Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Storm Is Here, and We Weren't Prepared

Where I live, we recently had some extremely severe winds that blew down giant trees and fences and blew off lots and lots of shingles.  The majority of our city lost power for as little as a few hours, but some people lost power for up to a few days.  I've always thought of myself as a pretty prepared person -- I'm pretty sure we have our year's supply of food, and we also have our 72 hour kits. We have at least some wood for fuel.  We keep some extra gasoline in the garage for cars and bought a nice grill for fun grilling and emergency cooking.

With these storms, however, we realized we were much better prepared for a summer disaster, not a winter one.  We weren't sure how to cook food indoors safely.  With 100 mph cold wind gusts, I really didn't want to cook outside on the deck.  Sure, we had wood, but it needed to be split to be burned in our fireplace.  Considering I was 6 or so months pregnant, I really didn't want to be out splitting wood anyway (my husband had gone to work).  We also realized that with our somewhat open floor plan on our main floor where the fireplace is, we couldn't just shut off one room and keep it warm.  We still haven't figured out solutions to the cooking and heating problems, but need to.  (In case you were wondering, we ended up leaving our house when it got down to 55 and went to a friend's who had a gas fireplace in a room that could be closed off.  We ate dinner at a restaurant that had power.  For the night we went about 45 minutes away and stayed with friends whose area had been unaffected.)

It seems like just as this severe wind storm crept up on us, the evils of pornography have crept up on us as a society.  I hate to say it, but it's as though Satan's strategies in preparing the world for this day have worked.  The moral fibers of society have been weakened enough that pornography is generally accepted.  The devil and his angels must laugh at our unpreparedness.

Last night we had our adult session of stake conference.  Our stake president mentioned that young men are getting exposed to pornography at age 10, 11, 12, and 13, but because because it's an addiction that is kept quiet and is relatively easy to hide, these boys don't get help until they are 16, 17, or 18 -- giving them up to 8 years of use, thus making it very difficult to overcome.

Tragedy, yes, but there are things we can do to win this war.

  • For one, our stake president encouraged us to have "spiritual courage" within our families and also to reach out to others with Christlike love who are struggling.  We need to pray to know how to help others.  We need to stand up and speak up against things that are harmful.  Leaders were encouraged to intervene with youth early so we can head off this problem.  My husband plans to talk to the 14 & 15 year olds he teaches at church and also speak to our 8 1/2 year old (again) about this.  (I realized the other day that our little boy is half way to independence -- going to college and potentially moving out of the house!  I wonder if we've taught him half of what he needs to know to face the world.  Have we armed him thus far?  I feel there's so much more we need to do to prepare him for life ahead.  I hope we can stay close.)

  • Also again, Stephanie's Satan's Power Tool post gives us ideas on how to talk to our families about this problem.  Particularly striking regarding our husbands:
If your husband has a heartbeat, he struggles with [pornography] on some level.  The world is cruel to him in its blatant temptation and oppressive titillation.  If he watched the Super Bowl, he’s seen pornography (for heaven’s sake, don’t get me started).  Talk to him about it.  Ask him how he’s doing:  What can you do to help him?  What steps can your family take to help him feel protected?  What measures does he currently use to avoid the temptation?  Be prepared to feel threatened a little as you learn what a real struggle it might be for him to stay unharmed by the storm.  Cling to each other a little tighter.  Express your love for him and your desire that he remain clean.  Encourage him to fight the hard fight.  Pray for him, and pray together.  Talk about your covenants and go to the temple often to remember them and reconnect to them.

  • At Julie Beck's 2009 Women's Conference address, she reminds us that we women have the responsibility to protect our homes (and ourselves) from pornography.  This is the talk where she said, "Sisters, fight -- fight, sisters" regarding pornography.  That call can be likened to a story I shared before:
. . . Erastus Snow, under the direction of Brigham Young, told [a] stake president he needed to stop 'going "heart and hand with the gentiles"' by "selling and drinking liquor dispensed at the LDS co-op store" or he'd be replaced.  Snow told the women: "I advise you sisters to get together in the capacity of a Relief Society, and gut the store of every drop of liquor in it, and spill the liquor on the ground."
Now Julie Beck didn't say to go to the local adult store or even the local grocery store and tear up all the nasty magazines, but she did say to take action within our stewardships, our homes, and to fight for them.

She encourages us to fight when she says:
    • We cannot sit and act like victims
    • We must teach our families everywhere:  in family home evenings, prayer & scripture study, mealtimes -- both formally and informally
    • We must limit activities that take us to and fro
  • I feel that the most important thing we need to teach our children to withstand pornography is personal integrity.  We need to teach them what is good and wholesome and pray with all our mights that they will choose what is good and wholesome.  We need to teach them that it's okay to be different; it's okay to not do what everyone else appears to be doing.  
Some people simply define integrity as telling the truth, but I look at it as so much more comprehensive.  My integrity defines who I am.  Will I do what I say I will?  Do I act consistently with what I profess I believe?  I am reminded of the Karl Maeser story about honor:
I have been asked what I mean by 'word of honor.' I will tell you. Place me behind prison walls--walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground--there is a possibility that in some way or another I may escape; but stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of the circle? No. Never! I'd die first!
That is integrity.

