Sunday, November 30, 2014

4 Things You Can Do Right Now To Battle Pornography In Your Home

LDS women, I'm about to give you a virtual slap in the face. Just know that it comes from a place of love. You see, there's something we need to talk about. There is something that a lot of you have been absolutely blind to. For some of you, this is really going to hurt. 

Odds are someone in your home is looking at pornography. 

Before you dare think you might be the exception, you may want to hear me out. 

More than 70% of men actively seek out porn on a regular basis. Don't you dare think, "well, that is for nonmembers." It isn't. Best estimates are that those statistics are the same within the LDS church. I've heard numbers such as 50% of active Melchizedek Priesthood holders are actively involved in pornography, and 1/3 of High Priests. Just because someone has been or is currently a member of a bishopric, quorum presidency, YM presidency, etc, doesn't mean they aren't involved in pornography. It's kind of scary. You'd be surprised how many wives of men in high profile callings end up discovering their husbands secret other life. That probably scares you. You might even be in denial about it. But it makes sense. Satan is targeting us like never before. The love of men is waxing cold, just as ancient prophets said it would. 

Every single one of your kids will be exposed to pornography by the time they reach age 18. In today's world they will not just be exposed, but bombarded by it. Your sweet innocent 6 year old that is just learning how to read? He (or she) may be looking at porn. You may think that age 5 or  is too young to talk to your kids about sex and pornography, but Satan doesn't. 

But your girls are okay, right? Wrong. Somewhere around 30% of them are actively seeking out porn. Maybe you are too. Books, pinterest, or hardcore porn. There's a wide range. Those girls and women have social expectations of not having problems like that (like women somehow are naturally uninterested in sex FALSE) so their shame can be pretty devastating. 

Do you feel like you've been slapped in the face? Those kind of numbers are enough to scare any wife or mother. Some of you are fully aware of the realities of the situation and this will have felt more like a punch in the stomach or a bee sting to the heart. But for those of you blissfully unaware of the big wide world of pornography, this is your slap in the face. Wake up! We need you to get to work. The battle for souls is raging. 

These trapped men and women are not lost causes. The fact is, there is a lot of hope. You see, two thousand plus years ago a man by the name of Jesus atoned for the sins of the world. He provided endless hope to all mankind. 

I cannot cover all the information you need to wage this battle. But I can give you some places to start. Here are 4 things you can do right now to make a difference. 

1. Have an FHE lesson on pornography ASAP!

You have got to start talking about pornography in your home. It needs to be a fairly regular conversation. The Church recently released a series of lessons for use in family home evenings which you can read about and access HERE. Some of the lessons are specifically designed for nursery and primary age children. Be careful of the language you use when you talk about. Pornography addiction feeds off of secrecy and shame. If you use shaming language you will only force people away from you and deeper into pornography. 

2. Put Up Some Defensive Barriers

You should have a filter on every internet accessible device in your house including but not limited to computers, phones, and tablets. Parental controls should be enabled on your television, cable, satellite, netflix, hulu, and amazon. Make it a habit to check browser histories, search histories (on internet devices as well as television devices). Cleared browser histories are unacceptable and a huge red flag. It is vitally important that you don't think that just because you have those things set up, you are in the clear. There is absolutely nothing you can do to prevent pornography from entering your home. Accept that fact right here, right now. I didn't say these were preventive barriers. I called them defensive. Filters are only one line of defense. It helps prevent accidental exposure, or clues you in to current behavior. The best filter is an internal one. And that is much harder to install. 

3. Open the line of communication

I don't recommend you set out on a witch hunt. Forcing someone into repentance rarely works. What you can do is open the line of communication. Let your husband and your children know that you know how common of a problem it is and that if anyone is involved in it and would like help, you will be there for them. Play it cool. Don't let your anger, jealousy, or pride get in the way. You've got to come from a place of absolute humility. You can't force people to repent. You can only invite. The scriptures constantly describe the Savior as inviting people unto repentance with open arms. Don't stand in the way of that. Facilitate it. 

4. Demystify the repentance process

Sinners don't like to face consequences. I'm a sinner and I hate the consequences of my actions. When the sins get serious, so do the consequences. Children and teenagers involved in pornography are often terrified of the consequences. Will their parents still love them? Will they never be able to use a computer again? Will they get grounded until they are 18? Will the bishop yell at them? Take the mystery out of it. (By the way, please don't ground your kids for looking at pornography. That will only deepen their shame and give them even more reason to cover their tracks. Facilitating repentance means getting them the help they need. Talk to them. Figure out what kind of things will really help them stop). Husbands are afraid too. See, Satan builds up all these lies in their head about what will happen if anyone finds out. You can help by talking about the realities. Learn about church discipline. Demystify it. Church discipline is not about punishment. Teach about how bishops help guide people to Christ. When Satan has us in a deep trap, we need help to get out. Teach it. Live it. Testify. 

