18 July 2012

Inherent worth

So waaaay back when, in the beginning of it all, I was worried my hero Jacy was becoming a man hater.  I sent her an email one night trying to pass along a little seed of hope for her that there are good men out there.  In response she wrote this post.  (On her old blog, last September.)  It's great.  Flash forward to today and I read a comment on her new blog from a concerned woman, regarding that post; but for inexplicable reasons she was unable to comment there and commented instead on Jacy's post about Perfection

Was that confusing?  Anyway, I really hope she doesn't mind me doing this, but I want to give her hope too! So I'm going to paste parts of her comment here (it was anonymous) and respond to it.  Because these things are very close to my heart.

"I find myself reading blogs like these until all hours in the night, because the emotions are still strong, and frankly, I'm completely nervous for our society. We are a mess. Everything is a mess, when it comes to this. I have a son, and I'm scared to death to raise him. But it's not just him - my girls. What are the chances they will end up married to someone with this problem? Probably pretty high that at least one of them will. So I read about it, stew about it, and again confront my husband to make sure he is not doing it (really, though, I do believe him, as I've snooped pretty hard, and found 0 evidence).

The ratio of worthy women to men is completely skewed, and getting more that way every day. What do you think?"

So sorry to butt in here, I know you were probably asking Jacy, but here is what I think:

Am I more worthy than my husband?

I'm currently reading "Falling to Heaven" by James Ferrell.  (Also the author of The Peacegiver.)  He talks about this very issue, he addresses the common idea that women are "more spiritual" than men.  This is what he says. 

"Do I believe that men are helped by women to become more than they could be alone? A thousand times, yes. Just as I believe that our gender differences make men helpful to women in precisely the same way.  We tweak each other's weaknesses, which allows for individual and mutual growth that would be more difficult to come by otherwise.  To invite one gender to think themselves a mountain and the other to consider themselves but a valley is to pit partners against each other and to sow bitterness rather than love.  If it is the duty of the man (which I believe it is) to care first and foremost for his wife, it is equally the duty of the wife to care first and foremost for her husband." 

In order to have a mutually fulfilling and joyful, loving relationship with Pete, I have to let go of the idea that I am inherently superior to him in spirituality.

I do not believe a pornography addiction will keep my husband out of the celestial kingdom any more than some of my own selfish, carnal behaviors will keep me out.  Of course, I have hope that my husband will overcome his addiction in this life, because his behaviors will always be hurtful to me.  But his addiction has no bearing on his worth.  One thing I make great effort to convey on this blog is how this experience has caused me to reflect on my own need for a Savior.  I, just like Pete, have need of the atonement of Jesus Christ.

I do not mean to imply that all sins are equal.  I do not believe this.  Some sins are absolutely more aggregious. Pornography addiction is an ugly thing, and in the life of an addict who doesn't turn to the Savior it can wreak havoc and destroy families in the process.

But I do believe all souls are equal.  And additionally, all sin keeps us seperated from God, which means we ALL need the atonement equally.   I am no more worthy than my husband, in that sense.  And I hope that together we will endure through this life to find reprieve from our frailties in the eternities, together. 

  With regard to my children.  I hope they are spared this pain-- and yet it has made all the difference for me in my life.  And since no one is spared suffering, I am trying to replace my fear and hopelessness with courage and conviction to teach them about faith, love and gratitude to carry them through whatever difficulty comes their way. 

If you read this dear Anonymous-commenter-on-Jacy's-blog, I hope it helps cheer your heart.  Life is good.  Men are good.  We're ALL going to be okay.  As Scab's loves to say, we already know which side wins. 



  1. So inspiring, and so full of charity. Thank you.

  2. Amazing! I love you! We do know which side wins.... :)

  3. Thank you for this. I love the end. One of my favorite quotes is, "It'll all be okay in the end. And if it's not okay, then it's not the end." I do believe that. I believe everything in life is for our good, and I have been surprised to see myself grow over the awful situations in life. Although my life right now is pretty calm, when I think of porn for even a minute, and how it's infesting the world, all I can think is THIS LIFE SUCKS. Yeah, it's what we need. God has strategically placed us all in the situations we need to grow. But, man, it can be so painful. And it is hard for me to see how it can be good for men to go through an addiction to pornography. Yes, it was their choice, and yes, they learn to rely on the Savior SO much, but images are always there. Their minds are infinite, and what they have seen is always there, isn't it? It's hard for me to think this was a trial God wanted them to go through. An older woman in my ward was answering the question in Sunday School, "What is the first thing you will say when you get to the other side of the Veil?" She has had a very hard life with these types of issues terribly affecting her husband (she was divorced), and her children. Her answer was, "I'm so glad I'm not there anymore." Kind of sad, kind of funny, and kind of true. Not that there aren't good things in life (lots of good things)....

