By Floyd Godfrey, LPC, CSAT candidate
The pornography epidemic has brushed across the earth, and those who manufacture pornography are targeting young people. In many instances they have discovered ways to trick the youth by tapping into their natural curiosity. Even unsuspecting young men and women will unexpectedly have pornographic material pop up on the computer. Unfortunately, LDS youth are not immune to these tactics.
The problem of pornography addiction among LDS youth in Mesa Arizona appears to be at rates equivalent to the general population. In one recent study it was estimated that about 50% of adult men within the general Christian community might be struggling with pornography addiction. Even more disturbing is the current estimates that the majority of users are between the ages of twelve and seventeen.2 Equally alarming, 93% of all boys and 62% of all girls have been exposed to some form of pornography before they reach eighteen.3 These statistics are a dangerous trend.
Most LDS youth who struggle with pornography addiction report consequences that occur gradually over time. The more immediate consequences involve their unworthiness to pass the sacrament, go to the temple, or participate in other priesthood responsibilities. But on a deeper level, it changes emotional dynamics in ways that make it more difficult to connect socially. Extensive use of pornography also changes the brain in ways to make it more challenging to get in touch with emotions and feelings. It creates a sense of toxic shame that makes it very difficult to feel the spirit. It changes youthful curiosity about marriage and intimacy, and introduces a gallery of erotic images that youth usually hadn’t considered. Consequently, it sends unhealthy messages about sexuality and human intimacy. Sometimes it impacts their school performance, athletics, or family relations. It certainly impacts their sense of worthiness to perform priesthood responsibilities.
What most members of the church don’t comprehend is that the world of pornography is filled with drugs, abuse, and rape.4 I had the privilege of working with an LDS young man of nineteen years old who had left his home to become a porn actor. His parents didn’t know about the lifestyle he had chosen. But the barrage of abuse, drugs and addictive behaviors finally left him deeply depressed. He described the mafia-type behavior of his employers, which often frightened him. He escaped the industry only after he was hospitalized for attempting suicide.
Our culture has created an uninhibited, hazardous environment for the youth. But good LDS youth need not feel embarrassed if they are struggling with pornography addiction. There is good professional help available.
What is the most important step in escaping pornography addiction? It is very simply the act of leaving isolation; to stop hiding and start sharing. This is a paramount step in lasting recovery. Pornography addiction in the LDS church can be an awkward topic to discuss with teenagers. However, those most successful in overcoming this problem will be those who seek spiritual support, who engage clinical intervention, and who create a strong network of supportive adult mentors.
If you are an LDS youth struggling with pornography addiction in Mesa Arizona, then you are not alone. We have a special group for young men who have this problem and want help. If you would like to privately speak with a therapist about your next step, give us a call. Stop trying to overcome this all by yourself. We can help: (480) 668-8301.
 “How Many Porn Addicts Are in Your Church,” by Mike Genung, June 17, 2005, Pastors/Leadership.
 Presentation by Clay Olson, 2013, Arizona Coalition Against Pornography, “Fight the New Drug.”
 “Teens and Porn: Ten Stats You Need to Know,” by L August 19, 2010, Covenant Eyes.
 “Get the Facts – Porn Harms in Three Ways,” by Clay Olson, Fight the New Drug.