Pornography my enemy.

February 11, 2005 | 69 comments
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Who can hate the devil and like pornography? Me, I hate them both.

Richard Neuhaus does too. He links to a New Atlantis article claiming that pornography can no longer be said to violate community standards because everyone looks at it on the internet. Everyone? Neuhaus retorts. And even so, what about mankind makes you think that if everyone does it everyone feels that its OK? [The debate matters because the Supreme Court has ruled that the law can do nothing about pornography unless it is "obscene." It's only obscene if it violates community standards.]

Neuhaus links to another article. Its point is one that bears repeating. Pornography is wrong.

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69 Responses to Pornography my enemy.

  1. Times & Seasons » Democracy Wall on February 17, 2005 at 10:35 pm

    [...] ut an individual coblogger, but they’re reduced to plaintive posts on other blogs or isolated comments scattered across the vast landscape of Times and Seasons threads. [...]

  2. David King Landrith on February 11, 2005 at 11:24 pm

    Just a hundred years ago, most married people only ever saw their spouse naked (or their children), and they had no idea what it looked like when people had sex. Now everybody can pretty much envision what everyone else looks like naked, and many (if not most) people have watched others perform every sort of sexual act on numerous occasions.

    It is probable that people have always performed sexual acts in front of spectators. But technology now makes it possible preserve images (often moving images with audio) of such acts and to distribute them to an ever increasing audience. And these images bear no more resemblance to common practice than professional football bears to my ward’s Turkey Bowl. But disinterested spectators tend to prefer the Olympian to the plebeian, and pornography may well become the spectator sport for a new millennium.

    And my liberal acquaintances ask me, “What’s the harm?” and they go off to protest the Dunkin’ Donuts opening up in the small but homey Italian quarter of Boston. “It’s so commercial,” they object, “It will ruin the atmosphere on Hanover Street.” Apparently, context matters in the placement of food service industries and retail stores, but not sexual intimacy.

  3. Mark N. on February 12, 2005 at 3:02 am

    Our High Priests quorum had a lesson on pornography a couple of weeks ago, and I think the real problem is that we fail to realize that most of our TV entertainment is “pornographic”, if we go with the following definition from the Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary: “the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction pornography of violence>”. We’ve been amused and entertained by violent death and murder for so long, why should we be surprised that sex grabs our interest, too? Every police, medical, law and mystery drama on TV usually requires a violent (or particularly clever) murder at the top of the show in order to propel the story along, and we no longer view that in horror. Instead, we’re fascinated by true life murder trials and news reports of grisly death: if it bleeds, it leads. Mormon and Moroni were appalled by what passed before their eyes in their days and were sickened by it. If viewers of naked bodies engaged in sex acts are being unfaithful to their loved ones, are viewers of portrayals of death that serves primarily to amuse on a regular basis all that much better?

  4. Mark N. on February 12, 2005 at 3:04 am

    My attempt to insert some HTML formatting goofed up the definition: “the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction [the pornography of violence]“.

  5. John David Payne on February 12, 2005 at 9:21 am

    I hate them both, too.

  6. Julie in Austin on February 12, 2005 at 9:56 am

    Mark N.–

    The new Ensign had a sidebar with a definition of pornography that I thought was interesting: the intent of the creator is irrelevant, the effect on the viewer is what matters. (In other words, if an anatomy textbook or a shoe ad turns you on, then for you, it is p*rn.)

  7. annegb on February 12, 2005 at 10:44 am

    My second husband was into pornography. We were married for 10 months. Nobody believed me, or his former wife. His father was a stake president, his brother was in the bishopric of the ward I lived in at the time.

    His first wife went along with it until she literally had a breakdown. I fought tooth and nail, as you can imagine I would.

    He thought he was justified, this man served a mission and was raised in a super active family. It can happen anywhere.

  8. Jonathan Green on February 12, 2005 at 12:10 pm

    DKL, that’s an excellent comparison. I’ll try to bring it up in Elders Quroum sometime. I won’t credit you, but I’ll think of you fondly. Thanks.

    I like Mark N.’s comment as well. Pornography is bad, but is it a good idea to make it a scapegoat? Congratulate ourselves on avoiding porn, while getting drunk on the wine of violence?

  9. norm on February 12, 2005 at 1:00 pm

    “Just a hundred years ago, most married people only ever saw their spouse naked (or their children), and they had no idea what it looked like when people had sex.”

    I’m tempted to respond with a line from a recent movie: “Clearly you’ve never been to Singapore”

    The veracity of this statement depends a lot on which community we’re talking about by “most married men”. I think overall it’s the familiar Mormon/Republican sort of naive, even intentionally idealized reconstruction of a ‘good old days’ when there was nothing wrong with the world. Surely pornography is a growing industry, dollar-wise. But the fact is, a hundred years ago, as today, people were astonishingly (according to what we want to expect) sexually active, whether they talked about it or not. Most marriages, over the course of marriage experienced infidelity, and that alone seems to refute the above statement.

    If we’re talking about small farming communities in Idaho and by ‘most married peopl’e mean only the ones that grew up there, stayed, stayed married, and showed up at church every week until death… then maybe this statement would hold water. But on the whole, a hundred years ago, San Francisco, Boston, New York, Chicago and the other cities of the US were violent, sexual places. Mining towns, railroad hubs, military outposts/forts had their own culture of low morals. The US may not have reflected the world at large, but Norman Rockwell nostalgia airbrushes and replaces a lot bad stuff.

    Just remember that based on the rate of STDs by incoming adolescent recruits in the first World War (for the nation more than 10%), many? mos? some? (at least my Human Sexuality Professor) estimate that there has been virtually no change in sexual activity by adolescents. At that time, more than an 30% of men in the US suffered from syphilis. I believe similar information, i.e. showing that sexual activity has been relatively constant over time, exists for infidelity after marriage.

    Oregon, Idaho, and Utah had the three lowest percentage of venereal disease diagnoses in the first million men drafted in WWI, according to this article , although diagnoses for those first million tended to underreport cases for a variety of reasons (some draft boards didn’t check, procedures hadn’t stabilized, stigma, etc) which resulted in more enlisted men being ‘sidelined’ from that group than from later groups.

    Pornography in current form may be changing the rules of the game, but it’s not inventing a new game. It might be a world few of us experience or hear about, but live sex acts, strippers, etc…. are not something suddenly new in this half century. And sex, well it’s been around for a while too. Just ask the prophets.

  10. norm on February 12, 2005 at 1:02 pm

    “Just a hundred years ago, most married people only ever saw their spouse naked (or their children), and they had no idea what it looked like when people had sex.”

    I’m tempted to respond with a line from a recent movie: “Clearly you’ve never been to Singapore”

    The veracity of this statement depends a lot on which community we’re talking about by “most married men”. I think overall it’s the familiar Mormon/Republican sort of naive, even intentionally idealized reconstruction of a ‘good old days’ when there was nothing wrong with the world. Surely pornography is a growing industry, dollar-wise. But the fact is, a hundred years ago, as today, people were astonishingly (according to what we want to expect) sexually active, whether they talked about it or not. Most marriages, over the course of marriage experienced infidelity, and that alone seems to refute the above statement.

    If we’re talking about small farming communities in Idaho and by ‘most married peopl’e mean only the ones that grew up there, stayed, stayed married, and showed up at church every week until death… then maybe this statement would hold water. But on the whole, a hundred years ago, San Francisco, Boston, New York, Chicago and the other cities of the US were violent, sexual places. Mining towns, railroad hubs, military outposts/forts had their own culture of low morals. The US may not have reflected the world at large, but Norman Rockwell nostalgia airbrushes and replaces a lot bad stuff.

