I. Today I want to talk to you about how to best think about and relate to sexual feelings, as well as sexual feelings as they relate to pornography.
II. Generally speaking, when you are an adolescent and LDS, there are two things happening at once, that can be confusing:
A. First, you are moving towards adulthood. Your bodies are becoming capable of reproduction. You are becoming capable of romance and attraction.
1. All of this is GOOD. All of this is essential for adulthood and grown-up love.
2. At the same time, all of this creates both insecurity or
uncertainty, AND lots of conflicting feelings.
a) Feelings of self-doubt
b) Sexual feelings
c) Romantic feelings.
d) Exciting feelings
e) Feelings of guilt, etc.
3. All of that is normal, but is uncomfortable. A lot of change is happening all at once, and sorting out how to organize your
emerging sense of self, and your emerging sexuality is NOT
a) I can think of few periods in my life more difficult than
adolescence for all of these reasons.
B. Second, In addition to these feelings of attraction and sexual curiosity (all a part of your body becoming capable of reproduction and love), you are probably hearing lots of messages about how scary and overpowering sexuality is.
1. Messages about how you might harm or be harmed through it. 2. Parents/teachers who are terrified that you might do too
much sexually with someone
3. Adults who are afraid that someone might hurt you sexually.
4. Fear that you’ll induce feelings in a boy through what you wear, etc.
5. Fear that you’ll undermine your spirituality or not find a healthy path for yourself.
C. So as exciting as emerging sexuality can be, it can also be very confusing, uncertain and even scary.
1. I remember thinking that I was kind of excited about the possibility of romance, kissing and later sexuality, but a lot of adults seemed super anxious about it and it made me feel rather afraid of it all.
D. Any ideas about why there is so much fear and strong messages around sexuality? Why do you think we are given so many messages to beware?
1. Sex is a powerful language, a powerful way to be involved with yourself and another person.
2. Connected to reproduction and the possibility of another life. 3. Connected to a core part of ourselves. (Being harmed sexually is the most damaging way to be harmed interpersonally. Most disruptive)
4. So it matters very much how we are in relationship to the gift of our sexuality.
E. While it really matters what choices we make around sexuality, sometimes we are given so many messages of fear around sex, that we actually make ourselves LESS able to make good choices around it.
1. I was watching a video last night about a girl who started viewing pornography when she was 11. She was so ashamed of the fact that she was drawn to it that she believed her family would fully reject her if they knew about it. So even though in my mind it’s pretty normal for an 11-year-old to be curious about sexual images, she kept hiding the fact that she was viewing it because she believed it was SO EVIL. This belief
drove her to self-hatred and fear. The fear and self-rejection
made it easy to keep looking at it compulsively.
2. The biggest takeaway for me in watching that video was NOT that she was doing something SO AWFUL, but that she
believed her family would reject her if they knew!
a) That is very, very unfortunate.
b) If we are taught that making a misstep sexually is so
grievous that we will lose our value, that we no longer
deserve help, that we are somehow BROKEN, this
belief makes people/kids really vulnerable.
(1) This means they have received the wrong
message about sexuality and themselves.
(2) That means adults are doing something
dreadfully wrong in their messaging.
3. Any girl that believes being drawn to pornography makes her defective, means that she has been taught entirely the wrong message!
III. So let’s think through this a bit.
A. IS there anything weird about the fact that you might be curious or even compelled by an image of a naked person? Does that make you bad?
1. Naked communist story (story when I scaled a bookshelf to look inside the book “the Naked Communist”. I was
I disappointed there were no pictures!)
2. Neighbor’s calendar: Neighbor had a pinup calendar of a topless woman. I felt guilty looking at it but I liked to look at it. .
B. The curiosity and draw made me NORMAL. It would have been weird if I didn’t find it at least a little compelling.
1. That’s my God-given sexuality at work.
2. The attraction, the interest is all a part of being human. It’s all part of being a sexual being (which all of us are from birth on). We are blessed with sexuality, a gift that our Parents in
Heaven gave to us!
3. Being a sexual being is essential to having a family someday and being in a romantic, loving partnership.
a) Sexuality and attraction are such a great part of marriage.
4. Our sexuality/attraction is a real GIFT. A way to have pleasure and be deeply loved.
5. NOTHING was wrong with the fact of my interest.
C. Did looking at the image corrupt me?
1. A lot of people would say that seeing anything sexual would corrupt me.
a) That it would drive a wedge between me and God 2. But I honestly don’t think so. Seeing a naked woman or man in and of itself didn’t harm me.
a) I believe God would see that curiosity as normal and part of how I was growing up.
D. What then is the problem with pornography or sexual curiosity?
1. Let’s start with what pornography is: Pornography is any visual material that is designed to create sexual arousal. a) Some people may find non-pornographic visual imagery sexually arousing. For example, The David is
Michelangelo’s portrayal of the beauty of the human form. He saw this as a celebration of Divinity. Some
people though may look at The David and feel sexual
b) Does this make it bad or problematic?
