Connecting with Pixels

By way of full disclosure, I volunteered to write this post because I have personal experience with the topic.  I’ve viewed online pornographic movies both before and since I joined the church.  I felt no guilt associated with viewing it before joining the church (which was also before I was married), but when I began to view it after joining (which was also after I had been married), I desired to repent and have since studied the topic to better understand it.


When I use “pornography” in this post, I will be referring to video or photographs of adults engaging in sexual relations.  Currently, there are more than 300 million pages of pornographic material on the internet, an increase of 1800% over the last five years.  More than 70% of American men, ages 18 – 34, visit a pornographic website in a typical month.  Further, in 2006, the pornography industry netted just short of $100 billion – more revenue than that of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Apple, and Netflix combined.  The state that contributes the most to those profits – Utah.

The inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.

Porneia is rendered “fornication” all 26 times it is used in the New Testament.  It is from the word used to designate the temple prostitutes the Gentiles used for fertility worship.


The popularity of pornography relies on dehumanizing the subject, which is typically a woman.  The characters in pornography are not depicted as children of God with intellects and personalities – but as a collection of anatomical features that can be used to induce a physiological response.  Ask a man who watches pornography if he would want his wife or daughter to be in videos like the ones he watches – and 68.2689492137% will say, “No.”  (Note:  this figure was edited from 100% per comments below)  They want somebody else’s wife or daughter.  They prefer to do unto others’ daughters what they would not want done to their own.

The sexual climax is intended to be the sequel of the unification of two real persons.  The fact that the pleasure associated with the discharge can be produced in solitude demonstrates that the feelings are designed to conclude the sexual act – and are not a part of the unifying aspect of sex.  This is what I find most troubling about pornography use.  The release that ends sexual unification is designed to bind a person to the other person he or she is having relations with.  What are pornography users binding themselves to – a computer screen, pixels?  Humans are meant to make real connections with real people.


Recent discussion indicates that Satan introduced the concept of shame for nudity.  It is the same with sexuality.  Satan either covers up sexuality, teaching that it is too private to discuss openly, or he teaches only the physical biology of it, leaving out the spiritual connection that takes place.  He motivates sinners to hide from God and from others.  On the other hand, God sees all things, and thus He motivates sinners to be open, in full-fellowship and intimacy with Him and with others.

Sites like FightTheNewDrug promote addressing pornography by letting it into the light to be seen for what it really is – much like the “Truth” ads did for changing the discussion on cigarette smoking.  Having progressed, we can now look back on old cigarette ads as a deceptive venture to make an unhealthy practice popular for the sake of making money.  FightTheNewDrug focuses on addressing pornography by reducing demand – not supply.  When something is banned – rather by states, religions, etc. – without addressing the underlying motivations, the behavior is just pushed underground, becoming darker in the process.  When people learn that, for example, the reason for pornography actors shave their pubic hair is to make them look more like large children – people can choose to turn away from such perversions.  Instead of demonizing sexual expression or victimizing “porn addicts”, the rhetoric should focus on re-humanizing the people involved with pornography and re-emphasizing the sexiness of humans connecting with humans.

Intimacy is the opposite of what Satan suggested Adam and Eve do when they discovered their nakedness in the garden.  Before he found them, they were naked and were not ashamed.  Adam was fully exposed to Eve – and Eve to Adam.  This is the light that pornography should be seen in.  Humans are not meant to experience sexuality in front of computer screens, alone, feeling cycles of shame and guilt.


Boyd Packer told members during the most recent General Conference that:

The priesthood holds consummate power. It can protect you from the plague of pornography—and it is a plague—if you are succumbing to its influence. If one is obedient, the priesthood can show how to break a habit and even erase an addiction. Holders of the priesthood have that authority and should employ it to combat evil influences.

I think the evidence on this site should make it clear that you do not have to do anything with your bishop if you have viewed pornography.  A person that has viewed pornography has most likely committed adultery in his heart – if he were married, then confession to a spouse would be warranted.  But whether or not a person chooses to talk to his or her bishop is a personal decision – and it should be made in light of what will be the most helpful to the person.  When confession to a bishop is not expedient – as it would be in cases of unrepentant sin brought to the authorities by witnesses – then confession should be treated only as a tool to help the person.  One should weigh the risk of opening up grounds for a witch-hunt from an unprepared or unrighteous priesthood leader with the comfort that being completely open with a trusted and capable bishop can bring.  For example, I spoke with my bishop in the past when I had fell into a habit of viewing pornography – because I knew him to be a man of integrity and Godly love.  I received no formal or informal disciplines.  It was hard to speak openly about it with my wife, and I used my time with him to get many things off my chest.  I, unlike Packer, would not recommend confession to a bishop to everyone.  Many bishops are unprepared for dealing with such a nuanced situation and have been conditioned to use extreme measures with pornography because of inflated rhetoric about the subject.  So tread carefully.

