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Talking about pornography makes most Latter-day Saints cringe. It’s dirty. It’s distasteful. It’s uncomfortable. It’s something we instinctively want to hide away. Unfortunately, Satan uses our natural God-given instinct to shun pornography as a trap to keep us from confronting pornography. You see, the truth is that Satan wants us to be infected by pornography while at the same time exploiting our natural disgust for it by tempting us to keep it in the dark. Like a toxic mold, pornography thrives in darkness. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught that, “[Pornography] is characterized by shame and stealth and is almost pathologically clandestine—the later and darker the hour the better, with a double-bolted door just in case.”[i]
We want nothing to do with it, yet, we need to talk about it to heal ourselves and help others. This is the great paradox of pornography. Thankfully, there are brave individuals who are willing to unlock the double-bolted door and throw open the curtains to shine light on this issue. The only way out of the trap of pornography is to confront darkness with God’s light and love. When we feel light and love, we “instinctively reach out to God and other people”, as Elder Holland so clearly taught. And, God and other people are exactly who will help us win the personal war against pornography.
Maurine Proctor, Editor-in-Chief of Meridian Magazine, invited me to start a regular podcast to help shine light on the topic of pornography. She was inspired by the verse in 2 Corinthians 4:6 that invites us to, “Let light shine out of darkness.” We decided to call the podcast “Illuminate” and feature real people working hard to overcome the devastating effects of pornography and betrayal in their personal and family life. We will also invite professionals, authors, advocates, and others who are shining light on this issue to join in the conversation. Though this issue has cast a dark shadow on the world, we want to turn up the light to help illuminate every dark corner.
I had the sacred privilege of interviewing a couple who had spent year after miserable year trying to break free from the stranglehold pornography had on their family. Brandon Bryson turned to God and to other people to seek help for a decades-long pornography addiction while his wife, Jaylynn, also sought out the same supports to help her heal from the impact of betrayal trauma. Brandon and Jaylynn are several years into their recovery process from pornography addiction and betrayal trauma. They feel strongly that their story can be a beacon of hope to others who may be struggling. They also want to educate family members, church leaders, and others who are offering assistance.
The early Saints experienced tremendous oppression at the hands of tyrants who wanted to keep them isolated and in the dark. The Prophet Joseph, from the dark confines of Liberty Jail, boldly penned this call to action, which is just as applicable in our modern day fight against the destructive power of pornography:
It is an imperative duty that we owe to God, to angels, with whom we shall be brought to stand, and also to ourselves, to our wives and children, who have been made to bow down with grief, sorrow, and care, under the most damning hand of murder, tyranny, and oppression, supported and urged on and upheld by the influence of that spirit which hath so strongly riveted the creeds of the fathers, who have inherited lies, upon the hearts of the children, and filled the world with confusion, and has been growing stronger and stronger, and is now the very mainspring of all corruption, and the whole earth groans under the weight of its iniquity.
It is an iron yoke, it is a strong band; they are the very handcuffs, and chains, and shackles, and fetters of hell.
Therefore it is an imperative duty that we owe, not only to our own wives and children, but to the widows and fatherless, whose husbands and fathers have been murdered under its iron hand;
Which dark and blackening deeds are enough to make hell itself shudder, and to stand aghast and pale, and the hands of the very devil to tremble and palsy.
And also it is an imperative duty that we owe to all the rising generation, and to all the pure in heart— For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it—
Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven—
These should then be attended to with great earnestness.[ii]
So, with genuine earnestness, let me introduce you to Brandon and Jaylynn Bryson in our first episode of the Illuminate Podcast.
You can follow the Bryson’s on Instagram – @latterdaywarrior (Jaylynn) and @outofthedarkaddict (Brandon)
[ii] D&C 123:8-14