Episode 161: Principles and the New FSY Guide

Oct 01, 2022

Episode 161: Principles and the New FSY Guide



Hey, everybody, and welcome to another beautiful mastery Monday on the Self Mastery podcast. I'm your host, Zach Spafford. I have. I have an announcement I'm not going to announce today, though. I'm going to announce it. Let's see in three weeks. 

So in three weeks, something big will change with the Self Mastery podcast. I hope you're there for it. I'm excited to share it with you, Darcy, and I've been working on something awesome. And we were excited about it. We're looking forward to this change. Also, I just learned tonight that my two youngest daughters, so we have renters and about a third of our basement. They are a lovely couple. And one of the ways that my daughters, who are four and six, describe what I do is they say my dad does porn. So they said this to our renters. They were, Yeah, my dad does porn. He does that in his office right there. So my office is right next to the renter's space. And I was just that is that's a totally brilliant way of describing what I do. It's not exactly accurate, but if it doesn't convey the message that I think I would normally convey or want to convey. But it is hilarious that what they think is that my dad does porn is the way to describe what I do. So we just got done watching General Conference, for those of us who are Latter-day Saints. And one of the things that I really love about this new general conference or about this general conference is we got a new Strength of Youth pamphlet. And I have been kind of begging for this. I mean, it's not anybody up at headquarters listening to me. But I've really been begging for this. I've been often, as I've discussed the For Strength of Youth pamphlet with a lot of people. I've often referred to it as the how to judge and your neighbor book. And I have, you know, on occasion had conversations with members of our stake presidency and members of our bishopric. Where, you know, the discussion was essentially this, from my perspective, there's a lot of rules and not a lot of principles. And these rules aren't necessarily the best way to lay out how to live according to the Gospel. And I'm really encouraged by the news for the Strength of Youth pamphlet. And the reason I'm bringing this on to this podcast,


 I know that we often talk about pornography. Well, we always talk about porn, but I don't often talk to the youth. But I do. I'm bringing this up because I often recognize that often, even as adults within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we refer to the first Strength of Youth pamphlet as an ideal in the way that we live our lives. And you know, things like earrings and the way that we should whether or not we should have tattoos are changed in this new Strength of Youth pamphlet. And so I'm, you know, on the church's website, one of the very first things it says is, the new Strength of Youth guide announced October 1 during the opening session of the General Conference encourages youth to deepen their conversion by learning correct principles, and the blessings that result from living those principles and to act on the spiritual promptings they receive as they study the guide. And this has often been a refrain of mine within the conversations that I have about the gospel and about how we often talk about things modesty. We tend to say, well, here's a rule; follow it. And if you follow this rule, you'll be okay. 

But the problem is, is that oftentimes, rules don't encompass the reality of our actual lives. Let me just give you an example of this. When I was a missionary, we had this thing called the white handbook. And as a missionary, when you read the white hat book, one of the things that it said is no physical contact with members of the opposite sex. So that seems a very good rule. And it might seem one that could help you live the gospel, especially as a missionary. But then, let me just tell you about an incident I had very early on in my mission. This is one that stands out to me, but I'm sure there were others. This woman came out of it. So I went on my mission to Rome, Italy, about every 10 feet. There's a Catholic Church of some sort. I'm exaggerating, but sometimes it felt that. So we were walking along, and this woman came out of this Catholic church. And she was crying very just deep, painful sobs. And as a young new missionary who barely spoke any Italian, I just went up to her. And I just gave her a hug. And we hugged there for maybe a minute or two. I didn't know what else to do or say to her. But I felt that was the thing that I could do at that moment. And she thanked me, and she thanked my companion, and then she left; I never saw her again. 

So my question to you would be, is that living the principles of the gospel? Or was it more important that I don't touch her? And I think what you're probably seeing is that, oftentimes, what we've done is we've said, here's a rule, follow this rule, and we'll get an appropriate outcome. But Joseph Smith never said that; that was not one of Joseph Smith's teachings. Joseph Smith, in fact, taught that if we teach correct principles, we will govern ourselves, and we will find ourselves in a state of self-governance that includes learning and living by those principles. And you're, Well, you know, what, what, what happened there is that you were just hugging this woman. And that's not really a principle of the gospel. Well, let me tell you, I think that the principle, the most important principle of the gospel, is to love your neighbor as yourself; well, maybe that's one of the most important principles of the gospel. So here I was, in a moment, and in a very acute moment, able to love this woman, even though maybe she didn't feel loved at that time. Or maybe she just needed some love. I don't know. Honestly, I barely know any more about the story than what I've told you. So maybe, you know, screwed up. Maybe that was the worst thing I could have done, but I felt it was the right thing at the right moment. Whereas, don't touch anyone of the opposite sex? Well, you know that that rule doesn't necessarily apply in a lot of situations. I know, for our missionaries, we often would do Bachi, which is, you know, you kiss on the right and the left cheek. In other cultures, French, that's, that's a pretty normal thing. In Russia, pretty normal thing to kiss the people that you greet, not in any sort of sexual way, but to greet them with a kiss on the side of the cheek. Not a big deal. 