    Just remember that based on the rate of STDs by incoming adolescent recruits in the first World War (for the nation more than 10%), many? mos? some? (at least my Human Sexuality Professor) estimate that there has been virtually no change in sexual activity by adolescents. At that time, more than an 30% of men in the US suffered from syphilis. I believe similar information, i.e. showing that sexual activity has been relatively constant over time, exists for infidelity after marriage.

    Oregon, Idaho, and Utah had the three lowest percentage of venereal disease diagnoses in the first million men drafted in WWI, according to this article , although diagnoses for those first million tended to underreport cases for a variety of reasons (some draft boards didn’t check, procedures hadn’t stabilized, stigma, etc) which resulted in more enlisted men being ‘sidelined’ from that group than from later groups.

    Pornography in current form may be changing the rules of the game, but it’s not inventing a new game. It might be a world few of us experience or hear about, but live sex acts, strippers, etc…. are not something suddenly new in this half century. And sex, well it’s been around for a while too. Just ask the prophets.

  11. Shelby on February 12, 2005 at 3:45 pm

    I think it’s becoming increasingly clear that pornography will prove to be one of the toughest trials to face the church in the last days. Our young married ward must have a lesson on it at least every other month, and yet there are always a handful of couples working with the bishop to repent of it and save their marriages. Despite the many warnings we’ve received from the brethren over the past decade, pornography has become so mainstream that I’ve heard everyone from my home teachers to close friends to bishopric counselors guiltily admit to having encountered it at one time or another.

    I think Mark (#2) has a good point about a big part of the problem. We speak so often of using internet filters and various programs to keep us from clicking on pictures of naked people, but then we sit around as families watching programs with half-naked people abusing each other and flaunting their sexuality. We allow our children to put up posters of hot young singers in leather outfits, then wonder what led them to seek out the seedier things on TV or the Net.

    If we are to protect our families and separate ourselves from the spiritual decline in today’s world, Internet Nanny’s not the answer. We need a rehaul of our standards that gets at the root of the problem.

  12. obi-wan on February 12, 2005 at 5:09 pm

    The debate matters because the Supreme Court has ruled that the law can do nothing about pornography unless it is “obscene.” It’s only obscene if it violates community standards.

    This is, of course, entirely incorrect.

    Child pornography can be banned, even if non-obscene. The access of minors to pornography can be regulated under the Ferber standard, so long as the rights of adults are not unduly burdened. Indecent, non-obscene material can be regulated in broadcast and telephony. Pornographic venues can be restricted under reasonable time, place, and manner regulations. Etc., etc.

    There’s plenty of room for the law can to act with regard to non-obscene pornography without offending the First Amendment.

    Also note that Miller specifies that the community metric is local community standards, so that which is permissible in New York City is not necesarily permissible in, say, Kaysville.

  13. Ivan Wolfe on February 12, 2005 at 6:16 pm

    I sometimes think the way p*rn gets taught about on the local level actually exacerbates the problem. It’s the classic “white bear” problem – if I tell you not to think about a white bear, that’s the first thing most people will think about.

    And rather than focus on the benefits of staying away from p*rn (intimacy with spouse, trustworthiness in the marriage) we get hour long lessons that focus on the negatives and keep mentioning the term p*rn over and over again. In many cases the leaders conflate p*rn use and p*rn addiction (which can be the same, but aren’t always, just like alchohol use and alcholism aren’t the same thing, but in an LDS circle they’re both wrong), causing many to likely feel they have no hope.

    I just wish the lessons were more focused on the positive benefits of living the law of chastity, rather than the “your wife will leave you and you’ll burn in hell” type lessons we get now.

    I also know a lady (I’ve been told I can use this example, as long as I remain very general about the people involved) with many, many kids whose husband was into p*rn. When she found out, he said he was willing to go into counseling (both personal and joint marriage) to overcome the problem. Unsure of what to do, she visited the bishop, who told her “In some cases, divorce is the only option. P*rn addiction is one of those.” Several years later, and with all of her children out of the church, she says she wished she had taken the marriage counseling with her husband instead.

    But I fear her bishop’s attitude is all too common amont many local leaders. And that taints how it is taught. I think p*rn is something we should shun and hate, but we need to be more forgiving of those caught in its webs.

  14. David King Landrith on February 12, 2005 at 6:22 pm

    I’m sorry you take me to be so ridiculously naive, norm. Even so, you’re argument from sexual activity is entirely beside the point. Most men who consorted with prostitutes never saw the prostitute naked.

    Perhaps you didn’t read my entire comment, but in the paragraph immediately following the one you site, I concede that people have probably always had sex for the benefit of spectators (in Singapore and elsewhere). The difference is that 100 to 150 years ago, one generally had to be there to see sexual acts performed. Now, the sexual acts come to you; it’s like delivery pizza without the wait. This dramatically lowers the transaction costs associated with viewing pornography. Much the same way that many more people watch the NFL championship now than in the 1920s, many more people are now exposed to pornography. This has very little to do with sexual activity.

  15. David King Landrith on February 12, 2005 at 7:45 pm

    Jonathan Green DKL, that’s an excellent comparison. I’ll try to bring it up in Elders Quroum sometime. I won’t credit you, but I’ll think of you fondly. Thanks.

    You’re quite welcome. Feel free to use it, and don’t think twice about the credit. I’m just happy to be thought of fondly. (The Dunkin’ Donuts example is real, by the way.)

  16. John H on February 12, 2005 at 8:22 pm

    Good comments, Norm. Sexual morality is definitely an issue up for debate, and I’m grateful for Latter-day Saints’ perspectives on sex and sexuality. But the good ole’ days are in many ways a myth. The Army conducted a study during WWII that showed around 67% of servicemen had sex while overseas.

    P*rn has always been around, and it’s always gotten a lot of attention from moralists. Technology has made it much easier to get without consequence, I agree (and I think most reasonable people agree that the ease of access on the Internet is unfortunate, given how children can find it). But you’re right, a minority of financially well-off moralists have usually spoken out against things, typically unaware of how the other half lives.

  17. Wilfried on February 12, 2005 at 11:12 pm

    Norm drew the attention to the need to nuance the sentence “Just a hundred years ago, most married people only ever saw their spouse naked (or their children), and they had no idea what it looked like when people had sex.”

    It depends indeed on the context. Around 1900 rural Church-going Utah was certainly not typical of many parts of the world. It is a tribute to the Church and its influence that it was indeed so.

    But that relativization does not only pertain to the sphere of “Singapore”, as Norm expressed it. It would be a mistake to think that visual representations of sexual relations are new or that they were difficult to find in ages past. For a few millennia now, people have felt a need to do so in drawings, paintings and sculptures — Hindu love art, Greek fertility depictions, African phallic art… Murals at Pompeii give an idea how explicit and how available it was… Next all the erotic artwork since the Middle Ages that is never shown in most textbooks. Or implicit prurience: many of us would be surprised to discover how well-known, seemingly innocent paintings are sexually coded. Then there is the history of photography, as eroticism quickly entered the realm of early photography since the 1840s. Not even hidden: erotic greeting cards, often under a mythological veneer, were fashionable for a few decades. And next film since 1900… It’s a vast area, the object of many social, aesthetic and legal studies.

    Without doubting to the least the importance of the fight against P-y, historical accuracy requires to mention that, all proportions taken into account, sexual depiction is far from new and that, certainly in Antiquity, but also in more recent times, cultures had different reactions to the portrayal of physical love.

    The difference now, of course, is the instant and overwhelming availability, the degradation of intimacy to barbaric depths, its potential for addiction, as well as the immense commercial exploitation behind it, living off the horrendous abuse of women – and children. My remark about the past is in no way a justification for the present. It’s only meant as a correction to historical perception.