    1. "It'll all be okay in the end. And if it's not okay, then it's not the end."

      I love that quote too! It teaches me patience.

      I agree with you that I don't think porn addiction is what God WANTS for his children. If he did then he wouldn't tell his prophets to devote so much effort to preventing it. I've been thinking about this a lot after reading Josh Weed's blog. What things (temptations, weaknesses, homosexuality) do we bring into this life, and what things are the product of our upbringing? In other words, what did God have planned for us and what did we create ourselves? The classic nature vs. nurture debate. I can't answer that, and perhaps it's not for me to know. Ultimately we just make the best of the cards we are dealt. Some trials are the result of our own choices, others are from the choices of others. I think that the images my husband sees may be in his mind forever, that is one of the consequences he has to accept. Even after complete repentence some things can't be taken back. Having said that, I also believe that through true repentence the Savior can help my husband have pure thoughts and a clear mind again. Though your sins be as scarlet, they can be white as snow.

      Some of my greatest heroes are people who found that life was worth living despite it's awfulness. Anne Frank, Viktor Frankl, to name a few famous individuals. But daily I read stories of less well-known people enduring tremendous heartache and still feeling joy and hope. President Hinckley was a great example of optimism for me.

      I really am sorry for your pain and suffering about this issue. Do I wish that my husband had learned about the Savior in a different way? Heck ya! And yet, it is what it is, and I truly AM grateful for it. I think part of true repentence is not only abandoning sin, and abstaining from it in the future, but taking your mistakes and making yourself better for them.

      Now I'M rambling...

  4. I also wanted to say that worth is different from worthy. When you select a companion, you find someone you get along with, who is attractive to you, who will provide, etc. You pick your equal as best you can. Not that you are any better than anyone else, but let's face it, you probably didn't go marry that homeless man with a learning disability who has a pot belly. But I guess once you are married, you stick through it, as best you can, through some hard things. I just don't like the idea of it. I'd rather see natural disasters than this great sin upon us.

    1. I agree with that too! I hope I didn't imply that a porn addict is worthy, in the sense that their sins don't influence their standing before God. I only meant to say that through the atonement we can all be worthy again, and like I said, since we ALL sin, and ALL have need of the atonement, without the Savior we are ALL unworthy until we repent.

      Like I briefly mentioned, if my husband wasn't interested in applying the atonement or recovering from his addiction, we would be having a different conversation here.

      I know it's easy to say "I'd rather have THAT trial!" but just like you said in your comment above, God knows us as individuals and whatever comes our way, be it natural disasters or the bad choices of others, he can help us navigate our way through with peace and joy in the process.

      Does that mean I'm going to sit passively by and watch this great sin spread like wildfire until even more lives and souls have been destroyed? No way! There is nary a group more passionate against pornography than the wives of the addicts. I'm making great efforts to spread the word about the evils of sexual greed and insatiable lust. But I won't be motivated by hate or bitterness.

      Okay, I've said enough...

      Thanks for your very thought provoking comments! I'm glad there are concerned women out there to help us fight.

    2. You are amazing, Jane. Most of my experience with this is in the past, and I have come to terms with full forgiveness, and hardly even think about it anymore (though I would not let said person babysit my children). It is very much in the past, and yet I get so uptight when the P word comes to topic (be it in Relief Society or anywhere). I consider myself very close to God, and I think about the plan of salvation often, and how everything in life has purpse. But when I think about or read about pornography, all peace goes out the window, and I get so ANGRY. And you are living in the midst of it right now, and yet you are at peace with it (yet not complacent, I like that). It's important to fight it, but to not be angry. That's the challenge for me. Thank you for your words.

    3. Quick question: was this particular person's addiction related to children? I ask because one of my greatest fears in sharing this with friends/family is that I fear that if misunderstood, people will assume my husband can not be trusted with children. I have children, and obviously their father is an important part of their life. I have never, EVER questioned their safety in his presence, and I rely on my Heavenly Father to help me discern should that ever not be the case.

    4. Well, we were both youth. I don't actually know the extent of what he watched on the computer, I just know as it related to me what happened, and that it was an issue of years, and that he tried to quit many times. It was a mild abuse, what he did to me, but over the course of years, and was pretty traumatizing for a teen. I guess I don't see any reason to have him babysit, though I've never said anything like, "I wouldn't let you babysit," But most likely he is not a pedophile. I am pretty particular about who I let babysit in general (I don't let my husband's brothers babysit, either, although I have no idea if they are or have been into anything at all). I'm just paranoid.