Moving on:

I don’t mean to say porn can’t be a problem for some people.  However, it is more often the symptom of a different problem – e.g. poor socialization by parents on sexuality, unaddressed childhood abuse, an addictive personality, or feelings of insecurity.  The visual depiction of a man and women engaging in sexual relations is not, in and of itself, sinful – not any more than shopping is, or spending too much time on the computer.  The current state of pornography is a complicated issue and calling it evil or a plague doesn’t help anybody.  All you do is demonize something that, unless you have some dependence on it, isn’t bad for you.  Proclaiming some moral absolute on a mental health issue is just harmful to those involved.

We should take comfort in the fact that, for our generation, pornography is largely a problem of technology.  Just 30 years ago, to obtain pornography, a man would don a trench coat and sunglasses and go to the back of a dimly lit store to secretly purchase a VHS tape, hoping no one would see him walking back to his car – then he’d have to keep the tapes hidden at home, hoping kids or spouse didn’t find them.  However, today, I can type in a URL in the privacy of my home or office, instantly steam hours of free videos, and then delete my browsing history.  That’s it.  The reason this is a good thing for anyone who finds themselves habitually viewing pornography – if technology is the reason it is so available to you, then use technology to make it less available.  Effective webfilters are as readily available as free porn sites.  Humans should choose to connect with people — not pixels.

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The Doctrine of Christ

My intent in writing this is that you and I may be enabled to correctly and completely act upon the doctrine of Christ. So that we may be redeemed from the fall and brought back into the presence of Jesus Christ just as the brother of Jared was. I am sure this must be done upon the same principles that it was for him. And I am sure this is Christ’s desire in giving us His doctrine.

The doctrine of Christ is as follows:

repent and believe in me [Christ].

That’s it. A whole universe of salvation just passed by your mind in 4 words. Repent, believe in Christ. Did you miss it? It is just two simple directives found in 3rd Nephi 11:32.
I think we all miss it and get it at the same time. I am sure Jesus intended it that way. We get part of it, the part we are ready for, based upon our present spiritual state. The rest is unknown to us.

I believe our stumbling block is caused by being children of Babylon. All of us have been raised in a society filled from the inside out with the false traditions of Babylon. Our minds and hearts are layered with these false ideas and beliefs. We have been fed upon them since birth. Being born and raised in a really good LDS home doesn’t prevent this from happening.

As Joseph Smith lamented in D&C 123 “that spirit which hath so strongly riveted the creeds of the fathers, who have inherited lies, upon the hearts of the children, and filled the world with confusion, and has been growing stronger and stronger, and is now the very mainspring of all corruption, and the whole earth groans under the weight of its iniquity.”

The introduction of the restored gospel of Christ cannot free us from these false traditions (ideas and beliefs) when we rely upon Babylon for our information source. Public school is nothing more than years of party propaganda perpetrated by the Satanic forces which now operate all earthly governments. In Alma’s day teachers were ordained of God not the government. And we then pass some of these teaching into our belief system (the philosophies of men,… mingled with scripture).

Don’t beat yourself or your parents up for not teaching you better. But do recognize that from our birth there is a stumbling block placed upon our ability to comprehend and therefore act correctly upon the doctrine of Christ. We are going to have trouble with correctly understanding the meaning behind the words “repent” and “believe”. We should be okay with the word “in” but we are going to be truly handicapped in comprehending that “me” which refers to Jesus Christ. It might help a little to define these terms in a way which is not steeped in false ideas. I know this alone will not enable us to fully implement the doctrine of Christ in our lives. But I believe it is an important step.

So number 1) What does repent mean? It means to change your mind and heart. That is all. But we attach to repentance emotions of, “I am evil and bad. God is mad at me. Jesus doesn’t like me, well at least He doesn’t accept me.” These type of ideas come from Satan’s false religion. They are damaging to our ability to follow Christ’s directive.
Sin simply means that which doesn’t work or is not real.

