I also have come to realize that the day will come when other women I know will go through the same thing I have gone through.   I am understanding that I need to become an expert on this subject so as to be able to help them.  I am sure that I am surrounded by women who are suffering.

I feel a responsibility to help them.  Thank you for sending the book; I have already started telling others they should read it.

[Dr. Hilton’s book, He Restoreth My Soul, may be ordered from SA Lifeline Foundation at salifeline.org  One copy costs $15. plus $4. shipping and handling. The book is also available through Deseret Book Company. For further reading, consult these excellent articles from Dr. Hilton:

(1)    “As a Swallowed Bait—How Pornography Addicts and Changes the Brain
(2)    “Slave Master”—How Pornography Drugs & Changes Your Brain”]

How to Win the Battle (to Overcome Addictive Behavior)

President Benson was known to quip, “It is better to prepare and prevent than it is to repair and repent” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 285).  It is certainly best to never even get started!  Avoid even “soft pornography.”  For example, some time ago the Ogdens watched the latest Hollywood film version of Phantom of the Opera and concluded that too many scenes were pornographic—mild pornography, to be sure, but why even get started down that road.  Be a holy man, or a holy woman.

On April 27, 2006, Amin Omar, the spiritual leader of more than three hundred members of the Muslim community in Guatemala, came to my office where I served as president of our Missionary Training Center.  He is a gentle and humble man, and he was very impressed with the fact that Latter-day Saints don’t smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, or engage in pre-marital or extra-marital sexual relations.  Amin was thirty years old and was getting married in two months.  After an hour and a half of very enjoyable conversation (which brought back some Near Eastern nostalgia for me), he indicated he had to go conduct the evening prayers.  Just before Sister Ogden walked into my office to greet him, he whispered to me that he couldn’t shake hands with her because he is an imam, a holy man, and cannot touch a woman.

That phenomenon from Islamic religious culture may sound extreme to us, but it definitely made an impression on me.  I can transfer from that experience the understanding that a holy man or a holy woman must maintain their distance from things that are forbidden to them, certain things that they must not touch or have any contact with whatsoever.  That is the way I always want to feel, for example, as a sealer in the Holy Temple.

My wife and I are acquainted with a number of women whose marriages, in recent years and especially recent months, have been devastated, and in several cases destroyed, because of pornography.  One day, while mourning their losses and praying for the most recent of them, I received some revelation from heaven.  Important questions and answers came to my mind:    

How could these women have known beforehand, at the time of their marriage, or even years into their marriage, that their men—upon whom they had trusted the future of themselves and their children—were indulging in pornography?  Are there any tell-tale signs?
It really comes back to the same four things I taught all the missionaries during the past decade to faithfully maintain during and after their mission.  The essential regular, personal habits are (1) daily scripture study, (2) daily sincere prayer, (3) serving others, and (4) frequent Temple worship.  By these four righteous habits I believe a woman may measure the depth of her husband’s spirituality.  I am not talking about being coaxed to prayer and scriptures by the wife; I am referring to dedicated commitment to personal scriptures and prayer, in addition to the scriptures and prayer with the wife and with the children.  It is possible for the man to live two lives—in family and in fantasy—pretending to righteousness, even holding Church leadership positions and appearing to counsel others, but secretly hiding his own shameful defilement.

If a man does not observe these righteous habits, he is leaving himself wide open to evil habits.  The message is clear to every man: keep these commandments, and don’t leave yourself vulnerable!  If you are not feeling the Spirit each day (coming from the above-mentioned habits), there is a void that could easily be filled by destructive temptations.

  The space (in your brain and in your heart) will be filled—by positive or by negative influences.   There are no exceptions.  Anyone who wants to keep himself clean in this world, and scheduled for exaltation in the world to come, must make scriptures, prayer, service, and Temple sincere and consistent priorities right here and now.


I believe a woman can know if her husband is true and faithful, to the Lord and to her, if she sees him, by himself, with his scriptures open in earnest searching, pondering, and treasuring up; and if she sees him, by himself, in earnest praying, pleading, and pouring out; and if she often sees him or learns about his serving others, and notices his anxiousness to get to the Temple as often as possible (if living close to a Temple, once a week is a worthy and life-changing goal)—not because he is cajoled, urged, manipulated, or prevailed upon to go by his wife or others, but because he really wants to become better acquainted with Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  It means the world to him—the eternal world—to come to know them (John 17:3).