Discovering a spouse or child's involvement in pornography can be devastating, but it is not hopeless. You can be a tremendous force for good in the battle against pornography. It's time to step up and fight. 

More Resources:

This is the official LDS Church website dedicated to helping individuals and families utilize the Atonement to overcome the sweeping effects of pornography. Resources for individuals, families, and leaders.
Has a series of videos on how to talk to children and teens about sexuality and human intimacy from LDS therapists who specialize in the area.
Offers resources for loved ones and female addicts. Offers an anonymous support forum for loved ones.
Provides hope, education, and resources related to pornography and sexual addiction recovery.
No filter is 100%. Internet filters can easily be bypassed by anyone, even if they are not tech savvy. Instructions to bypass any level of filtering is easily available online. Even without bypassing the filter, pornography can still come through. Filters are a great first-line defense. Every internet capable device should have filtering. A device-specific filter will provide filtering service regardless of the location or internet connection. A second level filter can be installed to protect all internet capable devices that enter your home (friends and visitors) and can provide a second level of defense.
  • Individual Device Filtering = software installed on individual devices that filters all internet connected to that device no matter where they are.
  • DNS Filtering = filters your entire internet connection when installed on your router. Requires each individual device to honor the dns settings.
  • Proxy Server Filtering = all internet in your home is filtered through a proxy server.
  • ISP Level Filtering = internet filtering from your internet service provider. Most ISPs do not provide this service. You have to call your ISP to get this set up. Your ISP is the person you pay your internet bill to.
Relying on the latest research on addiction, and merging this knowledge with spiritual aspects of repentance and recovery, the author provides understanding and hope to those who seek healing and restoration of both body and spirit, which are the "soul of man."
This manual contains reliable information about pornography and sexual addiction, including answers to frequently asked questions about what is necessary to support recovery for those addicted- and their afflicted loved ones. 
Written by the spouse of a pornography addict, the book shines light on the darkness of pornography and sexual addiction, the trauma felt by loved ones, and the hope that recovery and peace are possible.
An LDS Clinical Psychologist shows couples how to identify and address vulnerabilities in their relationship. This book offers healing advice for spouses, provides help for the struggling partner to avoid relapse and focuses on how to make the marriage relationship stronger than it was before. has created a comprehensive 12-step book based on LDS principles for family members affected by a loved one’s addiciton. It is available for free on their website.
Written by a pornography addict in complete recovery, this author shares his LDS perspective to help others understand and overcome their own pornography addiction. The book is available for download for free from his website:

Offers both in-person and telephone 12 Step Meetings specific to Pornography Addiction for both addicts and loved ones. Local groups are for men only addicts and separate classes for loved ones (women only). Women addicts can access phone meetings
    • Local Meetings:
      • You can search by zipcode for meetings your area
    • Phone Meetings for Women Addicts:
      • Thursdays 8:00pm Mountain Time, call 1-855-537-4000 and use access code: 993-936-696
  • SA - Sexaholics Anonymous (
12-Step Group for both men and women who have a sexual addiction. Age 18+ only. Also offers phone groups, conferences, and workshops. Not for loved ones (see S-Anon for loved ones information).
    • Search on their website for local meeting information.
  • SAA - Sex Addicts Anonymous (
12-Step Group for men and women who have a sexual addiction. Not for loved ones.
    • Search online for local meeting information.
  • S-Anon (
The S-Anon Family Groups are a fellowship of the relatives and friends of sexually addicted people who share their experience, strength and hope in order to solve their common problems. Our program of recovery is adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous and is based on the Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions. It is free and non-denominational.
Offers an intensive outpatient group therapy using a three phase treatment program for addicts, loved ones, and teens. San Diego office contact information: John J. Boyle (MA, MFT) & Rebecca Jorgensen (PhD) (714) 869-4682
Offers online counseling via video conferencing as well as group 12 step meetings with counselors specialized in pornography addiction and betrayal trauma. Offers a free 6 class program for loved ones of pornography addicts, as well as paid services for individual counseling for both addicts and loved ones, group counseling, and couples counseling.
Offers paid online counseling via video conferencing for men, women, and teens from qualified addiction therapists.
  • LDS Family Services
Provides short-term counseling. Contact your bishop or local office for more information.

