My impression is that pornography is a widespread problem among members of the Church. While women sometimes fall prey to its enticements, the overwhelming majority of pornography consumers are men. The perils of pornography are of particular concern for those who work with the young men, but many Elders and High Priests also suffer from a so-called “pornography addiction.” As I have encountered members of the Church who are dealing with this problem — whether as Church leaders or as parents — one thing has become depressingly clear: we are not very effective at countering the magnetic force of pornography.
Perhaps this should not be a surprise. If abstinence from pornography is essentially a question of self-mastery, why would we expect any more success with that than we have with, say, physical fitness or home teaching? The First Presidency has railed against pornography, calling it “evil,” “contagious,” and “addicting.” They have offered a three-step “battle plan” that could just as well be applied to any issue of self-mastery: (1) “a return to righteousness”; (2) “a quest for the good life”; and (3) “a pledge to wage and win the war against pernicious permissiveness.”
While this approach, or something very similar to it, seems the only strategy likely to result in long-term success, it is nothing more than a framework. We are left to fill in the details appropriate to the particular circumstance. And, thus, my radical idea … I have a hunch — which was strengthened after speaking to my wife about this issue — that many women would be able to devise a more effective anti-pornography strategy than the typical male Church leader. In my experience, men are inclined to promote a “just say no” strategy or to question the manhood of those who partake of pornography, but we are terrible on the details. Obviously, I have only casual empirics to support this, but I think men feel uncomfortable with the details. Moreover, many men seem a bit too understanding with those who indulge their carnal appetites in this way, as if to say, “I know it’s tough, buddy, but do the best you can.”
Women, on the other hand, often have intense feelings about pornography that are difficult for men to match. This first occurred to me when I heard Catharine MacKinnon in the late 1980s, and I have seen it repeatedly in speaking with women in my various wards. Their strong feelings can understandably lead to more effective thinking about how to counter pornography. So I would like to recruit some women in the ward to teach a lesson on pornography in the priesthood class. Any objections?