Episode #14: Pornography (Tween Talk)

Welcome to Tween Talk for Latter-day Saints! This week, episode 14 of Tween Talk is about pornography.

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Tween Talk Episode #14

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Here are the different resources discussed in episode 14 of Tween Talk.

Matthew 5:27-28

Strength of Youth pamphlet

Fight the New Drug

A study in 2020

Church’s manual for parents about sex and pornography

Video “What Should I Do When I See Pornography?”

Elder Holland “The Plague of Pornography”

New Era “5 Things to Know About Pornography”

Tween Talk 14 Transcript

Have you ever wondered what exactly pornography is, and why it’s even such a big deal?

Hey y’all, welcome back! This is episode 14 of Tween Talk.
Okay, before we go any further, I need to make sure of something – did you listen to last week’s podcast about the Law of Chastity?
If not, I need you to STOP and go back and listen to it. We’re going to refer back to it a lot in this podcast, and it’s not going to make much sense if you’ve skipped it.
After all, pornography is one part of the Law of Chastity.
We went a LOT into the WHY of the Law of Chastity last week. WHY did God say that sexual relations are only be between a man and woman who are married?
The principle – or the WHAT we are supposed to do – is the Law of Chastity.
And we talked a bit about the HOW we should keep the Law of Chastity.
Pornography is part of that WHAT and HOW.
As we talked about last week, chastity is sexual purity. It’s being morally clean, not only in your actions, but also in your words and thoughts.
And as we read in Matthew 5:27-28, Christ taught.
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
So clearly, the Law of Chastity is about more than just our actions and what we do with our physical bodies: it’s about what we do with our thoughts and emotions.
The Strength of Youth pamphlet says, “Before marriage, do not do anything to arouse the powerful emotions that must be expressed only in marriage.”
The SOLE PURPOSE of pornography is to arouse those emotions.
And it’s addicting.
Every single one of you is going to encounter pornography at some point in your lives. Whether it’s from a friend, or a magazine catalogue, or something else – you’re going to run into it.
And you need to be on your guard.
In order to do that, we need to know what exactly pornography is.
Pornography is ANY material depicting or describing the human body or sexual conduct in a way that arouses sexual feelings.
A lot of times we think of pornography as just people sneaking onto really bad websites on the internet, or looking at magazines full of pictures of naked people.
In reality, pornography is SO MUCH MORE.
And it’s everywhere.
Parents, you need to realize that according to the website Fight the New Drug 84% of males and 57% of females ages 14-18 have viewed pornography.
And the majority of kids are exposed to pornography before the age of 13.
So that’s why we’re talking about it NOW.
If you’re watching a movie, and there’s a scene that shows two people having sex – that’s pornography.
If you see a picture of someone wearing little or no clothing, that’s pornography.
Reading a book that talks about the characters having sex, that’s pornography.
If someone texts you a picture of themselves with little or no clothing, that’s pornography. And if that person is a teen or tween, that’s actually child pornography, and both the sender and receiver can get in trouble with the law.
A study in 2020 showed that 22% of boys (that’s more than 1 in every 5!) who are ages 9-12 believe their friends at least SHARE nude (or naked) pictures of other kids.
21% of those kids agree that it’s normal for people their age to share nudes with each other.
And TWICE as many kids ages 9-12 have sent nudes of THEMSELVES in 2020 than they did in 2019.
And the fallout is catastrophic.
The links to these facts and SO MANY MORE can be found up on the blog. savingtalents.com/podcast.
I’m not the only one who thinks this is a big problem among kids your age. The Church came out with a fantastic video called “What Should I Do When I See Pornography?” And the video is acted BY kids your age and it’s FOR kids your age.
The world wants you to think that because sexual feelings and desires are natural, that it’s okay to encourage those thoughts and feelings outside of marriage.
That’s one of the biggest lies that Satan has used to trick people.
In reality, pornography is very addicting and extremely harmful. The biggest reason why it’s so harmful is that it’s simply not real.
Pornography shows images and stories and videos that are FALSE relationships. In pornography, people are shown as objects rather than real people with thoughts and emotions.
The types of relationships and people that are shown in pornography are NOT REAL.
A lot of pornography shows abuse, violence, or even degrading acts as being normal or desirable.
Remember, like we talked about last time, the entire purpose of sex is to bring a husband and wife closer together.
When people your age look at pornography of any kind, it starts to give you ideas and expectations that that’s really what sex is like. And it couldn’t be more wrong.
Even worse, pornography is addicting. So not only are you messing up your future relationship with your spouse, you’re creating very real changes in your brain that is still being developed!
Let’s talk briefly about how the brain works. Deep inside the brain, there’s something called the reward center.