  18. Sheri Lynn on February 12, 2005 at 11:15 pm

    I don’t know if anyone is familiar with LDS-GEMS, but I’ve been on that mailing list forever…

    There was an article there that attracted my attention some five or six years ago. I found and wrote to the writer with some questions. We began a correspondence about being LDS and LDS issues. He was a bishop of a small ward, he said.

    At some point we were talking about another LDS-GEMS post, and I casually mentioned that I believe that online relationships that involve any intimate conversations that have to be hidden from spouses are adulterous. I got a long silence back from him for several days, and then he sent me a remarkable confession. He had been corresponding with another LDS woman and it had progressed to the point where they WERE talking about sex. He had bought a phone card so he could call her without his wife knowing about it. He was spending hours in the middle of the night chatting with her online and it had become serious. He had a business trip scheduled relatively near her, and she had made plans to meet him at his hotel room where “nothing would happen.”

    All right, I don’t know he was really a bishop. I don’t know if he heeded my counsel to immediately STOP sneaking around leading not only himself but this other woman into breaking temple covenants. My prior experience had led me to really venerate bishops as true and fairly infallible Judges in Zion. I wasn’t prepared to be the confessor of this person. At any rate, since I knew he was weak this way, I also stopped writing to him. It took him awhile to get the hint and stop writing to me. He seemed to feel the need to explain himself, justify himself, rationalize away what he’d done. He told me he’d been unexpectedly released from being bishop, and wondered if I had “told on” him. That surprised me as it never occured to me I might have had any obligation to do so. You can’t confess for anyone else.

    I remembered his many rationalizing emails when I was put in charge of collecting visiting teaching reports, and all the sisters would feel the need to burden me with all the reasons why they didn’t get their visiting teaching done. All I needed was the raw data: who did and didn’t get visited. Excuses–those are between them and the Lord. I’m nobody’s judge.

    The internet is a gateway to adultery because of the false intimacy available here. I think pornography degrades marital intimacy in general, and makes what is precious into something common. Anyone reading this–if you are doing anything on the internet that you wouldn’t want your spouse, children, bishop, Stake President, Prophet, or Savior to see–you’re not going to have to work very hard to see that there’s something dangerous going on.

  19. Jim F. on February 12, 2005 at 11:32 pm

    A friend pointed out that one of the consequences of p*graphy is that, being exposed to it and having to fight against it, we lose the innocence with which we ought to approach our bodies and our sexuality and, thus, also some of the joy. So in addition to the other effects of p*graphy, many of them horrible, one of its evils is that it makes it difficult, if not impossible, for us to deal with our sexuality aesthetically, though surely there is no more aesthetic experience–thinking not only of the word “aesthetic”‘s reference to beauty, but also of its Greek roots: sensory–than that of sexuality. Though Joseph Smith tells us that the Song of Songs is not inspired, it is quite beautiful and not p*graphic. I take it to have been preserved because it is inspired aesthetically and morally, even if it is not scripture. But anything comparable seems to have become impossible because of p*graphy, so that reading that book in the way that many thousands once read it, as a celebration of love, love of a spouse and love of God, has probably become impossible because of p*graphy.

  20. Jim F. on February 12, 2005 at 11:42 pm

    Julie (#5): The trouble with that definition of p*graphy is that it makes the word almost meaningless and thereby plays into the hands of those who wish to reign p*graphy in. If that is, indeed, its definition, then it is impossible for us to forbid it. I don’t think we want to argue that it is impossible to forbid p*graphy, even if we don’t agree about what it is or how or to what degree it should be forbidden.

  21. Jim F. on February 13, 2005 at 12:01 am

    Oops: “rein,” not “reign.”

  22. David King Landrith on February 13, 2005 at 12:11 am

    Wilfried, you forget all of the ancient Greek red-figures and black-figures with oversized erections.

  23. Kaimi on February 13, 2005 at 12:27 am

    DKL,

    You write: “Just a hundred years ago, most married people only ever saw their spouse naked (or their children), and they had no idea what it looked like when people had sex. Now everybody can pretty much envision what everyone else looks like naked, and many (if not most) people have watched others perform every sort of sexual act on numerous occasions.”

    I wasn’t around a hundred years ago, but I think that’s an idealized (and probably wrong) assumption. Based on experience in rural Guatemala — many aspects of which haven’t changed much in the past hundred years — I suspect that there was a lot of sexual knowledge.

    In rural areas of Guatemala, some things I observed that I think would apply to much of the United States a hundred or more years ago.

    -Public breast feeding was the norm. People generally saw the breasts of all of the childbearing women of the neighborhood on a regular basis, and it wasn’t a big deal.
    -Widespread knowledge of sex, based on animal sex, was also the norm. Everyone in rural areas in Guatemala regularly has to deal with getting cows and bulls to mate, breeding pigs, sheep, and so forth. Everyone knows the birds and the bees, from a very young age.
    -There’s a lot of intimacy within families. Families bathe in quick sequence sometimes sharing water, sleep in the same beds, and so forth. When you don’t have a big house, or lots of clothes, there’s really no room or ability for privacy. So people tend to see all of their siblings naked on a regular basis, until they leave the house. (This doesn’t seem confined to Guatemala — it reminds me of, for example, of the discussion of bathing and privacy (or lack thereof) in Zola’s novel Germinal, about 19th century France).
    -Many families would have sons or particularly daughters in law move in to live with them for a while until they had enough resources to get their own house. So the eldest son marries a girl, brings her home, and again everyone sees the daughter in law naked on a regular basis.
    -People don’t wear underwear. This provides a lot of unintentional nudity. Someone reaches down and pulls up her shirt bottom to wipe her face, and she’s flashing you her breasts.
    -Childbirth is often done at home.

    I can’t say how many of these would transfer to America 100 years ago, but it seems to me that many would. I may be wrong in my own assumption (and I would be interested in hearing any hard data), but I’m inclined to think that people in America 100 years ago had extensive exposure to nudity and sex. Not in the same forms we have today, but exposure nonetheless.

  24. David King Landrith on February 13, 2005 at 1:29 am

    Kaimi, I was going for something more direct than what you’re talking about. For example, there’s not much point in seeing Britney Spears naked, because she’s often within a few square inches of it in any case—even the most dull among us can extrapolate. This type of thing is so very common that pretty much everybody has seen enough nudity or near nudity to have a very clear idea of what any given person would look like in the buff.

    As far as sexual acts go, I think that you’re the one being naïve. There&rs

    [graphic material edited out by the management]

    All of this is just a click away in streaming video, and this is what I’m talking about when I mention internet porn. 100 years ago, very few people had seen any of these. Nowadays, many—if not most—people in our society have seen this kind of stuff often enough that much of it seems pedestrian.

    My point is very simple: When sex had to be performed live, people had to be at the same place at the same time as the performance was occurring. Technology mitigated this, making it possible to preserve images and movies for people elsewhere. But even 20 years ago, when I was a teenager, in order to get porn you had to show up somewhere to purchase it. This was a strong disincentive that has been removed.

    Since my second paragraph emphasizes the ubiquity of sexual performances throughout history, I get the feeling here that I’m dealing with illiterates who can’t be bothered to read beyond a first paragraph.

    Perhaps this comment is too blunt to get posted, but when I tried to be clever about it, nobody really got the point. We’re talking about the evils of pornography, and prophets can say “porn queen” in General Conference, then surely I can say [deleted; you can't] on Times and Seasons.

    I’m not living in the “Good Old Days,” but I’m left to wonder if you’re living in the now.

  25. Adam Greenwood on February 13, 2005 at 9:28 am

    Yes, rural people can often be pretty earthy (often not, of course), but do you really think this is the same, Kaimi? It seems that you and Norm are deadset on arguing that things can’t be worse now in the United States than they were earlier and I just don’t see why. What’s the motive?

