaps the young man is uncomfortable being questioned in the first place by a person who has no business knowing anything about their sex life (or lack of one) anyway.

  56. Lucy W. August 17, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    I’m going to assume that any comments over there will be moderated and dissenting ones will be summarily trashed.

  57. amelia August 17, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    Holy hell what a doozy that article is. I’m with Lucy–if I were a man and my future father-in-law who I had met once before in my life asked about my sex life and/or pornography consumption, I’d want to tell him to go to hell. Of course, that might make marrying his daughter more difficult since such a response would clearly be taken as incontrovertible proof that I was hiding something, so I’d likely aim for something more politic: “I appreciate your concern, but with all due respect my sexual practices are my own and your daughter’s to be concerned about. I don’t feel comfortable discussing this with you and I will not do so.” It would still be taken as evidence of my guilt but at least I wouldn’t have burned a bridge by telling the man where to go.

    Also, no man will ask for my father’s permission to marry me. I am not a possession to be passed from one man to another. And any man who loves me enough to want to marry me will know me well enough not to ask in the first place. If a woman is a big enough girl to get married, then she should be having these conversations herself rather than leaving them up to her father.

    Ugh. This whole article just makes me fume.

  58. Fanny A August 17, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    I’m spitting mad over this thing. The problem is, Meridian is taken as being wholesome and reliable and read by many members of the church, so I shudder to think how many people might think, since they read this in Meridian, that this is somehow sanctioned by the 12, or by the Church as a whole. It’s reprehensible.

  59. VirginAskingQuestions August 17, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    Also, no man will ask for my father’s permission to marry me. I am not a possession to be passed from one man to another. And any man who loves me enough to want to marry me will know me well enough not to ask in the first place.

    Hear hear!!!

  60. Gorihor August 18, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    @Lucinda’s link

    With his questions and ‘red flags’ I’d bet in the middle ages he would’ve been one of the best witch hunters evar!

  61. Strong Man August 18, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    What a fascinating discussion! Thank you for your openness in bringing this up.

    I hope especially the women here will recognize that men and women generally are quite different and that for most men, this is a VERY different and much more difficult struggle. You just don’t understand. Don’t try to pretend you do. I don’t pretend to know what labor pains feel like. Let’s do make our best effort to be empathetic and try to be understanding, though.

    As to the counsel about copying Apostles–I’ve never heard that, but I agree this is totally unhelpful. What do any of us know about any of their bedroom lives? Absolutely nothing. Do we even want to think about them that way? I doubt they would still be happily married, though, without highly active bedrooms. Perhaps more useful would be “make love like Brigham Young,” although I know also nothing about his actual skills in this area. Still useless counsel.

    The concept of interviewing a future son-in-law about this topic sounds potentially quite helpful, and at first I liked the article. But then, I worry that this has too much potential of being blown way out of proportion. I don’t think a father-in-law should be empowered to ask more searching questions than the bishop is allowed to ask. I’ll definitely thoroughly interview my future son-in-law, but I doubt I’ll be that specific about this topic. Probably better would be get to know him as well as I can, then give some valid counsel and advice from my own personal experience, and let him use and apply my advice how he feels best. I think you can learn better from just spending time with him and watching him.

    Both words–porn and addiction–are important to define, yet these words may have different definitions for different individuals.

    For example, I define porn as “anything arousing,” as the Strength of Youth pamphlet advises, yet watching cheerleaders at a football game and latin dancers in tight dresses arouses me, and I go to the games and do lots of dancing because those things arouse me, does that mean I’m addicted to porn? On the other hand, I might define porn as nudity, but if I’ve spent years in figure drawing classes to the point that nudity doesn’t arouse me much at all–is nudity not porn for me? What about stories or romance novels? If they’re arousing is that porn? It’s complicated.

    Surely God doesn’t want us to never be physically aroused before marriage. Otherwise, why would we ever pursue each other enough to actually get married?