So let me ask you, is it going to be more effective to participate in the culture in an appropriate way? Because you love and care for the people in that culture? Or is it better to follow a rule that might alienate you from the people of that culture? And this is this, to me the thrust of a great deal of this new Strength of Youth guidebook; I'm super keen on it. You know, I don't think they've done everything the way that, I would say, makes the most sense. But I'm, I'm really pleased with a lot of the strides that have been made. And I'm super grateful that the First Presidency has done this, you know, I'll be honest, I've had some conversations with our state presidency. And I've said we need to be better at teaching principles. And I hope that this helps us get along and move along that path because this is honestly a phenomenal conversation. And I want to talk in particular about two components. And these two components, I think, lead us into the rest of our lives when it comes to how to deal with pornography and how to deal with our own growth around pornography and modesty. So I want to start with modesty. One of the very first things it does in this new guide is talking about an invitation it invites us to kind of think about the way that we're thinking about who we are and what we're doing. And it says as you make decisions about your clothing, hairstyle appearance, ask yourself am I honoring my body as a sacred gift from God? And I think that this is a really great question because, you know, in Brazil, for instance, you know, my wife's aunt is from Brazil, we've known a lot of people who are from Brazil and especially members of the church. They go, and they look for a one-piece swimsuit, and it doesn't exist.


and they're not thinking about it in the same way. We are entirely exactly everyone in Brazil wears a two-piece swimsuit. And it is one of those things, where do I am I doing this? Am I wearing what I'm wearing in order to this kind of the way that I've always captured it? Am I wearing what I'm wearing to attract someone salaciously? Or am I wearing this? Because I feel good, I feel good. In, I feel good about what I'm doing. I feel good about who I am being. Am I being good to myself? And I mean, am I being good in terms of not showing up and trying to disrupt other people's lives? Right? Am I honoring my body as a sacred gift from God is such a great question. And it creates a space for us to figure out what it is that it looks to, to choose for myself how we want to dress, and then also to grow beyond that. So we had a discussion of the life coach event, which we did a couple of Saturdays ago now. There was a woman there who shared a story about how she decided that she would go from wearing two pieces to one two-piece bathing suit. And it was 100% entirely about her. It wasn't about, you know, I have to follow this rule. It wasn't about I have to think about, you know, how others will view me or how, when I view myself, am I making a problem for others. So you know, it was entirely self-based.

And for her, that was a moment of growth; it was this, it was this opportunity for her to say, I think that changing the way that I that I'm wearing my clothing, for me, is going to help me be the better version of myself now, am I endorsing that going from a tooth piece to a one piece? Is the only way to go? And that's what you have to do and how to grow as a person. No, I'm not doing that. I'm not saying that in any way. What I am saying is it's a really important question to ask yourself. The question that I love that we came up with at this event was, is the way that I'm acting is the way that I'm choosing to behave, holding me back from my greater potential? And if it is, then maybe I'm going to change it, then I'm going to change it, I can move forward, I can grow beyond it. And if it isn't, if I don't find it problematic, then it's not a problem to leave it. And, there's no need for you to become a different person just because you think someone else or some other entity outside of you thinks you should change. And here's why this is important. Oftentimes, the way that we teach about modesty, and I'm going to talk about this another day more in-depth with my friend Amanda louder. I think we're going to do a joint podcast this week on this. But the way that we often teach about modesty is from the perspective that if you don't dress modestly, then you're going to create problems for others. And this is problematic around pornography. This is problematic in the sexual development of a lot of people. In particular, the person who's hearing that message, and the so that young woman who might be hearing that message, and because and I'll be honest with you, this is a one-sided issue, right? And mostly, we sell tell girls, hey, you need to cover up so that you don't make the boys feel uncomfortable. And this is a problem for young men because they hear this and they go, oh, she should be able to control me. 


So when you get to marriage, here's what happens. The wife thinks I should have control over someone else's sexuality. That's essentially the message we've been sending them. What you wear impacts other people's sexual sex impacts other people sexually, and the men are hearing what the girls are wearing impacts me sexually. So, therefore, they have some control some measure of control over how I behave sexually. So what happens when a young man or young woman gets to marriage and finds that they don't actually have any control over their partner sexually. There, this is disorganizing. It creates a problematic issue within it creates problems within the marriage, right? It creates this sense that, oh, I'm failing. And I should be able to do more. And in the long run around, especially around pornography. You know, wives will tend to unfold into their husband's anxiety, try to manage their anxiety, and try to become a sexual object for their partner to manage whether or not their partner engages in pornographic viewing. And in the end, they end up hating themselves, and they end up frustrated, and they end up dejected. And that's a terrible, terrible situation. And that's why I have this new conversation, which is essentially what's going on for me around this Nobody else, I'm not worried about somebody else. I'm worried about myself. And how can I take care of myself? By the way, that's agency; how can I be the person that I want to be? And this, to me, is super awesome. I love this component. I love this new conversation. And I also love that it's not directed just at the girls; I don't know if you noticed in the old Strength of Youth pamphlet, it was a lot of, Hey, girls wear this, wear that, wear this, wear that. And for the boys, it was, also wear clothes. 

