Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Teaching Teens to Avoid Pornography

As you know, we've been at family reunions/hosting visitors the last few weeks, but also during that time I was invited to teach a class at Girl's Camp about avoiding pornography.  

Although the outline that I am sharing here does not include all of the personal stories that I shared (I taught the class four times and it was different every time), I thought it would give you the basic idea, if you'd like to use this to help teach your youth the importance of avoiding the pornographic images, story lines, lyrics, and jokes that have crept into practically all areas of society.

When I was asked to teach this class, I immediately thought back to my own experiences at Girl's Camp, the place where I first realized that I truly do "believe in Christ."  The other experience that stood out to me was a talk given by a woman from my home ward named Debbie Ditto.  She retold a story written by Ardeth Greene Kapp called "Tragedy at Rayad." 

This little parable (included below) illustrates so well just how the adversary helps us to develop a taste for wickedness by feeding it to us in small increments.  At the time that I first heard this story pornography was not even mentioned.  Now we know that it is a major problem...and Satan's tactics, outlined in the story, can be seen as clear as day when we compare the parable to our society.

The other part of the class that I enjoyed was turning the word "virtue" into an acronym to remind the girls of how they can steer clear of pornographic influences.  I made little bead bracelets with the word "V.I.R.T.U.E." on it.  I had the girls try to guess what the letters stood for as we discussed each letter, and how each tactic would safeguard them.  

Here's what the letters stand for:

 Use V.I.R.T.U.E. to guard yourself against Porn:
a.       V – Visit places where the Holy Ghost is strong (i.e. church, temple, scriptures, YW, mutual, LDS.org, etc.) View material that invites the spirit and brings true happiness.
b.      I – Be Informed about the people you date or spend time with. (Ask the tough questions. Write in your journal now, the questions that you will ask the boy you date before you get serious.)  Be Informed about the material you read, movies you watch, music you listen to.  Read reviews from trusted online sources. (Dove.org, theliteratemother.org, kids-in-mind.com)
c.       R – Respect yourself & others.  Respect the covenants you have made and will make in the temple.  Respect your future spouse and children.  Respect other women by speaking against pornographic material in all of its forms.
d.      T – Be True to your standards of dress & modesty.  (What you wear speaks volumes about how you value your self-worth.  Do not send mixed messages.  Do not lower your standards for special occasions.  Do not evoke inappropriate thoughts in the minds of others by dressing immodestly.)  Being true means sticking by your standards always.
e.      U – Use the off button (much more often than you do!) Turn off media immediately that is questionable or makes you feel uncomfortable, but also turn off your ipods, etc in order to allow the spirit to communicate with you more easily.
f.        E – Be Modest with your Eyes and Ears.  Turn away from sexually explicit material, jokes, commercials, and TV programs that spoon-feed you small amounts of pornographic material until you gain an appetite for it.  Instead, do all that you can to “hunger and thirst after righteousness.”

Here is my outline:   Avoiding Pornography

Note: I have added three quotes from prophets that I neglected to include in my initial post, but which were shared in the class.  They are highlighted in yellow below.

1.       Read “Tragedy at Rayad” by Ardeth Kapp Perry (Ask the girls what parallels can be drawn from this parable.  What similarities do you see between the story and our society?  Who is Zynock?  And how are his tactics being used in our culture?)

2.       Define Pornography: “Any material that is designed to sexually arouse.”  (To make this definition accessible to all of the girls, we added that it is material that makes you uncomfortable (although you might not understand yet why), material that makes you blush, causes you embarrassment.

“Avoid pornography as you would the plague.” – Gordon B. Hinckley (How did the plague kill its victims?  How is pornography like a spiritual plague?  It destroys from the inside out.)

FTSOY – “Do not attend, view, or participate in anything that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way.

Thomas S.Monson: "Pornography is especially dangerous and addictive.  Curious exploration of pornography can become a controlling habit, leading to coarser material and to sexual transgression.  Avoid pornography at all costs.  Don't be afraid to walk out of a movie, turn off a television set, or change a radio station if what's being presented does not meet your Heavenly Father's standards.  In short, if you have any question about whether a particular movie, book, or other form of entertainment is appropriate, don't see it, don't read it, don't participate."