    I especially appreciate the two different personal experiences shared by anon-today and Andrew. My personal views lean heavily toward anon-today’s, and especially find his info on varying levels of addiction very informative and helpful. But, I’m honestly also pulled a bit by Andrew’s and Michelle’s.

    As a faithful LDS member, I cannot ignore the countless talks by current Prophets and Apostles that talk about the evils of Pornography and seem to suggest an absolutist viewpoint–as in don’t do it ever.

    It seems difficult to say you are an active church member and fully sustain the brethren as “Prophets, Seers, and Revelators,” and also have the view that occassional porn use is okay.

    On the other hand, there is this issue of humanity and real life.

    It seems the Church is intentionally and deliberately leaving most issues related to this up to individual members. The Church has been clear about temple recommend interviews limiting themselves to the actual questions, which is: “Do you live the law of Chastity,” and instructing bishops to NOT add anything to those questions, and specifically to not answer questions or give suggestions about acceptable intimate behavior between husband and wife. The temple defines Chastity as “No sexual relations with anyone other than your husband or wife to whom you are legally and lawfully married.”

    What that means is up to you to decide. Temple worship would be a miserable experience if you believe you are violating this.

    At the same time, just as with the word of wisdom and other issues, it is quite easy to overplay the seriousness of porn “addiction.”

    Here’s another analogy: Church doctrine has been clear in support of honoring and sustaining the law. I’ve never heard anyone in conference say breaking the law is okay.

    Take speeding for example. The posted speed limit is the law. Exceeding that speed limit can be fatal–I put my life and the lives of the passengers in my car, plus the lives of others at risk every time I speed. I know this. Yet, I almost always drive 5 to even (gasp!) 10 MPH over the speed limit. I’ve tried a few times to drive the actual posted speed limit, but it really is hard–I’m almost always in a hurry, and it feels painfully slow to drive less than the actual posted speed limit. Could I quit this habit? I think so. Maybe. Honestly I’ve never consistently tried, so in reality I don’t know if I could quit. But I suspect it would have to be a pretty strong reason–other than just “speeding is wrong.”

    I also believe that there is a difference between driving 75mph in a 20mph residential school zone during the early afternoon–(something I find unconscionably evil and reckless) and driving 85 mph in a rural freeway with a posted limit of 75mph (something that could actually be beneficial to myself and my tired family on a long drive), with infinite variation in-between. It’s hard to categorically label all of those behaviors the exact same way. Yet, they’re all against the law.

    Having said all that–I’m NOT saying speeding is equivalent to porn use. There are many important differences. However, I’m giving this analogy to call attention to the possibility that not all types and levels of sin are equivalent.

    If your twice a month look at tasteful nudity causes so much debilitating guilt and depression that you are preoccupied and unable to pursue ambitious goals and work to help others, perhaps feeling guilt-free living with some porn in your life is better than the alternative. On the other hand, if you spend hours paying for hard-core and abusive porn and no longer find your wife attractive, tell her so and verbally compare her to airbrushed computer photos and videos, and you almost never pursue her for intimacy as a result, maybe you need to completely avoid all nudity.

    Yes–those are extremes of the perspective and few people are like those examples, but they demonstrate that there are lots of variations in between and setting hard and fast rules may be very difficult. It seems though, that the actual affect on you personally and the people around you, are the more important measures of what is harmful, than exactly what you are viewing and doing.

    In the end, I feel pornography is generally to be avoided and not helpful in strengthening marital intimacy. Probably they can be addicting, but that word may not be useful in helping most people manage their personal sexuality.

  62. Gorihor August 19, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

    Philip Zimbardo’s TED talk touches upon porn and addiction – less than 5 minutes long, worth watching.

    A gentleman whose views I respect.

    (Not familliar enough with wordpress to embed the video)

  63. parachute woman August 28, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    This fascinating discussion might be helped by reference to current studies on the effect of pornography on women and men. This study, from Australia, has a nice overview of current research and looks at how porn use changes ideas about women. Bottom line: it doesn’t. http://eprints.qut.edu.au/14567/1/14567.pdf
    The most interesting finding for me was on page 3; rapists, in consistent and replicable studies, are less likely to look at porn than other men. Porn doesn’t cause sexual abuse; rather the opposite.

