When I was a bishop, I counseled many people with pornography addictions, including a man we will call “Bill.” Bill’s experience is fairly consistent with others. Except for one thing: he beat his addiction through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. His faith and work opened the doors for Atoning Grace to heal him. I post Bill’s story with his permission—he hopes it might help someone. I do want to make one thing clear. This is not exclusively a problem for men. More and more women are getting involved in problems with pornography as well—usually through chatrooms or messaging at first--then with more traditional forms.
When I was a young man I got hooked on porn. I was active in the Church and had a testimony. I knew porn was wrong, and I hated it.
It controlled my life. Sometimes I didn’t show up to work because I was in the middle of looking at it. A whole day could go by and I wouldn’t even notice. I wouldn’t eat or drink or anything.
Then, I’d be sick when I realized what I had done. I’d repent and beg for forgiveness from the Lord and my wife. I really meant to stop. But then, I’d slip again. I lived like this for about ten or eleven years. It was hell in slow motion.
Porn is really bad. If I had my choice between rat poison and porn I’d swallow the rat poison in a second. If I could choose between leprosy or AIDS and porn, I would choose the disease.
I was always good about confessing to my bishops. It was embarrassing and awkward. But I felt like it was important. I can’t explain it but it was like I couldn’t control the porn, so I felt like I had to do what I could control. One thing I could control was being honest with the Bishop.
My Bishop read the scripture to me about how we are saved by grace after all we can do (see 2 Ne 25: 23). So, the trick was for me to do all I could. Then the Lord could do the rest.
So I fasted every week for a few years. I read the scriptures for an hour a day. I studied the Atonement. I got blessings. When I was worthy, I went to the temple and I took the Sacrament. I stopped watching TV and movies.
And I prayed. And prayed. And prayed.
Mostly I kept believing He could help me.
It worked. Jesus is real and so is His power. I’ve been clean now for about two or three years. I’m starting to lose track, which is great. My wife doesn’t panic anymore if I come home late from work. I’m not ashamed to look people in the eye.
I feel like the night has finally ended and now it’s morning again.
If you struggle with this problem, please know the Lord still loves you! Most people who struggle with pornography don’t believe that, but He does! Perfectly and infinitely and eternally. Go get help. Start with your Bishop, as scary as that may be. Email or call him today—now! Don't wait. The Lord will help you through him. The Church also has an anonymous 12-step addiction recovery program.
If you love someone who struggles with this, please realize that this isn’t your fault. And please go get help. You need a shepherd’s care and love, too.
If you have children--boys or girls--make no assumptions! Watch them carefully. Smart phones and computers have made porn access incredibly easy. This is starting earlier and earlier.
I learned from Bill’s experience that pornography addiction does not need to be permanent. The Savior’s Atonement is “infinite.” (2 Ne 9:7) He is “mighty to save and to cleanse from ALL unrighteousness” (Alma 7:14).