What are some potential problems with material designed to arouse?
2. It can give you unrealistic ideas about people (yourself included) and sexuality.
a) Not a good source of education
b) And can teach you expectations about sexuality that are unrealistic (for men and women)
(1)Eg. men feel more insecure about themselves after watching porn.
c) It is also true that watching some romantic movies will give you unrealistic pictures of how relationships work. (1)Being careful about ideas that undermine your ability to be in a real marriage. Unrealistic portrayals of love and romance will be unhelpful to you if they set up false expectations and corrupt your ability to appreciate the beauty of a real person and real relationships.
3. Some people say that sexual imagery is inherently exploitative of others.
a) I think it can be. Not all imagery is the same.
(1)Sexual imagery can range from the beauty of the human form to exploitative or cruel images.
(2) What the meanings are matter.
(3)And what the meaning of viewing it also matters.
4. The industry is also highly problematic. People can be taken advantage of there (often people who have come out of sexually abusive situations who are the actresses).
a) And if you are relating to sexuality in any way (whether through sexual imagery or how you relate to another person) to exploit or use another, that is always harmful (to you, your spirituality, and to others).
(1) However, in my view, it is too simplistic to say that any image depicting sexuality is inherently exploitative or reductionistic of another human being. Or that it inherently corrupts you.
(2) Who we are and how we relate to our sexuality and to others is the more important question. Our character is the big issue. Because that will show up everywhere.
(a)(e.g. I work with people who don’t look at pornography but treat their spouse like a person that owes them sexual validation. This is a form of use that is destructive to a
marriage and an intimate friendship).
5. If your interest becomes obsessive or destructive in some way, then there is something going on that deserves your attention, that deserves help.
a) Seeing a sexual image in my neighbor's garage wouldn’t corrupt me. But if I started skipping school to look at the image or trying to get more images obsessively, then
that obsession would indicate a problem.
b) If porn or masturbation becomes an escape from real life, if sexual imagery is SO COMPELLING that you are behaving in a way that is incongruent with the person
you want to be.
(1)If you are using it as an escape.
(2)If you are using it to manage emotions
(3)If you are going to pornography to rebel or b/c
you are angry.
(4)If you are going to it out of a fascination that you
feel unable to control.
(a) Then you may need some help.
(5)IF you’re doing any of these things, it doesn’t
mean you're bad, it means that it means your
choices may be working against you and you
could use some help with what is going on in your
life that this seems like a solution of sorts.
E. You see, part of the problem of being so afraid of our sexuality is that it actually makes us be MORE DRAWN to it!
1. If your parents said, YOU SHOULD NOT EVEN LIKE BROWNIES! If you are even drawn to chocolate chip cookies that means you are a bad person!
a) The only people in the world who are good and worthy are skinny people or people who don’t like “junk food”!
2. What impact do you think that has on a person if she believes this idea?
a) Makes it almost impossible to have a healthy
relationship with the pleasure of food.
(1) Too much (overeating, binging)
(2) Too little (anorexia, denial)
c) In both cases obsession with food.
3. Even if one NEVER eats cake, they are still terribly unhealthy in relationship to their bodies and food, because they are obsessed with it, can’t be at peace.
a) They don’t feel in control of themselves and their
b) Instead they feel that the desire for food runs them. c) That it is stronger than they are.
d) They aren’t able to create a peaceful relationship to a source of pleasure.
F. When we become obsessed and afraid of sexuality, we create the same kind of unhealthy dynamic.
1. Either people who are looking at porn a lot and obsessed with sexuality OR
2. People who shut all of their sexuality down for fear of being unworthy are also in a way preoccupied with sex. Can’t make any room for it.
3. Or people who vacillate between indulgence and swearing it off.
4. Any of these realities are bad for people.
a) Both are bad for being happily married
(1) Oftentimes the people that come for help in their
marriage are each in this immoderate relationship
(one has repressed it and the other relates to it
b) Both are bad for being at peace with yourself
c) Both are bad for helping you have sexuality (or food) be
a genuine blessing in your life.
IV. Do you have any idea how people who enjoy food and enjoy sexual feelings but feel in control of their lives think about either of these passions or pleasures?
A. Any guesses?
B. Dissertation research: Women who made the best choices around sexuality premaritally AND moved very happily into married sexuality did a few things:
1. They saw sex and desire as a GOOD thing!
a) They actually were happy about the feelings that their
bodies were capable of.
b) They looked forward to being sexual / sharing their
sexuality with a spouse when they got married some
c) They liked this part of themselves. They didn’t feel
ashamed of it.
(1)Believed God also approved of it.
d) Women who did less well in marriage felt ashamed of
even having feelings or desires.
