Men and Porn

A friend of mine who works in the IT industry told me about this experience he had about a decade ago.

A guy in the cubicle next to his asked him to come over and look at his screen. My friend did and saw that his coworker had a pornographic image on display. He quickly turned away and said something like, “Thanks but no thanks.”

The coworker teased and scolded him a bit about being a prude and said, “C’mon, don’t pretend you don’t like it.”

And this is where the story gets memorable for me. My friend said, “I’m not pretending I don’t like it. I’m sure I would like it. That’s why I have to force myself to avoid it.”

I think that’s a great lesson for all of us.

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Social Science Research on Pornography

Opposition to pornography has become associated with “prudish right-wing fundamentalists,” but as with many things, the growing body of social science research confirms that this debate should extend far beyond the boundaries of belief.

A recent editorial in National Review about Rick Santorum’s opposition to pornography links to several such important studies.  I’m less interested in Santorum’s desire to combat porn by government muscle than I am in bringing facts to an honest national conversation.  Follow the links if you want some truth:

Likewise, Santorum’s views on pornography are a natural extension of his views on marriage as a public good — a sacred, lifelong bond between man and woman, designed to unify the couple and create children who, in turn, will make faithful, committed spouses one day. Interestingly, Santorum’s position is consistent with a rapidly growing body of social-science research. The older idea of pornography as a harmless rite of passage for boys, and a potential boost for the sex lives of married couples, are being challenged by data which show a potential for real and measurable harm. Studies have revealed a clear connection between regular pornography use and a host of negative consequences, including: sexual deviancy (lower first age of intercourse, obsessive masturbation), belief in the “rape myth” (that women cause rape), and loss of interest in sex. More frequent users of pornography report higher incidences of having sex for money, substance abuse, conduct problems, and having feelings of sexual desire “almost all the time.” Among young adults, pornography use correlates with higher numbers of casual-sex partners and lower relationship satisfaction. Both infidelity and divorce have been linked to the use of pornography. But there is a striking dearth of longitudinal research on the latter relationship. NIH should fund a comprehensive, long-term research project devoted to the impact of pornography use on marriage and the family.

I Give Another Morningside At Seminary

As this last school year drew near to a close, I figured I just wouldn’t be invited back to speak at the seminary for the high school where I work, even though I’d spoken there the year before, but with only a few weeks left, a couple of young men I know on the student council came and asked me to give another address at the end of May. 

I’d known since right after my first morningside what I’d speak on if I were brought back: living by gospel standards.  Below are the notes I used for my talk a month and a half ago.

  • Review message from last year about Book of Mormon.
  • Share Alma 30:34 & 36:24 about leaders serving to share their joy–and that’s why I’m here (but don’t tell anyone else I care about your happiness–I’ll deny it!).
  • Living by Church standards must be based on our own faith and testimony–anything else won’t last.  Priority–develop a testimony.
  • A lot of people don’t live standards or go to church because they’ve been offended.  Reference Elder Bednar’s talk on offense–don’t deprive yourself of blessings because of someone else.
  • Even if you are active, you must always keep up with prayer and scripture study, or you’ll burn out, like an athlete who ignores diet and exercise.  You can fake it for a while, but you’ll end up angry, hurt, and failing.
  • Call a volunteer to read the parable of the kite:

While Brother Pinegar served as president of the Provo Missionary Training Center, as you can imagine, we often talked to the missionaries about the feelings of happiness and peace that accompany courageous obedience to true principles. We talked of the influence of the Holy Ghost that comes to those who are obedient. We encouraged the missionaries to make obedience their quest. I enjoyed telling them the story of the little boy who went to the park with his father to fly a kite.

The boy was very young. It was his first experience with kite flying. His father helped him, and after several attempts the kite was in the air. The boy ran and let out more string, and soon the kite was flying high. The little boy was so excited; the kite was beautiful. Eventually there was no more string left to allow the kite to go higher. The boy said to his father, “Daddy, let’s cut the string and let the kite go; I want to see it go higher and higher.”

His father said, “Son, the kite won’t go higher if we cut the string.”

“Yes, it will,” responded the little boy. “The string is holding the kite down; I can feel it.” The father handed a pocketknife to his son. The boy cut the string. In a matter of seconds the kite was out of control. It darted here and there and finally landed in a broken heap. That was difficult for the boy to understand. He felt certain the string was holding the kite down.

The commandments and laws of God are like the kite string. They lead us and guide us upward. Obedience to these laws gives us peace, hope, and direction.

  • Show my notebooks of church meeting notes and share my summary of President Monson’s talk from Priesthood Session of General Conference last month (ask if anyone remembers what it was about). 
  • My thoughts about standards: BAD LANGUAGE: addictive, as they can see from their peers–try going without it for one day!  Tell them about “no swear club.”  IMMODEST CLOTHES: like bad language, makes us less godly, more like animals.  WORLDLY MEDIA: “It’s just a song/movie, etc.!” you say.  Then let it go.  PORN: not just “bad kids,” or boys, who need help.  Go see bishop asap or it will hurt life–faith, relationships, will steal from every area of life.  Bishop will think more of you, not less, if you go. 
  • Show them my copy of For the Strength of Youth from my wallet, challenge them to keep one also.
  • Close with the miracle of the sod cutter: Last Saturday I was doing yard work for someone with a sod cutter, a huge machine like a cross between a lawn mower and a rototiller on steroids.  After the yard was half removed, it quit.  I pulled the cord several times and the motor wouldn’t turn over.  I inspected it and tried several more times.  Nothing.  I let it sit for about ten minutes as I cleared away the dirt I’d piled up so far, then pulled the cord several more times.  It was still dead.  I took off my hat and prayed in the driveway, asking for the sod cutter to start because this work would help people in need and, since the sod cutter was a rental, needed to be done right now.  I closed the prayer and pulled the cord again.  It started on the first try, smoothly, and didn’t have any problems for the rest of the morning.
  • Testimony: we’re not sent here to see how much we can get away with, we’re here to enjoy the best blessings prepared for us.