Are Mormons Crazy for Porn?

March 2, 2009 | 67 comments
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A study has looked at what percent of broadband users in an area also subscribe to a particular network of paid online pornography. Articles about the study have suggested that conservative religious types, especially Mormons, are more likely to use porn.

This suggestion has not been without controversy. An irate reader of our blog even got my contact information somehow and called me to rant about it.

The best take-down I’ve seen is here. See also here, here, and here.. Besides the points made in the linked articles, I’d only add that in my experience men, especially young men, who live in circles where porn use is not condemned have ready access to gigabytes of free porn and may be less likely to use a paid internet pornographer.

So the study tells us something, but I don’t know what. At the end of the day, all we know is that some Mormons have a pornography problem and that the irate reader who called me is a nut.

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67 Responses to Are Mormons Crazy for Porn?

  1. Rob Perkins on March 2, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    The fact that gigabytes of free porn exists, added to the fact that the study didn’t track usage of the free stuff, results in a flawed study which can make no claims at all.

    Way to go, journalists.

  2. gst on March 2, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Look, if you don’t want me to call you at work, then unplug the phone on your desk.

  3. Adam Greenwood on March 2, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    I don’t mind the calls, GST. Just don’t ask me to describe what I’m wearing.

  4. Adam Greenwood on March 2, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    The first link is the Get Religion article Dave B. links on the sidebar.

  5. Jane on March 2, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    If our people are paying for what others get for free, then maybe we need to talk about financial prudence, too.

  6. Jana on March 2, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Given that there are serious issues with the methodology, I’m not sure it’s worth debating its conclusions.

    http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=YmYxY2RkOGQ5NmI5NWRlNWM0MTYxNjcwYzVmYzllYzc=

    “A quick look at the study reveals all sorts of problems: It doesn’t examine individuals, but rather averages across areas, which leads to a red state vs. blue state analysis that allows for startling headlines but in fact tells us very little. One of the findings is that Utah has more per-capita online porn subscriptions than other states. It’s probably also true that Salt Lake City is one of the toughest places in America to pay for a lap dance or a peep show. So what do porn-prone Utahns do? They go online, and skew the very statistics now being trumpeted as newsworthy.”

    More here: http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=YmE0NzA5NmNlNTlkYzJmYTRkZmU2NjY4NTI3ZGVkN2Y=

  7. Jane on March 2, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    I mean — paying for stuff that’s elsewhere free is … crazy. So to answer your question: Apparently.

  8. Scott on March 2, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    There are so many alternative explanations for this data, and interesting results in the study that get entirely passed over, that such news reports are not worth the time. Read the actual article–it doesn’t say 1/2 of what the NewScientist article’s readers are claiming it does. I wrote about this myself when the journal paper came out last week–the paper says more about local policies and demographics than anything else.

  9. Scott on March 2, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    (I meant to include a link to my article, which is–if I do say so myself–the best out there. Please forgive the shameless self-promotion from a blog far less important than T&S)

  10. Mathew on March 2, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    First, of all the bloggers in the bloggernacle (and by bloggernacle I also include the mommy blogs who are KICKING T&S and BCC’S TRASH) likely to attract a nut job, I would have never thought it would be A. Greenwood.

    Second, Mormon’s are not so much crazy for porn as cuckoo for it–in the same way that Sonny is cuckoo for Coco Puffs and for the same reasons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOODb7Ajo3A

    Third, as long as we are thinking of reasons why the data tells us nothing, let’s not forget the most obvious one–non-Mormon’s in Utah are consuming ENORMOUS amounts of porn.

  11. Adam Greenwood on March 2, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    From Jeremiah J.

    The main problem with the study is that it’s an awesome example of the ecological fallacy (drawing conclusions about individuals from aggregate-level data)—though contrary to what Mollie says at Get Religion, I don’t think this is really a mathematical error. At any rate, the article is very strange in that it basically says, “Hey look at these interesting correlations,” without trying to identify any mechanisms that might result in the correlation. I see articles like this more and more, with a bunch of regressions done, but with no theoretical discussion or a very weak one.

