How do I strengthen virtue and avoid porn?
In order to overcome pornography and other sexual problems you must strengthen virtue. Below are 24 behaviors used alone or together that have proven successful.
The Lord expects us to control sexual temptations and has promised us the necessary help to do so. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “plead with the Lord out of the depths of your soul that He will remove from you the addiction which enslaves you…now is the time to change…let us turn about to a better way” (A Tragic Evil Among Us, November 2004 Ensign). This is not an article about pornography and sexual problems. The tragic destruction of pornography and sexual addiction in the lives of millions of people is clearly documented by many. This article is a solution plan of specific tasks to overcome pornography and sexual addiction.
Pornography and inappropriate sexual behavior can be addicting because of the strong stimulating hormones in the body and their capacity to create pleasurable physical and emotional feelings. When these pleasurable feelings are used to escape life’s painful feelings such as loneliness or stress, a pattern of repetitious behavior is formed. This addiction pattern keeps people away from the spirit of the Holy Ghost.
Through personal dedication, God’s help, support from others and the correct plan of action everyone can achieve and maintain self mastery over sexual temptation!
1. Commitment and Faith
I will work on this plan every day, with all of my heart, for the rest of my life. I believe that with God’s help I can succeed.
Prayer is one of the greatest ways to gain the strength to overcome pornography and sexual addiction. For prayer to be most effective it must be specific, fervent, and constant. Alma and Enos wrestled with God in mighty, specific prayer. Praying on your knees in the morning and evening and having a prayer in your heart all day define constant prayer (Alma 34:27). Pray specifically for the clear voice of the Holy Ghost to help you control every sexual temptation.
3. Scripture Study
The word of God has a more powerful effect upon the mind and heart than anything else (Alma 31: 5). Scripture study needs to be specific, fervent, and daily to give you the mental and spiritual strength you need. Daily topical study of specific principles that will strengthen your self control such as virtuous thinking, eye control, confidence, the Atonement, the guidance of the Holy Ghost, and chastity is most important. Use the Topical Guide in the scriptures. The Savior said, “Search the scriptures” (John 5:39). Topical study does not negate the importance of chronological study. The Book of Mormon brings us closer to the Savior than any other writings. The specific study of current Prophet’s and Apostle’s writings about pornography and sexual problems is also vital. See Mormon.org for access to these writings. Study your Patriarchal Blessing often for personal guidance.
4. Eye Control
Exact control over your eyes is essential to control thoughts, feelings, desires, and actions. Visual concentration upon any sexual image immediately begins to release the body’s powerful stimulatory hormones that create desire for sexual behavior. Learn to look at others in their eyes. Never vertically scan their body. When you see a sexual image, immediately take your eyes off of it and look at something positive. At the same time place your thoughts on something positive. Pray for help to stay focused on good things. Alma said, “go no more after the lusts of your eyes” (Alma 39:9). Heavenly Father looks at his children as beloved sons and daughters. He looks into our eyes and heart. We need to follow His example. The outcome of visual lusting is the loss of the Spirit and vulnerability to further temptation. Doctrine and Covenants 42:23 states, “he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith and shall not have the Spirit, and if he repents not he shall be cast out.” Lusting means to think about and desire what you are looking at. The Lord said, “And if your eye be single to my glory your whole body shall be filled with light and there shall be no darkness in you” (D&C 88:67).
5. Thought Control
Constant control over your thoughts is absolutely necessary to resist sexual temptation and have control over feelings, desires, and actions. Sexual thoughts immediately begin to release the body’s powerful stimulatory hormones which create desire for sexual behavior. Improper sexual thoughts can come from memory, external triggers such as immodestly dressed people, or Lucifer. The key to self control is to immediately expel them and replace them with good thoughts. Church leaders have counseled us to replace improper thoughts with a hymn, scripture, and/or prayer. The Lord counseled, “let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of the Lord” (D&C 121:45). Dwelling on sexual thoughts keeps the Holy Ghost from speaking to your mind.
6. Media Control
Exact control over all types of media is crucial to maintain self control. The Internet, computer, television, movies, video games, music, magazines, newspapers, and phones; all must be used for dignified and uplifting purposes. Before engaging in any use of the media you must stop and ask yourself, “Why am I going to use it?” If your purpose is not dignified and for a specific positive reason then do not engage in the media. Channel surfing and Internet surfing are spiritually risky and a waste of time. If you have a problem with Internet or television pornography have someone put a password in place to block your access without their permission and monitoring. Computer filters are valuable; however, the most important filter is within your own mind and heart. Destroy any pornographic movies, magazines, etc. that are in your possession.
7. Sexual Feelings are Sacred
Remember that God created our bodies to have sexual feelings. These feelings are sacred, noble, and have holy purposes. They assist in bringing forth the miracle of birth. They help to unite husbands and wives in affection and friendship.
8. Follow and Serve the Savior
Strive to follow the Savior and serve Him with all of your heart, might, mind, and strength. Attend church 3 hours every Sunday. When possible attend the temple often. Magnify your callings. Seek a calling or service opportunity from your Bishop or Branch President if you do not have one. “He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matt. 16:25). Service strengthens your desire for self mastery.
