By Vauna Davis, Executive Director of Utah Coalition Against Pornography
Imagine a group of your closest family and friends are travelling on foot through dangerous enemy territory. The enemy is hidden behind jungle vines and rocks and they can snatch a person from your group in an instant. Everyone is tense and uneasy, but there is something else amiss – you are all gagged with duct tape and can’t speak a word. No one can plan and organize the group for safety. No one can yell to warn others of impending danger. No one can scream for help if they are captured and pulled into the dark forest. No one will cry your name to find you if you are taken away. And the most disturbing thing is that it wasn’t the enemy, but your own group who chose to silence their speech!
Is this how we are facing one of the greatest threats of our day? Are we staying silent while subversive pornography seizes our children, family, and friends? Have we let fear, shame, and maybe even utter bewilderment gag our voices?
Silence is understandable, but it is not effective! It’s time to speak up about this menace stalking our families. We must, because pornography can destroy everything we treasure. Our eternal families, spiritual power, temple worthiness, ability to love and serve others, and eternal life with Heavenly Father all hang in the balance.
We can become more comfortable talking by getting educated on the issue, hearing others speak openly, and understanding that our efforts to talk will be powerful. You can experience all of these at the Utah Coalition Against Pornography Conference on Protecting Children and Families in Salt Lake on April 18, 2015 and in St. George on September 19, 2015. The theme is Pornography Hurts, Understanding Heals – because understanding helps us talk, teach, and take action to be free from the destructive effects of pornography.
LDS families actually have a great background to rely on – we have been very successful at teaching children to abstain from alcohol and tobacco as they grow into adulthood. We can become just as confident talking about how to stay away from compromising sexual media.
Some parents worry about destroying the innocence of their children. That is natural, but the irony is that to protect innocence we have to alert children of the danger. Children cannot be expected to avoid something they have not been warned of. They have to know enough to recognize the threat and get away immediately. Being ambushed by the brutal sexuality depicted in pornography today – now that destroys innocence.
By speaking up, you can help teens understand that pornography can destroy their happiness by diminishing the things they want the most: love, purpose, and freedom.
- Porn destroys love (link to: http://www.fightthenewdrug.org/category/get-the-facts/heart/#sthash.zDLkcmUE.dpbs) by damaging trust and respect in relationships and twisting expectations of what real love and sexuality are.
- Porn will hijack our purpose in life. Discovering our unique mission and using our talents to bless others is a great joy, but porn will send our purpose in one direction – feeding a self-absorbed lust. Eventually all other interests in life can fall away as addiction takes over.
- Freedom is the ultimate desire of teens. Help them see that it is possible to use their freedom of choice to give away their freedom. Pornography can become an addiction that will rule them with an iron fist. It can be overcome, but it is not easy.
Youth need the adults in their lives to explain the truth to them. A recent study showed that in fact, teens whose parents talk more about the problems with pornography do view it less in college. (link to: http://pornproofkids.com/2015/02/19/do-porn-talks-work-new-study-gives-hope-to-parents/)
It is not only young people who need us to speak up. A powerful and positive change we could make would be to wipe out the stigma and shame we place on adults who are striving to overcome pornography. It may help to remember that the vast majority of adult porn users became addicted as children. They were not warned, and they did not know where to get help. They are the casualties of our culture of silence and shame. Of course, even though it may not have been their fault as children, it is now their responsibility as adults to undertake a journey of recovery and never give up. For those of us lucky enough to have escaped this trap of our times, we can stop shaming and start loving. Be encouraging and supportive. They have been prisoners of an abominable war; let’s not allow our attitudes to be bars in their prison.
Get a jumpstart on being more open and honest about this issue. Come and join over a thousand community members who care at the UCAP Conference. When we all start talking, we will help countless numbers of families live happier lives free from pornography.