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Secularization Hits the Mormons

At least 40% of those in my own family and other active families I know who were raised in the LDS faith have left the church.  

89 members have voted

  1. 1. At least 40% of those in my own family and other active families I know who were raised in the LDS faith have left the church.

    • True
      28
    • False
      61
  2. 2. I believe God is a real “exalted person of bone and flesh"

    • True
      65
    • False
      24
  3. 3. I believe that Jesus was literally resurrected.

    • True
      71
    • False
      18


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8 minutes ago, Anonymous Mormon said:

I have a friend I met in a recovery 12-step program with a similar story. He spent his whole life lying in order to try to please everyone around him. He realized that in order to overcome his addiction to pornography and an affair that had nearly ruined his marriage, he would have to be 100% completely honest. For him, honesty was the only way. So he started being honest about not only his addiction, but also his doubts about the church. In his case, he grew up with a strict Dad who was physically and emotionally abusive to his kids whenever they didn't live the rules of the church perfectly. He had lived the gospel his whole life out of fear. He left the church as part of the process to overcome his sex addiction. Eventually he stopped attending 12-step also because he couldn't believe in a higher power.

On the other hand, I know dozens and dozens and dozens of men who have gained back testimonies and become more strong in the church because of their efforts to overcome addiction. They found the 12-steps to be a pathway for repentance. I am in this camp and am constantly amazed at how much peace and joy I feel through the spirit now that I am not living a double life - now that I don't have that blocking communication with the Holy Ghost.

Simply based upon my experience, I think the most common scenario for men who let pornography get out of hand is they either embrace their porn usage or the gospel. I think that it is a rare exception that a man decides to eliminate porn usage and leaves the church as part of that journey. 

We will continue to see pornography secretly destroy lives and marriages of church members for at least this next generation. Most people  will only admit that pornography is at the root of their divorces and apostasy in hushed tones. I think the next generation will be forced to deal with the issue more directly, so that there will be less shame and stigma associated with it, which will actually let the issue be addressed. Currently it is a shameful scourge to admit that you are suffering from in the church culture.

Thanks for sharing. Everyone has their own experiences.

Im guessing we can agree that we’ve never seen anyone whose relationships or well-being have improved as a result of pornography.

Jesus/Mormon/Atheist/whatever, porn eventually destroys. I will leave my church and family before returning to that dreck again.  My position on that topic has nothing to do with god or sin or afterlife. It can destroy here and now - based on evidence.

Sorry. Stepping off my soapbox now.

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52 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

All experiences are interpreted for meaning. 

Yes, but spiritual experiences are particularly open to interpretation.

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2 hours ago, Gray said:

Spiritual experiences must be interpreted to have meaning.

As already noted by another, all experiences must be interpreted to have meaning.

40 minutes ago, Gray said:

Yes, but spiritual experiences are particularly open to interpretation.

There is no material difference in my experience between 'spiritual' and 'non-spiritual' experiences. They are all the same phenomenon.

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1 hour ago, changed said:

The many examples of the firmly held false beliefs of others is reason to doubt our own firmly held beliefs.  

You're conflating a testimony with beliefs. My testimony is a summary or statement of things that I have personally witnessed. In the broadest sense, it includes my testimony of my recent trek through our deepest gorge. Is is possible that I didn't really go camping in March? Sure. But I have two other people who were there with me. Is it possible all three of us just imagined it jointly because we're really just characters in another being's dreams? I can't disprove that. There are things that I believe that I personally haven't experienced -- things like what happens when and after we die. Those are beliefs. And then there are things that I've lived -- repeatedly. Those are things that I can, and do, bear witness to. Whether in a court of law (an experience I had as a full-time missionary) or in a missionary lesson (an experience I had in my home on Tuesday evening), it's the exact same process.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, SouthernMo said:

Has your furthered understanding of the history of the New Testament caused you to change or give up some of your beliefs about Christ?