3.       Why is Pornography dangerous to us? 
a.        It feeds us incorrect ideas about who we are and what love is.
b.      It is addictive.
c.       It changes our chemical make-up.
d.      It destroys families.
e.      It creates low self-esteem.
f.        It creates a culture that devalues women and children.
g.       It chases away the Spirit.

“Trying to avoid porn in our culture is a little like trying to avoid salt.  It is really difficult to do.  We are so surrounded by sexually provocative images that it is almost impossible to stay away from it.” – Wendy Ulrich

Gordon B. Hinckley: "While the matter of which I speak was a problem then, it is a much more serious problem now.  It grows increasingly worse.  It is like a raging storm, destroying individuals and families, utterly ruining what was once wholesome and beautiful.  I speak of pornography in all of its manifestations...The excuse is given that it is hard to avoid, that is is right at our fingertips and there is no escape.  Suppose a storm is raging and the winds howl and the snow swirls about you.  You find yourself unable to stop it.  But you can dress properly and seek shelter, and the storm will have no effect upon you.

4.       For more clues, let’s look at Lehi’s dream in the Book of Mormon.  Lehi’s Dream:  What did Lehi see and how can his dream help us today?

Let’s compare the mist of darkness in Lehi’s dream to today’s plight of pornography:

 1 Nephi 8:23

23 And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.

1 Nephi 12:17

17 And the mists of darkness are the temptations of the devil, which blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish and are lost.

1 Nephi 8:24

24 And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.

a.        The “mist of darkness” in Lehi’s dream covers the path, causing those who had caught hold of the iron rod to fall into “strange paths”.
b.      It causes spiritual blindness and insensitivity  (“blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men”…leading them to seek after “broad” roads…they leave the straight and narrow.
c.       Think about mist.  Why would Lehi’s see these temptations like a mist…what qualities do pornography and mists share in common?  Because of its mist-like qualities, pornography can take on almost any form and enter almost any space on the planet. (i.e. enters our home through commercials/movies, a constant stream of internet available on buses, airplanes, in public and private 24/7, popular books, even school curriculum, lewd jokes.)

Ezra Taft Benson: "The prophet Lehi also saw our day in his great visionary dream of the tree of life.  He saw that many people would wander blindly in the mists of darkness, which symbolized the temptations of the devil. (See 1 Ne. 12:17.)  He saw some fall away "in forbidden paths," others drown in rivers of filthiness, and still others wander in "strange roads." (1 Ne. 8:28, 32.)  When we read of the spreading curse of drugs, or read of the pernicious flood of pornography and immorality, do any of us doubt that these are the forbidden paths and rivers of filthiness Lehi described?"

5.       Use V.I.R.T.U.E. to guard yourself against Porn:
a.       V – Visit places where the Holy Ghost is strong (i.e. church, temple, scriptures, YW, mutual, LDS.org, etc.) View material that invites the spirit and brings true happiness.
b.      I – Be Informed about the people you date or spend time with. (Ask the tough questions.)  Be Informed about the material you read, movies you watch, music you listen to.  Read reviews from trusted online sources.
c.       R – Respect yourself & others.  Respect the covenants you have made and will make in the temple.  Respect your future spouse and children.  Respect other women by speaking against pornographic material in all of its forms.
d.      T – Be True to your standards of dress & modesty.  (What you wear speaks volumes about how you value your self-worth.  Do not send mixed messages.  Do not lower your standards for special occasions.  Do not evoke inappropriate thoughts in the minds of others by dressing immodestly.)
e.      U – Use the off button (much more often than you do!)
f.        E – Be Modest with your Eyes and Ears.  Turn away from sexually explicit material, jokes, commercials, and TV programs that spoon-feed you small amounts of pornographic material until you gain an appetite for it.  Instead, do all that you can to “hunger and thirst after righteousness.”

6.        CLOSING:  If you HAVE engaged in viewing pornography…or if after listening to what I have said, you feel that you have room to improve, there is a way to repent and find healing through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Steps to healing/repentance:  “Get on your knees and ask Heavenly Father to forgive you.  Pray for the desire to do what is right.  Pray for the courage to talk to your parents and the bishop, if necessary.  Regardless of your fears, they will continue to love you. They know what kind of society you are growing up in.  You don’t have to do this alone.  The path of repentance, though difficult, need not be traveled alone. 

