The Internet. Technology. They have re-shaped the way we live. Remember the 5-cent . We listen to a live press conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a new leader is announced. We become a part of LDSblogs, virtually tour a hotel, observe a ballroom class, visit an architect’s workplace. We share journals, download tunes, exchange galleries of vacation photos, all within technology’s arms. It’s a marvel. Brigham Young, a prophet of God, taught that “every discovery in science and art, that is really true and useful to mankind, has been given by direction revelation from God” — (Brigham Young in Deseret News, October 22, 1862 1929.) And so it is.
In this community space, we’ll have discussions about the grandest uses of the Internet. We’ll talk about blogs and community forums, new ways of social networking; we’ll unfold some additional, exciting ways to share your faith and beliefs online and discuss how technology extends the prophetic voice. But that’s a preview of things to come.
Today, it’s all about the alternate uses of the Internet. With every positive use of technology, we well know, there comes opportunity for abuse. And so it is. Dallin H. Oaks, a living apostle of “The Quorum of the Twelve”—the Mormons’ modern-day equivalent of Christ’s original apostles–refers to the onslaught of pornography pervading the Internet as an “avalanche of evil.” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Pornography” Ensign, April 2005, 87.)
Our living prophet today, President Gordon B. Hinckley, has told us about the spiritual consequences of pornography viewing. In his words, “the minds of youth become warped with false concepts. Continued exposure leads to addiction that is almost impossible to break. Men, so very many, find that cannot leave it alone. Their energies and their interests are consumed in pursuit of this raw and sleazy fare” — (Gordon B. Hinckley, “A Tragic Evil Among Us,” Ensign, November 2004, 61.) While we have great compassion for the user who truly desires change, and realize that ample provision has been made through the atonement for complete reconciliation of any offense of this nature, we have an aversion to the proliferation of pornography in any form.
I once spoke with a judge in a prominent city who said, “Pornography will overrule everything once one is addicted. It will even overrule the addict’s happiness” — (David E. Sorenson, “Forgiveness Will Change Bitterness to Love,” Ensign, May 2003, 12.) And it will—unless there is direct and complete intervention. We can remember, in our efforts to help, that forgiveness does not require us to tolerate evil.
So What Is Pornography?
Pornography is anything that excites or arouses sexually. Some pornography is not yet considered illegal. The Supreme Court has declared that for pornography to be illegal, it must qualify as obscene in one of three ways:
1. “The average person” must think that the piece appeals to the “prurient interest.”
2. The work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law.
3. The work, taken as a whole, “lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.” (www.censorware.net).
There are specific laws that differ in regard to child pornography which will not be addressed in this blog.
How Can We Help Our Children?
The first step seems obvious but often eludes even some well-intended caretakers. It’s best to create an open and inviting environment in which children and parents can communicate openly about issues relating to pornography. Secondly, we can and should monitor Internet use. There are numerous filters that can be placed on computers to fend off some offensive materials. An online search can lead you to comparisons of various software products dedicated to protecting your family from harmful sites.
Rory Reid (a Mormon therapist), Richard Crookston, and Evan Christensen (systems experts), posit the following helps in checking your home computers for possible misuse:
1. Check your browser history. In Internet Explorer, press Control + H. If there is no history over time, then someone may be trying to cover their tracks.
2. Check the most recently visited websites by checking the cache. In Internet Explorer, click on Tools and again on Internet Options, then on Settings and View Files.
3. Check your media players for recent documents. Recently viewed videos clips normally appear on a list in the recently opened list.
4. Be aware that any of these files can be erased by someone who is skilled and motivated to hide them.
5. Do a search in Windows for *.jpg, *..mov, *.avi, and *.mpg files.
6. Check your registry by clicking on Start, then Run. In the dialog box, type “regedit” and click okay.
(Rory Reid, Richard Crookston, Evan Christensen, “Confronting Pornography on the Internet” in Confronting Pornography: A Guide to Prevention and Recovery for Individuals, Loved Ones, and Leaders. 2005, 124-136.)
These are only starting points. I realize many in our communities are already dealing with larger issues with someone they know who is afflicted or affected by this plague. For those afflicted with pornographic or sexual addiction, there is hope and help. There are support groups and internet-based help groups through which recovery is possible. For those whose behavior has crossed legal lines, there will be civil penalties but there is also a way back. We invite you to come out of hiding and to start towards the light.
How Can We Help Our Community?
As we have the resources, we can reach out and help the community. Elder M. Russell Ballard, a living apostle of Jesus Christ, has called us to action in these words: “The time has come when members of the Church need to speak out and join with the many other concerned people in opposition to the offensive, destructive, and mean-spirited media influence that is sweeping over the earth.”
White Ribbon Against Pornography (WRAP) Campaign
Morality in Media, Inc. is a national, non-profit organization working to stop obscenity and pornography constitutionally. Morality in Media, American Mothers, Inc, and The Burbridge Foundation, Inc. as well as other pro-family groups, are joining hands to engage in the nationwide White Ribbon Against Pornography (WRAP) Campaign, which runs from Sunday, October 28, through Sunday, November 4, 2007.
In an effort to call upon our government to aggressively enforce federal obscenity laws, Morality in Media has created a petition addressed to the U.S. Attorney General. In asserting the spiraling influence of obscenity in the devastation of families and marriages, and in betrayal of innocent children, the petition calls for greater vigilance, legal involvement, and public protection. An excerpt from the petition follows:
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that obscene material is “unprotected by the First Amendment” and that there are legitimate governmental interests at stake in stemming the tide of obscenity, “even assuming it is feasible to enforce effective safeguards against exposure to juveniles.” It is all too clear, however, that we have failed miserably in protecting children from pornography.
According to a study by the Crimes Against Children’s Resource Center, the percentage of Internet users ages 10-17 who were exposed to unwanted pornography in the previous year increased from 25% in 2000 to 34% in 2005. According to a 2004 survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, 45% of teens have friends who regularly view pornography from the Internet ” (Morality in Media Petition).
If you’re interested in reading or circulating the petition, it is posted it on MIM’s website: www.moralityinmedia.org.
Additionally, if you’re interested in helping to raise standards in your own community but don’t know how, here are a few nuts and bolts suggestions:
o You can sign the MIM petition on-line or print and circulate.
o You can write thank-you notes to businesses that refuse to distribute pornography and patronize them.
o You can write polite but firm letters requesting that businesses do not distribute pornographic materials in stores or public places visited by your family.
o You can order and distribute white ribbons for WRAP Week.
Let’s work together as friends of every faith to keep souls free, protect our innocent children, and reclaim souls affected by the plague of pornography.
Living out a great season of my life, thanks to Jesus Christ, and two wonderful daughters, a great life's work. Loving this opportunity to share faith online... I'm a single Mom, convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, second-gen Italian, from the East coast originally. Love the fine arts, dance, frozen yogurt, temples, scriptures, writing, jazz, helping others reach their potential, king salmon, ....and not in that order. God is good. I feel it deeply when people have a misconception of Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ, His Son, that lessens or cheapens Them and blinds one's ability to feel His presence or to trust in an ultimately good eternal end to life's circumstances.