(Incidentally, once a week at the Temple—possibly involving three to five hours total time—may be regarded as a bit excessive to some people, but compare the total time spent watching television shows, video gaming, and using the computer during the week; maybe it is not so unreasonable to spend that much time on the most heavenly things on earth.)

Answering the question, “how can you know?”, one friend (a former Temple president) suggested with a smile on his face: watch and see if he—of his own choice—attends his general priesthood meetings, especially the stake general priesthood meeting.  That will tell you something about the depth of his spirituality and his commitment to priority matters.

[There is a possible exception to the above considerations:  We are acquainted with one particular man who is a faithful student of the scriptures, and appears to be pursuing some of the other indispensable priorities also, but he suffers from a serious mental disorder, and we cannot judge exactly how much he really understands, and how much allowance must be given for chemical maladjustments or imbalances (which, as we have learned, are very real, and very damaging).  Mental illness can seriously complicate things.]
Specific suggestions for how to overcome—
how to win the battle against pornography

Our only protective armor is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He is our Savior, our Rescuer, our Healer.  The power of Jesus Christ is greater than any addiction.  Addiction requires not only a change of behavior, but a change of heart, and the Savior is the only source of strength and protection strong enough to overcome it.

We must turn to Him, and become like Him.  Number 171 in our hymnbook is called, “With Humble Heart.”  Note a few of the lyrics:

    v. 3: “To be like thee!  I lift my eyes from earth below toward heav’n above”

    v. 4: “As I walk daily here on earth,
              Give me thy Spirit as I seek
              A change of heart, another birth,
              And grow, dear Lord, to be like thee.”

We must become as He is by doing the things He has taught us.  Since pornography is often used to escape anxiety, boredom, fear, loneliness, stress, discouragement, hurt, anger, and shame, it is necessary to do all in our power to avoid or overcome those questionable and precarious circumstances and conditions, and it is possible to do that through wholesome recreation and entertainment, along with daily diligence to prayer and scriptures, and regular attention to repentance, the sacrament, fasting, service to others, and Temple worship—all things that keep our minds on Him and on uplifting, heavenly things.

My friends have offered these additional specific suggestions:

1.    First and foremost, a woman must not hold herself responsible—and feel guilt and shame—for the behavior of a husband who uses his agency to turn against the laws of God (likewise a man should not hold himself responsible—and feel guilt and shame—if his wife does the same).  There are numerous examples around us of one or the other not adhering to the higher standards while the other spouse remains faithful and deserving of the blessings of heaven.  The one who is true and faithful is still entitled to all the blessings of the new and everlasting covenant.


2.    A wife should ask her husband regularly and directly if he has viewed pornography.  It is the principle of “return and report”—part of a companionship interview.

One man wrote: “Some husbands are caught in the trap of pornography and desperately want out.  They are trying to overcome it by themselves through church meeting attendance, scripture study, and prayer.  Their wives are comforted by the signs that all is well when really the husband is on the brink of destruction.  These husbands may wish for their wives’ support in helping them overcome their addiction, but they fear confessing their struggles and asking for help because they do not want to hurt their wife or lose their family.  If the wife were to simply ask her husband if he has any trouble with this and assure him that if he does, that she will help him to overcome it, a confession may be made.  It wouldn’t hurt to ask if there is anything the wife can do to help shield and protect the husband from this problem even if there is no addiction.  A wife should never feel like it is her fault that the husband has transgressed, or might transgress, but she can know of the power she has to help him do what is right.”

3.    If a woman feels that the sexual relations instigated by her husband do not feel natural and right, she should consult a professional to learn what normal sexual behavior is—instead of suffering years of sexual abuse.

4.    If a wife does not satisfy a man’s sexual “needs,” that is no justification for him to commit adultery thousands of times with countless nameless images (which is a combination of idolatry and adultery).

5.    There are many older men who are bitter that their wives are no longer capable or no longer even interested in sexual relations, but that, too, is no justification for searching out imitation intimacy elsewhere.

6.    If you have Internet access in your home, you have pornography in your home!  Keep the computer in a very public location, with the monitor’s screen in the most exposed direction where anyone could see what is being viewed.  

Be concerned if someone habitually quickly changes the web page as you approach.  And if there is no search history, it’s because it has been erased.  Removal of the search history is usually a direct admission of guilt.

7.    Insist on open doors when family members are online, and maintain strict guidelines regarding hours of computer use (not late at night, alone).
8.    Keep a painting of the Savior right above the computer screen, and photos of loved ones near the computer.  

9.    Use an effective filter with your computer, and be sure certain questionable movie channels are not accessible in your home.