  26. annegb on February 13, 2005 at 9:52 am

    wow, Sheri Lynn, that is really profound. Yeah, that is scary.

  27. Kaimi on February 13, 2005 at 9:56 am

    Adam,

    First, I haven’t said that “things can’t be worse now.” I critiqued a particular statement by DKL, that 100 years ago, no one knew what a naked body looked like. That statement — which I’ve heard other members also assert — struck me as wrong, and I explained why.

    What’s the motive for stating this? Honesty, perhaps? If people are recounting an urban legend, why lend tacit support to it if I believe that it is factually incorrect?

    Let me ask the counter-question — why is it that some people seem intent on creating mythical golden ages where there was no sexual sin or sexual knowledge, in order to hype up any sin available to us today? Isn’t it enough to say “sexual sin is wrong today” without having to tie it in to idealized worlds of fifty or 100 of however-many years ago? Why do some people seem to have this compulsion to — regardless of the truth of such assertions — want to invent a time when everything was allegedly fine and dandy, until some time in the 1920′s when someone discovered that women have breasts, and it was all downhill from there?

    And why would someone like you, who is smart enough not to buy into every urban legend, think that others shouldn’t point out apparent factual errors? Is God ever served by factual error or urban legend? Isn’t the devil the father of _all_ lies?

  28. Wilfried on February 13, 2005 at 9:57 am

    DKL, I did not “forget”. I mentioned “Greek fertility depictions”, which are indeed the ones you point to. But I don’t think there is a need to make the full inventory, since we should then also go to Chinese and Japanese… The point is, as also Kaimi made for the realm of social reality, that some of us may have an erroneous idea of a certain “modest” past in which sex was invisible. Even the so-called Victorian prudish age was far from moral when it came to eroticism.

    However, more important, I don’t think it would be wise to turn this thread into a detailed study of the past. The point was only brought up as a corrective to your initial statement. Nobody is arguing that p0rn can be justified on the basis of the past.

    In that sense, in response to Adam’s last remark, I don’t think Norm and Kaimi were “arguing that things can’t be worse now in the United States than they were earlier”. There is no doubt we all share our abhorrence of present day p0rn.

  29. Julie in Austin on February 13, 2005 at 10:20 am

    Jim F.–

    It’s not my definition, so I won’t defend it, but your critique leads me to wonder: How _would_ you define p’y for a Church context?

  30. David King Landrith on February 13, 2005 at 10:25 am

    Wilfried, I love the way you put “forget” in scare quotes—as though even if you had forgotten, you hadn’t really forgotten. Is that really any way to talk down to people who talk down to you in response to being talked down to?

    I don’t recommend plodding through past eroticism. In fact, I only plod through current eroticism in my earlier comment in order to demonstrate the stark contrast between pornography past and present.

  31. Rosalynde Welch on February 13, 2005 at 10:33 am

    Julie, I think the radically subjective definition in the Ensign–p*graphy for you is whatever titillates you–works really well for the purposes (I imagine are) being served in that context: namely, to motivate individuals to protect themselves and maintain their personal purity. But obviously such a definition is manifestly unhelpful in establishing the “community standards” at the heart of legal and public dealings with pornography: if one person gets hot looking at shoe catalogs, we’re not going to ban all shoe catalogs–even though that person should, by all means, avoid them. “Community standards”, like all categories that depend on a dialectic of individual and collective, are extremely slippery and difficult to define.

  32. Rosalynde Welch on February 13, 2005 at 10:38 am

    Julie, I think the radically subjective definition in the Ensign–p*graphy is whatever titillates you–probably works quite well for the purposes (I imagine are) being served in that context: namely, to encourage individuals to proactively protect themselves and maintain personal purity. But obviously such a definition is manifestly unhelpful in establishing the “community standards” at the heart of legal and public dealings with the issue: if one person gets hot looking at shoe catalogs, we’re still not going to ban all shoe catalogs–even though that individual should certainly avoid them personally. “Community standards,” like all categories based on a dialectic between individuals and the collective, are very difficult to define. I personally do think that intent of producer is a good place to begin in making the determination of what is p*graphic for public purposes–but not necessarily for one’ s individual choices.

  33. Rosalynde Welch on February 13, 2005 at 10:43 am

    Oops, sorry for the repeat–got put in the moderation queue by accident.

  34. ADMIN on February 13, 2005 at 10:44 am

    FYI all, after a recent batch of particularly nasty pornographic spam a few weeks ago, the word “porn” was added to the moderation list. That is, any comment with that word will not automatically post, but will be held for case-by-case approval.

    You can avoid this in several ways. Most obviously, use a substitute like p*rn or p0rn or what-have-you.

    If your comment is held for moderation, it will be released as soon as someone here takes a look and determines that it’s not porn spam. Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.

  35. Wilfried on February 13, 2005 at 11:25 am

    To help bring this thread to the positive perspective Jim and Ivan talked about in previous comments, the devotional address on this topic, by Elder Holland, is certainly noteworthy.

  36. John H on February 13, 2005 at 11:28 am

    “It seems that you and Norm are deadset on arguing that things can’t be worse now in the United States than they were earlier and I just don’t see why. What’s the motive? ”

    The motive is that people fighting a righteous cause lose credibility by insisting on inventing myths to help support that cause. If I want to fight against teen pregnancy, for example, I probably wouldn’t be taken seriously by teenagers if I made outlandish claims like “everyone who has sex gets an STD,” or “teens never used to have sex 50 years ago.”

    Another example might be the fight against alcohol. The Mormon lamentation of the defeat of prohibition is considered a joke by anyone with any grasp of history and who understands the train wreck that was prohibition.

    There are good reasons to be concerned about p*rn, teen sex, and alcohol. If we believe we’re right, and that we have the truth as revealed from God, then why do we need to create stories (in other words, lie) to bolster our claims? Whether it’s “The wine in the New Testament is really grapejuice,” or “anyone who looks at p*rn will get addicted,” these myths only serve to weaken our credility.

  37. Ben S. on February 13, 2005 at 11:59 am

    That talk by Elder Holland is also available in .mp3 format from BYU Speeches

  38. David King Landrith on February 13, 2005 at 12:27 pm

    Kaimi: why is it that some people seem intent on creating mythical golden ages where there was no sexual sin or sexual knowledge, in order to hype up any sin available to us today?

    Surely this is a straw man. Perhaps I should ask, “Why is it that some people, under the pretense of superior wisdom, insist that everything is as bad as it ever was?” The truth is, things get better and worse. Slavery is no longer an acceptable practice in mainstream Western civilization, and this is an improvement. By the same token, many things have gotten worse. To chose something fairly uncontroversial, there are more abandoned buildings in New York City than ever before. I might describe an era of New York where almost no buildings were abandoned, and someone with a jaded eye towards real estate might jump in to insist, “But there have always been abandoned buildings in New York City.” Isn’t this entirely beside the point?

    But Kaimi, if you feel like you’re fighting Satan by emphasizing trivia like (for example) colonial bundling or Apostle John W. Taylor’s 1898 report that in one Utah county 80% of LDS marriages involved premarital sex, then far be it from me to deter you from your mission.

    As I think my (now lost to the ages) list of typical pornographic materials demonstrated, there is nothing comparable to today’s pornography in any period of the past. And if my initial statement about marital relations was local to early 20th century America (as opposed to, say, Singapore, Ancient Greece, or Victorian England), let me point out that Adam’s post explicitly refers to American jurisprudence and American community standards.

