Jun 5, 2008

Pictures of Pornography: Part II of interview with BR

NSG: Another thing I wanted to talk to you about was, I think a lot of people don’t go to the bishop for help because they are afraid of the repercussions. And so I just want to ask you some questions about the process.


NSG: When a person comes to you to confess to having viewed pornography, what would you say to them?

BR: Well first there are the questions to gauge how serious the problem is… how often they look at it, the frequency, what other behaviors it leads to. Whether it’s excessive masturbation, or going to strip joints, or things like that.

NSG: Are there any church guidelines for disciplinary procedures or counseling about this, or is it pretty much up to the bishop?

BR: It’s mostly up to the bishop. The biggest thing is the willingness to go through the steps. We talk about repentance, and there is a 12-step program the church has out now, which is really useful and I used it during the last part of my time as bishop, sometimes, just to go through and see what they are willing to do. There are different disciplinary counsels, and it could be all of them… the informal probation, formal probation, disfellowship. Even excommunication can result depending on how serious the problem is and whether they want to go through the process of repentance or not. The biggest factor is willingness.

NSG: What is “serious”?

BR: Well, the actions that follow. Going to strip joints. Seeking out sex in real life. If it becomes, like a predator, predatory. Also the issue of homosexuality… we try to discourage the viewing of that the most because it can lead to those feelings more. I have found that in most cases where I am dealing with someone who struggles with same gender feelings, there has been pornography in there somewhere.

NSG: It’s hard, being a member of the church with same-gender attraction… we have president Hinckley who talked about how we love the person and try to sympathise and that the desire or urge isn’t a sin, it’s just the action, and because we believe in fidelity, or no sexuality outside of marriage, and because marriage doesn’t take place between the same gender…

BR: That’s right. Marriage, we have defined, is between a man and a woman.

NSG: There is no real way to make that work and still be a member in good standing.

BR: I think that is why it is so much harder dealing with same-gender cases… they are risking a whole lot more of what they believe in, in acting out in that way just because of that, than someone who struggles with the opposite sex pornography.

NSG: What if a person confesses to having a longstanding habit of viewing pornography on a regular basis? Are the procedures different there?

BR: It’s about the same. It’s all about how willing someone is to get out of it, to do the work to become free of it. For those who really struggle I refer them to groups or therapists, just like any another thing… whether it is eating, or drugs or alcohol. With people like that the goal is to get them free of the influence long enough that they can know what it is like to have the spirit with them… so they know how the spirit feels when you are free of it. That is a way they can gauge how they are doing.

NSG: Last question. Have you had a lot of members complete the process sucesffuly and be free of porn?

BR: You are never completely free of it. Heck, even I struggle with all the advertisements and billboards… sexuality is an important part of life and I think LDS people could do a lot more than they do to reach the full measure of their creation, sexually. We need to be more open and willing to help each other, and address our own needs more honestly. We repress too much, and it leads to this sort of thing, these kinds of struggles. But yes, I have been able to get most of those who come to me, like maybe 95% if not 100% feeling like they are able to keep away from it.

NSG: What about someone who has had a long-standing habit, or an addiction?

BR: I’d say about the same amount of people have been able to recover who have had long-standing problems or just the temporary or fleeting problems. Though those people do need to be more careful to stay clear and leave it. It takes only one time to bring you right back into it, just a momentary lapse can lead you there real fast.

NSG: This is a reason for compassion in those of us who are helping someone who struggles like that, and vigilance in those of us who are struggling with it.

BR: Yes. Absolutely.

NSG: Thank you so much for talking to me.

BR: I think that the key is talking about it… openness. People need to feel like sexuality is a good drive, an OK thing, and they need to be able to talk about it and feel good about it. And we need to have conversations like this to address issues like pornography. It’s the not talking about it that is the biggest problem, I think.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting these conversations and interviews. All of them have been very insightful and helpful. I think you are doing a great service to LDS people everywhere!