    Here’s one: maybe religion and socially conservative legislation are more popular where more sinning is going on. We wouldn’t want to cry hypocrisy if we were to observe that support for the death penalty is higher in violent, crime-ridden areas. By the same token we might not want to conclude that the people railing against porn and the people buying it are largely the same (especially when the rate of subscription even in the highest state is about 1 in 200 *broadband users*). The “Sunday subscription” point is sort of intriguing here, but I don’t know what to make of it (what does it mean that a subscription “starts on Sunday”?).

    As a side note it’s odd considering the list of people who commented on the article, and the fact that it was refereed for publication, that the article refers to “blue states who voted for Gore in 2004”.

    As for Utah, there are non-religious correlations with porn subscriptions that explain some of Utah’s numbers in the study. Urbanism, college education, and oddly enough volunteerism are apparently correlated with a higher rate of subscription. Youth population and church attendance are too, but not at statistically significant levels.

    Jeremiah J.

  12. Scott on March 2, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    >”Third, as long as we are thinking of reasons why the data tells us nothing, let’s not forget the most obvious one–non-Mormon’s in Utah are consuming ENORMOUS amounts of porn.”

    (Will someone tell Mathew that you can’t say things like that, because it’s not extending-the-hand-of-fellowship-ish enough? Okay? Okay.)

  13. Mark Brown on March 2, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    This blog hosted a conversation last year about Utah’s dubious distinction as the place which had the greatest per capita rate of prawn searches on google. The conversation eventually came around to the conclusion that the numbers were indisputable, but that it was all because of the non-members and inactives.

    This case from the mid-nineties in Utah county (scroll down)

    http://www.pajamahadin.com/?p=136

    can also be explained away by pointing to all those licentious inactives and worldly people, and also the MSM, which we all know just wants to make conservative people look bad. There is really nothing to the story, nothing at all.

    And now this. Of course, of course this has nothing to do with us. Again, it is all those outsiders wanting to make us look bad. All is well in Zion.

  14. Mark Brown on March 2, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Comment with a link trapped in mod queue?

  15. tiredmormon on March 2, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    “I’d only add that in my experience men, especially young men, who live in circles where porn use is not condemned have ready access to gigabytes of free porn and may be less likely to use a paid internet pornographer.” IMHO, that makes NO sense.

    It sounds just the church’s refrain when Utah ranked #1 for anti-depressant use — must be ’cause we have better access to Docs.

    Come on, Mormons love porn. It’s probably because every priesthood session has 19 talks about it. I’ll bet porn membership spike twice a year, in April and October.

    Something for everyone! Xanax for the wives and porn for the husbands!

    Utah #1′s: Porn, Anti-D’s, Bankruptcies, Plastic Surgeons.

  16. Mark Brown on March 2, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    I’d only add that in my experience men, especially young men, who live in circles where porn use is not condemned have ready access to gigabytes of free porn and may be less likely to use a paid internet pornographer.

    That is certainly a valid way to look at it, Adam. But there may also be another way that is also valid. Free porn is everywhere. The high school kids in my priests quorum know how to access it on their cell phones. So it is possible that paid subscriptions are mostly for the really serious users, not the casual ones. I don’t know if that is accurate, but it seems plausible to me.

  17. Adam Greenwood on March 2, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    You might be right, Mark Brown. I’m not saying the study’s conclusions are wrong. I’m saying we don’t know.

    The differences the study relies on are pretty small, so even marginal differences in access to or knowledge of free porn could make a difference.

  18. Adam Greenwood on March 2, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Mark Brown,
    I found your comment and released it. I thought it introduced the valuable perspective that those of us who who don’t draw unwarranted conclusions from limited data are objectively pro-Satan.

  19. Scott on March 2, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    tiredmormon (14)

    >Utah #1’s: Porn, Anti-D’s, Bankruptcies, Plastic Surgeons.

    1. Porn: LDS-influenced policies against buying mags at 7-11
    2. Anti-D’s: no alcohol Mormons to self-medicate like everyone else
    3. Bankruptcies: Home loans made on income statements which fail to account for 10% tithing reductions
    4. Plastic Surgeons: Lots of kids = Lots of nursing = well, you get the picture.