I Am LDS and Polygamy Makes Me Want To Vomit

How you can believe Joseph Smith was a prophet without understanding polygamy                                                 

The LDS Church renounced polygamy in 1890 (or 1904 depending on how you look at it). You can read all about that stuff HERE. The point is, it's been over for more than 100 years.

But that doesn't make me feel any better about it. The idea of polygamy makes me want to vomit.

If God himself appeared to me an asked me to practice polygamy, I would plead with him for mercy and ask "is there no other way?" 

A lot of LDS women feel this way, or variations of it. The disgust for it can run so deep it can leave a big whole of doubt in our testimonies of the Gospel or of Joseph Smith. 

So lets talk about it.

You can look at any polygamous family tree and see that it was definitely a useful tool in building up a lot of born and bred church members. Or in other words, it was effective in raising up a righteous generation. 

But what about those wives? What about sex? 

When the show Sister Wives came out, I eventually took an interest and watched an episode. And then another, and another, and another. As a member of the LDS Church I was fascinated by the practice of polygamy of this offshoot group that practices polygamy based on the teachings of Joseph Smith. 

Let's be clear, we're not the same church. They say that over and over on the show. They aren't LDS. Current polygamists with ties to Joseph Smith are all offshoot religions that split back in 1890-1904.

At first I watched like it was some sort of horror show. I'm embarrassed about that. It's not exactly a kind thing to do. They are real people after all. After a few episodes I started to see something besides horror. I started to see how my LDS Church ancestors might have benefited from polygamy. And that made me feel pretty weird. I saw how the women have to overcome things like pride and jealousy. Over the episodes, the Sister Wives earned my respect. Maybe polygamy can help you develop Christ-like attributes. They had a wonderful built in support system. There was a lot of love shown in their families. One wife was only able to have one child. Because of her polygamous family, her daughter had siblings and she was able to be a mother to many. I'm sure the Sister Wives aren't perfect, but it gave me a glimpse of how polygamy in the early days of the church might have worked and been a good thing.

Obviously not all polygamous families are this way. I don't have to look further than Warren Jeffs to feel the vomit coming up again. I suspect this is how it was back then too. Maybe for some men it was about the sex. Maybe it was about controlling women. But maybe for others it was a struggle. Maybe it taught some men patience, long-suffering, and other wonderful attributes. 

They say Joseph Smith had up to 30 wives. My first reaction is vomit. But then I slap myself and say, "but Joseph Smith was not Warren Jeffs." I read the Book of Mormon and I feel it. I feel that it is true. Joseph Smith did that. I read the account of the first vision and my soul is stunned. That was Joseph Smith. I go to the temple and I feel the presence of God. Joseph Smith did that. I may have never met Joseph Smith, but I kind of know him. I've seen what has come from him. 

I honestly don't understand Joseph Smith and polygamy, or any of my ancestors or early church members and their polygamous relationships for that matter. It feels so wrong to me, and maybe that is a good thing because that isn't what we are supposed to do anymore. I don't understand it, and maybe I never will. 

When the vomit starts to rise, I have to remember what I do know. I know those good feelings. I trust those good feelings. I have to remember all the times in my own life where I wonder what in the world God is thinking, and then later I see that it has all worked out for the best. I can't explain polygamy to anyone. I can't defend the practice. But I can explain what I do know. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. And I know that God works in mysterious ways. I won't always understand Him or His ways, but I know that He will always be right. 

I believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. And polygamy still makes me want to vomit. And that's okay. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

5 Weird Ways To Be A Better Visiting Teacher

I haven't always loved visiting teaching. I'm not sure I really understood it until a few years ago. In 2012 they changed visiting teaching. If this is news to you, you should go back and read it HERE. They compared the old way of visiting teaching to the Law of Moses. The new way is the higher law. So, are you still stuck on the Law of Moses where you go once a (every few) months and sit down and have a lesson, chat, and then leave with the old, "is there anything I can do for you?" Don't worry, lots of people still are. But you have an opportunity to do better. When I started following this new route of visiting teaching I absolutely fell in love. Suddenly I was becoming an instrument in the hands of the Lord and it felt so good. I have had sisters I visit teach tell me that I have changed their lives. Whoa, right? I have to tell them that it wasn't me at all. It was all the Lord. Following this new path of visiting teaching reaches the one, ministers to women, and strengthens all of us. All because it is all about being the hands of the Lord rather than following a cookie-cutter program. 

So let me give you 5 weird ways you can be a better visiting teacher that you've probably never heard of before. 