There are certainly some things that I 'believe' about Christ, but the New Testament is not the source for my knowledge of Christ. That comes from personal experience. So yes, all kinds of things I might read (including from Latter-day prophets) can help change my beliefs about Christ. Nothing I might read can touch my testimony of Christ. Things I read -- and yes, it took a fair bit of reading to obtain a BA in literary studies, a double MA in language and literature and in history, and a PhD in history -- are not somehow more real than what I've actually lived, repeatedly. This is what puzzles me. I think a genuine testimony (of any kind) is inherently unlosable (barring some kind of amnesia?).

Is the Church really full of people who think a testimony is liking the nice-sounding things that other people told them at some point? If so, the Church has a lot more rough patches to get through over the next few years.

Edited by Hamba Tuhan
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6 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

There are certainly some things that I 'believe' about Christ, but the New Testament is not the source for my knowledge of Christ. That comes from personal experience. So yes, all kinds of things I might read (including from Latter-day prophets) can help change my beliefs about Christ. Nothing I might read can touch my testimony of Christ. Things I read -- and yes, it took a fair bit of reading to obtain a BA in literary studies, a double MA in language and literature and in history, and a PhD in history -- are not somehow more real than what I've actually lived, repeatedly. This is what puzzles me. I think a genuine testimony (of any kind) is inherently unlosable.

You believe a testimony of any kind can’t be lost?  Depending on the semantics of what a testimony is, this could be interpreted as an odd statement.

In LDS parlance, I’ve found that when the word testimony is used, it is meant in a binary fashion. Having one means one accepts the teachings of the LDS church. If one does not accept the teachings, one does not have a testimony.

I think I agree with you if we separate evidence or experience from a conclusion (or interpretation of the experience). If I feel the warmth in my heart when I read the Book of Mormon, I should NEVER deny that. What I believe can change is the conclusion that warmth = Holy Ghost = Book of Mormon is true = and so on...

What do you mean by testimony?

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, SouthernMo said:

What do you mean by testimony?

Sorry, I thought I had been clear about that. My testimony is a summary or statement of things that I have personally witnessed.

There is a good example of one in section 76:

Quote

22 And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

23 For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—

24 That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.

Assuming that Joseph and Sidney were speaking truthfully, what could they possibly read that would cause them to 'lose' this shared experience?

Edited by Hamba Tuhan
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5 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

Sorry, I thought I had been clear about that. My testimony is a summary or statement of things that I have personally witnessed.

There is a good example of one in section 76:

Assuming that Joseph and Sidney were speaking truthfully, what could they possibly read that would cause them to 'lose' this shared experience?

Completely agree with you here.

What is sometimes presented is the claim of a daisy chain that ensues. Because I know Joseph Smith saw Jesus, then he is a prophet and everything else that came of that experience must be true.

I think the word testimony is often used broadly in our faith when perhaps we should be striving for specific experiences/evidence.

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3 hours ago, Anonymous Mormon said:

I have a friend I met in a recovery 12-step program with a similar story. He spent his whole life lying in order to try to please everyone around him. He realized that in order to overcome his addiction to pornography and an affair that had nearly ruined his marriage, he would have to be 100% completely honest. For him, honesty was the only way. So he started being honest about not only his addiction, but also his doubts about the church. In his case, he grew up with a strict Dad who was physically and emotionally abusive to his kids whenever they didn't live the rules of the church perfectly. He had lived the gospel his whole life out of fear. He left the church as part of the process to overcome his sex addiction. Eventually he stopped attending 12-step also because he couldn't believe in a higher power.

On the other hand, I know dozens and dozens and dozens of men who have gained back testimonies and become more strong in the church because of their efforts to overcome addiction. They found the 12-steps to be a pathway for repentance. I am in this camp and am constantly amazed at how much peace and joy I feel through the spirit now that I am not living a double life - now that I don't have that blocking communication with the Holy Ghost.

Simply based upon my experience, I think the most common scenario for men who let pornography get out of hand is they either embrace their porn usage or the gospel. I think that it is a rare exception that a man decides to eliminate porn usage and leaves the church as part of that journey. 