    In short, Mormons are to blame for it all. Let’s just shoot us and be done with it.

  20. Mark Brown on March 2, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    unwarranted conclusions from limited data

    That’s why I introduced more data. I agree, it’s not conclusive, but there is enough to give us pause, I would think. And each data set makes it harder for us to deny responsibility.

    Sure, the article has limitations. I think the author admitted that. But I think it’s best to consider the possibility that the article might be pointing to something important, rather than to instinctively start playing defense.

    Anyhow, I agree with your conclusion. Some Mormons have a porn problem.

  21. Keller on March 2, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    A couple of thoughts.

    1) Utah is very high in terms of the vulnerable age demographic. Compare Utah to the US or other states at http://www.censusscope.org/us/s49/c49/chart_age.html

    2) A county-by-county religious breakdown might give us a clue as to whether Mormon or non-Mormons in Utah are more likely to subscribe. I will keep T&S posted on whether I find out anything more about this, if you all are interested.

  22. jerry on March 2, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    Nothing so sweet as forbidden fruit eh?

  23. Jeremiah J. on March 3, 2009 at 12:04 am

    Mark Brown: “That’s why I introduced more data. I agree, it’s not conclusive, but there is enough to give us pause, I would think. And each data set makes it harder for us to deny responsibility.”

    What kind of responsibility? Should we admit that moral and religious conservatism actually causes people to use porn? Should we admit that our pastoral attempts to get people to avoid it have horribly backfired? Do we know anything at all about the crucial question whether the rot is predominantly in the lives of those inside or just outside the doors of the church? These are the things you might be able to conclude if you had individual-level data rather than the aggregate-level data. I don’t think the author of the article acknowledged this very big problem in his argument. In fact in his remarks to the media he confirmed the reporter’s mistake: “Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by”. He’s implying something that’s not established by facts in his article. To be clear–this is not a problem of not enough data sets. It’s a problem of the wrong kind of data.

    keller: “A county-by-county religious breakdown might give us a clue as to whether Mormon or non-Mormons in Utah are more likely to subscribe.”

    Still, probably not. Seeing high rates of porn use in highly Mormon counties should not be used to conclude Mormons are using porn at higher rates. To many people it would seem implausible that if Utah County has a high rate of porn use, the non-Mormons there might be responsible for it. But cases like that are pretty common in social research, because patterns like these often have complex causes. Another contemporary example is the correlation between high-immigrant population states and high-income states. In fact immigrants do not tend to be higher income than native born people. But immigrants do gravitate to high-income states.

  24. Mark Brown on March 3, 2009 at 12:37 am

    Jeremiah J.,

    Should we admit that moral and religious conservatism actually causes people to use porn?

    I don’t think admit is the right word. But I think it is at least worth considering whether there is something about our culture that renders us vulnerable to this sort of temptation.

    Should we admit that our pastoral attempts to get people to avoid it have horribly backfired?

    Again, admit isn’t the quite the right word. However, I think it is safe to say that our efforts in this direction have been almost completely ineffectual. The impression I get is that more and more of our people are abusing porn.

    The point I am trying to make is that it is clear to everybody that we have a problem. If the report had simply stated the number of porn subscribers in Utah without making a comparison to other states, we wouldn’t have cared if the number were 5 times higher. The number istelf is bad enough, and it ought to motivate us to do better. But since we don’t like the thought of looking bad in comparison to the neighbors, we are expending our efforts attempting to justify ourselves.

    I think the healthiest approach to news like this is cautious curiosity, not defensiveness.

  25. Bob on March 3, 2009 at 9:24 am

    If it’s true — and I think it is a big if — we might want to question how we are approaching this with the youth of the church. Are we, for example, by constantly talking about it, creating an unnatural curiosity? Are we telling the youth that it is bad, it has to do with sex and they shouldn’t pay attention to it,, or are we explaining why it is bad and helping them to develop values that will keep it at bay? Are we comfortable talking about sex in a good, positive way that encourages healthy relationships, or are we making sex a taboo subject that is only spoken of in generalities? Maybe these findings, whether true or not, could move us in a generally healthy direction here.