I have read many near death experiences where the person reports that while in the presence of Christ they felt complete acceptance. That although all of their personal actions we displayed and they felt bad about some of them He never had a negative reaction to any of them. Then they say they could see exactly why they did everything they did. They could see the exact reason for every horrible act and it changed their feelings from one of shame to complete compassion and forgiveness or rather that it was never a sin in the first place since they were only acting according to the knowledge they had at the time.

So let’s repent of thinking “repent” means guilt and badness and accept it as a request to find and eliminate things in our hearts and minds and habits which did not come from Christ. And let us add things which do come from Him because all good comes from Christ.

Now number 2) “Believe in me”. I think to believe should be pretty straight forward. To trust that what Jesus says is true and accurate. Also to trust that He has already paid the price of all your sins and you have no need to fear that He is not willing to forgive you. In this I believe the “saved by gracers” have it right. The phrase “work out your salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord” does not refer to working hard to obtain forgiveness. That is really rude to Jesus to accuse Him of being slow to forgive. But more important than being rude (see there I go again saying ‘bad boy, bad boy!’) it messes up our view of the Father and the Son preventing us from receiving what they are so anxious to freely and instantly give.

The phrase “working out our salvation” should be applied to discovering the truth and eliminating the bad which is a completely guilt free enterprise. If I seem to be trying to avoid anyone feeling guilty it is because guilt is Satan’s tool not God’s. God sent Jesus to remove guilt by the atonement. He did. It is done. To believe in Him is to accept that fact.

I believe our lack of knowledge of the nature of Jesus and His thoughts and feeling towards us individually is our greatest stumbling block in acting upon His doctrine.

But the people in 3rd Nephi 11 seemed to have no problem getting it. Why? Because they had just had revealed to them the very being of Christ. In those near death experiences I read each of them speak of a being from who emanates an incomprehensible love and acceptance. Some of them knew Him as Christ others did not. But they all were overwhelmed with the complete love and acceptance of this being. I believe anyone in the presence of Christ has this knowledge fill their being and they comprehend how ready and willing He is to be their redeemer then and there right on the spot. And armed with this understanding they boldly approach Him and ask for what they need.

The people in the land Bountiful had the advantage of seeing and being in His presence even touching Him. So they knew personally and deeply the meaning of “me”.

Now having spent time on the terms I will say that alone is not enough. We children of Babylon still need something to enable us to live the doctrine of Christ. What is it? Let me explain and relate an experience that helped me learn a profound truth which must be applied in order to comprehend and live the doctrine of Christ.

My dad had a temper. He would get mad and yell at us kids and often spank us in anger.
I grew up with that anger and had it in myself also. At age 18 I was aware of it and hated having it. I wanted it to be out of my life. I was aware enough that I spoke plainly about it to my mother at the time. My parents were active LDS members when I was born. We always attended church and believed in the teachings of Christ. I had a strong witness of God and the Book of Mormon when I was 16 to 17. But I still had this anger problem. I tried for the next 22 years to overcome this negative facet of my being. I wasn’t as bad as my dad but my wife and children still suffered as well as myself.

Then after 22 years of suffering and trying without much success I suddenly overcame my anger weakness in a matter of a couple of weeks. My wife and children marveled how I had changed so completely and so rapidly. What happened?

Well since about age 18 I have been a hard worker. I have always had a good mental capacity and can see, very rapidly, how things work. Everyone who knows me says I am very smart and have a great memory. I have been willing to put in a lot of effort to accomplish the things I want.

So is that why I overcame my anger? No on the contrary, I just mentioned those qualities since I believe relying on them is what prevented me from ridding myself of the problem for 22 years.

My anger problem went away because in desperation I admitted that I was powerless to overcome it and that only Jesus could remove it. I said, “I can’t do it. I can’t overcome it.” I never spoke truer words. I begged for Him to do it. And He did.

We cannot of our own power live the doctrine of Christ. We must rely wholly upon the merits of Him who is mighty to save. What we can and must do is desire it and recognize that it can only come as a gift from God. So with this desire and understanding we will beg Him for the gift to know that He is a God of truth and cannot lie.

Don’t stop and say, “Well once I overcome this sin I will be worthy to really ask Him and receive it.” That is Satan’s lie. If you have a sin to overcome (and who doesn’t) that is one of the things you should ask for as a gift to overcome. I realized as a teenager, the very power to repent was itself a gift from God (don’t ask me why I keep forgetting this fact). You don’t have the power and you never will have the power to overcome transgression or sin. Jesus and Jesus alone is our redeemer from sin and death. No one else has that power in the whole of this creation and certainly not ourselves. The power to live the doctrine of Christ as well as all the rest of the gifts of the Spirit can only come as a gift. Thinking we need to condition ourselves first is a red herring that will actually prevent us from receiving the gift.