We will continue to see pornography secretly destroy lives and marriages of church members for at least this next generation. Most people  will only admit that pornography is at the root of their divorces and apostasy in hushed tones. I think the next generation will be forced to deal with the issue more directly, so that there will be less shame and stigma associated with it, which will actually let the issue be addressed. Currently it is a shameful scourge to admit that you are suffering from in the church culture.

Oh yes. 

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3 hours ago, Gray said:

Yes, but spiritual experiences are particularly open to interpretation.

How do define spiritual experience?

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3 hours ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

You're conflating a testimony with beliefs. My testimony is a summary or statement of things that I have personally witnessed. In the broadest sense, it includes my testimony of my recent trek through our deepest gorge. Is is possible that I didn't really go camping in March? Sure. But I have two other people who were there with me. Is it possible all three of us just imagined it jointly because we're really just characters in another being's dreams? I can't disprove that. There are things that I believe that I personally haven't experienced -- things like what happens when and after we die. Those are beliefs. And then there are things that I've lived -- repeatedly. Those are things that I can, and do, bear witness to. Whether in a court of law (an experience I had as a full-time missionary) or in a missionary lesson (an experience I had in my home on Tuesday evening), it's the exact same process.

This makes me think that I could never really have a testimony of Christ unless I spent actual time in His physical presence.

 

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49 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

I think it takes more than spending time in his presence. Much more. Many of the Jewish leaders that we read about in the Bible spent time in his presence. One also has to have interactions with Him. Being in his presence tells us that He exists. Being healed by Him tells us that He's able to heal. Being changed by Him tells us that He's capable of changing our natures. Listening to His teachings/advice, acting on them, and then reaping the rewards tell us that He speaks truth. And so forth.

You are referring when he appeared as a man on earth, not in His present glory.  

I admit that if some man came up to me and told me he was Jesus Christ, that would probably not give me a testimony. 

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, Anonymous Mormon said:

..... I told myself these things to feel good. I decided I would go through the motions spiritually because I loved my family and didn't want to hurt them and it didn't matter anyway since the church was all made up, but a good overall lifestyle. Then I could have both porn & the church and not feel bad for my lying and unworthiness.

But in the end it didn't work for me because I realized that viewing porn online wasn't enough and I had to either cross the line and interact with other women (online or in person) to get my fix, or I had to stop it all completely. Thankfully, I decided to turn to God and thus began the hardest period of my life - to try to dig myself out of the lies and addiction.

Like I said, I might just be extrapolating my story onto others. But I would not be at all surprised if more than 50% of men in the church view pornography at least quarterly. And to soothe their guilt, the easiest justification is to find fault with the church, & religion and to embrace the teachings of the world. So my story might be more common than we all realize.

(Because, honestly how many people do you know who will say, "I left the church because online pornography made me feel guilty." No one says that - instead they just bash the church and talk about the CES letter).

I think you are right about many of those who leave the Church.  But I would be very surprised if a high percentage of active members regularly view pornography.  Having said that, an area authority recently said that pornography is pandemic in America.  It would be tragic if “more than 50 percent view Pornography at least quarterly” in the Church, as you suggest.  Maybe it is wishful thinking on my part.  It just seems to me that such behavior would eventually make Church activity impossible.

Due to our family experience, my wife and I attend the weekly family support twelve step and have for about  five years.  It is a wonderful and spiritually fortifying meeting.  I am surprised at how few people attend it and forego the help that is available.  I have also substituted for the addiction recovery facilitators in our stake, and see the help that meeting brings to those who deal with compulsive behaviors.  If what you are saying is accurate, that twelve step meeting is also under attended.  Those who don’t take advantage of it suffer needlessly alone.  

You are a great example of what can happen in a good twelve step program.  The shame and despair are replaced with hope, gratitude, happiness, humility and a desire to help others find the way out.  It’s the same in the family support side.  Pride and embarrassment are soon replaced with gratitude, humility, and a nearly missionary desire to help people experience the healing power of the Savior’s Atonement.  That is the silver lining in all this— learning aspects of the Savior’s Atonement we weren’t aware of before.  I thank God for that opportunity.