1. Wait Until the Last Day of the Month to Report

That might sound contrary to what you've been told at church. "Report by the 15th!" No way. If you report before the end of the month you imply that your visiting teaching is somehow over, checked off the list, done for the month. But that isn't how visiting teaching is supposed to be. Not anymore. Forget about numbers. It isn't that way anymore. Reporting is just checking in with the Relief Society Presidency and an opportunity to forward on the needs of the women you minister to. There is no "yes" or "no" as to whether or not you have done your visiting teaching. You are supposed to report your efforts for the month,  what you have done to minister, and any needs your sisters have. Now, if an urgent need is found during the month, you should definitely make a call to the Relief Society Presidency and get help. As for the dates involved, forget about it. Don't let your visiting teaching efforts revolve around months or dates. That is SO 3 years ago. 

2. Stalk the Ladies You Visit Teach

I'm not saying you should be a creeper, but friend them on facebook, even if you don't really know them! Follow them on Instagram and check out their Pinterest page. Social media is a great way to get to know your sisters and interact with them. Notice the details. They mention a family event or upcoming trip? Write it down if you need to, or schedule a reminder in your phone to ask about it. Sometimes technology can help you learn how to be a good friend to them. If your sisters aren't on social media, then find different ways to nudge yourself into their lives and get to know them. If you don't know anything about your sisters, sorry, but you probably aren't going to be a very effective visiting teacher. 

3. Skip the Message

Whoa, what? I know, I'm actually telling you to skip the message. I promise I'm not being sacrilegious. Remember the year where visiting teaching was super awkward because the messages were all about being a good visiting teacher? Then you felt like a moron when you went visiting teaching because it was something you should have been doing, but you weren't, so you just felt like an embarrassed hypocrite. Well, those messages weren't meant for you to share with the sisters you visit teach. They were for you. You were supposed to come up with your own message. They started giving messages again because we didn't get it. But let me tell you, it's a better way to visit. Pray. Figure out what gospel topic or message your sisters need or want to discuss.  That means you may need a different message for each sister. Visiting teaching is a safe place to meet the very personal needs of women. The message in the Ensign is for millions of women, it is not for the one. We're changing. It's time to focus on the one.

4. Stop Bringing Cookies

We rely way too much on cookies and treats. Sometimes we even leave a plate of cookies on the doorstep and call it good for the month. We're missing the point. Jesus wasn't talking literally when he said "feed my sheep." Your cookies and treats are a crutch. If you stop leaning on them, you'll be forced to find new ways to be a better visiting teacher.  I promise that you will have a whole new world opened up to you. Once you figure out how to reach the one, then you can consider baked goods as a way to minister, if appropriate. Just don't let it be your crutch. 

5. Treat Everyone Differently

In a world that seems to be focusing a lot on equality and treating everyone the same, I'm going to suggest the opposite. Treat each of the sisters you visit teach differently. Your sisters are all different people with different needs. Visiting teaching them the exact same way won't reach their individual needs. One sister may need someone to go walking with on occasion. Another may be home bound and may need home visits and a listening ear. Another may have a chaotic home life and needs an escape. Perhaps she needs to come to your home to escape! Another may want nothing to do with the church but is willing to let you send her texts. Visiting teaching is about meeting needs. Stop treating your sisters the same. Treat them as individuals and you'll have a better chance at effectively meeting their needs. 

Bonus: Never ask "Is there anything I can do for you?" It's a cop out. Live the higher law. Do unto others as they would have done unto themselves. Figure out their needs and meet them. Don't just ask the standard question when you know that the socially traditional response is, "nope, I'm fine!" 

When I served in a Relief Society Presidency I found that sisters often underestimated their efforts in visiting teaching. They beat themselves up for what they didn't do, and didn't realize all of the things they were doing. A sister once reported that she had failed to do her visiting teaching that month. I told her that was a bunch of crap. I knew that she watched the children of the woman she visit taught several times that month, had brought them dinner, and had been checking in with her almost daily. But she hadn't visited and shared a message. This sister was beating herself up for not following the law of Moses, and neglecting to see where she was following the higher law. It's time to live the higher law. We can be better. We need to be better. The Visiting Teaching program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is an inspired program that allows sisters to be instruments in the hands of the Lord. Every woman deserves the opportunity to feel those ministering hands in her life. Be the hands!

You may also like these articles:

5 Things to Stop Doing When Teaching About the Law of Chastity

How to Actually Repent: The 12 Steps of Repentance

4 Things You Can Do Right Now to Battle Pornography In Your Home