The following was written by Kari Monet for LDS Living. To read the full article, click here.
Ironically, the very methods we use to encourage purity in our children sometimes drive them into pornography addiction instead of helping them navigate inevitable exposure and missteps.
The Callahan* family may have been justified in thinking they’d never go through the heartbreak of addiction, betrayal, and divorce: they had married in the temple, had faithfully taught the gospel in their home, and had seen their children off on missions and sealed to their own spouses in the temple. They had just celebrated a wonderful Christmas break together with all their kids and grandkids, and all was right with the world. But just days later, their son Brandon sent an email to his parents and siblings that destroyed their peace. “I have betrayed my family,” Brandon wrote. “[Melly] and I are likely to get a divorce because I cheated on her. There is a lot more to tell, about who I am now and how I got here, but the bottom line is that for now I will be leaving the Church. I am sad about dishonoring all of you with this, and my heart is broken for hurting and losing [Melly.] My heart has been breaking for a long time.”
Brandon’s shattered family struggled to put the pieces together about the guy they loved and thought they knew. A pornography addiction spanning 16 years, more than half his life, surfaced. The marriage did not survive, and neither did Brandon’s faith in God.
It is a story that has become all too common recently, and Latter-Day Saints are often left shaking their heads over how easily a pornography addiction is able to take root in a community that so vocally decries sexual sin of any kind. While such things have proven difficult to quantify, Mormon communities have similar rates of pornography consumption to those outside the faith and may even have a higher rate of addiction due to a culture of fear and shame surrounding sex. Ironically, the very methods we use to encourage purity in our children can sometimes drive them into pornography addiction instead of helping them navigate inevitable exposure and subsequent missteps.
Generations of parents have used shame and fear to motivate their children from cradle to adulthood, creating a strong tradition of teaching that can still be found in families, schools, and workplaces everywhere. However, recent groundbreaking work in shame psychology has begun to illuminate the harmful effects of these methods, particularly the fact that shame creates conditions that often lead to addiction.
To read the full article, click here.