“The power and freedom of forgiveness is real.  The Savior taught, “The truth shall make you free.” Joy comes from living the way the Savior lived.  He has asked us to keep our thoughts pure. He has asked us to maintain our self-respent.  He has asked us to become a good influence on our family and our friends (to ARISE AND SHINE FORTH!)  We are to love them and to lift them toward the light.  He has said “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”  He has promised He will help us live His standards.  He has said: “Take my yoke upon you…For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The world is heavy at times.  Whatever weight the world has put on you, that life and living in a wicked world has placed on you, place that weight and that burden at the feet of the Savior and begin to live again.

7.        Hand out VIRTUE bracelets. Or print off V.I.R.T.U.E. Bookmarks here.
VIRTUE Bookmarks

TRAGEDY AT RAYAD by Ardeth G. Kapp

Once upon a time there was a little kingdom called Rayad.  The tiny people who inhabited this kingdom were call Rayadites.  They lived happily, sharing and caring about each other.  Life was good to them.  There were only a few things they needed to watch out for; for instance, chocolate cake or wearing the color red.  If any Rayadite ever ate chocolate cake or wore red, his spirit would become weakened, and he would care less and less about himself and the rules of the kingdom.
Also living in this tiny kingdom was Zynock, an evil person who wanted to destroy the kingdom and all of the people in it.  He hated for them to be happy and loving, for that made it harder for him to influence them.  He knew what weakened their spirits and made them easier to capture.  But Zynock also knew that he could not just offer the Rayadites chocolate cake and have them devour it - they were not that foolish!  Nor could he make the most wonderful garment in bright red and expect them to wear it immediately.  The Rayadites wanted to be good and strong.  They had promised each other that they would help and strengthen each other in time of need.  So how could Zynock weaken this people?  How could he get them to succumb to him so that he could destroy them and thus the whole kingdom?
"Let's see," he said, "I can't get them to eat chocolate cake right off, but maybe I can get them to develop a taste for chocolate."
That's when chocolate chip cookies were introduced to the kingdom of Rayad.  At first the cookies were ignored and scoffed at.  Then some commercials and billboards were produced that showed handsome, wonderful-looking Rayadites eating chocolate chip cookies.  And nothing happened to them, except they became more popular and sophisticated - at least that's what the message conveyed on the screens and billboards.
It wasn't long before a few Rayadites could be seen eating a chocolate chip cookies every now and then, and they seemed to be doing fine.  They were still loving and caring and hadn't changed at all - so it seemed.  So more and more Rayadites began eating the cookies.  What they didn't realize was that the portion of chocolate chips in each cookie had been doubled.  They were getting a double dose of chocolate, disguised in the cookie.  You'd hear phrases like these: "That cookie is really good except for a couple of places where it tastes pretty chocolatey.  But don't miss the cookie just for those two places.  It's too good a cookie, and you can overlook the taste."  "I heard that one of our friends has eaten a chocolate chip cookie, and she says it's nothing to be afraid of.  It won't ruin your life if you eat it."
That was true: lives didn't seem to be ruined by chocolate chip cookies.  Things were pretty much the same as usual.  However, some of the teachers and leaders and parents in Rayad suggested avoiding the cookies because tastes for chocolate were being developed.
"Avoid the cookies?" came the cries of surprise.  "What for?  What's wrong with them?  They're not chocolate cake!  How stuffy can you get?"
