Fight the New Drug....even at church
A couple of weeks ago I wore a Fight the New Drug shirt to a church activity. I had been wearing it all day as I got things done around the house, and didn't think much about wearing a shirt that says 'Porn Kills Love' to a church activity. After all, these are 'my people' right? As far as I'm concerned, it's the same as wearing a D.A.R.E. shirt.
If a kid can read the word 'porn' then they can have an educated conversation about it. Church leaders speak from the pulpit about pornography, during General Conference, something we are all encouraged to watch as families. That means children who aren't even old enough to read are being exposed to the word. It's not a dirty word. It's a fact of our society. I was actually shocked that the result of wearing this shirt was that my two oldest (whom I've most definitely talked to about this subject) had not put together that 'porn' (which, btw is the way kids and teens refer to it) is the same as 'pornography' (how we as individuals and a church often refer to it). Shocked!
Living in Las Vegas and choosing to purchase a shirt, with the intent of wearing it, that says 'Porn Kills Love' on it was actually really hard for me. I live in a town surrounded by it. Just yesterday I drove to the cemetery and noticed how many blatant billboards there were alongside the freeway on my drive... and on the outskirts of town, not just along the strip corridor where locals know to avoid. I worried my husband wouldn't want to be seen with me in public if I wore it, for fear that I was making some sort of statement about him or something. That's very much not true. I even asked him. Would me being seen wearing a DARE shirt be insinuating that he did drugs, or that one of my kids did? Or that, if he did, I had spiteful feelings or loved him less as a result? I hope not. I hope that people who see that recognize it as a reflection of their own discomfort with the topic, and whatever underlying issues they have with it. I hope that the people who were offended by my wearing the PKL shirt don't see me as out to get them or their kids, out to make someone uncomfortable in a malicious or bitter way....but rather out to take a stand and educate against something I feel called to speak out about.
I've not done enough for my own kids in educating them well enough or early enough. That's been made very clear to me over the last month. Giving them words and meanings to words is one of the most powerful things I believe we can do. If you don't give them that power in education, someone else will.... and it might not be the right message of porn killing love or porn being a drug. It likely will be the opposite. We live in Las Vegas and our kids have seen porn from an early age just from driving around town. Unless you've taught them otherwise, they probably don't know that's what to call what they've seen. You can teach them all you want about pornography being evil or whatever.... but unless you give them the tools to identify it as what it is and WHY it is bad, you do nothing but create shame for the day that they realize that thing they started looking at when they were 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 years old (because that's the age for most)- because someone showed them (or, hey, they saw it on that road trip) or they looked up out of natural and normal curiosity- is that thing you've been telling them was bad all along and now suddenly they are also, for having been draw to it and not really understanding better.
I'm not going to lie... it's been hard to continue attending church and church activities when I was called out by a church leader (who also stated other ward members came to him) for standing up and taking a stand against something I believed to be a commonly held belief within my religious community. It isn't because of offense.... It's because I am struggling to find that feeling of safety that I had at church. I want only to be places where I can feel the spirit, and I am struggling to feel it around people who have made it clear that I have offended them, or have made other insinuations about myself or my family. Nevertheless, my testimony remains the same as does my feelings regarding pornography and our necessity of speaking about it. Admittedly, I hope that writing this will help me to again feel like I am allowed to have a voice (something I know but also have remind myself of from time to time) and thus allow me to move forward. I also acknowledge that I'm well acquainted with Satan, and I know this is him at play in wanting to keep me from church as well.