      I would guess most people with this problem are not a threat to children. The guy I dated in college had been extremely heavily involved. I remember walking passed Victoria's secret, and his face was shaking he was trying so hard not to look (he knew how I felt about porn, but the cat wasn't out of the bag, yet), and he was right there with me. I couldn't believe it could be that hard when you're right next to your girlfriend. And other things happened, even worse. And yet, he swears that child porn is gross, and he never viewed it. Sorry I did not mean to imply people should question whether your husband should be around your kids. I was just saying that it is so much in the past, that I love this person, and I hardly ever think about it. In fact most of the time I've really forgotten. I considered telling his fiance of his past (during my dating years, I was hopeful someone would be kind enough to do that for me, should the need arise). In the end, I decided it wasn't my place, as my parents knew what had happened, and if they thought fit, they could tell her. I have no idea if they did, or if they even thought about it. I haven't mentioned anything about this to anyone in years. I do love my brother.

      All hatred and anger I feel is for the actual pornography, for the people I make it, and for our sick society that lets this happen.

    5. Wow. I can see now why your feelings are so tender after having such a negative experience in your youth. I don't blame you for also being extra cautious about who you leave your kids with, I feel the same way and think it's better safe than sorry.

      Thanks for sharing here, I hope I didn't push you to say more than you wanted to. I didn't mean to. I hope that you can find healing from your past.

      I've enjoyed this conversation, and as usual I feel like my own eyes have been opened a little wider.

    6. How do you deal with the worthiness issue? You have children and your husband has some pretty major sins (not judging...looking for guidance...in the same boat here.). Did you/will you allow/want your husband to....say....baptize your children? What about priesthood blessings? Is it something you just leave up to the Bishop and accept his word for it? Honestly, this is one of my biggest concerns right now. I hate that I'm obsessing over it...but I keep coming back to it. I know these are somewhat personal questions...so I won't be offended if you delete this or ignore it.

  5. Anonymous,
    You're so right in so many ways! It's a scary thing, BUT once you go through it... it isn't so scary. You live, and even become much stronger because of it. And God would never WANT us to go through it or our husbands to go through it. All He wants is for us to turn to Him in times of trial and need. Pornography addiction definitely warrants that. Because of my husband's addiction, I am stronger. The Savior didn't want me to go through this, but He wants me to come to Him if and when times get hard.
    My brother lost his 9-month daughter to a heart condition. He's a tough guy and an extremely GOOD guy. I watched him break down in tears as he said, "I'm scared to think where I'd be if my daughter didn't die."
    Say what?
    "I thought my testimony was good before she passed away," he continued, "I was doing everything I was 'supposed' to do, but when that trial hit our family we all grew in ways we never could have imagined. My greatest fear before losing her was death. I never wanted to lose my wife or kids. Now I have. And I'm not scared anymore. I'm stronger."
    He puts it so well.
    I never wanted a husband addicted pornography, but I have one. I'm not scared anymore. I'm stronger.
    BECAUSE of the Savior.
    He doesn't want pornography to be part of our lives, but He's there when we make wrong choices. The Atonement is amazing, and "amazing" doesn't quite sum it up.
    If we handle our trials the way they are meant to be handled -by going to the Savior -we will come out grateful on the other end no matter what the trial is.
    I've gone through the "other end" of pornography addiction. I'm constantly going to my Savior. I'm grateful for the addiction.
    Do I hate it? Oh yes. But we don't always love the things we are grateful for... just ask anyone who has gone through a heart-wrenching trial that has brought them closer to the Savior.

    1. Alicia- this was moving. I'm covered in goosebumps. Thanks for saying it so well!

    2. Wow. Thank you for sharing this. So beautiful and powerful.

    3. Alicia, can you email me at hopeandhealinglds found at gmail?

    4. Thank you for sharing this!

  6. "I do not believe a pornography addiction will keep my husband out of the celestial kingdom any more than some of my own selfish, carnal behaviors will keep me out."

    If it is not mastered I do think it might. The desire will still be there, but he will have no way of satisfying it unless he masters it here. Yes, so much depends on the state of the heart and intent. I guess maybe master is the wrong word, dealing with it and truly trying I guess is what I'm thinking. And really only the Lod will know his honesty in all that. We can know through the spirit here, now too. Not relly something to speculate about too much, but I often return to "When given the choice of staying with him or not when I pass, what would my answer be?" And vice cersa, am I being someone he would want to be with?

    1. Absolutely. If I didn't feel like my husband and I had the same goals about our future and if I didn't see in him a desire to recover and seek the Savior then I would be writing a different story. And like you said, so much depends on his heart, which I can't know. But I'm relying on the Lord to bless me with discernment and I'm trusting that he'll make all things right. It's hard not to speculate and wonder, but ultimately I just have to have faith.

      Thanks for these thoughts.

