Staying Spotless in a Sea of Slime – Part 2
by Clark L. and Kathryn H. Kidd

Since our first column about online pornography appeared in Meridian, discussions about the evils of Internet porn seem to be everywhere. A seminar on the evils of pornography was sponsored by Brigham Young University during the month of February, and brief overviews of the sessions are available online at We have also received numerous letters from Meridian readers. Not a few of those letters were written anonymously by good Church members who stumbled across online pornography and have subsequently become addicted to it.

Make no mistake about it – lives are being ruined by this insidious menace. Some of the families in your congregation at sacrament meeting are being secretly torn apart by a family member’s addiction to pornography. Our own stake president has told us that he has never worked with anyone who violated the law of chastity who had not been involved in pornography in some way. He said that once people start getting interested in printed material, “it inevitably leads to the Internet and to increasing frequency that becomes addictive. Once that happens it is more difficult to overcome than drug addiction. I have seen it so bad in some people that they can’t sleep, eat, work or otherwise function normally. I have seen the addiction literally destroy people physically, spiritually and intellectually.”

If you have a computer in your home, or if a family member has a computer at work, you are not immune from being affected by Internet pornography. Husbands and teenagers are particularly susceptible to the pornographic lure – but don’t think you’re immune if you don’t fall into one of these two groups. Pornography entices people of both sexes and all ages. Being forewarned is being armed against its devastating effects.

This column will focus on the potential hazards that you and your family can face if one of your family members finds pornography on the Internet. Make no mistake about it – these hazards are real. If you aren’t affected by it, you have friends who are – even if they haven’t told you yet. Here is a list of the potential costs of pornography to your family. These are prices your family cannot afford to pay:

Loss of Innocence. The first thing that your family will lose if pornography entraps a family member is your innocence. You may think that the youth of America are so jaded that they don’t have any innocence left to lose, and to an extent you’re right. Your children will probably see more of the world by the time they’re ten years old than you did by the time you were thirty, and that’s a frightening thing to contemplate. But if you don’t think your children have any innocence left to lose, you’re wrong. The things your children have experienced in the normal course of life seem like a Sunday School picnic when compared to the stuff they may be exposed to on the Internet. They may not even have to go anywhere to be exposed to this sleaze. Predators go looking for children, and they can easily find your child right in your own living room.

But children aren’t the only ones who can lose their innocence. A wife who learns her husband has become enticed by pornography may be so desperate to keep the marriage together that she will agree to act out some of his pornography-inspired fantasies, up to and including group sex and wife-swapping. This doesn’t happen all at once; like most sins, it creeps in by degrees. What seems to be a little innocent experimentation can easily get out of hand and lead to major transgression.

Loss of Money. Since we wrote our last column, we have read accounts of Church members who lost their jobs because they looked at Internet pornography over their computers at work. This is becoming such a pervasive problem that many employers monitor Internet usage. If you view pornography at work and haven’t been caught yet, you’re lucky. Many men haven’t been so fortunate. If you’ve never been fired from a job, you don’t know how traumatic it is to find yourself without the means of supporting your family, even if you are blameless for the loss of your employment. And the situation would be infinitely worse if you also had to confess to your wife and your bishop that you had lost your job because you were getting sexual gratification from looking at dirty pictures on the Internet instead of doing your work.

But your children can lose money to Internet pornography as well. Children may not have their own credit cards, but they know where you keep yours. Mom’s purse is an easy target for a teenager or pre-teen who has found a site that will let him see as much smut as he wants – if only he types a credit card number in the appropriate box.

Physical Harm. You’ve read the stories in your local newspaper. A child makes a friend online, which eventually results in a face-to-face meeting, which then results in molestation or physical harm. This is one of the possible side-effects of Internet activity that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with pornography-at least at the beginning. But all too often, a stranger who has gained your child’s trust in a chatroom may slowly introduce sexual references into their conversations, in an attempt to spark the child’s curiosity about such matters. If this behavior encouraged or even just allowed by the child, it may lead to ever more frank discussions, including the exchange of child pornography.

As children get deeper and deeper into this trap, they not only feel close to their new online friend, but may also get excited by having someone who will help them explore such forbidden topics. This may then elevate into the worse possible scenario – a face-to-face meeting. Even if it doesn’t go that far, the child’s interest in pornography may persist long after the potential molester is out of the picture.

Threat to Church Membership. Not all people who view pornography become addicted to it. However, an interest in pornography generally progresses to sins that lead to Church disciplinary action.

But even in those rare instances where pornography doesn’t progress to something worse, temple recommends can be taken away if an otherwise worthy Church member cannot overcome a pornography addiction. The blessings of the temple could be lost to an entire family if one of the parents is immersed in sleaze.

If you have a teenager who is interested in going on a mission, that mission could be threatened or even called off if pornography is an issue. In the past, Church leaders often sent young men to the mission field even though they had problems of one kind or another, in hopes that missionary service would straighten them out. Those days are over. So many missions have been disrupted by missionaries who are not fully committed to Church service that stake presidents are asked to recommend only missionaries who are worthy in every way to perform this important work. If your teenager has a problem with pornography, he may lose the opportunity for missionary service.

Dissolution of the Family. You may think your family is immune from the trauma of divorce, but you haven’t seen the affects of a pornography addiction. A man who is addicted can lose his taste for a traditional marital relationship with his all-too-ordinary spouse, instead preferring the lavish bodies and lifestyles that are promised in his pornographic encounters. A woman whose husband is entrapped by pornography can feel so betrayed that she will leave her husband, thus destroying the family the two have built.

Although most women are not as titillated as men are by graphic photographs and depictions, they are not immune to the dangers of online sex. Feeling misunderstood by her husband, a wife may find it all too easy to unburden herself to a male stranger in a chatroom. The two of them could then progress to a virtual sexual encounter – an experience which may be as destructive to the family as a husband’s addiction to online pornography.

Our next column will give a groundwork of rules your family can – and should – set up to keep this threat away from family members. This will include everything from where your household computer should be located to what activities should be allowed and what activities prohibited. If pornography is already a problem in your family and you need this information more quickly than we can post it here, you’ll be able to find it in our book A Parent’s Survival Guide to the Internet.

2001 Meridian Magazine.  All Rights Reserved.