  26. jjohnsen on March 3, 2009 at 11:57 am

    “An irate reader of our blog even got my contact information somehow and called me to rant about it. ”
    Creepy.

    Mormons use porn just like everyone else, if it wasn’t an issue, I have a feeling there would be less talks about it in Priesthood session.

    And proving nothing, but I thought it was interesting. A few years ago the Tribune had an interview with the owner of Blue Boutique (an adult store in Utah). She talked about how surprised she was to have so many couples coming in asking for help to find toys and videos and saying how exciting and/or weird it was to be there because they were LDS. I wonder if porn consumption could be higher among LDS couples because they’re looking to put spice into an eternal marriage privately instead of something like a strip club or an affair?

  27. Frank McIntyre on March 3, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    A hypothetical example; suppose one place has two pizza chains and another has one chain — Pizza Hut. You collect data on Pizza Hut use and find that the second place has twice as much pizza consumption at Pizza Hut per capita. You’re right about what your data tells you about Pizza Hut, but using that to extrapolate about total pizza consumption would be foolhardy.

    So the problem is one of substitution. If religious places restrict other kinds of sexual activity, people look for substitutes. Thus you will find religious places having more of the substituted activities. This does not tell you the total number of people engaged in illicit sexual activity, pornography or otherwise. And yes, the religiosity causes the rise in the substituted behavior– because it restricts the other behaviors. There is no need to chalk it up to excessive use by non-members or anything else, because you are only tracking one pizza chain. It hasn’t told you about overall pizza use.

    Another example, if Utahns were more willing to have abortions, the reported teen motherhood rate would likely fall. But not because there was less teen sexual activity, rather because there were more abortions.

  28. Frank McIntyre on March 3, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    I actually have a paper getting published shortly on bankruptcy that deals with the substitution problem. It turns out that a rather large chunk (maybe 40%, possibly more) of the differences in bankruptcy across states are not due to differences in how much people _default_ on their debt. Rather it is due to the fact that some states make it easier to collect debts (through wage garnishment). In those states, people file more bankruptcy. Thus bankruptcy differences across states are often _not_ telling you how much people default on debt, but rather whether or not they have to go through a formal bankruptcy to do it. States that make it harder to collect debt have fewer bankruptcies because you can default by just not answering the phone. The underlying default rate could well be the same across states.

  29. jimbob on March 3, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    @ 13: “[Utah has] the greatest per capita rate of prawn searches on google”

    I, too, think it’s time we educated our Aaronic Priesthood on avoiding the temptations of prawn. I’ve seen it a hundred times. It starts innocently enough, with a slight dabble in calamari or maybe some cod. Don’t worry, our young men tell themselves; everyone else is eating seafood too; this is a perfectly normal part of growing up. Next thing you know, they’ve graduated to jumbo shrimp, lobster, and ahi tuna. Still, our young men are in denial about their problem. And finally, these otherwise fine young men eat prawn. Usually by themselves, in a dark room after their parents have gone to bed, but later more brazenly, sometimes in groups, as if prawn was an okay thing. (I blame the media, for glorifying prawn consumption.) In any event, we all know that once they get to their missions, they just can’t get prawn–the small amount of money the church gives them to live on simply won’t support a diet of prawn–and it leads to them having withdrawals in the field and being less effective missionaries.

    It’s a real problem.

  30. Adam Greenwood on March 3, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Jimbob,
    on my mission I ate anchovies. My secret shame. Now you know.

  31. Scott on March 3, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    @29:

    I think you wrong to place this entirely on the young men. The young women in the Church are equally to blame for the male dependence on prawn and prawn-substitutes. Maybe another attribute for the YW award, next to the recently added “virtue”, is in order.

  32. Adam Greenwood on March 3, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    I’m not sure what you’re implying, Scott, but I”m not sure you can say right out what you’re implying without me deleting your comment.

  33. Cherylem on March 3, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    I have been somewhat amazed (well not too amazed) at how much conversation there is in LDS circles, including at church during official meetings, about porn. For awhile it seemed as if we were fixated on this at a very public level.