  39. Ivan Wolfe on February 13, 2005 at 2:31 pm

    That talk by Elder Holland is, IMHO, the best and most powerful talk ever given on the subject. He once gave an abridged version in conference, but the original is still the best.

  40. Jim F. on February 13, 2005 at 3:58 pm

    DKL: Take it easy on Wilfried (cf. #29). After seeing your response, I reread his original post (#16), and I don’t think he was talking down to you or anyone else. He said he wanted to nuance your sentence, “Just a hundred years ago, most married people only ever saw their spouse naked (or their children), and they had no idea what it looked like when people had sex.” Adding a nuance isn’t to disagree. Then in his final paragraph he repeated the point you made about the difference between the past and the present being the instant availability of p*graphy in the present. So I don’t see your understanding of that post. I certainly don’t see anything in it that would warrant your suspicion that you are “dealing with illiterates who can’t be bothered to read beyond a first paragraph” (#23).

    Kaimi: I think DKL has a point (#37) when he suggests that you are making a straw man of Adam’s claim (#26). I don’t see either him or Adam “creating mythical golden ages where there was no sexual sin or sexual knowledge.”

    It is odd for us to get upset with each other over something about which we agree on almost all points. Giving the charitable reading to what others have said would go a long way toward reducing the heat and increasing the light at T&S.

  41. GreenSweaterGuy on February 13, 2005 at 4:14 pm

    I enjoy Jean Baudrillard’s discussion on p*y and obscenity in his book, “The Ecstacy of Communication.” P*y is the detail that stains the sanctity of seduction. But p*y plays a key role in the way we understand sex, even in the church. A sexuality that isn’t sex, but an endless stream of clinical and disembodied images. And while we might stand tall and point our fingers at the great and spacious building, I’d like to give my opinion on two ways in which p*y has structured our lives as Latter-Day Saints such that we ought to consider where in fact we are standing while we are pointing the fingers. First, we ought to think about our ever liberalizing attitudes towards sex. Towards the end of the 80′s, president Kimball sent out a letter that outlined the church’s conservative position on sex. Today, I hear more and more in church the opinion that sex is whatever the couple feels comfortable doing, in a world where our understanding of what sex is, is quite literally defined by p*y — as long as there is a temple ceremony first, have at it! We wait anxiously for the day, where we too can experience in all its sterile detail and detached simulation the “sex” that takes place in those images we never looked at, but know everything about. Secondly, as a metaphor, we ought to think of the obscenity involved in our scientific and careful examinations of p*y and sexuality. Standing against p*y in a conspicuous way in fact has a great deal of sign exchange value in our conservative culture, and drives our ever need for “hard data” to show the world just how bad they really are. Where at one time, we had only a humble trust in God’s wisdom, now we have the very institution of science itself, with all its test tubes and slide rules to lay bare the gory details of sexuality. An obsession with, one might consider something along the lines of a pornographic addiction.

    thank yor for letting me visit your board.

  42. GreenSweaterGuy on February 13, 2005 at 4:17 pm

    I enjoy Jean Baudrillard’s discussion on p*y and obscenity in his book, “The Ecstacy of Communication.” P*y is the detail that stains the sanctity of seduction. But p*y plays a key role in the way we understand sex, even in the church. A sexuality that isn’t sex, but an endless stream of clinical and disembodied images. And while we might stand tall and point our fingers at the great and spacious building, I’d like to give my opinion on two ways in which p*y has structured our lives as Latter-Day Saints such that we ought to consider where in fact we are standing while we point fingers. First, we ought to think about our ever liberalizing attitudes towards sex. Towards the end of the 80′s, president Kimball sent out a letter that outlined the church’s conservative position on sex. Today, I hear more and more in church the opinion that sex is whatever the couple feels comfortable doing, in a world where our understanding of what sex is, is quite literally defined by p*y — as long as there is a temple ceremony first. We wait anxiously for the day, where we too can experience in all its sterile detail and detached simulation the “sex” that takes place in those images we never looked at, but know everything about. Secondly, as a metaphor, we ought to think of the obscenity involved in our scientific and careful examinations of p*y and sexuality. Standing against p*y in a conspicuous way in fact has a great deal of sign exchange value in our conservative culture, and drives our ever need for “hard data” to show the world just how bad they really are. Where at one time, we had only a humble trust in God’s wisdom, now we have the very institution of science itself, with all its test tubes and slide rules to lay bare the gory details of sexuality. An obsession with, one might consider something along the lines of a p*fic addiction.

    thanks for letting me visit your board. (if more than one post comes up, my apologies, there seems to be filtering, so if a post didn’t show at first, i took that it got deleted.)

  43. XON on February 13, 2005 at 4:30 pm

    I just wanted to add amen to Ivan Wolfe’s #12 and John H.’s #35. Growing up, I think that the most un-helpful assistance I received in this vein were those sorts of lessons/diatribes. As I get closer (at a rate that makes me want to scream the way you do when you go over the top on a REALLY, REALLY fast rollercoaster) to having to engage these topics with my children, I’m coming to agree more and more with John H. on this. I sometimes wonder what might have been different in my life (in a straw man sort of way. . .) if the whole topic had been ‘taught’ to me, rather than my being propagandized about it.

    Also wanted to observe about Jim F.’s #18 re: Song of Solomon — We see that the Jaredites became depraved and degenerate because they lost, essentially, the means by which to express themselves to posterity. Their posterity, as individuals never had the benefits of past experience, nor the opportunity to develope into ‘civilized’ people, leading to a barbaric culture. I wonder if the assertions about Mormon’s editorial style (picking and choosing from among the alleged roomful-of-records according to inspiration as to the demands of a foreign if not alien future) might be manifest here, also. Perhaps there will come a time not so far down the road where those who can’t or won’t access ‘traditional religious material’ will be in danger of losing the actual ability to regard a lover (and hopefully a spouse. . .) in such a reverential and ‘holy’ manner. . . and so God allowed the Song to remain in the canon, despite its apparent irrelevance to more ‘theological’ subjects.

  44. Rosalynde Welch on February 13, 2005 at 5:47 pm

    I think XON makes a good point about teaching young people. When I was a teenager, I also reacted very poorly to the “today’s world is worse than it ever has been at any point in history” approach, immediately shutting down and getting defensive. The fact is, teenagers identify very strongly with “today’s world”–it’s their world, in a lot of ways, even though they’re still largely powerless in it. So I think we would do well to set aside the question of whether and how the problem today is different than it was fifty or a hundred years ago (which is a useful question in other contexts) and instead find other ways to approach the serious problems of p*graphy and sex that face youth when we’re teaching teenagers.

  45. David King Landrith on February 13, 2005 at 8:34 pm

    Jim F (#39): DKL: Take it easy on Wilfried (cf. #29). After seeing your response, I reread his original post (#16), and I don’t think he was talking down to you or anyone else.

    Jim’s right, Wilfried, and so are you in the broad sense. I owe you an apology, and I’m sorry—though I did get a real kick out of your scare quotes. (And I may still be a bit sore about your about your implication that I’m from Utah.)

    Please take my statement that I suspect that I’m “dealing with illiterates who can’t be bothered to read beyond a first paragraph” to refer only to Kaimi.

  46. Mark B. on February 13, 2005 at 8:44 pm

    Not to beat up even more on DKL, but I drove through parts of Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York this afternoon, and saw large tracts of land that have been re-developed in the past 20 years. Much of this development in recent years has been by private companies, but some of the neighborhoods got a jump start through a church in Queens led by Rev. Floyd Flake, who has done extraordinary work in helping to build economic self-sufficiency in those communities. I realize that this is purely anecdotal evidence, but I believe that the number of abandoned buildings in NYC is substantially lower than it was 20 or 25 years ago.

