13 March 2007

So now what?

WARNING: This post may be rated TV-MA, PG-13 or probably worse by some people's estimation. Proceed with caution. Some of you who know me personally and are reading my blog may not want to read this particular entry. Discussion of personal sin is involved.

List of things to do:

1. Come out to family - check
2. Come out to close friends - check
3. Come out to bishop - check
4. Go to church every week - check
5. Fulfill my callings - check
6. Study/Pray/Spiritual stuff - check
7. Quit looking at the hard core porn - check
8. The soft porn....
9. Mastur....

So, I guess that's what I've really been in denial of for a long time. I started reading Resolving Homosexual Problems by Jason Park. It's interesting. I'm not completely sold on everything I've read, but it makes some very good observations. I've made it through the first three chapters tonight. I'm seeing a recurring theme of resolving past issues, so I started to think of what it is that I may need to resolve.

I quit looking at the nasty porn junk more than a year ago. No more explicit material. No more late night internet searches for free videos. I quit. I gave it up. It was very difficult, and actually was more of a gradual cessation than a cold-turkey thing. But, about a year or so ago I finally quit looking up that stuff. I was proud. I was glad that I had quit my porn addiction. Or had I?

What exactly is porn? I'm sure this has been discussed ad infinitum on other people's blogs, but I need to hash it out for my own sake.

Porn is just the really sexually explicit stuff, right? That's what the dictionary says: por·nog·ra·phy (pôr-nŏg'rə-fē) n. 1. Sexually explicit pictures, writing, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal.

You see! It says sexually explicit. So again, if something is not sexually explicit then it isn't porn, right? Unfortunately I think that is not the case. And I need to come to terms with this. I find myself far too often browsing the internet for images. Nothing graphic. Just images of beautiful, shirtless men. There is nothing like a well-formed male torso to really get me going. That's it. It seems harmless, right? I mean, no full nudity. No genitalia. No pictures of multiple guys acting out the fantasies I have in my head. Just the admiration of a nice physique. How could that be a sin?

I guess that we need a little sidebar here. Remember when you first hit puberty and everything on the planet earth would cause you to get a woody? For most people, that seems to have subsided after a few years. Those are the room mates you had in college that could be seen making out with their girlfriends for hours and hours down in your living room and never once becoming sexually aroused (they now star in Viagra commercials). I hate those people. I am the exact opposite of that. I'm the one guy who is never, ever going to have to take a Viagra even if he lives to be 1,000 years old. I'm one of those people who never really came out of that puberty situation where everything turned you on all the time. I even asked a doctor about it once. "Hey doc, they make Viagra for men who can't get an erection. Do they make any type of anti-Viagra for people who can't, er, keep it down?" He literally mocked me.

So, this is where the sin part comes in. I can't look at "non-porn" pictures of the male torso and not get sexually aroused. And guess what happens then! Yep. The big M. And then guess what happens! Yep. The big feelings of guilt and self-loathing for once again not being able to control my freakishly overactive sex drive.

In a sense, that would (for me) make pictures of shirtless guys porn. It is something that causes sexual arousal in me. I don't just admire the beautiful bodies. I fantasize about the parts I can't see. I make my own porn in my head. I dream of what it would be like to touch my skin to theirs. To caress. To feel their warmth. It's every bit as explicit as the porn that I gave up a year ago.

Alma 12:14
14 For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence.

I would love to have a mountain fall on me right now. How can I expect the Lord to help me through this when I am blatantly disregarding his commandments? This is easy enough to say. That verse in Alma is easy enough to believe. I do. Why, then, do I find it impossible to say no to the urges to look at that stuff? How can I sit here, think about what a great day it's been and how the Spirit has been with me today, and then immediately open up a browser and type in the word "shirtless". Why can I be so believing one second, and so unbelieving the next? It's like I have no more willpower left in me. I've found a sexual outlet that doesn't involve breaking the law of chastity in the strictest sense. Yes, I am still a virgin at 34. I have had neither hetero- nor homosexual experience. I'm proud of that. How about the law of chastity in the inferred sense? I think that I may have a real problem there.