10.     Completely avoid most chat rooms (the chance of interacting with a predator is 100%).

11.    When you travel, ask at the hotel’s front desk that all adult access and channels be turned off in the room (they can do that from the front desk).  Better yet, decide to never turn on a hotel TV; it can be a huge waste of time.

12.    Females should dress modestly, or as Elder Oaks warned, they become pornography to some of the men who see them (April Conference, 2005).

We must do battle, and we can win.  We Ogdens witnessed a rather dramatic example of winning the battle against pornography.  In 1995, en route to California, we stopped in Mesquite, Nevada, to visit our friends Ned and Janet Mikkelsen.  Among other things, the Mikkelsens wanted us to see a 24-hour-a-day picketing/protest/vigil that they and many other Church members and other citizens had been conducting outside an “adult” store that pornographers had tried to establish in their community.

By April 1996 we read in the newspaper, and then we phoned the Mikkelsens to confirm it:  the people of Mesquite actually succeeded in running that pornography shop out of town, following their round-the-clock picketing/protest/vigil every day and night for two and a half years.

The citizens’ effort was entitled “Help Our Moral Environment” (with the acronym H.O.M.E.), all to rid themselves of the unwanted business entitled “Pure Pleasure Adult Book and Video Store.”

The “History of the Mesquite, Nevada, Picket Line 1993-1996” states that “it had cost the city $200,000 to fight for this new ordinance.


  Picketing had lasted 30 months with 8,000 volunteers marching 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  It had drawn national attention because it was believed to be the longest non-union-related, round-the-clock protest in the country’s history.”

I called the Mikkelsens in the summer of 2010 and learned that their intense effort to thwart such intrusions into their community is still successful.  There are no pornography stores in Mesquite, Nevada, to this date.  (Because of constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech, the city council had to pass an ordinance restricting any such future establishments to specially zoned industrial areas—e.g., next to a sewer pond!)

Sister Ogden (Marcia) was chatting with our oldest son, Daniel, on the phone one day.  He lives in Washington D.C. where he translates Arabic for the government.  He is part of the team that helps keep Americans safe.  He is single, not yet married.  She was telling him about the talk she was preparing for a youth conference.  

Daniel said that he was exposed to pornography at the age of twelve.  A boy at school had brought a magazine that he showed to some of the other boys.  Daniel never looked at that stuff again.  He said, “I’m so glad I never went back for more when that kid in my class showed us those pictures.  To this day I can still see some of those pictures in my mind.  Can you imagine how gross it would be to have your head full of images, and not just one or two?  How could you ever get that stuff out of your mind?”

Twelve years later he found himself in Iraq as a soldier.  He had graduated from the Defense Language Institute in Arabic and had enlisted with the Utah National Guard.  In Iraq he often went on raids with other soldiers to find documents.  He would always bring up the rear of the convoys.  The other soldiers would raid homes and offices, then, rush the documents back to Daniel and others who would translate what had been found.

On one occasion the soldiers tossed a cell phone in his lap and asked him to look for any material that might be helpful.  Daniel flipped it open, turned it on and began to view a video clip.  Within two seconds he realized he was into a clip of pornography.  He snapped the phone shut and tossed it to a buddy, telling him he wasn’t going to look through that stuff.  He told me he had felt totally disgusted at what he saw in the few seconds he had the phone on.  A spiritually reborn person will be offended and repulsed by pornography—not attracted to it.

Dr. Hilton wrote: “To avoid being swept away [by the flood of pornography], we must move to higher ground and build on a firm foundation.  As the Psalmist said, we must ‘ascend into the hill of the Lord’ and “stand in His holy place.’  To do so, we must have ‘clean hands and a pure heart’” (Hilton, 33).  


Our holy places are our homes and our Temples.  You can’t always be in the Temple, but you can always have the Temple in you—therefore, if you continue with “clean hands and a pure heart,” wherever you are is a holy place.

The glorious message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that, with the exception of premeditated murder and the sin against the Holy Ghost, every sin can be totally cleansed and forgiven.  Somehow, even those “permanent” images of gross pornography can—in eternity—eventually be thoroughly erased through true repentance and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  We are encouraged and inspired by the fact that change can be real and enduring; we have confidence that our Father’s eternal plan can relieve us of all anxiety, guilt, and remorse for the sinning we all do in this evil world, far from our heavenly Home.

Our Father and our Savior love us and they have—at great personal cost—provided us the way to come back, to come all the way back, and be reunited in the arms of their love.

D. Kelly Ogden, Ph.D, is a profess of religion at Brigham Young University.

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