Now in summary let us look at what happened to the brother of Jared.

Ether 3:11-13
11 And the Lord said unto him: Believest thou the words which I shall speak?
12 And he answered: Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.
13 And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you.

Again, if we want to have faith as the brother of Jared let us ask it as a gift from God recognizing it is not from our merits but from the merits and gift of Christ. And while we are at it I believe we should act upon the words of the post – The seeds of the powers of godliness in this same way. We should with this same attitude ask for and covet earnestly the best gifts of the Spirit. We won’t obtain them any other way. We could spend the rest of our lives trying, or rather we could waste the rest of our lives trying another way.

Now for those of us who still need convincing that Jesus Christ really is that loving, that giving and that ready to bless us with truly great gifts let me relate part of a near death experience which is available here .

Before his near-death experience, Rev. Howard Storm, a Professor of Art at Northern Kentucky University, was not a very pleasant man. He was an avowed atheist and was hostile to every form of religion and those who practiced it. He often would use rage to control everyone around him and he didn’t find joy in anything.

He died in a hospital of stomach ulcers. His wife was sitting in the room when he died. But to his surprise death wasn’t oblivion. His efforts to interact with his wife were fruitless and enraged him. He became aware of dark beings out in a hallway which after further association he described as humans who were stripped of any impulse to do good, inviting him to follow them. He asked where they were going but they would not answer. Since it was the only interaction possible he followed. As they went further and further they began to be rude and cruel to him. Finally he would go no further with them they attacked him and he fought with all his might to prevent them from hurting him. He said there were hundreds and hundreds of them.

“My attempts to fight back only provoked greater merriment. They began to physically humiliate me in the most degrading ways. As I continued to fight on and on, I was aware that they weren’t in any hurry to win. They were playing with me just as a cat plays with a mouse. Every new assault brought howls of cacophony. Then at some point, they began to tear off pieces of my flesh. To my horror I realized I was being taken apart and eaten alive, slowly, so that their entertainment would last as long as possible.”

Finally he was powerless and literally torn in pieces. Lying there, helpless he was told by a voice within pray to God. He didn’t know how. But it repeated to him Pray to God. After the third time the voice told him he began to say, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want … God bless America” and anything else that seemed to have a religious connotation. This made the dark beings crazy with anger and they said anything possible to get him to stop. He did not stop and soon they all left.

But he was alone. And in his own words:

I had no strength; it was all gone. It seemed as if I were sort of fading out, that any effort on my part would expend the last energy I had. My conscious sense was that I was perishing, or just sinking into the darkness. I knew then that this was the absolute end of my existence, and it was more horrible than anything I could possibly have imagined.
Then a most unusual thing happened. I heard very clearly, once again in my own voice, something that I had learned in nursery Sunday School. It was the little song, “Jesus loves me, yes I know …” and it kept repeating. I don’t know why, but all of a sudden I wanted to believe that. Not having anything left, I wanted to cling to that thought. And I, inside, screamed, “Jesus, please save me.”
That thought was screamed with every ounce of strength and feeling left in me.
When I did that, I saw, off in the darkness somewhere, the tiniest little star. Not knowing what it was, I presumed it must be a comet or a meteor, because it was moving rapidly. Then I realized it was coming toward me. It was getting very bright, rapidly.
When the light came near, its radiance spilled over me, and I just rose up – not with my effort – I just lifted up. Then I saw – and I saw this very plainly – I saw all my wounds, all my tears, all my brokenness, melt away. And I became whole in this radiance.
What I did was to cry uncontrollably. I was crying, not out of sadness, but because I was feeling things that I had never felt before in my life.

We could add to this example that of Alma the younger, the 300 Lamanites in Helaman chapter 5 who were ready to kill two prophets of God and in the next hour were saved of God. None of these men did anything of merit other than to cry out in the depths of their souls, “Jesus save me” and they were saved. None of them had any thought that they could do anything of themselves. It was true for them and it is true for us.

They changed their way of thinking and believed in Christ.
And this is my doctrine,…repent and believe in me.

Let us repent of not believing and in believing ask.

Scriptural Discussion #5: Teachers—Must Be Sanctified


Alma said: “And also trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments.” (Mosiah 23: 14)

The Lord said, “And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.” (D&C 42: 14)

The Lord said, “Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.” (3 Nephi 27: 20)


Next Scriptural Discussion: #6 TRIBULATION UPON CHURCH


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