    So, this is the nature of the world in which we live.

  64. UtahMark August 29, 2011 at 9:26 am #

    Interesting study, parachute woman. Somewhat reassuring, especially when you consider how common pornography viewing has become among the younger generation (I’m thinking here of society in general, not LDS-specific). The study notes the concern that pornography might create unrealistic expectations of sex, but unfortunately it did not seek to answer that question. That’s my biggest concern for young people viewing pornography, but it’s not as much an issue for those who have been married a few years and know what sex is really like.

  65. Strong Man August 29, 2011 at 11:31 am #

    Thanks for the study link. Challenges like a 7% response rate recruited from only Austrialian paid print magazine subscribers make this difficult to generalize to the rest of the population. Worse, the internet opt-in method of sample selection is essentially useless scientifically. Finally, the attitudes toward women are measured purely by self-report, and look at only issues of importance to women at work and abortion, etc, which probably have little to do with men’s romantic or sexual desires.

    I found the literature review interesting, though. For example, the well-researched finding that sex-offenders are actually LESS likely to be addicted to porn than the rest of the population.

    And UtahMark–“unrealistic expectations of sex,” exist regardless of pornography. How many of us had any clue at all about the differences between men and women before marriage? I know I didn’t, even though people had tried to tell me a bit. But, mostly because I had very little actual real-life information about it.

    I suspect the dearth of real information and the lack of communication between parents and their children about this subject is more influential than porn use. I think most men recognize that porn is not real-life, just as they know video games aren’t real life.

    This study prompted a new post I’ll be publishing on my blog in a couple of days.

  66. Muleki November 29, 2011 at 7:23 am #

    I have been active all my life. Since I was an early adolescent, I have looked at porn. Now in my mid-20s, I am a married father and EQ Pres but still addicted. On my mission, and for a year while dating I was able to give it up, but otherwise, it has been an increasing problem for me.

    I completely agree with Andrew’s statements that porn consumption is widespread and that a majority of men are likely addicted/dependent on it – to one degree or other. For most of my life, I was able to manage it with the understanding that it is not really a super serious thing. I have worked with many bishops on it, but I have never really stressed a ton about it. I guess, in a way, I agree with the sister wives insomuch as I don’t think porn is the mark of a bad person. Nevertheless, it continues to be a growing problem for me. Although I feel that I am still a *very* devoted spouse and father, that I serve well in the church, and that I excel in my career pursuits, things are beginning to go in a scary direction. I have begun to lose more and more sleep searching for a porn fix. What I have been looking at is more and more questionable. My drive and ambition to work and succeed – which has been extraordinarily high for most of my life – has begun to ebb. And in spite of years of trying to stop, I simply have not been able to. My consumption has gone from a couple times a month to every day or two. Frequently for hours at a time.

    In sum, I have not wasted money on porn. I have not become abusive towards my wife or neglectful of my children. I have not let it take over my life. And when I am camping or otherwise unable to get it, I do not miss it. Nevertheless, I wish to God that I had viewed porn as something just as anathema to righteous living as smoking or drinking. I think it is a wonderful thing that alcoholic Mormons are so few and far between. Sure, many of us could probably drink responsibly, but what would that really profit us? We gain much more by abstaining. Similarly, I would have lost out on nothing by not having ever viewed porn. But if I had avoided it like I have alcohol, then I wouldn’t be captive to it now. And I wouldn’t be surrounded by the lies I have to tell – to my wife, to church leaders, etc… – to keep it all going.

    Yes, sex education is needed. Yes, parents should talk more frankly to their kids about sex. And of course porn and masturbation are not the end of the world. BUT, I do not have a particularly addictive personality in any other regard but this one, and porn has me hooked and threatens some things that are very precious to me. Perhaps I am not addicted in a classical, shaking and chills sort of way, but there is no word that better captures what I – along with many thousands of other men, no doubt – am going through right now.