9. Self Worth and Self Esteem
Heavenly Father gives each of us the gift of great self worth, strengths, talents, and spiritual gifts. His love is unconditional. When you think about yourself as He does, you develop self esteem. Even when you struggle to control sexual temptation Heavenly Father still loves you. He only rejects the inappropriate behavior not you. Avoid giving in to self disgust. Doctrine and Covenants 18:10 states, “Remember the worth of souls (my soul) is great in the sight of God.” When you realize and believe in your worth you have a greater desire for self mastery. When you have low self esteem you are more vulnerable to escape into inappropriate sexual pleasure for relief or comfort.
10. Stay Busy
Stay busy in growth activities. Be anxiously engaged in a good cause. Boredom, wasting of time, or drifting along without purpose invites the temptation to escape into inappropriate sexual pleasure. Stay busy working, learning, serving, spending time with family and friends, pursuing good hobbies, recreation, sports, and developing talents, etc. There is no shortage of good activities to do and enjoy.
Fervently fast with specific purpose each month to gain the strength to control sexual temptation. The Savior said, “this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matt. 17:21).
12. Exercise, Nutrition, and Rest
Regular vigorous exercise, eating correctly, and proper rest builds physical strength, preserves good health, helps the mood hormones of the brain and body function properly, helps reduce stress, and helps develop self control in your life. Caring for the temple of your spirit helps you control sexual desires properly.
13. Have the Courage to Be Open, Honest, and Seek Help
Keeping the addiction secret from everyone is keeping you from overcoming it. Being honest is difficult, but necessary to solve it. Be honest and open with yourself, Heavenly Father, your Bishop, spouse and/or parents. They love you and can help you. You can request a Priesthood blessing from your Bishop or family member.
14. Choose Friends, Environment, and Activities Carefully
Staying up late alone to surf the Internet or watch television, taking long baths or showers, going to places that are not spiritual, and spending time with those who participate in pornography or sexual behaviors will most likely tempt you more than you can resist. Your friends, social life, and schedule need to strengthen you against sexual temptation.
15. Work to Resolve Negative Moods
Discouragement, fear, doubt, loneliness, boredom, sadness, and other negative moods increase your vulnerability to the temptation of sexual pleasure as an escape or comfort. As quickly as possible work to change negative moods. Pray, reach out to supportive people, get busy in growth activities, and/or exercise to begin changing the mood.
16. Strengthen Your Relationships
Strengthen the relationship with your spouse, children, parents, family, and friends. Work to be close; serve them, talk with them, work and play with them. Loving relationships will greatly strengthen you against temptation.
17. Work to Resolve Chronic Problems
Chronic stress and burdens wear people down. There are many types of stress such as work, school, social, financial, legal, health, chronic pain, mental illnesses including depression, anxiety, bi-polar mood disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder. These difficult burdens increase vulnerability to seek sexual pleasure for relief, escape, and comfort. These challenging burdens require the right combination of divine help, trained people, correct thinking and behavior to find peace and progress.
18. Make a List of Positive and Negative Consequences
Write a personal list of the negative consequences that you will experience for continuing to participate in pornography and inappropriate sexual behaviors. Also make a list of the blessings and positive results from self control. Review it regularly.
Negative Consequences —————Blessings and Positive results
19. Triggers and Responses
Make a list of the most difficult triggers and temptations that you face and a corresponding solution or response plan for each one.
Trigger / Temptation: Example: middle of the night arousal
Response or Solution Plan: Get out of bed immediately, pray, focus on good things, walk around, return to sleep. Repeat if necessary.
20. Spiritual Music and Pictures
Spiritual music and pictures can strengthen your resolve to resist sexual temptation. Listen to spiritual music often especially before bedtime or when tempted. Placing pictures of the Savior, your family, and other inspiring art in or by your bedroom, computer, television, wallet, phone, etc. reminds you of what is most important and can strengthen your will to resist temptation.
21. Notebook Journal
Keep a notebook of your struggle and progress. Use it to record how you are tempted and how you respond successfully. Review it for insight to make strong choices.
22. Do Not Fear the Future or Dwell on Past Mistakes
The Savior taught us to not fear the future or dwell on past mistakes (Matt 6:34 and Luke 9:62). Keep focused on the day and challenge at hand. The goal is to have success today. Fear of failure in the future and dwelling on past mistakes will drain your spiritual focus away from the present battle.
23. Professional Help
Read from expert authors, that have spiritual values, on pornography and sexual addiction. Professional counseling with trained sexual addiction therapists can be helpful in gaining insight into causes and solutions for pornography and sexual addiction. Spiritually based support groups such as those offered through LDS Family Services can give added strength and understanding. The LDS Church has a website dedicated to helping individuals solve pornography and sexual problems at combatingpornography.org.
24. Review and Follow Your Plan
Review this plan daily and memorize it’s key words. Review your progress on this plan daily with Heavenly Father in your prayers. Make a copy of this plan for your spouse and/or parents and Bishop. Review and report your progress to them periodically.
If we are faithfully doing our part, the adversary cannot tempt us beyond our ability to resist (Alma 13:28 and 1 Corinthians 10:13). God has all power and His grace is sufficient to help us overcome all of our challenges or temptations. Everyone can achieve self mastery. We must exercise faith, determination, follow effective solutions, rely on the Savior, and then we can maintain self mastery.
Voices For Virtue