Some who refused to eat the cookies were even laughed at and made fun of.  Zynock himself started chuckling.  He had no idea his plan would work so well.  And Zynock was patient.  He didn't care how long it took to destroy Rayad, just so it was destroyed.
Chocolate chip cookies seemed to be moving pretty well.  Zynock didn't worry about the words of caution and counsel from the leaders, because his commercials and billboards were so exciting and enticing.  He had to make them that way, or the truth of the leaders would have swayed the Rayadites away from the cookies.
Now it came time to introduce a new product of destruction.  No, not chocolate cake, not quite yet.  Rather, Zynock began advertising spice cake, white cake, yellow cake, carrot cake, any kind of cake but chocolate - but all with chocolate frosting, rich chocolate frosting.  More commercials, more billboards, a few songs to hum and sing all day about how wonderful chocolate cake would be, although they're not eating it - yet!  Get them thinking about it before they will actually succumb.  Then in the kingdom of Rayad, you could hear:
"Have you tried that yellow cake with chocolate frosting?"
"Well, no.  Is it good?"
"Oh, yes!  Granted, it is chocolatey, but it's not chocolate cake.  And it really doesn't have much more chocolate than those cookies we've been eating!"
"But the cake doesn't seem right.  I mean, cookies are one thing, but cake?"
"Ah, come on!  The important thing is the chocolate, and this is no more than you've already been eating.  Everybody's eating it.  You can't pass it up and be the only one left out."
In the meantime, the songs were subtly strumming away in the background, singing the praises of chocolate cake.  Right, the words were not good, but the beat and the rhythm were so cool that many Rayad's listened just for the music.  After all, what can music do?
Zynock began thinking again: "One thing that strengthens those Rayadites is when they are together talking to each other.  What can I do about that?"  Then he reasoned, "Well, it's all right for them to be together.  In fact, maybe there is some way I could use their gatherings and parties for my purposes.  Aha!  I've got it!"
So parties in Rayad began changing.  Instead of the Rayadites talking to each other and playing games so they could get to know one another and share their strengths and talents, a new trend began.  Everyone who was anyone had the new kinds of parties.
"Have you been to a party over at our Rayad friend's place yet?"
"No, I haven't."
"You should go.  It's really cool!"
"Oh?  What do you do?"
"Well, it isn't like any other party you've been to.  It's pretty cool.  All you do is go and sit down and watch stuff on the screen."
"Stuff on the screen?  Like what?"
"Oh, exciting, scary stuff that's pretty good.  There are a few scenes showing people eating chocolate cake, but no 'biggy.'"
"People eating chocolate cake?  But..."
"Oh, it's not bad, and besides, there's nothing anymore without a little bit of that.  It's just fun to get together with your friends."
So Zynock stood back and watched his plot unfold.  "Let's see now.  They're eating chocolate and they're eating cake.  They're listening to songs and watching movies about chocolate cake.  They're becoming weaker and weaker, although they're not even aware of it yet because they haven't actually eaten it - yet!  They are falling into my trap!  They think their leaders and parents are square and stuffy.  It's very helpful when their friends tell them what I want them to hear.  Friends are my greatest asset!"
"Hey!" says a friend Rayadite, "have you seen the latest movie?"
"No," comes the response.  "I thought it was C-rated, for chocolate."
"No, it isn't.  It's R-rated for Red.  There's no chocolate in it."
And so Zynock continues his plotting - this time a gorgeous garment, but not in red...yet.  It's a luscious pink color. 