  67. Muleki November 29, 2011 at 7:39 am #

    Another thought. Yes, porn can jumpstart your libido or teach you some things.

    Coffee can pick you up at the beginning of the day. Alcohol can help you be more social and may be healthy for your heart. Smoking – though the benefits are few – can help you lose weight.

    Nevertheless, I am damn glad that I don’t drink coffee or alcohol or smoke. Especially with alcohol or tobacco, I would hate to either become dependent myself or to have someone who follows my example – my kids primarily – develop a dependence when following my example. Also, I have friends who were very infrequent, social smokers or drinkers for years, but who later leaned heavier upon these vices when times got tough. Porn, I think, could have a similar pathology – especially for men. For years it didn’t hold any sway for me. It was only with advances in porn technology and increased life stresses that it became a more central problem for me.

    Although porn may have some benefits, I think these are relatively minor, and that I as an individual and we, as a people, would be happier and healthier without it.

  68. Muleki November 29, 2011 at 7:50 am #

    Final thought to Patty B.

    Please, don’t compare the influence of the church to the influence of pornography. The church has been the greatest force for good in my life. Pornography the greatest force for bad. I take it that you have had some bad experiences in the church, and that sucks. I’m sorry. Nevertheless, it has produced some of the best, kindest men and women I know – most of whom are not all that messed up. At least, no more than in the general population, I believe. 🙂

    Okay, I’m done. There’s a good chance you don’t even check this thread anymore, but hopefully my two cents make a difference for someone out there.

  69. Zero December 1, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    Is an unmarried virgin who intends to remain one “addicted to chastity”?

  70. Patty B. December 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    Muleki, I didn’t compare the church to porn. I compared the strategy of defining any and all porn consumption as “addiction” from the get go to the strategy of defining any and all involvement in the church as hurtful and without any spiritual benefit. I did so in an effort to point out that no matter what one person’s personal experience, that doesn’t make their experience and conclusions universally true and applicable. Redefining something to mean something it just doesn’t based on particular experiences is inappropriate, especially when the strategy is employed in order to control others’ behavior. It is as inappropriate as my suggesting that we universally ban religion because it clearly causes harm to some people.

    Now, setting aside the nature of my comparison, I’m sorry that this has been a struggle for you. It sounds like it has become a serious one, even if you have been able to maintain fairly solid relationships and meet responsibilities. However, if you recognize that your behavior is escalating and becoming more and more consuming, I suggest you find help. You say you’ve tried to quit consuming porn and it hasn’t helped. But it can be done. I doubt it can be done alone, however, There’s a reason why AA and other such organizations hold weekly meetings at which there is absolute openness, anonymity (in terms of never spreading what is heard there outside of those meetings), and honesty. People who struggle with problems that consume them and threaten their way of life and their ability to continue participating in life as they would like need the support of a community. I don’t think any amount of talking to a bishop or praying or others of our normal spiritual “fixes” will help stop a truly addictive behavior without also having a support network in which there is the option of absolute openness with no fear whatsoever of reprisal. And reprisal is an inherent part of the confessional and counseling process with a bishop or church leader (no matter how much we call the church disciplinary system one that is based on love, it still involves reprisal and opens one up to social and familial consequences that most of us would rather avoid). I hope you’ll try to find yourself that kind of space, either through a recovery type group or in individual therapy. And if church sponsored groups or church affiliated therapists aren’t offering the absolute acceptance and support you need, I hope you’ll find someone outside that network. As good as many Mormons are, they are also sometimes quite judgmental (even without meaning to be) and that is just not helpful when it comes to constructively dealing with a serious problem.

    I hope you’re able to find the help you need. And I hope you’ll remember that while your problem is not everyone’s problem, you are not alone in your struggles–there are others out there with similar problems and building a community of healing with them can be enormously helpful. Best of luck to you.

