A recent study showed that when subscription data to online porn websites is analyzed, Utah shows a higher incidence of usage than any other state. This statistic would probably not be surprising to any LDS who had been listening to General Conference (and local) talks over the last few years, where the problem of pornography addiction among LDS has been repeatedly addressed. My stake recently had a Saturday evening session of Stake Conference where our SP spent almost an hour on the subject. Every Bishop or SP that I am friends with seems to have, at one time or another, told me “You have no idea how bad it is.”
Apparently the LDS Church (and christianity in general) is suffering from an epidemic of pornography use among its members. And I’m guessing that, as of March 2009, the Church is losing the war on pornography.
As with all losing wars, there comes a time when the leaders have to re-evaluate their strategy and survey the battlefield. Sometimes, radical new tactics must be adopted. Certainly, no competent General would assume that doing the same losing battle plan over and over would eventually result in victory, right? And sometimes, surrender and retreat is the only logical option.
With that in mind, I suggest one option LDS Church leaders may have to eventually consider: accept pornography. But I say “accept pornography” not as a means to admit defeat, but instead as a tactic to kill the beast at its very heart.
After all, what if the only way the Church could “win” the war on pornography was to just let it go? What if the harder they fight against it, the more LDS men want to look at it, and the only way to reduce their interest is to tell them it’s OK to view it with wisdom and moderation?
As with anything, there will always be those people who can’t view it “with wisdom and moderation”, and then it becomes a problem. But just as the Church is able to deal with individuals with eating disorders while at the same time understanding that most people can enjoy the occasional dish of ice cream without going overboard, could the Church move towards a similar attitude for pornography? And does it have any other choice?
Because with our current, porn saturated world, I’m not sure the current no-tolerance policy is going to help. Or maybe the Church leaders just need to talk about it a little more, and things will get better.
Maintaining the Status Quo
But suppose the Church continues to take a hard-line stance and commits itself to a “no tolerance” policy. What, exactly, would the logical result be?
Ideally, the inspired leadership of the Church on the matter would turn the hearts of the fathers (and young men, and single men) away from their computer screens. That’s the hope.
But what happens if current trends continue, and two things happen:
– Pornography use and/or addiction continues to increase among Church members, with few actually confessing the problem to their Bishops.
– The Church maintains a zero-tolerance policy on the issue.
Assuming the problem (in areas with broadband internet access) reaches 25% of current priesthood holders, what will happen to the Church 25 years from now if porn use reaches 75% of priesthood holders? Or 85%? How will the Church be different than it is today? Will there be any noticeable difference?
Will the divorce rate or rate of infidelity be greater? Will priesthood blessings generally be less effective? Will home teaching numbers be lower? Will tithing receipts be lower? Will Temple attendance fall off?
And those kinds of numbers would indicate that it probably isn’t just the rank-and-file who have a problem; there would be leaders with problems as well. Would their pornography addiction have any noticeable affect on their leadership abilities? Would their callings be less inspired? Would they be less discerning in interviews?
What does a pornography epidemic mean to the Church in general?