Hope and healing for pornography addiction

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 12 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

More than 20 percent of men and 13 percent of women admit to watching pornography online at work.

One in three pornography viewers are women.

More than 10 percent of pornography users admit to being addicted to pornography.

Benjamin Erwin, an LDS Family Services counseling program manager, illustrated the problem with a story from the Bible in a recent church magazine article. In Numbers 21, fiery serpents attack the children of Israel. To save the people, Moses made a serpent of brass on a pole. To be healed, all the people had to do was look upon it.

“The story has particular relevance to our day, when addiction, especially to pornography, is plaguing our society and families,” Erwin writes. “Just as fiery serpents swept through the camp of Israel, pornography is sweeping through our world, and even the Saints of God are not escaping unharmed.”

In mid-August, Hilton spoke at BYU's Campus Education Week and titled his presentation “Pornography Addiction: The Harm, the Hope and the Healing.” A history buff, Hilton shared an insightful analogy about addiction recovery.

During Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the battleship USS Arizona was destroyed, and the USS Nevada, despite a valiant fight, was struck by several bombs and left burning on a beach near Hospital Point.

While the USS Arizona remained in Pearl Harbor, the USS Nevada was recovered and repaired. It was re-outfitted with the latest technology and returned to sea. In time, the battleship USS Nevada became the flagship for the Normandy invasion.

"The Nevada was the only ship that was present at both Pearl Harbor and Normandy," Hilton said. "It went from beached and burning to one of the most effective and modernized battleships in the fleet. The rescued became the rescuer.

"In our programs, we’ve come to know many individuals who initially came in beached and burning, their lives in shambles, their spirits destitute of hope. We also know personally many individuals who have years of complete freedom from this problem, who now focus on helping to rescue other people. They have become battleship USS Nevadas."

LDS Addiction Recovery

There are close to 1,300 LDS Addiction Recovery support groups held in meetinghouses, prisons and jails around the world, according to the LDS Family Services website. The most common meeting is for general addictions, including alcohol, drugs, gambling and eating disorders. The second most common meeting is for pornography and sexual addictions. The least common gathering is a family support meeting, which focuses on helping the addict’s family. There are also groups for women whose husbands struggle with addictions. Youths ages 16-18 can come with a parent or guardian.

The program is based on the gospel of Jesus Christ and its purpose is to help people overcome their addictive behaviors. Anyone is invited and meetings are free. Only first names are used, interrupting others is not allowed and everything is confidential.

With permission from Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., LDS Family Services put the original 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous into a framework of the doctrines, principles and beliefs of the LDS Church.

The meetings are officiated by part-time LDS Church service missionaries, typically older couples. Like the man mentioned previously, another key person is the facilitator, someone who has overcome addiction through the 12 steps. Having battled similar problems, the facilitator offers experience, insight and understanding to recovering addicts.

A typical meeting begins with a prayer under the direction of a service missionary; a facilitator then invites each person to share experiences and feelings about where he or she is in the process of recovery. Meetings, which usually last 60-90 minutes, can be deeply spiritual as participants share personal experiences with the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the healing they have felt in their lives.

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