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This week, I interview Michelle Linford, the founder and administrator for LDS Hope and Healing, on the subject of sexual wholeness in marriage. Couples in recovery from pornography / sexual addiction and betrayal trauma often have questions and struggles around how to bring sexual wholeness to their marriages. We discuss:
- How to seek true principles to guide the discussion as a couple
- How to spot counterfeit and harmful information about healthy sexuality
- How each person in the relationship is responsible for developing their own personal wholeness so they can offer themselves fully to their relationship.
- Understanding the difference between fragmentation of ourselves in the sexual relationship versus being a whole and complete person.
The intent in sharing these resources is as a springboard for study and reflection, and is not at all intended to be an exhaustive list.
Some Church resources, some of which were mentioned in the podcast:
The quote about gold flakes in the sand of prophetic teachings comes from this article by Pres. Eyring: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2008/06/safety-in-counsel?lang=eng&_r=1
A Parent’s Guide (definitely not) just for parents — explains doctrine clearly and includes chapters on courtship and marriage that I quote from often on the forum when women ask questions about intimacy):https://www.lds.org/manual/a-parents-guide?lang=eng
Scriptures on topics like the body, pure/purity, lust, fornication, virtue, light, truth, healing, wholeness, peace, unity, love, marriage, integrity, honesty… (To the reader: What other topics feel relevant to a quest for more understanding about sexual wholeness [or its counterfeits?])
A few scriptures that impact my thinking on all of this: Jacob 2-3 Moroni 7:11-19; Alma 38-39; Doctrine and Covenants 88; Doctrine and Covenants 93
Jeffrey R. Holland (as BYU president), “Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments” — https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/jeffrey-r-holland_souls-symbols-sacraments/ (Includes the quote about fragmenting sexuality by Dr. Victor L. Brown shared in the podcast, and many thoughts on how sexual intimacy is designed to be a symbol of the whole of a shared, multifaceted life of a married couple)
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles), “Personal Purity” —https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1998/10/personal-purity?lang=eng — basically a condensed version of that talk he gave at BYU)
David A. Bednar, “We Believe in Being Chaste” – https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/we-believe-in-being-chaste?lang=eng
Wendy Watson Nelson, “Love and Marriage” — https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/article/worldwide-devotionals/2017/01/love-and-marriage?lang=eng
Wendy L. Watson, Purity and Passion: Spiritual Truths about Intimacy That Will Strengthen Your Marriage [where the “contaminated pool” quote came from]
Merrill J. Bateman: “Look Forward with an Eye of Faith,” https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/merrill-j-bateman_look-forward-eye-faith/
President Steven C. & Margaret S. Wheelwright — “The Power of Purity” — https://devotional.byuh.edu/node/344 [good curation of many ideas and quotes]
Stories of recovery and healing from Church members (from a variety of struggles):https://addictionrecovery.lds.org/spouses-and-families/stories?lang=eng&prefs=
Neil A. Andersen, “Wounded” – https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/10/wounded?lang=eng
Matthew Carpenter, “Wilt Thou Be Made Whole?” https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/10/wilt-thou-be-made-whole?lang=eng
“For the Strength of All” (stories from two mid-singles) — https://www.lds.org/ensign/2015/01/for-the-strength-of-all-the-law-of-chastity?lang=eng
Elaine Marshall, “Learning the Healer’s Art” — https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/elaine-s-marshall_learning-healers-art/
Dallin H. Oaks, “‘Judge Not’ and Judging” – https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/1999/08/judge-not-and-judging?lang=eng
Richard G. Scott: “The Transforming Power of Faith and Character” https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/10/the-transforming-power-of-faith-and-character?lang=eng
Richard G. Scott, “Truth: The Foundation of Correct Decisions” — https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2007/10/truth-the-foundation-of-correct-decisions?lang=eng
Russell and Lolly Osguthorpe, “A Partnership of Equals.” The Osguthorpre’s quote Arthur Henry King [a renonwed academic in the UK who joined the Church later in life and later became president of the London Temple], who said said: ‘One of the mistakes we make over and over again in life is to go directly for the things we think are important. But if we aim at self-fulfillment, we shall never be fulfilled. If we aim at education, we shall never become educated. If we aim at salvation, we shall never be saved. These things are indirect, supreme results of doing something else; and the something else is service, it is righteousness, it is trying to do the right thing, the thing that needs to be done at each moment.’ [The Osguthorpe’s continue] Paraphrasing Brother King, we might say, ‘If we aim at the perfect marriage, we shall never attain an equal partnership. An equal partnership is the supreme result of doing something else; and the something else is service, it is righteousness, it is trying to do the right thing, the thing that needs to be done at each moment.” [For those who do healing work, this principle of “one step at a time” or the “next right thing” is a powerful one.] https://womensconference.byu.edu/sites/womensconference.ce.byu.edu/files/russellandlollyosguthorpe2008.pdf