    Methinks we need to be teaching healthy, joyous, loving sex. Call it whatever (intimacy, marital intimacy, etc etc) but call it something good, something possible, and something desirable – indeed, something to be desired.

    Even further, is there not some way to teach joy of physical being generally – whether or not that physicality is sexual?

    We learn to punish ourselves for being physical (speaking in generalities and not to everyone’s specific circumstance). We “came here for a physical body,” and then we do much to punish that body for being unbeautiful, too out of control, too sinful.

    By comparison with that model, porn is . . . well, it is an alternative, I suppose.

    I am not saying that I accept porn – especially I don’t accept the sex worker trade that dehumanizes and all too often victimizes women and men. I’m just saying that in order to understand there is an alternative to all that shame and lust, one has to have a role model of healthy joy in the physical, including the sexual.

  34. Adam Greenwood on March 3, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    I look forward to your next testimony meeting, Cherylem.

  35. Cherylem on March 3, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    hahahahahaha.

    However, my husband remembers a testimony meeting when a dear sister got up and said, “I’m sorry we’re late but my husband (fill in the name) just needed a little extra loving.”

    Gotta love testimony meetings.

  36. Uncertain on March 3, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    “One of the findings is that Utah has more per-capita online porn subscriptions than other states. It’s probably also true that Salt Lake City is one of the toughest places in America to pay for a lap dance or a peep show. So what do porn-prone Utahns do? They go online, and skew the very statistics now being trumpeted as newsworthy”

    This is not my field but at first glance this criticism from the national review seems somewhat flawed. As I understand it the argument is something like this suppose I have 100 porn users in Utah and 100 porn users in New York. Now the argument would be that the New York users of porn have easier access to conventional sources of porn hence of that 100 maybe 10 would get their porn online and the rest would obtain it from conventional sources. Whereas in Utah conventional sources of porn are much harder to come by hence all 100 would obtain their porn online. This then would skew the results although New York and Utah have the same number of porn users Utah shows up as having much more because of the inability to obtain porn from conventional sources.

    Intuitively it seems unlikely that the porn users in New York would exclusively obtain porn only from brick and mortar vendors. That is of the 100 porn users in New York some of their porn would be from brick and mortar stores and some would be from online sources. In fact I would think most porn would come from online sources even if conventional sources are readily available due to the convenience factor and less risk of public humiliation. Actually if you take a look at the study in question, growth in conventional videos and rentals have dropped by ~15% since 2005 while in the same time period internet porn sites have grown by 13% which supports what you would intuitively suspect. Of the 100 porn users in New York it is reasonable to suggest they are obtaining at least some of their porn online and hence should show up in this type of study. In other words it is not clear the availability of conventional porn sources would significantly skew the results of online porn usage. Now as mentioned I have little expertise in these kinds of studies so I am open to correction. But at first glance there seems no reason to assume a either/or situation in which porn users get porn either from traditional sources or online. In fact intuitively a person willing to go to a brick and mortar porn store is probably much more likely to have online porn subscriptions.

    Now clearly even if the data used in the study is unchallenged it does not demonstrate Mormons use porn at a greater frequency then the national average.

  37. Scott on March 3, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Adam (32.)–

    Ha. Nothing scandalous, I assure you. Re-reading my comment, I can see that it could certainly have come across that way. It was just a response to jimbob lecturing the young men for searching google for Prawns. If there is a (fake) problem with such searches, I just said that it’s probably distributed across gender lines, and the YW need to be warned, too.

    (What are we talking about, anyway?)

  38. Adam Greenwood on March 3, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Our lenten repast?

  39. Rameumptom on March 3, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    The study also only viewed broadband users from one company, and focused on states. Most states are very evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, and of those, most are moderate, rather than liberal or conservative.
    How does one tell what when looking at a state, such as Utah? That non-members and less actives buy a lot of porn online because it isn’t easily available at the local bookstore?
    Isn’t this similar to the study that showed Utahns use more prescription drugs for depression and anxiety than any other state – but misses the point that Mormons usually do not self-medicate with alcohol or illegal drugs?

  40. Kent G. Budge on March 3, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    “Methinks we need to be teaching healthy, joyous, loving sex. Call it whatever (intimacy, marital intimacy, etc etc) but call it something good, something possible, and something desirable – indeed, something to be desired.”

