SALT LAKE CITY — With an eye toward both preventing and recovering from the devastating impacts of pornography, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has launched a new website that is based on what one therapist calls “the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”
The website is titled “Overcoming Pornography Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” Benjamin Erwin, who holds a Ph.D. in marriage and family therapy and who works as a program manager for LDS Family Services, said the site was created as a resource for LDS individuals, families and local ecclesiastical leaders.
“This isn’t the be-all, end-all on dealing with pornography issues and impacts,” said Erwin, who was one of the subject matter experts on the website development team. “But for Latter-day Saints who are either dealing with pornography themselves or in their families or as local church leaders, this is a great place to start.”
Although he is a trained professional, Erwin makes it clear the website is not “based on scientific evidence or some important therapeutic concept.” Rather, he says, “This is based on gospel truth and the healing power of the Savior.”
The new website addresses pornography-related issues from within the context of LDS standards and teachings. Unlike the previous LDS website about pornography — which focused on combating the effects of pornography in personal and family lives — this site offers suggestions about how to prevent as well as deal with the impact.
The website is divided into three sections: one for individuals, one for families and one for local church leaders. Each section includes resources and practical guidance aimed at both prevention and recovery from pornography impacts.
From a preventative standpoint, especially with regard to children and teenagers, Erwin said three keys seem to emerge. First, he said, take full advantage of the filtering technology that is available to make pornography inaccessible on personal and home computers and mobile devices.
“Research tells us that a majority of parents feel it is a good idea to have some kind of filter on their computers, but a minority of parents have actually installed those filters,” Erwin said.
Even with the most successful filtering system in the world, however, some images and messages are going to get through. That is why Erwin says parents need to cultivate the kind of open, honest relationship in which children are comfortable with talking about the things they are seeing and experiencing.
“Pornography and other addictive behaviors thrive in secrecy,” he said. “That’s why it is so important to cultivate relationships of trust and honesty in the home. When children are exposed to pornography, you don’t want them to keep it a secret. You want them to talk about it — not so you can lecture, but so you can just talk.”
Third, Erwin said, is the importance of proactive teaching.
“Elder M. Russell Ballard (of the LDS Church Quorum of the Twelve) spoke in general conference about the importance of having the ‘big talks,'” Erwin said. “The simple fact is, if parents don’t teach children and young people about sexuality, the world will. Everywhere you look, the world is explaining its view of what sex is and how you are supposed to express yourself, and it is not what the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches.”
Unfortunately, even with all of the preventative measures firmly in place, some children, youth and adults still develop pornography habits and addictions. To them, Erwin said, the website offers hope.
“There is hope for full recovery from an addiction to pornography through the Savior,” he said. “But it is up to the individual to make that happen. No one can do it for them, not a spouse or a parent or a priesthood leader. Only as the individual turns to the Savior will he or she recover.”
The website includes a planning sheet that individuals can use to help them make a plan for what they are going to do to recover from pornography.
“It’s not necessarily an exhaustive list,” he said, “but it’s a good place for them to start.”
On the website individuals can also watch videos featuring the true stories of others who have overcome pornography.
“If you’re watching a story of someone who has been where you are, it resonates with you,” Erwin said. “You say, ‘He’s been there, and he’s now healed. That gives me hope.'”