Sunday, February 5, 2017

Faith Journeys: Leaving Mormonism and Religion Cured My Obsession for Pornography

A well-intentioned and very kind-hearted Mormon Bishop on my feed deleted a comment I made on a post of his where I talked a bit about my obsession for pornography as a Mormon and how it ended when I left. It was probably my first admission publicly that I had an obsession with pornography when I was Mormon. I was going to wait to post this, but feel I need to now, in order not to be silenced. Being silenced by my local ecclesiastical leaders for making intentionally and extremely honest and helpful posts to my audience (not necessarily putting the Mormon Church in the best light as a result) was the reason I finally left, after all. I am a free agent now - I can say and publish what I want, and be my true self as a result. You get the honest and transparent me - ALWAYS. I wasn't going to let religion stop that.

Okay - tangent aside, I'll get to the meat of the matter. I hesitate to share this because it IS a matter of judgement and worry amongst most Mormons and religious (and many of my religious family don't know), but the minute people become non-religious they stop worrying about it and stop caring about what people think! By sharing this I risk some of my Mormon and religious friends to judge me and think of me as evil. I hope that's not the case. I hope you live up to your religion and the reasons you stay.

Here it is - I stopped my obsession with pornography when I left the Mormon Church - ENTIRELY. Yes, you heard that right. I was "addicted" to pornography as a Mormon and there were times I couldn't go a day without thinking about it. I obsessed over it in leadership positions. I obsessed over it even when I worked for the Church (although I never looked at it on church-owned computers). I obsessed over it after I worked for the Church. I obsessed over it since I was probably about 14 years old. Arguably, I truly believe that almost every male and some females in the Mormon Church, and perhaps most religions that spend all their waking hours trying to rid the religion of pornography, has an obsession with pornography.

I'm learning more and more since leaving that I was not alone. One thing I've come to realize since leaving the Church is that Ex Mormons and those that are non-religious in general are much more willing to talk about these things, and you learn about all the minute details like this. I have yet to meet an Ex-Mormon who wasn't obsessed with pornography at some point in their time as a Mormon. If the LDS Church wants stats, interview those that leave the Church - those are the ones that will be honest with you!

When I left the Church, to be honest, I didn't try to stop my obsession with porn - developing a new system of ethics and morals, I didn't really care! But what I found is that, naturally, as I stopped worrying about it and having it shoved down my throat every minute and in every Bishop's interview (many of which I just lied as most people do, because I'd get so tired of it, and at times because my own livelihood relied on it), every Priesthood conference (meetings for the male leaders in an area), every Stake Conference (meetings for all members in an area held quarterly), and General Conference (meetings for all members in the Church held bi-annually), and then being taught to teach the youth I was in charge of on a weekly basis not to do it, I just didn't think about it any more. And naturally, I stopped. Completely. And I don't think about it at all and I'm definitely not addicted! I argue most who are non-religious aren't for this very reason.

I keep using the word "obsessed" instead of "addicted" because I don't think most people are truly addicted to pornography. I think most of us who are or were constantly thinking about it and wanting to indulge were simply obsessed because it was something we were taught to feel shameful of. It was something we were taught to be sad about.

Every book I read on the subject was depressing, teaching how we should use the "atonement of Jesus Christ" to overcome, as though it was a sad thing to have these obsessions. I was once told to go to a 12 Step program for Sexaholics because of my porn problem - that too was depressing, people with much worse problems than I had (child rape, adultery, among other things) mixed in with others of us thinking this was something as bad and life-threatening as alcoholism. I only went once because I felt it was making my problem worse. And then I was constantly being told it was an "addiction". It's something you "need to overcome" (see for the LDS Church's official stance - it's treated as a sin). I was constantly focusing on the horrors of what I was doing rather than how to treat women right and what "consent" vs. "non-consent" is. It's no wonder I was obsessed! I was not addicted - I was subject to a constant bombardment of how bad a person I was!

It's not pornography itself that is the issue. It's shame, and guilt, and depression that is the issue surrounding pornography, and that exists because churches are constantly teaching, in an almost obsessive manner, that these things are evil. When in reality it's not pornography as a whole that is evil, but rather certain types of pornography where women (or men) are being treated as inferiors, where sex is being forced or manipulated (or implied as such), where children are involved, or where human trafficking is the source of the industry that are evil. Once we stop treating pornography, in general, as "evil", and start focusing on the real problems and reasons we don't want people looking at pornography (without focusing on pornography itself), the obsession, and associated "addictions" will go away. Entirely. I guarantee it.

I share this not to boast about leaving the Church or the benefits I'm seeing, but rather to point out that there are many, many (arguably MOST males and many females!) suffering inside of religion, and especially the Mormon church right now that shouldn't be. Stop treating it as a sin! Stop seeing it as shameful! Get it out of the Bishop's interviews! Get it out of General Conference and the youth and adult manuals for church! And frankly, if it gets you out of this rut, religion is not so important as to prevent you from having a happy life.

I guarantee, the minute the Church, or any religion gets pornography out of religion, the problems, with perhaps a small minute few exceptions, "addiction" to pornography will go away entirely and it will no longer be an epidemic. Maybe it's religion, or the proliferation and obsession over topics like pornography within religion that is the epidemic? Overcome that, and you overcome pornography.

Now, judge away...

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