    My Church leaders have been teaching me to view sex positively, when kept within the bounds the Lord has set (important and necessary qualifier!), for at least three decades now.

    Unfortunately, in my experience, this does nothing for the substantial number of couples who find joyous sex difficult to achieve. Thinking something is wrong with you because you find sex challenging, has got to be as unhealthy as the purported Victorian view that something is wrong with you if you find sex mutually enjoyable.

  41. Eric Russell on March 3, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Hey everybody. I know lots of people must be dying to get in their two cents on that pornucopia at BCC. Let’s do it all over here on Adam’s thread.

  42. aloysiusmiller on March 3, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Does anyone think that people who are ashamed of porn usage will buy it on the internet? I can’t buy anything on Amazon , iTunes or Land’s End without a credit card. Why would I buy porn? My wife pays all the credit card bills. I think my profile is like a lot of LDS men. Many LDS men may be using porn. I have to believe it is a problem when it is so harped on in General Conference, Stake Priesthood Meeting etc. But I doubt that much of it is purchased.

    I also believe just based on my discussions with other men that LDS have a much lower consumption rate of porn. I have been in the company of many non-LDS men who acknowledged their consumption of porn, strip clubs etc. Never an LDS man. We’re just willing to acknowledge the issue at a lower threshhold and attack it head on.

  43. jjohnsen on March 4, 2009 at 12:00 am

    “I also believe just based on my discussions with other men that LDS have a much lower consumption rate of porn. I have been in the company of many non-LDS men who acknowledged their consumption of porn, strip clubs etc. Never an LDS man. We’re just willing to acknowledge the issue at a lower threshhold and attack it head on.”
    This has nothing to do with LDS men having a lower rate of consumption, just a lower rate of admitting consumption. Which considering the social and church implications for most members, totally makes sense. A non-LDS man would be more willing to admit use because he’s not going to lose a temple recommend and his friends probably aren’t going to think of him as a sinner for doing it.

  44. Nate Oman on March 4, 2009 at 10:44 am

    One of the important thing to remember whenever you see the claim “Utah has a lot of X, therefore Mormonism causes X,” is that Utah has a pretty distinct demographic profile, particularlly when it comes to age. For example, if — as seems plausible — p*rn is consumed at higher rates by young men, then a state with a disproportionate share of young men would have higher p*rn rates. This could hold true even if the young men were consuming the p*rn at lower rates. I’ve no opinion as to whether this is what is actually happening in Utah. On the other hand, I am extremely skeptical of any “Utah has a lot of X, therefore Mormonism causes X” sort of claim. Without a more detailed data set and some (preferably testable) causal theory, such claims are essentially worthless. One of the problems is that computers, by massively lowering the cost of running regression and other statistical analysis, have led to a lot of pretty silly studies. In the past no one would bother with such stuff because the cost of running the regressions on independent variables that were ultimately of little value tended to dampen the enthusiasm for producing gimmicky research for journalists who are too ignorant to realize they are being served up with the methodological equivalent of tweenkies.

  45. aloysiusmiller on March 4, 2009 at 11:28 am

    43. You are right. My only point in saying this is that LDS men are properly ashamed of porn use and consequently are less likely to consume it in ways that expose them. Using a credit card to purchase porn is an invitation to exposure. Any study that tried to ascribe purchased porn use to conservative values would have to properly address this.

  46. David B on March 4, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    @Kent G. Budge #40: Part of the problem, i think, is that the rhetoric of it all states that sex is supposed to be celebrated within the bounds the Lord has set, but (a) “the bounds the Lord has set” is horribly, horribly underdefined, and (b) a lot, if not most, of the messages about sex the teenagers and single adults of the church receive are amazingly non-positive.

    That’s to say that yes, that’s what should be done, and i think it’s what we like to claim we’re doing, but unfortunately it isn’t what we’re actually doing.