Edited by Meerkat
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11 hours ago, SouthernMo said:

Thanks for sharing. Everyone has their own experiences.

Im guessing we can agree that we’ve never seen anyone whose relationships or well-being have improved as a result of pornography.

Jesus/Mormon/Atheist/whatever, porn eventually destroys. I will leave my church and family before returning to that dreck again.  My position on that topic has nothing to do with god or sin or afterlife. It can destroy here and now - based on evidence.

Sorry. Stepping off my soapbox now.

Thank you for sharing as well. I too agree that pornography destroys. I would rather see someone like my friend leave the church as an effort to clean up their life, than wallow in pornography while staying 'active.'

Although some would consider us off topic to the thread at hand, it's completely possible we are more on topic than most of us ever realize.

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4 hours ago, Meerkat said:

But I would be very surprised if a high percentage of active members regularly view pornography.  Having said that, an area authority recently said that pornography is pandemic in America.  It would be tragic if “more than 50 percent view Pornography at least quarterly” in the Church, as you suggest.  Maybe it is wishful thinking on my part.  It just seems to me that such behavior would eventually make Church activity impossible.

The 50% statistic was my best guess. There is nothing scientific about this number. I too hope that I am a pessimist and that the actual number is much lower.

And yes, such behavior does make church activity impossible. This is why I chimed in on this particular topic of people leaving the church. It's easier to deny or leave the church than to directly deal with destructive compulsive behavior that outside of the church is normalized and celebrated.

 

4 hours ago, Meerkat said:

You are a great example of what can happen in a good twelve step program.  

Thank you. And as an off-topic side-note, I went to multiple 12-step programs and the one that I have stuck with for 5+ years that helped me the most is not the church's. The church program is good and I have nothing negative against it. But there are others out there as well. I bring this up so that people who are assisting others in this problem can know that if someone doesn't resonate with the church's 12-step program, there are other non-LDS 12-step and non-12-step programs out there that are great (and also some that are not so great).

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11 hours ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

There are certainly some things that I 'believe' about Christ, but the New Testament is not the source for my knowledge of Christ. That comes from personal experience. So yes, all kinds of things I might read (including from Latter-day prophets) can help change my beliefs about Christ. Nothing I might read can touch my testimony of Christ.   ...

 Is the Church really full of people who think a testimony is liking the nice-sounding things that other people told them at some point? If so, the Church has a lot more rough patches to get through over the next few years.

We are off topic on this and I am fine if they make us start a new thread. But I am curious Hamba, how you have gained personal experience with Jesus Christ? For me, I struggle with bearing testimony of Christ because I find that a lot of times I just talking about feelings, which like others have said are up to interpretation and re-interpretation. I feel like my life/testimony lacks 'personal' interaction. 

How have you gained this personal relationship with Christ that you bear testimony of? What does it look like in your life? 

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The number I have heard about porn usage is about one in three from General Authorities but I am not sure where they got that figure. It sounds about right to me though.

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5 hours ago, Meerkat said:

I think you are right about many of those who leave the Church.  But I would be very surprised if a high percentage of active members regularly view pornography.  Having said that, an area authority recently said that pornography is pandemic in America.  It would be tragic if “more than 50 percent view Pornography at least quarterly” in the Church, as you suggest.  Maybe it is wishful thinking on my part.  It just seems to me that such behavior would eventually make Church activity impossible.

Due to our family experience, my wife and I attend the weekly family support twelve step and have for about  five years.  It is a wonderful and spiritually fortifying meeting.  I am surprised at how few people attend it and forego the help that is available.  I have also substituted for the addiction recovery facilitators in our stake, and see the help that meeting brings to those who deal with compulsive behaviors.  If what you are saying is accurate, that twelve step meeting is also under attended.  Those who don’t take advantage of it suffer needlessly alone.  

You are a great example of what can happen in a good twelve step program.  The shame and despair are replaced with hope, gratitude, happiness, humility and a desire to help others find the way out.  It’s the same in the family support side.  Pride and embarrassment are soon replaced with gratitude, humility, and a nearly missionary desire to help people experience the healing power of the Savior’s Atonement.  That is the silver lining in all this— learning aspects of the Savior’s Atonement we weren’t aware of before.  I thank God for that opportunity.