Every single person and animal has one. The reward center’s job is to release a pleasure chemical into our brain that’s called dopamine. Dopamine gets released as a response to behaviors that we perceive as positive, like working out, eating good food, or even getting a hug from someone we love.
When someone uses an addictive drug, that drug uses the same dopamine process and your brain gets flooded with feelings of pleasure and positive reinforcement.
Your brain then starts rewiring itself! It thinks that the behavior you did was good, and your body then wants to seek out and experience those feelings again.
Eventually, your brain becomes unable to produce dopamine without that trigger, that drug. This is how addiction is formed.
Do you know what else sparks the same process?
When you look at pornography and your sexual feelings start to become aroused, your pleasure center in the brain begins to release dopamine. In turn, the brain begins to rewire itself so it wants to seek out pornography more.
What’s worse is the more you do it, the more dopamine that’s released, and the more rewiring that happens.
See the danger?
But that’s not the only thing that makes pornography dangerous.
Pornography escalates.
If we’re talking about exercise, for example, as causing dopamine in healthy ways, then going for a one mile jog a few days a week can be enough to keep your brain fit and happy. Each you time you go for the jog, your brain gives the same level of dopamine and it lasts a while. You don’t need to keep going farther and farther distances – the mile feels good no matter how many times you do it.
But addictive substances, like alcohol, pain medication, or tobacco, have what’s called “escalation.” It means that your body quickly becomes USED to that thing and no longer gives the same level of dopamine.
So if you were smoking one cigarette, pretty soon you’ll need TWO cigarettes to get the same good feeling. Then three, then four, then five.
The amount you need to get the SAME level gets higher and higher.
So not only do you HAVE to have it, you have to have MORE of it. The amount you need ESCALATES.
Pornography, like any other addiction, also escalates!
People become numb to pornography. They have to seek out more, or even “harder” pornography. They aren’t happy with just one picture any more, they want a video or two videos or three videos.
Just like with addictive substances, your brain becomes DESENSITIZED to pornography.
And since pornography often shows things that AREN’T real, like the way people behave or how they really look, it means you go to get married, you aren’t happy with what your spouse and having sex with them.
Which completely destroys the first and most important part of sex.
It’s not about having kids, remember? It’s about bonding a husband and a wife together in a way that you never bond with anyone else.
And with your brain so desensitized, it spills over into other things.
Pretty soon you can’t feel the Holy Ghost, not only because of the wrong choices you’re making, but because your brain doesn’t really focus on anything else.
When you go to make a decision on your flow chart, your point of view is completely skewed by the addiction in your brain.
And once the dopamine high wears off, the feelings of guilt and shame becomes overwhelming.
And Satan will tell you that you’ll never be good enough, that you’re a terrible person, and a sinner.
And so what do you do? You want to feel better, but now the only way your brain can feel good in the pleasure center is with the pornography because you’re desensitized to everything else, so you go look at more porn.
And it goes around and around. It’s a cycle, a spiral down.
That cycle is so, so, so hard to break.
BUT I know that it IS possible.
It’s pretty much impossible to do it on your own, though.
The sooner you talk to someone, the better.
If you’ve been watching pornography, the one thing that will help is probably the hardest thing to do: tell a trusted adult. Your parents, the bishop, your young men or young women’s later.
So many people tell themselves they’ll quit on their own first, and THEN they’ll tell someone.
But that’s Satan trying to keep you from doing the right thing. He knows how improbably it is that you’ll be able to stop on your own.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave a great speech called “The Plague of Pornography” at the Utah Coalition Against Pornography keynote address.
In it he said, “Let me offer a modest little formula that I have used in counseling over the years. Hold FAST.”
F is for “flee.” Leave the scene of the crime, get away from the temptation, put distance between yourself and the problem in any way possible. Like Joseph in the presence of Potiphar’s wife, I say just run! And please, do not leave a forwarding address!
A is for “ask.” Too many do not ask for help. Initially, anyone who is trustworthy can be asked to help—a parent, spouse, friend, Church leader, counselor, physician, and so on. Above all, ask God for help, pleading for the mercy and grace of the Almighty to aid you in this difficult task. I would ask and ask until my throat was hoarse. I would knock and knock until my knuckles were bloody.
S is for “strive.” Pornography is not a simple problem and it will not be overcome easily. It will take work. But I believe virtually every problem in life will ultimately yield to persistent effort aided by divine assistance. It may take days, it may take years, it may take a lifetime, but I believe in the reward of persistent effort.