  47. Jonathan Green on March 4, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    One other very problematic aspect of the article is that the author analyzed data from only one provider, which he describes as among the top 10 and very diverse but does not identify, and he admits that he can’t prove that it is representative. Given the intense competition between online porn purveyors, though, I don’t think you can assume that all porn providers target or reach the same audiences. The pressure to specialize and reach niche audiences is going to be fairly heavy. So there’s no way to know if some states consume more online, for-pay porn then others, or if he’s just looking at one that tends to do better in some states than others. It’s like measuring the ratings for CBS in the 50 states, and then deciding based on those ratings which states watch the most television.

  48. Adam Greenwood on March 4, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    (a) “the bounds the Lord has set” is horribly, horribly underdefined

    Not so much.

  49. David B on March 4, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    @Adam Greenwood #48. Fair enough–so what are the definitions?

  50. Adam Greenwood on March 4, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Spouse, si. Not spouse, no. Other church injunctions–I have in mind the Word of Wisdom–help one to keep straight who is in which category.

  51. David B on March 5, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Right, as far as it goes. Doesn’t explain various bits of often contradictory oral culture about sex that get passed around Mormons as being religiously defined. (You know, opinions on things like oral sex, anal sex, visiting strip clubs without touching the dancers, whether lusting after one’s spouse is acceptable, the acceptability of various positions for intercourse, and so on.) Even given that spouse=yes/non-spouse=no is clear, there’s a lot of filling in the blanks that people still have to do, and much of the blank-filling then gets presented as doctrine.

    I mean, getting back to the original topic, there is nothing in canon, or even in the spouse=yes/non-spouse=no limits, that forbids pornography. I tend to think it’s a problem, largely because it tends to distract people sexually from their spouses, but what if someone consumes pornography *with* their spouse? Still off, i think, but certainly murkier.

  52. Kent G. Budge on March 5, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    “I mean, getting back to the original topic, there is nothing in canon, or even in the spouse=yes/non-spouse=no limits, that forbids pornography.”

    President Hinckley’s repeated warnings were unclear, how exactly? It seems to me he put forward a clear blanket condemnation. Unqualified by “unless it’s with your spouse” or any other modifier.

    For that matter, it seems clear to me that visiting strip clubs isn’t something a Latter-day Saint has any business doing. Do the Brethren really need to spell these things out every six months?

    So we’re left with the Church being unclear what variations of sex are permissible within marriage. I think this is quite deliberate and rightly so.

    I think it goes back to my earlier comment that sex is actually challenging for an awful lot of couples, and that it doesn’t help for them to think something/s wrong with them because it doesn’t all go like clockwork right away. Add some moral guilt about “not doing it right” and you have a great recipe for wrecking a lot of marriages.

  53. aloysiusmiller on March 5, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Doctrine and Covenants 76 talks about the fate of whoremongers. Consuming porn almost always means consuming the services of prostitutes. In other words it is whoremongering. Bad has prostituting oneself it is not as bad as buying prostitutes.

    Why would husband or wife bring other people into their bed? It diminishes to each the other and I can hardly imagine that both husband and wife are equally interested.

  54. Tim B on March 5, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Can anybody tell me the proper place to reach someone who will discuss adding the Latter-day Sexual Recovery blog to the blog roll around here? For the benefit of people who find themselves addicted to porn and sexual things, and who want to address them in a Mormon context?

    For some of us, this is not some academic or philosophical exercise — our lives, family and fellowship in the Church have been impacted by these addictions. I can’t lay responsibility for my addiction on anything other than my own choices. There were other factors that contributed — my non-member father having it in my home when I was growing up being the most significant of those. Mormonism didn’t push me toward it in any fashion. It did, however, point me toward recovery and repentance.

    I have found at Sexaholics Anonymous (yeah, I think the name is kinda silly too) that many of the members are religiously active people — and seen those with more years of experience there noting the same fact. I think this is because, outside of a moral context that places expectations of limitation of sexual expression, sexual addiction just isn’t identified.

    Although, it should be noted that, according to Patrick Carnes, sexual addiction is frequently found along side other, more “traditional” addictions. AA’s Bill W. was known for having rampant affairs long after he’d found sobriety from alcohol. Sexuality is more personal than other kinds of objects of addiction, and our society (be it Western, American or Mormon) is sexually obsessed.