  • The very last thing I wanted to mention was regarding the use of media.  Bad media is all around us.  If we do our best to avoid it, not let it infiltrate our minds, we will be so much better off.  We must avoid ANY movies or t.v. or music that is not uplifting -- the stakes are too high when we let even a little bit in.  Do we want to be close to God, or don't we?  I once heard a story by a guy who was trying to overcome a drug addiction, and he felt that he should change his music.  He started avoiding any music that wasn't uplifting and he felt a change in his life.  He was able to be closer to God because negative media wasn't consuming his mind.
It's not too late to win this war, even if it seems that we've had a slow start in fighting back.  We know we are on the winning team, so let's show it.


Stephanie said...

This is spectacular. It's truly frightening how at such a young age, our children are getting exposed and trapped in this awful plague. You're spot on about the importance of teaching and preparing.

Jocelyn Christensen said...

Awesome post. I also think that we need to encourage and teach our kids how to find GOOD media...not just take bad media away, but replace it with good. Teach them that you CAN stand in holy places online as well. I like what Elder Nelson said in the training session yesterday. Quoting Elder Packer, he said that our children are growing up in enemy "occupied" territory. The enemy does not own the territory...they are just occupying it. We too can occupy the internet and turn it into holy ground. I am going to be blogging about this concept for the Friend soon! Thank you!!

Rachel Keppner said...

Wow! I love your suggestions about what to DO. As a wife to a husband and mother two three teenage boys, I am always grateful for more ideas on how I can fight this evil!

Mothers really DO need to be more aware and prepared. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this-- you've given me some great ideas.

~Mama Rachel

Emily said...

Wow Rachel! 3 teenage boys!! That would scare me to death regarding this problem. I seriously pray they'll make the right choices in this regard and that they'll be protected. So far I have just one little boy and that even makes me nervous! (But, we'll make it!!)

Robyn said...

"I personally feel that the most important thing we need to teach our children to withstand pornography is personal integrity. We need to teach them what is good and wholesome and pray with all our mights that they will choose what is good and wholesome. We need to teach them that it's okay to be different; it's okay to not do what everyone else appears to be doing."

I love this statement. I have been pondering this issue from a different angle. I believe that at least one of the reasons for the rampant nature of pornography is the oversexualization and objectification of women and their bodies, particularly breasts. It came to me as I blogged about breastfeeding and modesty. I realized that when nursing a baby became rare (1940s and 50s), then breasts became only sexual and people forgot that they have their physiologic function too, to comfort and nourish babies. We need to talk to them about the "good and wholesome" use of their bodies. And nursing a baby is one of them. I personally hope my kids at any age see women nursing their babies so they know that breasts are not just sexual. To really get what I am talking about, you could read my blog post on the topic:
Obviously this is just one way in which women's bodies have become objectified. The easy access of the internet has not helped either.
Thank you for the ideas of what we can do. I am grateful for my mother being an example of someone who would tell the store manager to remover their sexually explicit magazines from view. And I will never forget the day my friend asked sisters in our RS to ask that a particular mag in Wal-mart be put behind a cover or removed because of the extreme nature of the cover. Sadly, I don't think hardly anyone heeded her request. She was trying to protect her family. She divorced her husband a few years later after his addiction to porn escalated to child porn. So it is okay to object to those things and "be different." Thank you for the reminder. I'm not naturally the one who wants to be different. But I find myself being that person more and more.

Robyn said...

And I love this quote too as it pertains to this topic:

“The scriptures often refer respectfully but plainly to the body and its parts… It is the world that makes the divinely created body an object of carnal lust. For example, it makes the female breasts primarily into sexual enticements, while the truth is that they were intended to nourish and comfort children… Teach your children that they will find joy in their bodies when they sue them virtuously after the manner taught by Christ” (37, A Parent’s Guide, 1985).

Emily said...

Robyn, thanks for your comments. I, too, think there's an oversexualization of the body and it's just made things so messed up. In fact, today I was in a fb discussion about how because we freak out about touch so much, that we don't do it, then kids are left feeling this touch void in their lives and fill it with inappropriate touch/premature sexuality. I know I need to touch my kids more; it's so easy not to. I wonder if this lack of touch is part of the problem, too.

ANyway, back to what I was really going to say... I remember looking at a blog that had some old church history pictures that contained mothers nursing -- it was just common practice! It's not like women had other choices there, so it's what they did. It must have been so much more common than it is now. Now we just try and cover it all up. I don't think there's anything sexual about nursing, but I am self conscious about not covering myself (if others don't want to cover, that's okay by me).

My Little said...

Emily, great post! After reading this I called my Mother-In-Law and talked to her about how she could help her Grandchildren fight pornography. I mentioned she should call up her kids and ask them if they have talked to their kids about this. And when they do, they need to ask not IF you see pornography, but WHEN you see this, what are you going to do.

I also called up my sister and did the same thing with her. I have one more sister to call. But I am fighting this war, starting with those I love the most, my family. Thanks for gearing me up to do this.