Another quote on fragmenting vs. the wholeness in the gospel by Neal A. Maxwell: “[There is a danger and approach that] seizes upon a single, true principle and elevates it above its peer principles. This act of isolation does not make the principle seized any less true, but it strips that principle of its supporting principles. One can be incarcerated within the prison of one principle….The doctrines of Christ need each other, just as the disciples of Christ need each other. It is the orthodox orchestration in applying the gospel of Jesus Christ that keeps us happy and helps us to avoid falling off the straight and narrow path, for on the one side there is harsh legalism and on the other syrupy sensualism. Little wonder that man needs careful and precise help, the guidance of the Spirit, in order to navigate under such stressful circumstances….Little wonder we so need those eternal perspectives which come from looking at life through the lens of the gospel!” https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/1974/10/eternalism-vs-secularism?lang=eng
Examples of other resources relevant to the topic we discussed
Mark and Debbie Laaser have several good articles for both those who deal with porn/lust habits/compulsions/addictions and their loved ones. The Laasers are Christian therapists who also have personal experience with the process of recovery and healing in their marriage. They address principles for those with lust issues and for spouses in trauma. https://faithfulandtrue.com/articles/
Daniel Weiss, “Made for Something More” (written for a Christian audience):https://www.brushfiresfoundation.org/made-for-something-more/
A model created by John Van Epp called the Relationship Attachment Model (RAM), used to guide dating and marriage relationships, might be of interest to married couples wanting to rebuild in a deliberate, specific way. (Basic model (building in order): Know->Trust->Rely->Commit->Touch). I just discovered that in the state of Utah, there are free relationship classes offered that use this research-based model so perhaps that is true in other states.
“The Heart of the Matter” — An honest, hope-filled documentary on the problem of pornography and the hope for recovery and healing, for a Christian audience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EgztA-Racs&t=1175s
More on Michelle’s background:
Michelle’s online volunteer work took an unexpected turn in late 2011 when search engine data showed the desperate need many LDS women had for help and support because of the sexual addiction/compulsion of a loved one.
In response to that need, in January 2012, Michelle created HopeandHealingLDS.com (a blog and private forum) with the belief that if women knew they weren’t alone, had others with whom they could connect, and had resources and information available to them, real healing could begin. Her motto was: “Let’s use the tool that has brought so much pain to bring hope and healing to people!”
In addition, inspired by her research about addiction recovery and the hope-filled stories of recovery from addicts and loved ones alike, Michelle chose to do 12-step work in her own life to find healing from shame, perfectionism, and fear-based living. She has been participating regularly in the Church’s 12-step program for six years, and is currently a facilitator in ARP.
Michelle has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and an MBA, with an emphasis in organizational behavior and change. She is the Executive Director of EPIK Deliberate Digital, and is a member of the prevention task force (the Safeguard Alliance) for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. Michelle and her husband, Matt, are the grateful parents of three, beginning the tender stage of launching their children into the world. In addition to being an ARP facilitator, Michelle also is grateful to serve as a facilitator in the Church’s Self-Reliance Services program.
Additional Resources from Michelle:
Slides link (this was a presentation last February on dating in a pornified world at a BYU Women’s Services conference last year): wsr.byu.edu/sites/default/files…wer%20-%20Final.pdf
This is a compilation of thoughts and resources that assimilate learning from her role at EPIK, at HopeAndHealing (including all that research), and in her own personal experience in 12-step as a participant, sponsor, and facilitator. docs.google.com/document/d/1dn9ny…/edit?usp=sharing
The Illuminate Podcast is hosted by Geoff Steurer, MS, LMFT and founder of LifeStar of St. George, Utah, a treatment program for couples healing from the impact of pornography and sexual addiction. Learn more at http://www.lifestarstgeorge.com
You can also purchase a six-hour audio course on healing your marriage from pornography ($29) here: geoff-steurer.mykajabi.com/p/marriage-recovery