Thank you for this testimony. I hope anyone who is suffering and reads this will be inspired to seek the help that is available. Our family has experienced similar blessings.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Anonymous Mormon said:

The 50% statistic was my best guess. There is nothing scientific about this number. I too hope that I am a pessimist and that the actual number is much lower.

And yes, such behavior does make church activity impossible. This is why I chimed in on this particular topic of people leaving the church. It's easier to deny or leave the church than to directly deal with destructive compulsive behavior that outside of the church is normalized and celebrated.

 

Thank you. And as an off-topic side-note, I went to multiple 12-step programs and the one that I have stuck with for 5+ years that helped me the most is not the church's. The church program is good and I have nothing negative against it. But there are others out there as well. I bring this up so that people who are assisting others in this problem can know that if someone doesn't resonate with the church's 12-step program, there are other non-LDS 12-step and non-12-step programs out there that are great (and also some that are not so great).

I agree...searching for the right group to attend is important. The principles of healing are the same, but the personalities vary. What distinguishes the Church program is that the higher power is defined as the Father and the Son Jesus Christ and LDS scriptures and authorities are quoted.

Edited by Bernard Gui
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10 hours ago, Anonymous Mormon said:

But I am curious Hamba, how you have gained personal experience with Jesus Christ?

It really helps if, like me, you are weak and rebellious and sin heaps, but only if you then repent heaps as well. I think I touched on that in my post above:

Quote

Being healed by Him tells us that He's able to heal. Being changed by Him tells us that He's capable of changing our natures. Listening to His teachings/advice, acting on them, and then reaping the rewards tell us that He speaks truth. And so forth.

But of course there is so much more. Service certainly helps -- 'how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served?' -- but for me, this requires serving alongside Him, not on my own. As both Elder Bednar and our previous area president taught us, we have to serve beyond our natural capacities so that it requires dealing with the Lord personally to get the work done.

This is tied to another feature of my life: I frequently get into all kinds of trouble and desperately need help. As one of the handcart pioneers is reported to have said, we come to know Christ in our extremities.

But that's just me speaking. Have you had this conversation with Him?

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14 hours ago, Meerkat said:

I think you are right about many of those who leave the Church.  But I would be very surprised if a high percentage of active members regularly view pornography.  Having said that, an area authority recently said that pornography is pandemic in America.  It would be tragic if “more than 50 percent view Pornography at least quarterly” in the Church, as you suggest.  Maybe it is wishful thinking on my part.  It just seems to me that such behavior would eventually make Church activity impossible.

Due to our family experience, my wife and I attend the weekly family support twelve step and have for about  five years.  It is a wonderful and spiritually fortifying meeting.  I am surprised at how few people attend it and forego the help that is available.  I have also substituted for the addiction recovery facilitators in our stake, and see the help that meeting brings to those who deal with compulsive behaviors.  If what you are saying is accurate, that twelve step meeting is also under attended.  Those who don’t take advantage of it suffer needlessly alone.  

You are a great example of what can happen in a good twelve step program.  The shame and despair are replaced with hope, gratitude, happiness, humility and a desire to help others find the way out.  It’s the same in the family support side.  Pride and embarrassment are soon replaced with gratitude, humility, and a nearly missionary desire to help people experience the healing power of the Savior’s Atonement.  That is the silver lining in all this— learning aspects of the Savior’s Atonement we weren’t aware of before.  I thank God for that opportunity.

I know this is going to sound very bad, but what is it with the LDS, they seem to have so many problems? I was flabbergasted to see how many meetings were on the website the church has for people with addictions.

I thought the church was suppose to help, but not mess up people like it has. I honestly think the more they talk about it, for instance in interviews, and asking if the youth watched porn, cause them to watch it. Many didn't know what masturbation meant until their bishop asked them in interviews, and boomo they look the word up and there ya go.