  1. This was great!  Thanks for sharing.

  2. The story is from Ardeth G. Kapp. I think you are confusing Ardeth G. Kapp and Janice Kapp Perry. :)

    What a great lesson you taught those YW!

  3. Your lesson is fabulous, we're sure that it hit home with the girls you taught at Girls Camp. It's awesome that your stake is teaching lessons about avoiding pornography to the young women as well, so many times it's thought of as something that only needs to be talked about with the boys, but that couldn't be further from the truth.

  4. The girls did learn so much from you, Jocelyn. Thanks so much for being willing to come and share your great knowledge and advice to our girls. This will truly be a camp lesson they will never forget!


  5. Thanks for the correction.  I should've double-checked that.  I've actually met both ladies in my lifetime, Sister Kapp twice (once at my boyfriend's family reunion and again at a YSA conference)...Sweet sweet lady!  Thanks again: 

  6. Our stake president is concerned with EVERYONE being warned about the dangers of pornography.  In September, I'll also be speaking at Women's Conference about this topic and at our Stake Conference this was also discussed in the adult session.

  7. excellent.  love the bracelet idea.

  8. thank you for helping me make ALL THOSE BRACELETS, Mom!!! :)  Couldn't have pulled that off without you!  (and without driving to Cleveland for the weekend!)

  9. clever, well planned lesson-love your activities-what an influence for good you can have on the young women and others you come in contact with...

  10. It's an excellent Women's Conference topic. Love that your stake president is focusing on awareness for all, not just the boys, men or the youth. 

  11. Thank you so much for sharing Jocelyn.  This looks awesome.  Speaking of looking awesome, you look so happy and awesome.  What a blessing this new little one is for your family.  :)

  12. My Mom was part of planning an entire Women's Conference in her stake that dealt with habits, addiction, and abuse...She said it was amazing.  Not very common to have an entire day dedicated to that.

  13. Not common at all, but with think it's so cool! Those are all things that women deal with and are exposed to every day and it's great to have the tools to more effectively deal with these issues especially with a spiritual base behind it. It's 2012 and all women and yes, Mormon women too, need to know more than just jello, casseroles and  being good wives and mothers, which are all important things as well, but giving some focus to issues like these help us to be better at the aforementioned. 

  14. While it sounds like a great lesson, it leaves me feeling a bit sad.
    I've been working with the YW for a few years now (in different roles in different wards). And there is one thing that consistently stands out to me over and over in the lessons- we use made up stories. Fiction.
    And all fiction stories tend to have a major hole in them. In this case (and in every single "fiction parable" I have heard used in sex talks and pornography talks), it doesn't take into account repentance. (I have stopped letting people get away with using the "dirt on the cookies" example around me. I hate it, it's not right, fails to include repentance and forgiveness, and sends the wrong message overall. When I hear it, I correct it.)
    Our YW are growing up in a very complicated world. A very grown-up world. So why are we teaching them with juvenile fiction?  Could the same lesson have been taught without fiction? If the argument is that the "parables" are easier for the younger girls to understand, then maybe the younger girls are too young to be discussing the topic!
    Personally, I have not witnessed the plague of pornography I keep hearing about. I don't doubt that it exists, but I have not seen it. I worry if we are teaching our women and YW that it is so abhorrent, that when they see men looking at something that they don't "like" they immediately see it as a sin or awful thing, and then see the man as a sinner or awful? Rather than understanding the intimate needs of the men??
    We as women are taught from the minute we are old enough to get married and not tempt the men. The men are taught that their urges are normal, but to put them off until the right time. And the outside world tells us a slew of different things. Somewhere in there, it is not hard to see where confusion and conflict begin.
    When the outside world is telling us their way feels good, and on our side of things we're explaining it may make you feel yucky, I do not blame either gender for mass confusion.

  15. Hmmm, I think your argument is against your experiences in YW, not necessarily my class...For instance, I did talk about repentance as mentioned in the post, I did use frank terms with the girls (not everything was included in this outline).  I do NOT think anyone is really "too young" to talk about this with.  I've talked about this with my own children (the youngest being age 3).  I also have to disagree with your assessment that there isn't a problem with pornography.  The definition of pornography that I used in the class includes a much broader problem and that is filthiness that is woven quite skillfully in all aspects of society (namely just about every form of media)...therefore, the "parable" was quite fitting to springboard into a discussion on Satan's tactics to help us gain an appetite for filth, when really what we should be doing is "hungering and thirsting after righteousness."  This talk never blamed any one gender for the problem.  Instead it placed the burden and responsibility of protection of personal virtue upon each girl.  The girls looked rather empowered after our discussion...not confused.  But I will agree with you on one thing...the world puts out a lot of half-truths in order to create confusion.  I however, did not.

  16. Thanks for sharing this, Jocelyn.

    If I may, I wanted to respond to Erin Ann. I think it's essential to understand how addiction works and what our doctrine is regarding sexuality and intimacy so as to be able to separate out what the world is telling us from truth.

    First of all, I think it's essential to separate out love from lust. It IS a sin to lust, even if one abstains from sexual behavior before marriage. If a man (or woman) lusts before marriage, he/she will almost without exception continue to struggle with it after. One of the lies Satan tells is that all you really have to do before marriage is not act out sexually...that looking or thinking/lusting is no big deal. But that is a lie. Chastity is more than just avoiding sexual intercourse. It's about learning to live in a truly pure state of mind and heart. Virtue is power. Expecting a marriage to fill a need for lust is something that will set our youth up for heartache. Again, marriage doesn't cure such habits or addictions. And I think young women need to understand this as well.

