In the late Apostle Boyd K. Packer’s 1975 book “Teach Ye Diligently” he encouraged the Church’s teachers to “treat with care” the sensitivity of subjects “pertaining to sex and the dangerous world of [drugs] and pornography.” He asked for teachers to “protect first the innocence” of the members of the church before speaking frankly.
Times have changed. Now, 40 years later, Elder David A. Bednar’s counsel to the South Salt Lake Area stakes in August 2012 that, “what was once sufficient” to protect the spiritual health of those in the past is “no longer enough” today, has become the principle from which the Church is approaching these previously hushed topics.
The Church’s new videos about addiction take a no-holds-barred attitude to confronting everything from drug and alcohol addictions to pornography and sex addictions.
The videos each highlight one step of the Church’s 12-step recovery program. Each step is presented through testimonials of a real person sharing their experience with addiction and recovery.
The Huffington Post’s Seth Adam Smith wrote about the videos saying, “these aren’t your typical church videos. The LDS Church, to its everlasting credit, isn’t holding back — they are making a concerted effort to tackle addiction head-on. These videos are real, honest, raw, and in some cases, quite heartbreaking.“
As Smith pointed out, these aren’t your stereotypical “pray to Jesus” to make it all go away videos. The Church has also released a second set of videos focused on explaining addiction and recovery as well as giving information about resources. Another video was produced explaining the scientific insights into addiction.
This change in attitude shows what strides are being taken, especially in religious circles, to pull those afflicted with addictions out of the social gutter. Only recently has society started catching up with the neurological findings concerning addiction, which will hopefully help restore dignity to those facing addiction.
Religious organizations typically play the part of caboose when it comes to hopping on the science bandwagon, but these frank discussions show that Mormon leaders are taking proactive steps to help those with addictions as well as those who might not understand their realities.