Or the many pornography youth talks they hear. I'm almost ashamed because I was in charge at a high school a few years back for a campaign to say no to porn week or something. I'll bet I helped make it worse. And having them sign a large butcher block sign that they promised not to view it. I actually think this doesn't help. This huge emphasis on it. 

And during a parent meeting for the 5th Sunday a few years back I raised my hand when they were discussing how to help the youth not view porn. And I told the bishop I thought these constant reminders were making it worse. And he shut me right down.

And also for the men out there that maybe get caught by their wives for a mild porn viewing and then the wife makes them feel like they are addicts when they are not. And it becomes a vicious cycle.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/9/2019 at 8:06 AM, clarkgoble said:

Typically it's not just separation of church and state but relegation of religion to solely the private sphere. Of course formal secularists go farther than that as the Secular Humanist Manifesto suggests. There secularism was to be a replacement for religion. While the latter manifestos changed things somewhat (particularly due to how Nazism made people rethink some elements) I think that "new religion" aspect remains even if in a more subtle fashion. Yet looking at the move away from organized religion and the rise of the Nones, it's interesting how few become atheists. Even among the atheists many still adopt a kind of spiritualism in the sense of a wonder and transcendence. So I think when people speak of a rising secularism they primarily mean a feeling that organized religion is problematic, an emphasis on personal spirituality rather than public "facts" and a focus on personal actualism rather than duty particularly organized duties. The Nones fit the bill quite well. (IMO)

I love Alain de Botton.  I have read a few of his books and they have helped me develop my views a lot.  In fact he and Rorty overlap in many areas.

It is so rare to find a philosopher who is as competent in art history as he is in philosophy, and so having a far wider view of the human experience of "representation" than others

This video is a little long but I highly recommend it as showing clearly how atheism mirrors religion and actually IS -in a sense -a religion, with different definitions for the same human experiences, and again raises the question of whether or not all these alleged differences are simply semantic confusions.

It carries on the point I was trying to make in the thread I recently started about Hitchens acknowledging the "daemon" inside us- the little voice that tells us when something is immoral.

I think that this is powerful evidence that atheism and the spiritual view are simply two different paradigms attempting to describe the same human needs and experiences.

In fact, I see this video as a powerful argument in favor of the religious view, especially LDS  materialism, orthopraxis mixed with a kind of Social Trinitarianism which through our doctrines of exaltation, could include all of humanity in a council of Gods .And we eschew the "supernatural" by accepting an immanent God and that even spirit is matter, and that in principle God is a natural- not a supernatural - Being.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQVjhCbll8o

He also brings up the idea that scripture as literature is tremendously valuable as a cultural way of learning how to live and die.

I am sure he would include the Book of Mormon in that view, seeing it for its cultural value.

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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17 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

This video

Man, I gave your post a like because it wasn't the Rorty video! ;) 

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11 hours ago, The Nehor said:

The number I have heard about porn usage is about one in three from General Authorities but I am not sure where they got that figure. It sounds about right to me though.

Just read this comment by someone that resonates or corroborates with my post above. 

I know that for me the church was culpable in my ‘struggle’ with porn. As soon as I stopped believing the leader’s messages on porn, particularly the moral arguments they purvey, not only did my viewing COMPLETELY cease but the temptation also went away. I believe this was because I could finally see porn for what it truly is. Not some diabolical creation that satan uses to tether us to him but rather a practice that is dangerous to my view of real relationships. The trouble is when the church warns of porn they don’t differentiate between the two. If one is a true believer they hang on to the moral arguments inviting the only catalyst to porn addiction, shame and guilt. For me, disbelieving the moral degradation message of the leaders got rid of shame and guilt which IMMEDIATELY quenched any desire to view porn. 
I know I’m a sample size of one but I’ve heard similar stories from other men who left the church because of their porn addiction. As soon as they stopped believing, their porn viewing left them. I know I’m not answering your question but I know that the current method the church is using is actually tying the cords of porn addiction rather then cutting them. Something drastically different must be employed by the church if they really want to keep people from pornography.

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