    My sporadic efforts in the past have been unsuccessful in getting a response from any Mormon blog on whether they would include a link to the LDSR blog or why not. Maybe T&S could take the lead in that. Anybody? Beuller?

  55. Jonathan Green on March 6, 2009 at 12:33 am

    Tim B., do you have a URL for the blog you mention?

  56. Ardis E. Parshall on March 6, 2009 at 1:00 am

    It’s linked to his signature, Jonathan. I recognize the name of another man on that blog who has been a long-time participant on Mormon elists about this, somebody I trust. It looks like a good blog.

  57. Tim B on March 6, 2009 at 2:13 am

    Rex has been around the net for a long time, and he’s a wonderful guy who could do with some prayers on his behalf about some health issues he’s having right now.

    Thanks for checking it out. I appreciate it.

  58. Jeremy Light on March 7, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    I just wanted you to know that I hated your article and I’m not even LDS. It is complete and utter tripe.

  59. aloysiusmiller on March 8, 2009 at 6:01 am

    Jeremy (58) , I am not sure what you hated. The referenced study or this post. Pray tell…

  60. Michael von Scherf on March 8, 2009 at 11:29 am

    I find the comments above very interesting. I live in Hiedelburg, Germany and fly to the US often. I think most of the above commentators have not been to Europe. Pornographic magazines are fully displayed (nothing hidden) in all bookstores, gasoline stations, markets, etc., and in public areas such as the walking districts of towns/cities. There are at least a hundred such magazines published and displayed. Europe is much more open about the human body. I don’t have an interest in such magazines, mine is model railroads and aircraft, but the porn magazines are displayed next to the hobby magazines, so it is very difficult to not see the covers of them. Go to Denmark or Holland and it is even more so. In addition, regular magazines, fashion magazines, advertizing billboards usually have very revealing pictures. Here these types of (porn) magazines are not looked at unfavorably.

  61. Ardis E. Parshall on March 8, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    And… you find that a GOOD thing, Michael?

  62. Adam Greenwood on March 9, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Doesn’t explain various bits of often contradictory oral culture about sex that get passed around Mormons as being religiously defined. (You know, opinions on things like oral sex, anal sex, visiting strip clubs without touching the dancers, whether lusting after one’s spouse is acceptable, the acceptability of various positions for intercourse, and so on.)

    Your claim, as I understand it, is that this ambiguity contributes to porn use. Are you really saying that if Monson got up this General Conference and said, ‘the following are church-approved sexual practices,’ etc., and nailed down every one of your ‘ambiguities,’ porn use would drop? Color me sceptical.

  63. Michael von Scherf on March 9, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Ardis, comment 61. Your remark about my thinking it was ‘good’ was hurtful & demeaning. I find the magazines/advertising disgusting. The problem here is that it is so common, it is a challenge to avoid such material. However, having the Holy Ghost as a CONSTANT companion is the best weapon I know of to keep one’s thoughts and actions pure amid a flood of such material. I strictly follow Alma 13.

  64. aloysiusmiller on March 11, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Ardis didn’t mean to be hurtful Michael. It isn’t in her nature.

  65. Ardis Parshall on March 11, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Thank you, aloysiusmiller. I didn’t know you had it in you, either to discern truth or to defend honor. This is so unexpected, yet so absolutely right.

    Michael, a follow-up comment from me apparently didn’t post — I noted that your description of the wide availability of European porn was thorough, but that your comment seemed incomplete. I asked you to finish your thought and tell us what effect the wide and public availability of porn had in Europe. This thread assumes that an apparently high use of porn in Utah is shameful, but your comment could logically lead to the conclusion that Utah/American porn levels weren’t so bad, given conditions in Europe.

    Thank you for clarifying.

    And thank you again, aloysiusmiller, for your extraordinary courtesy in openly defending me as you have done. It just possible — barely possible — that you aren’t quite as bad as you usually make yourself out to be.

  66. aloysiusmiller on March 11, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Ardis of course you’re right except I wouldn’t consider my courtesy extraordinary. It is only your due.

  67. Adam Greenwood on March 11, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Courtesy never faileth, but that’s probably enough politesse for now.

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