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Brother Wilcox Teaches About Escaping the ‘Worthless’ Trap of Pornography

General Officer spoke during the Utah Coalition Against Pornography’s 4th Annual Rally for Hope & Healing on November 11, 2023

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, First Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency, was a keynote speaker during the Utah Coalition Against Pornography’s 4th Annual Rally for Hope & Healing on November 11, 2023.2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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By Kaitlyn Bancroft, Church News

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, First Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency, recalls a way children once earned spending money.

They’d make a hole in a box and drive nails around the hole at an angle. Then they’d place something shiny inside — “completely worthless, but attractive” — and before long, a curious raccoon would reach for it. With the raccoon’s paw clenched in a fist around the shiny object, the nails prevented the raccoon from escaping, and the children could then capture the raccoon, bring it to a facility for payment, and the raccoon was released outside of the city.

Brother Wilcox noted that for the raccoons, escaping was as simple as releasing the shiny object. But the raccoons were trapped by their own curiosity and by a worthless piece of metal they refused to let go of.

“I think that’s how pornography traps so many,” Brother Wilcox said. “It draws people in because they’re curious, and then once they grab hold, they don’t want to let go. ... They’re trapped by something that’s shiny, something that’s appealing, but something that is truly a worthless offering.”

Brother Wilcox made the raccoon comparison during the Utah Coalition Against Pornography’s 4th Annual Rally for Hope & Healing on November 11, 2023.

He was one of two keynote speakers for the rally, in the M.K Cox Performing Arts Center on Utah Tech University’s campus in St. George. Utah, and livestreamed to virtual participants.

Keynote speaker Parker Hymas of anti-pornography nonprofit Fight the New Drug spoke before Brother Wilcox, highlighting research and personal stories about pornography’s dangers.

Brother Wilcox said pornography is more dangerous than some drugs because it’s more accessible, it is cheaper and it can be consumed anonymously. Like physical drug users, pornography users are chasing a high; but just as with physical drugs, a pornography user feels worse after their high than before it. This leads to escalating pornography use as they chase highs, and then to acting out in dangerous ways, he said.

Despite all of this, there is “lots and lots” of hope for pornography users, Brother Wilcox said. “There is plenty of hope.”

Overcoming Pornography Use

Brother Wilcox said the first step toward overcoming pornography use is acknowledging that it’s a problem. No matter what the world says, pornography is not “harmless adult entertainment,” a form of sex education or anything else that frames it as nonproblematic.

“It is not intimacy. It is the illusion of intimacy,” Brother Wilcox said. “It is not sex education. It is sex miseducation, marketed for financial gain. It is not love, but lust. It is not art. It is nothing but a worthless counterfeit.”

Once someone has acknowledged pornography as a problem, the next step is reaching out for help. Brother Wilcox said if someone broke their arm, they wouldn’t wait to see a doctor until they’d fixed it themselves. Likewise, someone struggling with pornography shouldn’t wait to reach out until they’ve fixed the problem themselves.

He also said that pornography use is often the result of unmet needs. Brother Wilcox encouraged anyone struggling with pornography use to meet their needs in healthy ways, such as spending time with friends and family when they’re lonely.

“Your friends are not out there in cyberspace. ... Your friends are the ones who are right here,” he said. “Seek real relationships.”

Brother Wilcox said anyone struggling with pornography can look down in shame and embarrassment, can look sideways for excuses and rationalizations, or they can look up for help. “I promise you that help is there, and that help is real.”

He also emphasized that the only way to truly “mess up” is to stop trying.

“So my plea to you, whether you’re listening from New Zealand or whether you’re sitting here in St. George, is ... don’t give up. Keep trying,” Brother Wilcox said, adding: “Don’t be the raccoon. Don’t be trapped by something that is shiny but something that is worthless. Be strong. .. Heaven is pulling for you.”

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