All must join in the fight against the modern "plague" of pornography, Mark Willes told LDS Business College students recently.
"Either you or somebody you know has this problem," Willes said. "The Lord is counting on you to help stem the tide of this plague."
Willes, who is president and CEO of Deseret Management Corp., discussed research findings regarding pornography and the negative effects it has on individuals. Much of this research was done for a mass media campaign — Out in the Light — that began earlier in the year with newspaper articles, radio programming and television segments to help fight pornography.
"Why is pornography so dangerous?" Willes asked during the college's weekly devotional. "Because it is highly addictive, and once you are addicted you can never get enough."
Quoting words of Elder M. Russell Ballard and Elder Quentin L. Cook, both of the Quorum of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Willes compared pornography to an awful "plague across the world trying to invade every home," and a "weapon of mass moral destruction."
It is through pornography addiction, Willes said, that people often turn their backs on careers, friends and family.
"Because pornography is evil, you lose the guidance and comfort of the spirit and bring blackness into your life," Willes said. "The Lord brings light and hope. The adversary — through pornography — brings darkness and despair."
After speaking of the destructive effects of pornography — to individuals and the people surrounding them — Willes encouraged students to fight against it, and if applicable, discontinue use.
"If your involvement with pornography is limited, prayer and priesthood leaders can most likely throw off the shackles," Willes said. "If your involvement with pornography is extensive, often you will need professional help to overcome that enormous challenge."
But, regardless of how much or little involvement an individual has, Willes said there is hope.
"We did find out that healing is possible. It is often difficult and challenging, but it does come," he said.
As part of resisting the negative effects of pornography, Willes gave students five actions they can do to "bind themselves to act" as they fight against "the plague" of pornography.
Act and take the pledge." Willes provided the students with a pledge that included specific points of action they can do to commit to not be part of the pornography plague.
Act by seeking out helpful information. Willes spoke of the need to be informed about the harmful effects of pornography to self, spouse and future family.
Act by asking probing questions before marriage. As individuals learn to recognize red flags associated with pornography use and ask questions of prospective spouse, they will be more informed as they make big decisions. It is important to engage in honest conversation about pornography with those one chooses to seriously date.
"If you don't have the conversation, you don't know," Willes said. "Make sure you are open to the spirit and you will know if they are being honest."
If needed, act and seek help from priesthood leaders. If individuals are already involved in pornography use, seeking help from ecclesiastical leaders will help in the process.
"(Your leader) loves you. His purpose is not to punish you," Willes said. "His purpose is to help you."
Act and do what the spirit directs you to do. "You should make sure you are listening to the spirit, so that you bind yourself to act and do what the spirit directs you to do," he said.
Through these actions, individuals are more able to lead a healthier and happier life and improve relationships with all of their associations, especially their future family, Willes said.
"The adversary has only one desire and that is to hurt you. The Lord has only one desire, and that is to give you hope and give you strength that you can soar like eagles," he said. "I hope and pray you make the latter choice. You deserve it."