They read a letter in Priesthood this morning encouraging us to participate in the Utah Coalition Against Pornography (UCAP). I checked out the website. It looks like a good organization. This is another area where I support the nearly impossible standards of the Church to avoid pornography. Pornography may be a perfectly normal and natural thing that has been around since humankind began and even related to the perpetuation of humanity. But there are some problems.
As the Lord has said, "the natural man is an enemy to God." Mosiah 3:19. But we can put off the natural man through the Atonement of Christ to become a Saint - changing perfectly natural and normal beings into godly and holy people. Id. It's a process. And I'm not quite there yet even as we aspire to such by referring to ourselves as Latter-day Saints. God has changed me for the better as we keep working together on that.
In introducing this theme in Ward Council this morning, which I heard about both from our High Priests Group Leader and my wife who is Relief Society President, our Bishop did such a great job. Of course, as a lawyer in his daily profession, he probably couldn't resist playing our little lawyer tricks. He asked the council what they thought the percentage was of church members who had a problem with pornography. Several guesses were made at various percentages - my wife guessing 98-99% as she's heard from me. His answer was that it is 100% because we all have to deal with the TV, computers, smart phones, and so many things we have in our lives where pornography can creep in. And, he said, all we have to do is step outside our homes and it can't be avoided.
It might be good to step back and define pornography and what the problem is. When I was bishop, I was perhaps a little blunt in my bishop's youth discussions. Pornography is best explained by its purpose and effect. I told those kids that the purpose of pornography is to stimulate a male to enable him to engage in physical sexual activity. And sometimes that works for women as well. Yet in broad generalities, men are more susceptible to visual stimulation and women are more susceptible to the emotional. I asked them if that is really what they wanted to be doing as they prepare to be missionaries and then to find a companion to whom they can be sealed for the eternities in the Temple.
Now, physical sexual activity is not always bad. It's a good thing in the very limited circumstance of legal and lawful marriage between husband and wife. At least we are broader than some very restrictive religious traditions that consider sex a necessary evil and limited to only procreation. We LDS actually believe that physical intimacy is a good thing to be enjoyed between husband and wife and doesn't always have to be about procreation - fun and enjoyment are involved. We also believe in the rather odd concept that we can enjoy the same familial relationships in the eternities with a resurrected body assuming we fulfill our covenants with God in accepting his atonement and the fullness of His gospel. This implies things about sex we can only speculate. However that works out, it seems like it will be a good thing from my perspective.
So, the ultimate fulfillment of humankind is to join with God in family units recognizing that gender has its place in the eternities if we live faithful to God in this life. As that is the ultimate fulfillment of man and woman together for the eternities, the attempts to denigrate sex into something tawdry and purely physical, even normal and natural, can disrupt that plan. I'm not saying it's an easy plan, but with God's grace I believe it is possible.
The problems with pornography are set out well on the UCAP website from a Deseret News Article:
Pornography hurts real people every day.
It hurts women who try in vain to compete against the women their husbands view online by having breast implants and going on crash diets.
It hurts spouses and family members by creating secrets and deception and destroying trust.
It hurts the children and adults whose bodies are exploited for the gratification of strangers.
It hurts society by teaching that women are objects of male gratification and changing the power dynamic between men and women.
It hurts children and teens by distorting their first encounters with sexuality at a time when they cannot compare what they see to anything real.
And it hurts the men and women who become addicted to pornography. They, too, are victims of the real predator: a billion dollar industry that can leave them emotionally dependent on something that robs them of their time, their money and their dignity.Sure, maybe some of these points can be argued among sociologists and sex therapists. But it makes sense to me.
I'm not saying we should hide from sex or sexual expression either. We need to teach our children better about these concerns and more importantly about the positive aspects of sex. Yet I still accept the perhaps quaint and old-fashioned idea that sex is best figured out and enjoyed between husband and wife not to be shared in any way physical or by expression with anyone else.
The only part that bothered me today is that with mention of this letter and pornography, someone brought up in Priesthood class that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is accepting comments on a new rule to allow for more nudity and bad language on broadcast TV. There was a lot of tut-tutting. This is a real thing and not an urban legend - to a point. I had checked this out on Snopes earlier last week. I didn't feel it was appropriate during priesthood to dig into the specifics of the FCC notice, but to get it off my chest now, I point out two things:
No. 1. Most (but not all) of my buddies in the High Priests Group are rather conservative and I imagine get a lot of their news from FOX. So, I suppose you can go on FOX News and hyperventilate about the feds loosening obscenity standards. The irony here being that the court case that set off this new rule was FCC v. Fox Television Stations. So, instead of going to FOX News and listen to their over-excited commentators on the evils of the feds at the FCC, you can go straight to FOX broadcast stations and experience the evil. [Or just stay on FOX News and take in all the women reporters in extra short skirts. Probably not obscene, but in very bad taste in objectifying women.]
No. 2. One of the reasons the FCC is considering the loosening of standards - not to allow free reign of sex and cussing on TV but to allow non-sexual brief nudity and fleeting, incidental expletives* reserving their resources to investigate and prosecute flagrant, repeated, and egregious obscenity - is that they have an enormous backlog of complaints to process. They reported the number of one million and have that worked down to only 30% left (300,000 by my Math), but they still lack the resources. So, the same conservatives out there who claim to want the free market to solve all our problems and don't like paying taxes to government, need to do a little reckoning with cognitive dissonance. Just saying.I don't know that I'm going to make it to the UCAP conference. But I guarantee I'll keep working to yield to the Holy Spirit, and put off the natural man, and become a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and become as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord sees fit to inflict upon me. . . . (from Mosiah 3:19 again.)
*I doubt these would even constitute pornography or obscenity under my definition. You know the legal rule - "ya know it when ya see it."