The effects of pornography are hitting closer and closer to home. On a recent Wednesday, our local newspaper ran an above-the-fold headline on the front page stating “8 Juveniles Charged in Child Porn Ring on Instagram.” The charges for those young people included possession and distribution of child pornography.
Only two days later our local newspaper ran a below-the-fold headline on the front page of Section B stating “Child porn cache one of the largest ever seized in Anchorage.” The thirty-year-old man was charged with distribution and possession of child pornography; he told police investigators that he had been downloading and sharing the illicit materials since he was in college.
So what is it about pornography – and especially child pornography – that is so fascinating? Many people, including children, youth, and adults, are innocently exposed to pornography because it seems to be everywhere; however, some men and some women – and apparently some youth – are drawn back to pornographic images time and time again until they become addicted. Once addicted, they are hooked whether or not they desire otherwise.
When God made man and woman, He gave us feelings and passions that attract us to the opposite sex. These feelings and passions are very strong and were given to us to help us have the desire to marry and have children. At the same time God indicated that these feelings and passions were to be used only within a legal and lawful marriage between a man and a woman. God meant this relationship to be beautiful and loving – even a sacramental experience, but the world tries to cheapen this sacred experience. This happens because Satan has so much control in the world today, and he desires to destroy families.
The topic of pornography is often addressed in our General Conferences and Stake Conferences because pornography destroys lives, marriages, and families. Sister Linda S. Reeves, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, spoke about pornography in our recent General Conference; she outlined some ways we can defend ourselves and the rising generation from it and its effects.
“We as parents and leaders need to counsel with our children and youth on an ongoing basis, listening with love and understanding. They need to know the dangers of pornography and how it overtakes lives, causing loss of the Spirit, distorted feelings, deceit, damaged relationships, loss of self-control, and nearly total consumption of time, thought, and energy.
“Pornography is more vile, evil, and graphic than ever before. As we counsel with our children, together we can create a family plan with standards and boundaries, being proactive to protect our homes with filters on electronic devices. Parents, are we aware that mobile devices with Internet capacity, not computers, are the biggest culprit?”
Remember the child porn ring referenced at the top of this post? Investigators said that some of the images were posted as “selfies,” but some of the victims were unaware that their pictures were posted to the accounts. The problem is, once the pictures are posted they cannot be taken back. Investigators said that parents need to be aware of what their children are doing with their electronic devices.
Sister Reeves said that “filters are useful tools, but the greatest filter in the world, the only one that will ultimately work, is the personal internal filter that comes from a deep and abiding testimony of our Heavenly Father’s love and our Savior’s atoning sacrifice for each one of us.
“How do we lead our children to deep conversion and to access our Savior’s Atonement? I love the prophet Nephi’s declaration of what his people did to fortify the youth of his day: `We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, [and] we prophesy of Christ … that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins’ (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ,
2 Nephi 25:26). [This is one of my favorite scriptures!]
“How can we do this in our homes? … As [my husband and I] faced the challenges of parenting and keeping up with the demands of life, we were desperate for help. We prayed and pleaded to know what to do. The answer that came was clear: `It is OK if the house is a mess and the children are still in their pajamas and some responsibilities are left undone. The only things that really need to be accomplished in the home are daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening.’
“We were trying to do these things, but they were not always the priority and, amidst the chaos, were sometimes neglected. We changed our focus and tried not to worry about the less-important things. Our focus became to talk, rejoice, preach, and testify of Christ by striving to daily pray and study the scriptures and have weekly family home evening….
“Brothers and sisters, because I know from my own experiences, and those of my husband, I must testify of the blessings of daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening. These are the very practices that help take away stress, give direction to our lives, and add protection to our homes. Then, if pornography or other challenges do strike our families, we can petition the Lord for help and expect great guidance form the Spirit.” (See “Protection from Pornography – a Christ-Focused Home,” Ensign, May 2014.)
Sister Reeves pointed out additional ways we can bring spiritual strength into our homes. One of those ways is to search out our ancestors and prepare their names for temple work. Another way to protect ourselves is by keeping our temple recommends current and worthily and regularly attending the temple. We can encourage our youth to take responsibility for their own spiritual well-being. We can learn for ourselves that the Book of Mormon “carries the power to protect families, strengthen relationships, and give personal confidence before the Lord.”
In our world – a world that has been turned upside down and inside out, a world where good is called evil and evil is called good – we must be proactive in our fight against pornography and its destruction. I too know that daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening bring the Spirit into the lives of individuals and families. I believe there is only one way to survive well the world of today and that way is to follow the counsel found in the scriptures and from living prophets and apostles and being obedient to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. I encourage you to adopt the practice of praying, studying the scriptures, and holding family home evening because I know you and your family will be blessed by doing so.