Sunday, October 12, 2008

Real Prophets, Real Men: Opposing Pornography

True prophets in biblical times were always speaking out against popular but evil trends. The intellectuals, the elite, the celebrities, and other opinion molders of the day often despised the prophets. Modern LDS prophets are in good company. Have you noted how often President Hinckley and other prophets speak out against pornography? In a day when it is so popular and widespread, their constant warnings are hardly tailored for popularity and mass acceptance. But the message is a vital one.

I am so grateful to belong to a Church that doesn't just say what people want to hear. I believe that the For the Strength of Youth booklet for youth truly is inspired, and am so glad that young people in this Church are warned of the dangers of sin and the blessings of chastity and freedom from pornography. I appreciate the suggestions for regulating media in our homes that the Church provides. I am proud of the First Presidency for speaking out against pornography so frequently. In this degrading era where Dr. Ruth is held up as a hero, and vile organizations like Planned Parenthood are more given far more respect than the Church or Christianity in general, people need the guidance that comes from a true prophet.

Why do I care? Because so many times I have seen the devastating effects of pornography. I have seen it wreck marriages for people that I cared about. I have dealt with many victims of sexual abuse, and know that pornography almost always plays a role in the sordid pattern of behavior associated with such crimes. I have seen people become calloused not only to the promptings of the Spirit, but to the feelings of other people. I have seen pornography change the mindset of others so that they viewed women as little more than slabs of flesh to play with, rather than the daughters of God that they are. I know that the MISINFORMATION it provides interferes with the ability of people to properly experience and grow from the real joys of intimacy in marriage - it leaves the disappointed, selfish, and even pathetic. It makes losers out of people who could have been great. Pornography is all about becoming a loser. Real men don't do pornography! Neither do real women. And real prophets speak out against these evils. Praise God that we have a real prophet today.

A related resource I offer is my page, "Mormon Answers: Love, Dating, and Marriage for Mormons" with my answers at some common questions dealing with morality.

Related thoughts:

I have little respect for the arrogance of self-styled intellectuals in the Church who sneer at prophetic warnings on morality and modesty, and think that they are in a different class of people who can "handle" pornography or making out or whatever. There is great wisdom and inspiration in our Prophet who urges us to flee pornography as if it were the plague. Those who think they are too smart for that might as well sneer at health officials who warn us to wash our hands and avoid drinking water contaminated with sewage.

I also know that the Church's program of interviews with Church leaders, so often mocked by critics in and out of the Church, is a powerful resource to help people get the help they need to overcome sin. Dealing with addictive problems like pornography or immorality of any kind (masturbation and beyond) can be very difficult for a person to do without the power that comes from honestly confessing and seeking counsel. People need a confidential outlet to discuss such problems, and coupled with the power of the Spirit and priesthood guidance, miracles can occur. (But these interviews need to be kept uplifting and non-threatening and comfortable, not prying improperly, always showing respect and compassion for the person being interviewed.)

On a final note, let me mention somebody you probably haven't heard about recently, unless you have access to a TV, radio, newspaper, or computer: Ronald Reagan. Among all the endless discussions of Ronald Reagan in the past few days, one thing I haven't heard the media mention at all was Ronald Reagan's moral stand against pornography. The controversial Meese Commission Report on pornography that came from the Reagan era has been denounced by almost everyone in the media. I suspect that the percentage of critics of the report who actually read it is about the same as the fraction of anti-Mormon writers who have read the Book of Mormon. I am one of the very few Americans who actually read the report (still have a copy of it). I feel the report has been grossly misreported and underreported, and that its documentation indeed provides powerful evidence that the porn industry does great harm to America and to many specific victims. It did not call for a new era of draconian censorship, but mostly called for enforcement of already existing Constitutionally valid laws. Reasonable people might disagree with some of its conclusions, but I have almost never heard reasonable people discussing what it actually said, or the evidence behind the recommendations.

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