    On the other hand, I think that DKL’s point about the easy availability of p*rn as compared to earlier days is certainly true, if you pick the right “earlier days” and places. As a teen in Provo in the late 1960′s you had to sneak a Playboy out of Albertson’s (before they figured it out and started stashing them behind the counter) or find one lying around at the barbershop on 5th North and University–you certainly couldn’t get it at home unless your father subscribed. There was no internet to bring p*rn into your home, no cable TV with movies “on demand”, no Marriott hotel with “adult” movies for purchase, no VCRs and thus no X-X (I don’t know if three X’s will get blocked) movies to rent. I doubt that there was a place to go for peep shows, but if you wanted to see it, you would have to leave home, put on your dirty raincoat and head to some seedy part of town (maybe even SLC).

    And, I don’t think that the mating habits of livestock, and the earthy exposure to animal sexuality that youth in a farming/ranching environment received, should be compared to p*rn, unless we use the completely subjective definition of p*rn from the Ensign. (Although Steinbeck, in The Grapes of Wrath has a terribly funny scene where a young man takes the family heifer down to the neighbors to have her bred, and the only person home there was a young woman–pull out your copy and refresh your memory if you’d like.) I mean, even when Rosalynde’s father offered to describe the mechanics of chicken mating while he and I were out with two lovely young ladies, I don’t think it was the beginning of a p*rno experience. (The offer was, I should add, declined by all.)

    That being said, I agree with XON and Rosalynde that lectures about the evil of the world, etc. are not the best way to deal with issues of sexuality with our youth.

  47. Trenden on February 13, 2005 at 9:18 pm

    So, if lecturing on the evils of the world isn’t the best way to deal with sexuality issues with the youth, what is a better way? I’d like to hear some examples of alternative methods that are more effective.

  48. Adam Greenwood on February 13, 2005 at 9:25 pm

    The exchange here is a perfect example of what I call TimesandSeasons-ism.

    TimesandSeasons-ism:
    The inexpressible horror that some general statement, no matter how peripheral to the main discussion, should not be properly nuanced and complicated, and the belief that the best way to nuance it is to make an equal and opposite sweeping general statement. Comment #11 is a perfect example, but there are others.

    Wilfried Decoo,
    Thanks for the link to the talk.

  49. Chad Too on February 13, 2005 at 9:53 pm

    Trenden,

    I’d go so far as to say lecturing on the evils of the world is probably the worst way to deal with sexual issues with the youth. An explicit understanding that there is evil in the world does not necessarily lead directly to a testimony of the law of chastity. There’s a world of difference between lecturing on evil and helping teens gain a witness of their divine potential. The prisons are full of people who have been lectured on good vs. evil.

    I think it much more effective to create opportunities for teens to feel the Spirit while teaching them about the beautiful rewards Heavenly Father has for those who remain worthy of them. YMMV.

  50. Mark B. on February 13, 2005 at 9:58 pm

    YMMV?? “You make me vomit”?? :)

  51. Chad Too on February 13, 2005 at 10:00 pm

    Your Mileage May Vary.

  52. Norm on February 13, 2005 at 10:05 pm

    “It seems that you and Norm are deadset on arguing that things can’t be worse now in the United States than they were earlier and I just don’t see why. What’s the motive? ”
    in a word, the motive is truth. when i get married and have kids, i want to teach them effectively, without lying to them. that’s all.

    I think you misread me. or misunderstand me and probably Kaimi. I’m not saying that nothing changed (better or worse). sexual activity was different in the 70s and 80s. drugs of choice come in and out of vogue. but pretending like there was no alcoholism or drug abuse during the 50s, during prohibition, or in any era of history is simply ridiculous. manifestations of human sexuality may vary. but we’ve had premarital awareness of nakedness since the garden. and p*rn, onanism, pre/extra-marital relations, etc., etc. have been around just as long, give or take a generation

    i remember bill o’reilly (although i’ve heard this in church and elsewhere) saying that parents who’ve used drugs should lie to their children and say they haven’t ever because statistically children who believe their parents never tried drugs are less likely to try drugs themselves. therefore, he argued be a good example and lie. (of course he emphasized how proud he was that he never used drugs and could be honest and a good example).

    i undertand the value of good examples, the vain tendency to defend our egos, to want to look good to others, especially family. i even understand the argument to lie b/c of the statistics and possible consequences. but i don’t think i’d be comfortable being the lying parent. (i’m not married, a parent, nor have i used drugs). I certainly would not be comfortable with a church that wilfully misrepresents, distorts, demonizes, or lies. we know what’s wrong, but we should teach it in ways worthy of the Lord. of course, we are a church made of fallible, human members. and my experience in the church as a youth was full of misrepresentation, distortion, demonization, and lies about sex. we should be able to be honest without ‘embracing’ sin. to love the sinner and not force each youth that experiences some aspect of sin to feel unloved, deviant, alienated, suicidal, or in short, like s/he is the most evil person in the ward. this problem is only more complicated in cases of abuse, where perhaps the party feeling guilty has done nothing wrong.

    but children, or humans generally, think of themselves as belonging to groups. they are easily flattered when President Hinckley says how great ‘the youth’ are, that they are strong generation. and easily hurt when others measure them against mythical ages of virtue. i agree that some things improve, others deteriorate (the slavery example), and that pornography is a dangerous, awful juggernaut. but the statement about not seeing anyone naked prior to marriage is the sort of thing orrin hatch wants everyone to believe about himself… and the sort of thing that makes people either lionize or dislike him. but i do not see how proclaiming one’s own or one’s group’s sinlessness helps the sinner outside the group. [i realize this is a weak way to say this, can someone grasp and articulate this thought better?].

    (as mentioned above) teaching “your wife will leave you, your children will hate you, and you will end up in jail” about pornography is none of: truthful, productive, effective, faithful. we don’t teach that way about paying tithing [or attending our meetings, reading the scriptures, or keeping other important commandments]. although i’m sure that many convicts ‘began’ by not paying their tithing, according to the same loose idea of causation often appealed to. for tithing, say, we emphasize blessings received, faith restored, stories of success, spiritual experiences. not all embers pay full tithes. (nor have they ever–although i’m sure there have been ups and downs). the church is not shy about talking about credit card debt or self-reliance, etc. we have programs in place.

    but there’s no equivalent Victorian attitude to attack the borrower, threaten debtor’s prison, and talk about the time when everyone paid a full tithe and how much better it was then.

    dishonesty or wild hyperbole just strike ‘the other half’ [or, our teachers' audience] as ridiculous. i was crushed, confused, and deflated to get to the mission field, believing that any slip up should have sent someone home, to find out that the prior month’s Zone conference included a candid chat about ‘progression’ in struggles with masturbation, for both elders and sisters. I had no idea. I was shocked. my images of missionaries and missionarydom was turned on end. I had grown up thinking that probably only 1 or 2 kids in my whole ward of 50+ youth would ever have problems with that. that our missionaries never would nor did the missionaries in our ward. I thought you had to clear that problem up a year ahead of time to get into the field. such ego-protection and stigma may have helped me get on a mission. but it was very alienating. maybe it kept kids from doing worse things. but the teaching in my ward wasn’t honest. and down the road, that dishonesty has probably cost the youth more than it helped.

    it’s hard to tell the truth. i found out last week both that a kid from my ward, a prominent leader’s son, was a sex offender (after being told he came home from his mission because of depression, rather than the truth: to face trial for rape). i also learned i had a gay cousin who had died of AIDS; i had always heard a different story, never involving any sin. we don’t want to drag names through the dirt. but sometimes we are more concerned about looking good to each other and especially the world that we forget to be honest about our problems and our pasts. [i'm not saying that the whole ward should have known about that poor kid. but it probably would have helped some others in the family not to lie about my cousin, to be candid about sex, safe sex, etc. incidentally, that man's parents were very honest about it. and so were his siblings, it was my parents that knew and decided they'd edit our experience.]

    we end up tiptoeing around some problems. pretending that our predecessors were 100%righteous, more righteous than others’. and saying, “you will get an STD, get pregnant, go to hell, etc. if you have ever X or do ever Y.” but when people have X and Y, find out that what they were taught was naive, stupid, and deceitful, i don’t think it reflects well on the church or helps them come back.