So now what? Looks like it's time for another visit with the Bishop.


Mormon Enigma said...

First of all, don't think you are the only gay Mormon guy to tackle this issue. I suspect all of us have had to address this at some point in our lives - sometimes more than once. I remember Beck addressed this in his blog nearly a year ago (see his posted dated April 25, 2006).

Short of sequestering yourself in a convent for the rest of your life with a bunch of ugly old nuns, you are going to be continually bombarded with images that trigger feelings within you. If it's not a PG rated picture of a shirtless guy, then it might be a cute waiter in a restaurant, or a hunk wandering the aisles of Home Depot, etc.

We each need to figure out for ourselves what works for us. For me, trying to totally suppress these thoughts and feelings just doesn't work. It works for a while, but then something happens and the thoughts and feelings come rushing back to me in torrents.

So, I've setup boundaries for how far I'll allow myself to go in my thoughts, feelings, fantasies, actions, etc. As long as I don't cross those boundaries then I'm OK - I don't feel any guilt. Occasionally, I'll slip and cross those boundaries. Then the guilt reminds me of why I setup those boundaries in the first place which results in me recommitting myself to those boundaries.

To quote a line from the movie Latter Days:

"Funny thing about guilt... there is nothing so bad that you can't add a little guilt to it and make it worse. And there is nothing so good you can't add a little guilt to it and make it better."

playasinmar said...

It can be difficult ro reconcile believing the the church's stance on sexual morality and being male.

Also, I think the term "self-mastery" is very funny." :)

Loyalist (with defects) said...

i'm not sure if this worked. aarggh!

I've always thought Alma 12:14 had an interesting notion - "...and our thoughts will also condem us;..." but i think it is also coupled with the repentance.

The idea of "it doesnt matter how many times we fall, but how many times we get up" has been mocked but those who choose to not understand our personal choice/desire to have balance in our personality. We do not deny our "gay" half any more than we "deny" our individual faith in Father and His love for us.

I guess that although I believe that Alma is correct that thoughts will condem us; I also believe that it is connected with being unrepentive. Hence we "get up" after we fall.

there are times when i certainly dont feel like getting up, but then I realize that being gay is only one part of me. I define myself and firstly I am a Son of God.

I will fall; probably many times, sometime because I just give up. But I will repent and work to live the Way I choose.

SG said...

OK - so I know exactly what you mean. I used to half-jokingly think of myself as "Ready Eddie."

All kidding aside, isn't it in "What About Bob?" that the shrink talks about baby steps? The idea makes sense to me in the SGA context, and especially in the eternal progression context.

Keep getting up. Keep working on it. Keep praying for help. Work with a friend or mentor or blog-buddy to whom you can be accountable. "Line upon line" (and I'm not quoting Saturday's Warrior here, I'm quoting Isaiah). As long as you keep trying, you'll get stronger and stronger. You may slip from time to time, but if you're like me, the times between those slips will be farther and farther apart.

We have faith and confidence in you!

-L- said...

Great post. I've noticed that after going for a long while without looking at porn, I start edging back toward it by looking at shirtless guys and the kind of stuff you've described here. In many ways the soft stuff is even more arousing than taking away the fantasy and anticipation with frank porn. It ends up being a slippery slope where I just move to looking for progressively less clothing and then give up.

Speaking of triggers, don't read the following if you are concerned about them. When I examine a guy (for a physical exam) and have to do a full body or sexual exam, it turns out that I can find the anticipation arousing, but when I'm actually doing the exam there's nothing sexual about it. They can be a great looking person, but the lack of any relationship tension or fantasy makes it a perfectly benign experience. The point is, we process things INTO porn... it's just a lot easier when you have lots of, umm, raw materials (pictures).

Anyway, it sounds like an addiction to me (albeit less harmful than some) regardless of the degree. I'm not exactly a "success" story from the church's addiction recovery manual, but I do think it's a good program. I'm still working through it and recommend it. Free and easy.