Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Pornography: The Mormon Gateway Drug
Pornography seems to be the "gateway" drug for the LDS community. I say gateway because I mean it's an easy access point for Satan to get into good people's lives and ruin individuals and families. I say drug because it's an addiction, literally changing brain pathways and connections and creating a dependence. It's also something that is naturally within our bodies, a chemical reaction that doesn't require an outside substance to be taken in and broken down by our bodies before a reaction occurs. It is within each of us. Satan doesn't have to tempt us to take a pill for our body to react. We already have the reaction programmed in us based on stimuli in the environment. If Satan can't get us to take a pill/powder/drug, he can get someone else to post an inappropriate photo that we may innocently come across.
A great read on how to prevent pornography in your families (and a very enlightening discourse on how it affects the brain) is "The Drug of the New Millenium" by Mark Kastleman. He writes a section on "power principles" to protect your family from pornography. The biggest one is teach that intimacy is a POSITIVE thing, something to look forward to at the right time. Your ultimate goal is to teach your child about intimacy in such a way that when they are confronted with worldly ideas and images, they will be turned off. They will know there's something better and invest in waiting for it. For children, "Good Pictures Bad Pictres: Porn Proofing Today's Young Kids" by Kristen Jenson is also fantastic.
How do I prevent/teach pornography?
The word pornography may not even enter your child's vocabulary yet and you are hopefully already teaching about it. By teaching your child to respect others, their privacy, their words and requests, you are already teaching them about pornography. You are teaching them that looking at other's bodies is interesting, but not appropriate. They need to respect the beauty of the body by covering it. You are teaching them that potty humor or inappropriate (aka lewd) comments about the body are disrespecting it.
I believe modesty is the greatest tool we have for teaching our young children about pornography. Modesty in dress and attitude should not wait until children are hitting puberty. Our 8-year-old and 5-year-old know that certain types of clothing are not modest and why they aren't modest. When our son was confronted with an inappropriate image (a male's plumber's crack I mentioned in a previous post), I could easily ask why it wasn't appropriate to look at. My son's ready response was that it wasn't modest. I asked him why modesty was important. It was a great discussion. Later, if he's confronted with full nude images, his immediate response will be that it's not modest and make him uncomfortable. He will know to walk away and tell me about it.
For teenagers, modesty takes on a new meaning because it's starting to connect with hormones and behavior. Teach your child that sexual desires are GOOD! The desire is good, but right now they need to,"hold that thought." Give your teen ways to distract themselves when they feel sexual arousal. Often arousal comes because of the way someone is dressed. Acknowledge that it's not always easy to turn off sexual desires when the sensations feel good.
Last, teach your teenagers WHY modesty is so important (because our bodies are awesome, wonderful creations that Heavenly Father gave us). Young pubescent girls do not always understand how powerfully boys are affected by visual cues. Girls also are drawn to sexual visual stimuli. When I teach a youth class I use an object lesson. You can do something similar with your youth at home to teach them this lesson. I begin teaching the class with a horrific, hairy, obvious wart on my face (or other type of obvious visual flaw). I begin teaching as I would any other class, ignoring the stares. After a little while, I ask if any of them noticed anything on my face. Why did they notice it? How often did they look at it? Did they find that they had to consciously keep their eyes away from it? Did they remember much of what I had been teaching, or did they miss some of what I'd been teaching because they were focused on the wart? Modesty is like the wart. When we reveal too much (it's something different and interesting to look at), our eyes are constantly drawn to these places. We have a hard time noticing any other body part. We have to consciously keep our eyes in other places if we are trying to be good. We also don't pay as much attention to WHO the person is that we are dating. We are more focused on the LOOK. Most youth want to LOOK attractive, but be loved for WHO they are. What are your youth's clothing saying about them? What statement are they trying to make?
We all know that we need to keep an eye on media sources and other places our children frequent. The problem is, we can't monitor it all. You have to start young and teach your child to respect the body, so they will avoid pornography because they want something better. Don't be afraid to say pornography. Don't be afraid to ask your child about what they see and how it makes them feel. Pornography is anything designed to stimulate sexual attraction. Children about ages 8-11 need to learn the definition of pornography and what to do about it, although you are teaching them about it less explicitly while they were young. Keep in mind that if you put if off, you might not get to them in time.