    How many times have I heard the story about the Martin Handcart company, and how none of them ever apostatized? Sunday school teachers would always teach that all pioneers were similarly unwavering, that their ‘pioneer stock’ descendants should be too. Only to find out that thousands upon thousands reached the Salt Lake Valley, and went back to Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois etc. Or on to California. Or even stayed and apostatized. We as a church can too easily fall in love with our collective Ego, as we want to remember it. the problem in this instance is that ‘golden ages’ and pretending that masturbation or sexual deviance is unique to our era–b/c the p*rn or the type of p*rn is newer, more vivid, more crafty etc than ever–miscasts the problem and ends up doing more evil than good.

    that’s not what DHL is trying to do. but i was only disagreeing with the obviously untrue “most married men” comment. sure, you’ve got me, many people slept with prostitutes in the dark. they could less easily envision the motions of sex? I guess. until the 21st century? maybe. of course modern p*rn is more accessible, more vivid. more specialized. but since Gutenberg we’ve had specialized, graphic p*rn that surpassed the vivacity of what came before it. the existence of human sexuality is what has remained constant, if its manifestation may have retooled and reformed themselves.

    p*rn is bad. its distributors worse. its consumers-you judge. shouting at p*rn, though, is like yelling at alcohol in bottles. “oh no!!! the new wide mouth can from Budweiser. oh the humanity!!! kids of this generation will be drinking 15% faster than kids of my generation!”

    should we blame extramarital sex on changes in fashion (increase in accessibility? from corsets/petticoats on down to the present…). multi room houses. automobiles. long workdays. motels. money. p*rn. we do. maybe those things are bad. but let’s no pretend that before the automobile no one was slipping out after the dance).

    telling the youth, or insinuating to them, that no one ever thought of sex/p*rn, etc until they came around is, in my opinion, a manifest evil. but it’s easy. and feels similar to ‘standing up for righteousness.’ so we do it. or allow it to be done. maybe sometimes scaring people is a good idea. guilt-tripping them. lying about the problem might work for drugs statistically.

    when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
    if we were throwing more and more money at an underachieving school and the results weren’t getting any better, would we just budget more money? maybe the problem is not funding or awareness of the problem, how often we talk about it, but the ways we teach, administer, and interact.

    teachers/leaders become accustomed to the ‘scare them’ approach or to repeating what they want to believe about another time or place, appealing to the same often useless tools. without ever asking if it’s the best approach.

    that wards seem to have more and more lessons on this problem. more and more couples meeting with the bishop. more and more church leaders getting arrested for child p*rn or seducing minors. (how great is the changein behavior? or are the prob’s just suddenly more visible?) ever more lessons & conference talks on this topic–it tempts us to hate/blame p*rn itself more, to shout louder about it, call it more powerful (which it may be)… but maybe, we just need to reevaluate our methods. our teaching. our underlying motivations.

  53. Kaimi on February 13, 2005 at 10:10 pm

    DKL,

    I’m fully capable of reading beyond a first paragraph. However, if your first paragraph is the part that has the mistake in it, that’s what I’m going to focus on. The correctness of a second or third paragraph, or even of an ultimate conclusion, don’t really bear. Is that such a strange concept?

    Your structure was as follows:

    1. 100 years ago, no one knew about sex.
    2. Now, modern technology makes p0rn bad.

    I’m in agreement on #2. That doesn’t change the error in #1.

    Jim,

    I critiqued DKL’s specific statement that “Just a hundred years ago, most married people only ever saw their spouse naked (or their children), and they had no idea what it looked like when people had sex.” I then responded to Adam’s question as to why I would make that critique.

  54. annegb on February 13, 2005 at 10:29 pm

    Forty years ago I knew nothing about sex. Nobody told me. I had no clue. Imagine my chagrin. It took awhile for the yuck feeling to go away. I’m sort of embarrassed just talking about it this much.

    Then I almost had my baby at home because nobody told me about labor. Nobody told me. I thought I was having kidney problems. Had that child 10 minutes after we screeched into the parking lot. What a surprise that was. I barely knew I was pregnant.

    Which goes to show you what you can survive. Also the level of ignorance only 40 years ago. I wasn’t in Appalachia, I was in Elko, Nevada. But I was probably a little more stupid than the average girl. But you know, my kids have friends who are very ignorant, even today.

    I have been very careful to explain things to my children. I think kids who feel guilty about what is going on with their bodies and do not have a clue are more at risk than those who can talk to their parents, also, more apt to experiment. Unless they’re like me and have no idea anything like that even exists.

    Another issue, I believe, is the fact that so many adolescents, especially boys, sorry, guys, are left alone, often to care for their younger sisters, unsupervised, with access to computer and TV. I suppose that would be a whole commentary on society, then, moms need to be at home and the whole thing. It’s so hard to guard against every eventuality.

    I really hate it when you guys are mean to each other.

  55. Sheri Lynn on February 13, 2005 at 11:16 pm

    Here’s a HUG for annegb.

    I was raised by atheists. “Don’t get caught” was the only serious commandment taught me by a father who stole HBO with a secret covered satellite dish he built himself. He wouldn’t appreciate the irony I saw in his actions–when I was ten, he built us a burglar alarm with parts he stole from work.

    He would tell stories of being offered bribes that he would have accepted if they had been big enough. Playboy magazines were kept in stock in my parents’ bathroom, and family legend tells that they knew I was reading at age 2 when I was found reading aloud the jokes behind the centerfold. I was reading Heinlein, and not just his juveniles, by fourth grade. That’s what my Dad read. My home may have been clean and tidy to outward appearances, but every night my parents drank themselves to sleep, and every day my parents smoked, and p*rn was left down where my brother and I could see it.

    It really is NORMAL for the rest of the world. Jeff Foxworthy says men only think “I want a beer and I want to see something nekkid.” That is the natural man–and natural woman is no better. This is what we must set aside if we are to become Christlike. We are the peculiar people because we’re trying not to indulge in this stuff. I think it is a greater temptation because we can go to a porn site JUST as easily, maybe more easily, than we can find a place like T&S.

    (I have to say, I needn’t worry much about catching a virus here, on LDS.ORG, et cetera! The few times I’ve inadvertantly ended up on Really Bad Sites, ai yai yai! Once a whole BUNCH of nasty popups came up and kept on sprouting, as fast as I could kill them…had to reboot to get it shut off, and then I did indeed have a virus.)

  56. DK Landrith on February 14, 2005 at 12:26 am

    annegb: I really hate it when you guys are mean to each other.

    Sorry, annegb. Like Pigpen with his cloud dirt and dust, I seem to bring it with me wherever I go. This is probably why my friends are mostly non-Mormon.

  57. Trenden on February 14, 2005 at 12:28 am

    RE: “I think it much more effective to create opportunities for teens to feel the Spirit while teaching them about the beautiful rewards Heavenly Father has for those who remain worthy of them. YMMV.”

    Chad,
    Well, I agree that method is more effective but I don’t think the good vs. evil lecture is so bad either.. The church youth manuals are full of lessons that attempt to invite the spirit and teach the beautiful rewards of following Christ. Have you ever taught the youth? I’d say the focus of the youth curriculum is 90% positive. Given that fact I don’t think an occasional lesson on the evils of the world is so bad or ineffective. There are lots of talks to the youth from the GAs that take that approach and I’ve always assumed they knew what they were doing.

