I am horrified at this story. Perhaps dozens of women were exposed to a compound that can gradually cause liver damage, neurological problems, cancer, and other disorders. But almost as if they were less than human, that was viewed as an acceptable "solution" to a safety problem, at least in the eyes of one man. They were just bodies to be exploited for pay and then thrown away--and this in a nation is that is praised for advances in women's rights and "equality." That kind of callousness, that kind of exploitation, that kind of toxic environment for women for the benefit of a man, makes me think of another person praised for being progressive and a champion of women's rights: Hugh Hefner. Not just Hugh, but all those who profit from pornography and from all the vices that exploit the bodies of women and treat them as objects to be used and then, after having been overexposed and used up, just thrown away like all Hugh's girlfriends.
There's an outrageous new movie out praising Hugh Hefner as a champion of women, as a rebel, as a cool and sensitive guy, when he's so repulsive and a shame to the male gender. This is not who we are meant to be. His perverted world is one we must flee from and utterly reject. We, men and women, are not pieces of flesh, but sons and daughters of God meant to be united in loving, lasting, even eternal relationships, not for momentary and selfish gratification, but for divine goals and the lasting joy found most fully in the sacred institution of the family. Reaching our purpose and finding that joy requires work, sacrifice, self-restraint, and giving, not just taking and never exploiting.
The false saints or demigods of our era, men like Hefner and the child-molesting Kinsey, are glorified with the greatest of lies. A quick peak under the covers reveals a diseased and grotesque reality. Pornography destroys relationships and makes men and women less, far less. It throws away real love and replaces it with cheap lust while damaging our perceptions of others and of relationships in ways that can harm people for years. How grateful I am for Church leaders who are teaching us to flee this danger in our midst. May we have the wisdom to see beyond the lies of those who build it up. Shame on those who recklessly exploit the bodies of men and women for corporate and personal gain.
I'll conclude with an except from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland at the last General Conference, from his talk, "Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul":
As Sister Holland and I recently disembarked at a distant airport, three beautiful young women getting off the same flight hurried up to greet us. They identified themselves as members of the Church, which wasn’t too surprising because those not of our faith usually don’t rush up to us in airports. In a conversation we hadn’t expected, we soon learned through their tears that all three of these women were recently divorced, that in each case their husbands had been unfaithful to them, and in each case the seeds of alienation and transgression had begun with an attraction to pornography.
With that stark introduction to my message today—one it is challenging for me to give—I feel much like Jacob of old, who said, “It grieveth me that I must use so much boldness of speech … before … many … whose feelings are exceedingly tender and chaste and delicate.” But bold we need to be. Perhaps it was the father in me or maybe the grandfather, but the tears in those young women’s eyes brought tears to mine and Sister Holland’s, and the questions they asked left me asking, “Why is there so much moral decay around us, and why are so many individuals and families, including some in the Church, falling victim to it, being tragically scarred by it?”
But, of course, I knew at least part of the answer to my own question. Most days we all find ourselves assaulted by immoral messages of some kind flooding in on us from every angle. The darker sides of the movie, television, and music industry step further and further into offensive language and sexual misconduct. Tragically, the same computer and Internet service that allows me to do my family history and prepare those names for temple work could, without filters and controls, allow my children or grandchildren access to a global cesspool of perceptions that could blast a crater in their brains forever.
Remember that those young wives said their husbands’ infidelity began with an attraction to pornography, but immoral activity is not just a man’s problem, and husbands aren’t the only ones offending. The compromise available at the click of a mouse—including what can happen in a chat room’s virtual encounter—is no respecter of persons, male or female, young or old, married or single. And just to make sure that temptation is ever more accessible, the adversary is busy extending his coverage, as they say in the industry, to cell phones, video games, and MP3 players.
If we stop chopping at the branches of this problem and strike more directly at the root of the tree, not surprisingly we find lust lurking furtively there. Lust is an unsavory word, and it is certainly an unsavory topic for me to address, but there is good reason why in some traditions it is known as the most deadly of the seven deadly sins.
Why is lust such a deadly sin? Well, in addition to the completely Spirit-destroying impact it has upon our souls, I think it is a sin because it defiles the highest and holiest relationship God gives us in mortality—the love that a man and a woman have for each other and the desire that couple has to bring children into a family intended to be forever. Someone said once that true love must include the idea of permanence. True love endures. But lust changes as quickly as it can turn a pornographic page or glance at yet another potential object for gratification walking by, male or female. True love we are absolutely giddy about—as I am about Sister Holland; we shout it from the housetops. But lust 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. Love makes us instinctively reach out to God and other people. Lust, on the other hand, is anything but godly and celebrates self-indulgence. Love comes with open hands and open heart; lust comes with only an open appetite.
These are just some of the reasons that prostituting the true meaning of love—either with imagination or another person—is so destructive. It destroys that which is second only to our faith in God—namely, faith in those we love. It shakes the pillars of trust upon which present—or future—love is built, and it takes a long time to rebuild that trust when it is lost.