There are three general categories of members that are involved with pornography.
Regardless of a member’s situation, he (a generic reference to either he or she throughout this document) is much more likely to overcome this sin with the help of his bishop. It would be ideal if all members fell into the first category, but since they do not, a bishop must decide if he is willing to help only those that ask for help or go out and find all that need help and offer that help. The Savior taught, “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” (Luke15:4). These members who are involved with pornography are ΄lost‘.
Young single adults are a highly mobile group. Many are not in a ward long enough to get to know the bishop well enough to develop a level of trust sufficient to make an appointment and come in and confess. Therefore they continue to carry the burden of this heavy sin and its associated guilt and embarrassment. They are spiritually stagnant; their testimonies are being weakened and they can’t progress to temple marriage. Because of this environment it is important for the bishop, with loving concern, to search out the lost sheep. Once found, the bishop, with the keys of his office, proper training and guidance of the Spirit, will be able to provide the member effective assistance through the repentance process.
In order for you, as a bishop, to get to know your members you must ask them questions. In an initial interview it is suggested that you ask a member to tell you about himself. You will ask about his family, his job, his schooling, etc. As part of getting to know the member you will ask some worthiness questions such as if he has a current temple recommend. Since you will, and need to, ask worthiness questions, we suggest that you ask all members the following question which has proven to be the most effective in finding the lost sheep.
If they answer yes to the initial question, ask them to tell you when was the last time? If they answer no, you could say something like this, ΄Would you be willing to share with me some the measures you have taken to avoid it so that I can share with others strategies that work? Make sure to commend the member.
This question is direct and specific. It does not give the member any wiggle room. There are several other questions that some bishops ask such as, ΄Do you have a problem with pornography?‘ or ΄Are you involved with pornography?‘ These questions are not specific enough and some members rationalize an answer in their mind such as, ΄No I don’t have a problem.‘ Thinking, ΄After all, I quit last week.‘
Even with the specific, direct question, there will still be some members that will not disclose their involvement, but these questions will help many of the category 2 members finally share that they have a problem and begin on a path of repentance. Now that the lost sheep have been identified, the rescue can begin.
When a member confesses that he has recently viewed pornography it is very important that you exhibit and express loving concern. You should express confidence to the member that healing and forgiveness is possible and that with the Lord’s help and the members dedicated effort those blessings will come. There should be no condemnation or chastisement. The Savior said, ΄Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.‘ Matthew 11:28. These members are entering that path that leads to the Savior, His redemptive power and His forgiveness.
It is not likely that you will have enough time during this interview to have a full confession and assessment of the member’s situation. It is recommended that you schedule an appointment with the member during your next scheduled interviews. The next interview could last from 30 to 60 minutes depending on the scope and history of the involvement.