  7. We do know which side will win. And because of this trial I am better equipped to have meaningful conversations with my kids to help them face this issue head on. Recently I read a comment on Josh Weed's blog that got me thinking,

    I live in Utah and I drive down the freeway and see billboards for sex addiction treatment a lot. Especially pornography "treatment". While I don't deny that there are some people who might suffer from legitimate sex addiction, I wonder how much Mormonism creates addicts by placing people in sexually repressed situations where they're not allowed to move on without going through an extremely excruciating and embarrassing process of discussing what is very likely normal behavior (and not at all problematic) with untrained clergy. Masturbation= problem. Occasional pornography use = problem. Normal sexual thoughts before marriage (and within marriage) = problem. Are all the people being treated for these "addictions" actually addicts? And if so, what would happen if they were simply able to let go of the self loathing that follows masturbating or viewing porn? Instead of dwelling on it for days, weeks, or months? These are just questions I have. Admittedly, I am not a sex therapist.
    I find this ideology that pornography is "not at all problematic" very erroneous. Pornography hurts people on all sides of the spectrum, those exploited in the images, the consumers, and the families of the consumers. I think most readers of this blog won't have any problem agreeing with me, however, I mention this because it's a philosophy that's out there. I plan to be proactive in teaching my family the truth about pornography. The arousing feelings that naturally follow exposure to pornographic images can and should be talked about. We don't need to fear this issue and bury it under the sand. We are strong enough, smart enough, and righteous enough to conquer the worst Satan has for us. God is good and we can find forgiveness for anything we have done.

    1. Marlee-

      It is pretty frustrating to me to read those type of comments. When I first started blogging I read a very similar argument made about the LDS church and pornography. It seemed logical to me, so I thought long and hard about it. But ultimately I've come to the conclusion that pornography, EVEN in moderation, EVEN if someone isn't addicted, is wrong. For SO many reasons. And although my religious principles are my foundation, even without them I would not tolerate pornography in my relationship. I know that sounds weird because I'm married to an addict, but what I mean is that I will not enable, I will not ignore, I will not accept addictive behaviors, I will only support recovery behaviors.

      I guess like so many other things we don't necessarily form our opinion on something until it affects us so deeply that we thirst for knowledge and answers. It's like we were discussing last night, the women who say "If MY husband did that I'd leave him on the spot." While I am no longer naive about pornography, I am sure there are things I still don't understand because I haven't yet had need to. So I try and just to chalk it up to ignorance, and I mean that it the kindest way, and smile and say:

      "It's okay you feel that way. If you really want to listen, I'll tell you why I disgree and my road to hell and back that is the basis for my convictions on the subject."

      Anyway, I'm with you. I want to be proactive too, and do my part to debunk the myths and justifications around pornography. We are STRONG, and SMART and RIGHTEOUS.

  8. So true Jane. I love the message you are sharing here. Keep sharing it!

  9. I used to be afraid of the topic of pornography. I used to want to somehow close myself off to the possibility that it was out there. I thought all that was out there was the bleak and dark and hopeless. And then I had a prompting to gather and share stories of those who had found recovery. I still don't even remember how I found these people, but they planted a seed that has changed my perspective.

    This all happened about the same time our bishop was talking to us as parents warning us about the serious problem of pornography (and that addiction usually starts in childhood/adolescence) and encouraging us to be open with our kids about sex, etc.. My instinct was to want to run and hide and think "No, this can't be a problem in my ward/stake!", but I decided as a mom I needed to get educated. I wanted to be armed with knowledge so that I could help my kids put on the armor of God. (It's a favorite saying from a former bishop of ours -- he said our instinct is to want to put our kids in an armored car, but we have to help them put on the armor of God).

    The combination of hearing the stories of those who have found healing (see this index here) plus getting educated myself has changed how I feel when I hear the word pornography. Am I any less frustrated that it's all around us? No. But instead of just the negative or a feeling of hopelessness, I feel the potential power of arming ourselves with truth -- both about prevention and education and doctrine and hope about recovery and that it's possible. And I personally feel that one way to stem the tide is for women to be educated and aware and ready to act on and for truth.

    So, Anonymous, yes the issue of porn is a big one, but don't fear! Knowledge is power. We're living in a world where this affects us all. The way we can keep its impact at bay is to shine light on it and act on that light.

    Take a look at the hopeandhealinglds.com blog, or at this Pinterest account that links to a bunch of different resources on this topic. I also reallyl love Fight the New Drug for talking to teens/kids. They go around to schools giving presentations and have a lot of great content that can be helpful for parents.

  10. Ha! Nice little blurb at the end...i do like to say that about winning. Sometimes this is all I need to keep moving forward in my small and awkward way, but other times I feel myself growing a disgust for men. I think that's Sanity and Insanity talking to me.

    Nice post, perfect words. Something I needed to hear today.