    This little video captures some of the problem here. It's talking about young men, but the same could be true for young women:


    Another video is somewhat long but features some experts on addiction, who also talk about how to help our children avoid it:


    I should note that many men have had the seeds of addiction planted before they had even reached the age of accountability, so the adversary really is working hard to expose children at younger and younger ages. That may also help if you do end up hearing someday about someone with an addiction. So often, addicts themselves are victims at some level. They'll need help to find recovery...but recovery is possible.

    Lastly, piggybacking off my comment about compassion, I agree with Erin Ann that we have to be careful about not assuming that people who struggle with addiction are awful people. I love what Stephanie at Diapers and Divinity said -- if a man has a heartbeat, he's probably struggled at some time in some way with being tempted by lust/pornography/etc. It's essential to create a safe place where those we love can talk about those struggles...and to be knowledgeable about what resources are available to help them if they can't seem to stop looking/lusting/acting out. (True recovery involves more than repentance -- addiction is a serious problem and requires help that usually includes not just ecclesiastical support but professional counseling from a sexual addiction specialist and 12-step or other specialized support/group therapy.)

    Please, sisters, be educated. Don't assume that it's not happening in your world, because it's happening everywhere in our world...both in terms of addiction and also in terms of what Jocelyn is talking about -- woven into ALL facets of society. You may not know it yet, but someone you know is probably struggling. The more educated you are, the more able to love and support you will be when you find out someone you know and love struggles with addiction. And the better you'll be able to help your children navigate these stormy waters and arm them with truth.

  17. What a fantastic start in teaching YW about the dangers of pornography. The seduction of it too. It's real and it doesn't just affect boys/men. While I hate that we live in times where we NEED this kind of information to armor ourselves against the evils of the world, I am so grateful that there is someone out there who is actually following through with talking about it and teaching about it. This post made me smile. Thank you.

  18. Awesome post/Talk Jocelyn!  This is such a huge thing right now.  I see so many families torn apart in just my little ward because of this issue.  Teach them young!!!

    PS.  I love your cute growing belly!  I'm so excited for you!!

  19. Good job, Jocelyn. As a singles ward bishop, my husband is dismayed by what a huge problem pornography is for our young people.


  20. Good Job!  I think this is such an important subject that "our girls and young women" dont' get enough of. I am reminded of Julie B. Becks classic landmark talk Teaching the Doctrine of the Family { http://www.lds.org/liahona/2011/03/teaching-the-doctrine-of-the-family?lang=eng&query=*+(name%3a"Julie+B.+Beck")}   where she spells out very clearly that the new target for pornography is young women and we need to do everything in our power to prepare them for what they face.  Great post!

  21. É tão importante ensinar desde pequeno sobre a pornografia para que já cresçam com este assunto em suas mentes. Os jovens são muito, muito inteligentes e têm a tecnologia em mãos para acessar quando e o que quiserem, e é isso o que me preocupa pois não está somente em Internet e revistas, mas também na televisão.

  22. Thanks for this, Jocelyn! I taught the "Avoiding degrading media influences" lesson in YW yesterday and used the story about the Rayadites - hit just the right note - I wanted them to understand where I was coming from without being "too heavy" right off the bat. Was a great opener.

  23. This is the first time I've seen your blog. I loved your points in this presentation! I've had opportunities to speak to LDS groups about cleaning up our media. It is such a vital topic these days. I also loved your post about the Book of Mormon party. One of my friends showed it to me and she wants to host one for Halloween, rather than focusing on all the gore, fear, and darkness usually associated with Halloween. Thanks for such a genuine, uplifting blog full of worthwhile, meaty messages. Love it!

    1. Thank you, Becky! This has been something I've been studying and teaching about a lot this year...My book "God Gave You a Body" also touches on pornography...teaching kids at a younger level of course! It's an important thing to teach!! Glad we're on the same team! :)