  71. Andrew January 8, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

    Lucy or Fanny: will you do me a favor and fix the typo in the link at the end of my comment on August 14, 2011? Probably a little late but I would still appreciate it.

  72. Lucy W. January 11, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

    Andrew, sorry for the late response. Unfortunately, all of us sister wives have been hit pretty hard by life lately and this blog is a bit low on the priority list.

    I fixed your link. 🙂

  73. wvmmrh July 1, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

    it’s sad that ANYONE who claims to love their mate,feels the need to view porn.it’s sad.personally,if i was seriously dating a woman and i found out she was showing herself on cam or viewing other guys ,i’d break up with her.i don’t trust people’s loyalty if they feel the need to watch others body parts and them having sex,while all the while claiming to be in love with me.i feel sorry for you people who easily accept your mate’s addiction to porn as being normal and innocent,

  74. businessman05 July 7, 2012 at 12:36 am #

    I have just been looking for discussion boards on this subject material because I have recently been affected by it. I see Andrew’s position and I empathize with his situation. But I wanted to make a few comments based on experience.

    I have been in a sexless marriage for 20 years. “Sexless” is clinically defined as not engaging in sexual activity with ones spouse more than 10 to 12 times per year. I have been working through all the issues caused by this: shame, humiliation, depression, temptation etc. I have 3 children 21 years, 17 years and 10 that I will never abandon them to divorce. I keep this situation locked down and show love to their mother and them constantly as best I can. I strive to be active LDS. My wife does not understand why I tell her I am not sure she really loves me, in private of course. Sex is not important to her and she can’t understand why it is to me. I do love her for everything she is. She is a wonderful person. Sometimes this is enough and other times it is not. I am continually denied by her, she is the only one allowed to initiate which happens about once every 3 months. There are probably control issues there but we will try to work through it.

    We obviously have a lot of work to do to save an eternal marriage. I only mention my situation because it does allow me to have a vast forgiving perspective to others and I think that is a key to happiness. None of us has a crystal ball. A bishop is given discernment and is a Judge in Israel for a brief period of a person’s life. Bishops usually err on the side of mercy when helping people. Our probationary experience even continues after this life. The multitude of challenges, personal experiences, and environments we are born into are all weighed in the balance at the end but these are personal and involve a one on one relationship with Christ. Someone mentioned seeing things as only in “Black and White” I have ideals that I strive for that are Black and White but in no way do I pretend to know where everyone else stands before God in this regard. I also know I cannot get anywhere close to where I want to be without Christ.

    Andrew mentioned lust, not pornography as the problem. In my experiences with Therapy, it is not lust but obsessive behaviors in general that are the root of addictive behaviors. I know this when overcoming the things I obsess over, one being the sexles marriage, I have to be careful not to replace one obsession with another. The obsessive behavior over lust with Andrew may now be directed at his fanatical zeal for purity in everything he sees. This is normal during transition but then I am not a professional therapist, only studied and experienced it.

    In my humble opinion based on life experience and church callings, all of us have compulsive and obssesive tendencies. We experience life in different ways. Moderating those obssesions is what we strive for in life. Everyone has different buttons that send them down a path where they may lose control in a myriad of possible mediums. The obsessions can take over. We also have a tendency to focus on those obsessions that seem to be obvious sins: pornography, alcohol, smoking, drugs. Other obsessions not usually mentioned include: religious misplaced zeal, comparing ourselves to others, judging unrighteously, always having to be right or in control of every situation. God wants us to be happy and when we are ridden with obssessions, we are not. For me personally, I know I cannot rid myself entirely of my obsessive and compulsive tendencies. But, I have found peace through the Atonement by striving to do my best, acknowledging this weakness before God and praying and working with others to help them find peace.
    It is how I make it day to day and it is how I have found peace in spite of the personal challenges I experience.

  75. KaralynZ July 7, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    I’m sorry for your situation. I am curious – did you and your wife talk about sex at all before you got married?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: