Elder Packer on overcoming pornography and other addictions

The role of agency:

The old saying “The Lord is voting for me, and Lucifer is voting against me, but it is my vote that counts” describes a doctrinal certainty that our agency is more powerful than the adversary’s will. Agency is precious. We can foolishly, blindly give it away, but it cannot be forcibly taken from us.

There is also an age-old excuse: “The devil made me do it.” Not so! He can deceive you and mislead you, but he does not have the power to force you or anyone else to transgress or to keep you in transgression.

The priesthood itself can show you how to overcome addiction

The priesthood holds consummate power. It can protect you from the plague of pornography—and it is a plague—if you are succumbing to its influence. If one is obedient, the priesthood can show how to break a habit and even erase an addiction. Holders of the priesthood have that authority and should employ it to combat evil influences.

If you know how to repent, the adversary cannot hold you; angels will coach you

Every soul confined in a prison of sin, guilt, or perversion has a key to the gate. The key is labeled “repentance.” If you know how to use this key, the adversary cannot hold you. The twin principles of repentance and forgiveness exceed in strength the awesome power of the tempter. If you are bound by a habit or an addiction that is unworthy, you must stop conduct that is harmful. Angels will coach you, and priesthood leaders will guide you through those difficult times.

The priesthood has the power to unlock the influence of our habits

Priesthood holders carry with them the antidote to remove the terrible images of pornography and to wash away guilt. The priesthood has the power to unlock the influence of our habits, even to unchain from addiction, however tight the grip. It can heal over the scars of past mistakes.

The most powerful prevention is to ignore and avoid pornography

Strangely enough, it may be that the simplest and most powerful prevention and cure for pornography, or any unclean act, is to ignore and avoid it. Delete from the mind any unworthy thought that tries to take root. Once you have decided to remain clean, you are asserting your God-given agency. And then, as President Smith counseled, “Don’t look back.”

I promise that ahead of you is peace and happiness. . . .

Boyd K. Packer, “Cleansing the Inner Vessel,” October 2012 General Conference


You are the focus of two conflicting patterns trying to influence your life

So you are the focus of two conflicting patterns trying to influence you in your life, trying to have you go this way or that way (see Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13; James 1:8). You are the one who makes the decision.

As the old man a generation ago said, “The Lord’s votin’ for me, and the devil’s votin’ against me, but it’s my vote that counts!” And that is good, solid doctrine.

You will have just what you want. On one hand, you have inspiration from the Holy Ghost, and, on the other hand, you have what President Ezra Taft Benson called “sinspiration” from the angels of the devil. They are with you all of the time.

I gave a talk once in which I likened the mind to a stage. There is always something going on in that stage. Whatever you think is going on in the stage, these ideas and promptings and temptations will move in from the side. What do you do about it? You ought to have a delete key.

I know a little about computers because my grandchildren have taught me. I know that every computer keyboard has a delete key. If there is something there you do not want, something you did that you want to get rid of, you underline it and delete it.

You can have a delete key in your mind. Your mind is in charge, and your body is the instrument of your mind. Now you will have to figure out a delete key for yourself.

One man showed me once that he used his wedding ring. He said that whenever there was an unworthy thought that tried to get into his mind—and those influences are everywhere—he just rubbed his thumb against his wedding ring. That was the delete key, “Get out of my mind! I am in charge!”

You are in command. You cannot say that you do not know any better. You do know better!

There are other ways. Music is powerful. My older brother taught me that.

When he was flying in the Eighth Air Force, it was terrible. He was shot down twice. But he said finally he got so he was not afraid. He was not afraid because when fear came, he turned on this little orchestra in his mind. He took his favorite hymn and played it over and over in his mind.

I learned something, and I have since lived that way. When some ugly thought from the nether kingdom tries to get into my mind, I move it out with good music, hymns (see D&C 25:12).

That is one of the reasons why you are very, very, very, very, very, very foolish when you like to participate in music that is dark and noisy. Worthy inspiration cannot get through to you where you are. No matter how popular it may be or how much you want to belong, just remember that there are those angels of the devil using you.

Boyd K. Packer, “The Instrument of Your Mind and the Foundation of Your Character,” CES Fireside for Young Adults, 2 February 2003

Our choice to act is the only real means of learning

It’s only those who do nothing that make no mistakes, I suppose.
Joseph Conrad, An Outcast of the Islands (1896), Pt. 3, Ch. 2

Those who do make mistakes, those who do nothing make no progress.

Chi fa falla, e chi non fa sfarfalla.
English translation: Those who act make mistakes; and those who do nothing really blunder.

Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.

The inner zone in which we are sovereign

Of course our genes, and circumstances, and environments matter very much and shape us significantly. Yet there remains an inner zone in which we are sovereign, unless we abdicate. In this zone lies the essence of our individuality and our personal accountability.

Therefore, what we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become and what we will receive in eternity.

Neal A. Maxwell, October General Conference, October 5, 1996