T is for “triumph.” I know people can win this war. I have seen them do it. You have to believe. You need to have and keep that hope always—to believe you can be victorious in this battle, that you can conquer this implacable foe.”
I’m hoping, though, that most of you will only ever need to use the first part.
In today’s world of smart phones and internet, it’s almost inevitable that you are going to see pornography.
Whether someone texts you a picture of someone else at school without clothes, or you accidentally go to the wrong website (like saying .com instead of .org), or even just at the mall seeing the billboards and ads with people wearing revealing clothing, you’re going to see it.
So decide NOW what you’re going to do.
Like Joseph in Egypt, like Elder Holland said, just FLEE.
And replace those thoughts with something good.
Sing a Primary song.
Read your scriptures.
Listen to uplifting music.
Say a prayer.
And talk to your parents.
Every. Single. Time.
When you see pornography, call it what it is! Just like people hated saying Voldemort but Dumbledore challenged that, saying, “ Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”
Don’t be afraid of being offensive. If a friend shows it to you, you say, “That’s pornography, and I don’t want to see anything like that again. Please don’t show it to me or send it to me. You shouldn’t be looking at it either.”
Then turn it off, turn away, delete the text, whatever.
Then go tell your parents or a trusted adult.
If you make a habit, a commitment of telling someone EVERY TIME you see pornography, then you’ll greatly lower the chance that you’ll want to go back and look again.
Guys, it’s NORMAL to be curious.
You want to know what someone looks like, maybe.
Or you want to see what all the big deal is about.
Talk to you parents or a trusted adult about those feelings of curiosity. They can help answer your questions in HEALTHY ways.
But don’t go exploring and give into the curiosity on your own. Satan is trying to trick you.
And in the meantime, keep your Spirit armor strong. Be reading the scriptures and saying your prayers and going to Church and keeping your covenants at baptism.
Parents, please talk more to your kids about this. I’ve put some GREAT links up on the blog about this that can help you walk through it. I know it’s a super uncomfortable topic, but knowledge is your greatest weapon against it.
And you kids that are listening, you tweens and maybe even teens, please ask your parents or another trusted adult to help you. Even if you don’t think you’ll ever want to do it, put a plan in place now.
Having a plan about what to do when you encounter pornography is the best way to keep from being addicted.
And pornography addictions can take years, if not decades, to fully recover from.
But I KNOW that it’s possible. It’s so, so, so hard, but it’s possible, because of the Atonement. Go back and listen to episode 2 of this podcast series when we talked about that.
And work to keep your thoughts clean.
Even if you don’t actually look up pornography, thinking about what you’ve seen or what you imagine isn’t good, either.
If you let your thoughts linger on things that bring up sexual feelings and arousal, that’s also a violation of the Law of Chastity.
King David in the Old Testament – you know, David and Goliath? – was such an amazing prophet and king!
But then he saw a woman without clothes on who wasn’t his wife.
And he didn’t stop thinking about her.
He kept thinking and kept thinking and fantasizing until he brought her to his castle and had sex with her, even though they weren’t married AND she was married to someone else.
And then even worse, she got pregnant but her husband was away at war, so she would be found out and would be stoned for adultery.
So then King David sent for her husband to come back and they were going to trick him into having sex with her so he would think the baby was his.
But the husband wouldn’t even go into his house because all his soldiers were sleeping in tents, and he insisted on sleeping out with his soldiers.
So what did King David do?
He sent the husband away to the front lines of the worst part of the war so he would be killed. Then he married the woman.
And for all of that, he lost his place in the Celestial Kingdom.
Joseph Smith asked the Lord about it one time, and in D&C 132:39, the Lord says, “he hath fallen from his exaltation, and received his portion; and he shall not inherit.”
All because he accidentally saw a woman without clothes on, and he chose to keep thinking about her and what he saw.
So please, turn your thoughts away until you’re married.
Sexual feelings and thoughts and desires ARE natural! They’re not bad or good on their own – but it’s about the TIMING! After you’re married, you can think about your spouse and have desires and enjoy sex.
But before you’re married?
Use your mind and willpower to keep control over the natural man.
So please, come up with a plan.
Write it down!
Commit NOW, before some of you are even having those changes happen or have seen anything pornographic, what you’ll do.
And if you have already crossed the line, you can repent and commit NOW on what you’ll do going forward.
Because it’s about proving to God that we’re trustworthy, right?
It’s about being valiant.
We’re going to talk more about other parts of the Law of Chastity in the next two episodes. Next time we’ll cover modesty (haha, get the pun), and this podcast is going to be for BOTH girls AND boys.
So I hope to see ALL of you next week, when we do Tween Talk episode 15.
And in the meantime, set a plan and talk with a trusted adult.
I’ll see y’all then.

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