Lots of angst generated over the words spoken by President Boyd K. Packer during the last general conference of the LDS church. Most pundits would agree here that his rhetoric wasn’t anything new. It is the same hardline commitment the church has purported over decades.
It’s heartbreaking nonetheless to anyone to be told in no uncertain terms that they or those they love are a perversion, unnatural, that God does not make mistakes. Faith expressed in arrogance is bigotry. And so the protests, angry letters to editors, Facebook pages and fiery blogs.
What I’m fascinated with is that there was no outcry regarding Packer’s other bigoted remarks, or rather their omission.
In line with his inner-vessel-cleansing theme Packer talks about another perversion, one that has much more impact on families than homosexuality, and that is the influence of pornography.
It would be tough for anyone to say that porn does not have negative effects on relationships, like arguing that smoking cigarettes doesn’t have much to do with lung cancer. The empirical evidence is out there enough to prove that porn, like most vices, can even be addictive. (There’s also evidence out there that porn can have positive impacts on couples, but that’s for another post perhaps.)
But Packer shows some hope here when he states, “The priesthood holds consummate power. It can protect you from the plague of pornography—and it is a plague—if you are succumbing to its influence. If one is obedient, the priesthood can show how to break a habit and even erase an addiction. Holders of the priesthood have that authority and should employ it to combat evil influences.”
The priesthood, the power and authority to act in the name of God on earth, is the answer, powerful enough to even erase addiction.
Somebody call Alcoholics Anonymous, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Sex Addicts Anonymous, heck, anyone who counsels addicted individuals, enslaved by whatever plague has them in its tenuous grip, and get them the priesthood.
Packer does not understand addiction. Addiction by its very nature cannot be erased. It can be controlled via twelve step programs and sponsors and group therapy and other devices, but anyone who claims that addiction can be erased at the very least does not understand addiction, or is trying to sell you something.
No specifics are offered here, no singing hymns, reciting articles of faith, just an admonition to “employ [the priesthood] to combat evil influences.”
Somehow I’m picturing hundreds of thousands of men sitting in front of their screens raising their arms to the square.
And that’s the problem. In the arrogance of the priesthood’s omnipotent affects, Packer rules out another class of the church’s constituency, a group segregated within its congregations long before it condoned polygamy. In fact, the bigotry against this powerful demographic can be traced back to the beginning of time in the Garden of Eden.
When god found Adam figged, so to speak, he asked Adam what was up with that and when it was discovered that Adam ate the fruit from the wrong tree Adam shifted his culpability and did what comes natural for many men, he blamed the woman.
Isn’t it, at the very least, curious that Packer makes no mention, no suggestion, not even a hint that if husbands are looking at porn that perhaps they ought to chat about it with their wives?
It’s this omission in his counsel that speaks to the discounted value, the bigotry of an institution, of women.
Instead men are counseled to go to men because the priesthood has consummate power. Better watch out for that double-entendre, president.
Wives are the stakeholders in any marriage, not the bishop, priest or rabbi. Wives (given that the vast majority of porn addicts are male) are the souls directly affected by their husband’s pornographic proclivity – the inherent comparisons alone are enough to wilt the strongest female self-concept. There is no other directly impacted player here, and yet Packer says it’s the priesthood that “holds consummate power.” I beg to differ. It’s the wife who holds consummate power by both the first and second definition of that word. And yet she is eliminated from alternatives to help men, their husbands, overcome the “plague” of pornography.
Are they just too delicate? Too naive? Is this a way of protecting women from the plague? Or is this some sort of good-ol-boy thing, one that women just wouldn’t understand?
I’m shaking my head. I am surrounded by strong women in all walks capable of asserting, assuaging, compassion, and vision, and even empathy when it comes to the passions of men. It is there that women work, it’s there where women heal. You’d think a church so hell-bent on marriage between the sexes would figure this out.