…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

Why Do I Call Myself an Addict?

By Rex Goode


By Joseph (used by permission)

From my discussions with other “addicts” in various locations around the world, accepting the idea of an “addiction” to pornography is a very common misgiving of priesthood leaders, because it seems to contravene agency. Following are some relevant quotes from apostles and prophets, and some of my feelings about why it is so important for me to acknowledge that I am an addict.

Elder Russell M. Nelson said the following in the October 1988 General Conference: We are free to take drugs or not. But once we choose to use a habit-forming drug, we are bound to the consequences of that choice. Addiction surrenders later freedom to choose. Through chemical means, one can literally become disconnected from his or her own will! I believe that the same holds true for sexual compulsion. The chemicals are not external to our bodies, but they are powerful chemicals nonetheless.

Elder Boyd K. Packer said in the October 1998 General Conference: Narcotic addiction serves the design of the prince of darkness, for it disrupts the channel to the holy spirit of truth. At present the adversary has an unfair advantage. Addiction has the capacity to disconnect the human will and nullify moral agency. It can rob one of the power to decide. Agency is too fundamental a doctrine to be left in such jeopardy.I plead with you boys tonight to keep yourselves free from the stains of the world. You must not indulge in sleazy talk at school. You must not tell sultry jokes. You must not fool around with the Internet to find pornographic material. You must not dial a long-distance telephone number to listen to filth. You must not rent videos with pornography of any kind. This salacious stuff simply is not for you. Stay away from pornography as you would avoid a serious disease. It is as destructive. It can become habitual, and those who indulge in it get so they cannot leave it alone. It is addictive.

As early as 1979, Elder Monson said in General Conference: Pornography, the carrier, is big business. It is Mafia-spawned. It is contagious. It is addicting.

Elder Richard G. Scott, April 2000 priesthood session: One of the most damning influences on earth, one that has caused uncountable grief, suffering, heartache, and destroyed marriages is the onslaught of pornography in all of its vicious, corroding, destructive forms. Whether it be through the printed page, movies, television, obscene lyrics, the telephone, or on a flickering personal computer screen, pornography is overpoweringly addictive and severely damaging. This potent tool of Lucifer degrades the mind, heart, and the soul of any who use it. All who are caught in its seductive, tantalizing web and remain so will become addicted to its immoral, destructive influence. For many, that addiction cannot be overcome without help. The tragic pattern is so familiar. It begins with a curiosity that is fueled by its stimulation and is justified by the false premise that when done privately, it does no harm to anyone else. Lulled by this lie, the experimentation goes deeper, with more powerful stimulations, until the web closes and a terribly immoral, addictive habit is formed.

Elder Russell M. Nelson, April 1999: Hence, I warn against pornography. It is degrading of women. It is evil. It is infectious, destructive, and addictive. The body has means by which it can cleanse itself from harmful effects of contaminated food or drink. But it cannot vomit back the poison of pornography. Once recorded, it always remains subject to recall, flashing its perverted images across your mind, with power to draw you away from the wholesome things in life. Avoid it like the plague!

He also said in the October 1998 conference: That caution pertains to pornography, which is highly addictive. Scriptural warning is clear: .Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.. In time, addictions enslave both the body and the spirit. Full repentance from addiction is best accomplished in this life, while we still have a mortal body to help us.

President Hinckley, April 1999 conference: We can reach out to strengthen those who wallow in the mire of pornography, gross immorality, and drugs. Many have become so addicted that they have lost power to control their own destinies. They are miserable and broken. They can be salvaged and saved.

President Monson, in the October 1990 conference said: Pornography is especially dangerous and addictive. Curious exploration of pornography can become a controlling habit, leading to coarser material and to sexual transgression.

Neal A. Maxwell said in April 1996: Accompanying an ever increasing addiction to pornography are loud alarms against censorship.

Elder M. Russell Ballard, April 1999: Children and youth need to know from parents that pornography of any kind is a tool of the devil; and if anyone flirts with it, it has the power to addict, dull, and even destroy the human spirit.

Obviously we could go on for a long time about this. Every member of the twelve has touched on the topic, and it has been part of First Presidency Ensign messages and President Hinckley’s talks around the world for a long time.

But, I guess the question is why is it so important to me to be able to acknowledge that I am an addict? This is my answer, so far as I understand at this point. I refused to accept the idea of an addiction to pornography, for more than 15 years. It said to me that I had lost my agency, and I could not accept that. I still can’t, and I will say why a little later. I would tell myself “I am free to choose, in that little space between stimulus and response, I am still the master of my destiny.” I would give myself pep talks, and psych myself up for confronting the world that puts pornography out so readily available wherever one goes. The more confident I was in this agency of mine, the harder I would fall when I did fall. The last time I rejected the notion of addiction, this is how it went. I became so confident in agency, in my God-given agency, that I believed I knew I would not fall again. Some number of months of clean time went by, but as the time went by, I became more and more preoccupied with avoiding pornography, telling myself that I am free to choose, an agent unto myself. I kept asking Heavenly Father to help me overcome, praying that there would be in me the will to choose right. I of course fell again, and what a fall it was. I nearly gave up on church because I thought I would never make it–that my case was entirely hopeless–I had been so sure that THIS time, it was over. I walked into my bishop’s office, angry and distraught. As I was about to ask him to remove my name from the records of the church, there came from my mouth some other words which I no longer recall, but they saved me from certain destruction. I am certain that they came as inspiration from above.

I do admit that the first time I took on myself the label “addict,” it did seem to provide an excuse, but it led me to a 12-step group, and from a 12-step group to what I believe is a true understanding of what it means to be an addict.

As I understand it, my thoughts were all backwards. I am not free to choose in this thing. I am not an agent unto myself in this thing. I didn’t need Heavenly Father to help me overcome; I needed His strength to overcome for me. I have surrendered the right to have the will in me to overcome–I have to submit my whole self to His will so that His will can overcome for me. My case was entirely hopeless unless God took it over for me, and that necessitated my admission that I am an addict. Admitting I am an addict, with all that really means, did some wonderful things for me. First, it helped me see that as the apostle said “through chemical means, [I was] literally disconnected from [my] own will.” My decisions had surrendered my will to the natural chemicals that have so many times coursed through my body as I engaged in addictive behavior. It helped me to see that I really had no agency left in this matter, except in a single direction. In terms of addiction, I still have agency, but my agency is limited to pleading with God to overcome for me. That is all I can do, and it is enough because the atonement can do the rest which I cannot possibly do. It has allowed me to submit my will (or my agency) entirely to God, without any reservation whatsoever. Admitting I am powerless, completely powerless, over my addiction does not give me an excuse to act out whenever the urge comes. What it does is guide me to exercise the only agency that is effective in saving me from this bondage of sin. I have learned as stated in the words of the hymn “’tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” Nothing else will do. There is only one name under heaven by which I may be saved, and it is not my own. It is my Jesus Christ, the Savior. I know that of myself I am nothing, but in the strength of God (not in my own increased strength), I can do all things.


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