    RE: “The prisons are full of people who have been lectured on good vs. evil.”

    There is sure a lot of lecturing on good vs evil in the scriptures. I wonder why that is if it’s as ineffective as you say. And do you really believe most prisoners got too much lecturing as youth?

  58. Chad Too on February 14, 2005 at 8:58 am

    Trenden,

    You didn’t orginially say “lesson on evils.” You said lecture. My experience in working with LDS youth (going on 20 years now) is that lecturing them on evil might make me feel better, but is not very effective in helping them withstand the evils.

    LDS teen: I won’t do that, it’s evil.
    Tempter: No, it’s not.
    LDS teen: but my leader said it was.
    Tempter: He’s wrong.
    LDS teen: oh.

    Oversimplified, yes, but if lectures and rules are all we give our youth then we are sending them out into the war of souls with aluminum armor: effective against marshmallows but easily pierced by the fiery darts.

    We need to get them iron-clad. For that, helping them feel the Spirit and gain testimony of the wisdom of the law of chastity is far more effective and far better protection.

    Mere lecturing is not going to be as effective as helping teens get a testimony of the law of chastity. A lesson on evil may be a part of that plan, but what will help more than anything in those private moments where a teen could teeter is a testimony.

    My prison reference is not made to start a threadjack, merely to show that people who messup and violate man’s or God’s laws deep down know that what they were doing was wrong. They do it anyway.

  59. Trenden on February 14, 2005 at 10:40 am

    Chad,
    You said, “I’d go so far as to say lecturing on the evils of the world is probably the worst way to deal with sexual issues with the youth.” I was just trying to point out that different methods work for different people. I think the church curriculum does, as you suggest, attempt to bring in the spirit and focus on the positive. But I’ve seen that the occasional lecture on the evils of the world can be effective also. In my experience there’s usually a flood of youth confessions that accompany such lessons when done effectively and the interviews that follow are often turning points in their lives. Anyway, I don’t think we really disagree that much. I just get nervous when people make sweeping generalizations. Each person is different and responds in different ways. Sometimes a good lecture is effective.

  60. Calvin Arnason on February 15, 2005 at 3:33 pm

    The sidebar definition of p*rn in the recent Ensign article of this month associates arousal with p*rn. So everything is p*rn that arouses us?

    I find this incredibly twisted – and an insult to the Creator of our bodies.

  61. David King Landrith on February 15, 2005 at 4:37 pm

    Just re-rereading this thread, and found you’re comment, Sheri Lynn. I guess I missed it in the heat of the exchange (can I say “heat of the exchange” on a thread about porn?)

    It sounds to me like the guy you found who claimed to be the bishop of a small ward was a predator and not a bishop. It is a common predatory technique to get someone to accept borderline behavior out of sympathy. His claim that he got released was probably a ruse to get you to feel the need to minimize the wrong doing of the borderline behavior he was trying to sell. In any case, good move in ditching the silly cad.

  62. A. Greenwood on February 15, 2005 at 5:47 pm

    Calvin Arnason,
    You should read the definition with charity. Assume that the writers of the Ensign also believe in the Creator and so on. Then apply whatever implicit exemptions you need to to make sense of their definition.

  63. marta on February 15, 2005 at 7:45 pm

    DKL – Your assumption that a predator cannot be a bishop or have been a bishop is very sweet and naive. May your experience always bear it out. Not everyone’s experience does.

  64. Calvin Arnason on February 15, 2005 at 8:51 pm

    I am encouraged to “read the definition with charity. Assume that the writers of the Ensign also believe in the Creator and so on. Then apply whatever implicit exemptions you need to to make sense of their definition.”

    That is called “fitting the data to the hypothesis”. It reminds me of the Catholic Church insisting that the universe moves around the earth and that we must fit the experimental data into Ptolemy’s model. The Ensign p*rno definition, as it stands, reflects a twisted view of human sexuality, even viewed charitably (at least by myself and the few people I have talked to about it.)

    The church of today as a whole, is profoundly uncomfortable with sexuality in almost any form. The church of Joseph Smith was just the opposite. Both were twisted.

    At 12 years of age I was herded into a bus, along with everyone else from Mutual, for a drive to the stake center where males were separated from females and we males were instructed that to look on a woman to lust after her was to commit adultery in ones heart. Even at the time I felt that the giving of this message to me, a 12 year old, was really screwy. That’s because it was screwy.

  65. A. Greenwood on February 15, 2005 at 9:05 pm

    This site is for believers and for nonbelievers who can be polite enough to not call the Church ‘twisted.’ Please moderate your comments or seek another forum.

    I’m fairly sure that nearly everything you dislike reminds you of the Catholic Church and Ptolemy, etc. I am otherwise unable to account for you thinking there’s any resemblance.

    When your reading of a definition leads to results that everyone agrees are absurd, viz., that being aroused by one’s wife is p*rn, you should conclude not that everyone else is ‘fitting the data to the hypothesis’ but that you have missed much of the shared social and belief context that is implicitly qualifying the definition. IN this case, things like Of Symbols and Sacraments. You have probably missed even the context supplied by the original article. Do I assume correctly that you, like me, are arguing based off of what you’ve read in this thread and not off of having actually read the Ensign article?

  66. David King Landrith on February 15, 2005 at 9:20 pm

    It’s been about 13 1/2 years since I did something anybody considered sweet. So if you mean it sincerely, thanks. On the other hand, it’s been only hours since I was last called naive. Perhaps you’re more correct than you know.

    Even so, I fear that I misspoke or you misread me (or both). I didn’t mean to imply that he couldn’t be a bishop. Sadly, my own personal experience does not bear out that priesthood leaders are always good people. I’ve seen men use their priesthood authority to destroy other people’s lives. And I’ve seen their priesthood leaders repeatedly look the other way. It’s a very ugly thing, and that makes it especially challenging to see otherwise decent people get in trouble for (say) just doing controversial history.

    That said, there are many, many more predators posing as people in authority than there are predators in positions of authority. And the way I read the story that Sheri Lynn relates, it smacks of posing.

  67. ADMIN on February 15, 2005 at 9:34 pm

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  68. Sheri Lynn on February 15, 2005 at 10:03 pm

    “…there are many, many more predators posing as people in authority than there are predators in positions of authority. And the way I read the story that Sheri Lynn relates, it smacks of posing.” –
    Comment by David King Landrith

    It’s been a long time. The man was knowledgeable as could be about the gospel and how wards, testimonies, Mormon culture, et cetera, work. I was convinced he was who he said he was. On the other hand, I wondered how a bishop had time for internet buddies…and, I hadn’t been a member very long, and most of that time, I was pregnant on bedrest, nursing, or chasing a toddler around. I have to say that in many ways I’m still a clueless convert. I still smack my nose against things I didn’t understand, the way one walks into an unexpectedly closed door in the dark.

    He could well have been posing. His right name (which I have forgotten) was attached to the LDS-GEMS article he had submitted that started the whole thing, so…..

    Well, there’s no way at all to prove anything on the internet, really.

  69. Ben S. on February 15, 2005 at 10:24 pm

    Hey Calvin, this “we males were instructed that look on a woman to lust after her was to commit adultery in ones heart” sounds remarkably familar. Perhaps because it’s from Matt. 5:28?

    I think it a very useful definition *on an individual level.* Is anyone here really suggesting that someone who finds a once a year Sports Illustrated issue particularly sporting should avoid it?

    I just don’t think “Hey, it’s not p*y, it was just sports illustrated!” is a great excuse to offer God,,,

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