(1) Thought it made them dirty or bad.
2. The women who made good choices and moved happily into marriage made a decision for themselves about how they wanted to relate to their sexuality. And they did it with a
goal of their sexuality being a good part of their lives.
They wanted their sexuality to BLESS their lives, to be a
source of joy.
a) To do that, they made decisions for themselves that were in line with what they wanted.
(1) Took ownership of their choices.
(2) Didn’t let the parents or leaders or a boy make those choices for them.
(3) They decided for themselves.
b) E.g. one woman who liked those feelings but wanted to save it for one person. Really looked forward to it. Wasn’t ashamed of it , but knew that’s what SHE desired for her life. She had no shame but made a conscious decision.
3. They didn’t believe in any double standard around sexuality. Sexuality was AS IMPORTANT for them as it was for a guy.
a) They weren’t being sexual to make a guy be happy with them.
b) They weren’t avoiding sexual feelings to make a guy happy with them.
c) They were living up to their own expectations and at peace in their relationship with God. Not about earning their desirability.
d) Saw sex as important for them. So when they got married the relationship was about having both be happy and at peace.
4. Very similar with food.
a) How do I want to relate to food such that it BLESSES my life?
(1) What is my long-term goal?
(a)E.g. I want to be healthy. Nourish my body.
Enjoy food, have pleasure but not use it to
work against my health. Eat in a way that
feels good afterwards as well as in the
moment. This is a way of being kind to
(2) These are not easy things to work out, but
working them out with the right questions and
objectives in mind really matters.
(a) sorting out moderation and self-care around
pleasure is a very important task.
(b) This is the way that pleasure becomes a
true source of Joy and even spiritual
b) How can I be in relationship to the pleasures of food /
to the pleasures of sexuality in a way that makes my life
healthier and more joyful?
(1) Fear of being unworthy is not the driver. Fear of
losing control is not the driver.
(2)Instead, love of self and others, is the driver.
(3)A desire to create goodness and joy in your life
and relationships is the driver.
c) SELF-DEFINITION (an important way to attend to your
stewardship in life) is the driver.
(1) Who do I want to be? What do I desire around
this passion? What do I need to do to live in a
way that is in line with my highest desires for
d) Begin with the END in mind.
(1) Then ask, does any given choice bring me closer
or farther from my goal?
V. When chosen with an end goal (rather than fear), it makes it much easier to make choices and tolerate discomfort for the higher objective. A. Doing hard things out of courage and desire makes them much easier.
1. Doesn’t make you feel anxious or compromised.
2. Instead creates strength in you.
B. It’s important to remember:
1. Looking at pornography doesn’t make me a terrible person. 2. Eating too much doesn’t make me a terrible person.
a) Both make me human.
b) Both have a sense to them.
c) The important question is will engaging this way make me stronger or weaker? Does it yield the fruits that I
desire in my life?
d) Am I being kind to myself in my choices?
3. Cite ppl in dissertation. Didn’t shame themselves when they made missteps but made a decision in line with what they
4. Would have slip-ups or lose sight of their goal, but could relate to themselves with compassion for being human while reasserting their end goal. (We don’t need to beat
ourselves up for being human).
a) Doctrine and covenants 58:42 Behold, he who has
repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the
Lord, remember them no more.
b) 43 By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his
sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.
c) This kind of self-compassion with direction is very important to being at peace with yourself as a whole person. You will make mistakes but that is part of the process of sorting out who you are. It is part of the plan.
VI. Important question to ask yourself, to journal about tonight: A. What do I desire with my sexuality?
B. What kind of marriage relationship do I want to have someday? C. How do I want to feel about my sexuality (what kind of relationship do I want with myself around this)?
D. What kinds of choices do I think will best help me create this in my life?
1. How do I want to be with the boys (or girls) I interact
2. Are there ways that I might be tempted to go against my own life goals?
a) What are the things that make it easy for me to work
b) Can I ask God for help in helping me true to my
higher self / higher desires?
(1) Romans 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but
overcome evil with good.
VII. Being true to your strongest / highest desires is essential to developing true self-confidence and peace with oneself and with one’s sexuality. It is essential to spirituality. And essential to joy.
A. 2 Timothy 2: 22 Flee also youthful lusts (youthful lust = longing for others to think you are enough, wanting fleeting pleasures at your own expense, wanting hollow things): but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (< These are the qualities that will enrich your life and bring you joy).
B. You have to choose your own life. Don’t let others' pressures or expectations be what determines your life.
1. It is yours to choose and with God’s help to choose in a way that allows you to claim your strength and individuality.
2. With God’s help you can choose to live honestly and
3. Living courageously and wisely includes accepting the gift of your sexuality and being in relationship to it in a kind,
compassionate, and wise way. This endeavor to accept it and be wise in that stewardship will bless your life immensely.