"For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light..."


by Victor B. Cline

Pornography refers to explicit depictions of sexual activity in written or pictorial form in an exploitive style. The purpose of these presentations is erotic arousal for commercial gain. Most of it presents highly inaccurate, unscientific, and distorted information about human sexuality. It is, in a sense, sex miseducation marketed for financial gain in a variety of formats, including books, magazines, motion pictures, television, videotapes, and even telephone. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints condemns all forms of pornography.

The Church views sexuality positively—as a sacred gift from God with the primary purposes of reproducing life upon the earth and bonding the husband and wife together in an eternal, affectionate, committed relationship. High standards of personal morality and sexual conduct, including chastity before marriage and fidelity in marriage, are taught as norms for Church members. These standards are perceived as reflecting God's will and counsel for his earthly children.

Pornography is seen as degrading sex and creating an unhealthy extramarital sexual interest in individuals, thereby contributing to a weakening of the marital relationship. Much of this filmed, photographed, or written "prostitution" is actually anti-sexual because it gives a great deal of false information about human sexuality. Also, since much pornography depicts violence and aggression against females, it raises risks of conditioning viewers to sanction these as acceptable behavior. The best evidence suggests that all sexual deviations are learned, and pornography appears to be a major facilitator in the acquisition of these deviations.

Introducing immoral or inappropriate sexual stimuli into the mind of those who view it can create fantasies that may never be erased. It has the potential for corrupting the values of, and degrading, those who indulge. It suggests behaviors that could negatively affect or even destroy one's marriage and family. Pornography, in a sense, is an attack on the family and the marriage covenant as well as on the bonds of affection or trust that hold a marriage and family together.

Additionally, involvement in pornography promotes a voyeuristic interest in sex, one form of sexual illness. This is a regressive fantasy approach to sexuality with major health risks. These various hazards have been documented at length by the U.S. Pornography Commission, convened under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The experience of many men and adolescent males who repeatedly experiment with, or voluntarily expose themselves to, pornography suggests four possible consequences. First, there is a risk of addiction. Once involved with it, many get "hooked," as with a highly addictive drug, and keep coming back in a compulsive fashion for more. Second, they desire increasingly deviant material. In time, they need rougher and more explicit material to get the same kicks, arousal, and excitement as initially. Third, they become desensitized to the inappropriateness or abnormality of the behavior portrayed, eventually accepting and embracing what at first had shocked and offended them. Fourth, with appetite whetted and conscience anesthetized, they tend to act out sexually what they have witnessed. This almost always disturbs the most intimate aspects of marital and family relationships and attacks the participants' spiritual nature. As an individual acts out his desires and appetites, there is a significant risk of venereal infections, some of which are incurable and life-threatening. When this occurs, the health and life of the marital partner is also jeopardized.

The Church strongly counsels its members to avoid involvement with pornography for the many reasons cited above. An important additional reason is that involvement with it is also perceived as leading to a loss of contact with, and consciousness of, God and the Holy Spirit. It can lead to a psychological, sexual, and spiritual regression. Becoming addicted to pornography can lead to a loss of control and eventually to the loss of moral agency.

The Church counsels its members to be responsible citizens in the communities where they live, to join organizations that attempt to improve community values, to let their voices be heard, and to work for, in legal ways, limits being placed on the dissemination, broadcast, sale, and rental of illegal pornographic materials.

(See Daily Living home page; Teachings About Sexuality home page)


"Church Leaders Suggest Ways to Fight Pornography." Ensign 14 (Apr. 1984):37-39.

Cline, Victor B. "Obscenity: How It Affects Us, How We Can Deal with It." Ensign 14 (Apr. 1984):32-37.

Cline, Victor B., ed. Where Do You Draw the Line? Provo, Utah, 1974.

Monson, Thomas S. "Pornography—The Deadly Carrier." Ensign 9 (Nov. 1979):66-67.

Shapiro, Gary R. "Leave the Obscene Unseen." Ensign 19 (Aug. 1989):27-29



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Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 3, Pornography

Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company