So I'm super excited about this new version. And when it comes to pornography, specifically, I really love this new paragraph With within the text here; it says sexual feelings are an important part of God's plan to create happy marriages and eternal families. These feelings are not sinful. They are sacred. I want everybody to hear that again. Sexual feelings are not sinful. They are sacred. And then it goes on to offer that they're sacred and powerful. And that's why we have the law of chastity. And the law of chastity helps us stay within a framework that allows us to create and grow and build without it being constrained. Or, you know, something that we have to be ashamed of. This is super, super, super important. And I'm so grateful that they've updated this language. Because too often I get men and women who come to these conversations, you know, the conversation around how do I stop looking at pornography, and they are in a place where they do not have, they do not have this deep and abiding sense that their sexual feelings are important, they want to give them up, they want to push them down, and they want to move to remove them altogether. And that I don't think that's the way that the Lord has, has designed it. And embracing that and moving forward with it is, I think, essential to resolving any sort of pornography struggle. And I love what they say here in the Strength of Youth pamphlet that you may come across pornography without meaning to. I think this gives everybody a realistic reality, a realistic, you know, understanding of what's going to happen, what is likely to occur in our lives, there's a good chance you're going to see it, and you want to be clear that it's not problematic just to have seen it. It does offer that you can turn away from it immediately. I 100%. Respect that. And I think that that's one thing that everyone would, you know, if if you are not taken by curiosity, or what have you, please do that, please, turn away immediately. If, however, beyond that, you're struggling, and you're, Oh, I can't, I can't seem to turn away from it. That's where people come in. That's my job, right? My job is to help you get the tools to not only resolve that at the moment but resolve that long term for yourself. And that, to me, is an awesome switch here. We go from saying, you know,


runaway, and you know, avoided at all cost, and that's going to be problematic. If you ever see it, too, there's a good chance you're gonna see it. And if you know, if you don't mean to see it, you're not sinning. A lot of times, people come to me, and they feel, Oh, I'm terrible because I came across it, or I, you know, walked down the street, and I saw Victoria's Secret. And now I'm, you know, I'm full blown into my pornography struggle. A lot of people, when they fall down the rabbit hole, the proverbial rabbit hole, it often starts with an unintentional sight. And then they go, Well, I gotta tell my wife about this, or I got to tell my parents about this. So I might as well go full-on. And this is a great reminder that you can see pornography without meaning to, and that's not a problem. And then it goes on to talk about how to keep sex Well, it goes on to talk about keeping sex and sexual feelings sacred. And, you know, I might not agree with all of these things for adults, including if you want to text your wife and say, Hey, would you make out tonight? I think that it's totally reasonable to text your partner, to your spouse, to your wife to your husband. I think that's different for kids than it is for adults. But I love the, you know, the sense that it's about keeping yourself in a place where it's good for you and sacred, not staying away from things because it's bad, which is something that I think we often conveyed in our older versions of this particular guide. 

And then it also offers that if you aren't sure, it talks about you know, staying away from things but I  what it said here. Your parents Your leaders can help you learn, help, you know, right? If you find that situations or activities make temptations stronger, avoid them. You know what those situations are. And if you aren't sure the spirit, your parents and your leaders can help, you know, show, and it goes on to say, show your Father in heaven that you honor and respect the sacred power to create life. This is really, to me, fantastic. Because it starts by saying, you're capable, you know, what's up, there's no, and this is, I think, the opposite of the message that we get with addiction, which is, you're trapped, you're stuck, you don't know what to do, you don't have to solve this, you know, you're powerless, all that sort of stuff. And here we see, if you find, you know, if you find that certain situations, activities, make those temptations stronger, avoid them, as best you can. And you know what those are? And if you're not sure, you know, the spirit can help you, your parents can help you, and your leaders can help, you know, and I think this is true for adults, too, you know, the times and the places where it becomes more difficult. And I teach a lot of how to solve that and find that in my membership. And within my individual coaching, I'm helping lots of people figure out okay, well, what are exactly the situations because sometimes we kind of blind ourselves to those situations, we have this practice blindness, when it comes to, you know, Will, why did this happen. 

And a lot of times we go, I don't know, even people that have been coaching for a while, they're, I don't remember? Well, let's go back. And remember, let's try and figure that out. Because instead of practicing blindness, willful blindness against this, if we figure those situations out, we can actually resolve, resolve them and solve them early on, and more effectively than if we just pretend, oh, it just happened. And I slipped. This is a fantastic, I think, way of teaching about pornography, which is to say, if you think you have a struggle, it's important to know that you can find the answers. And if you don't know that you can find the answers work with someone, work with your mom, work with your dad, work with your coach, work with your bishop, whoever it is, right? For kids, that's fantastic. For adults, I think, you know, work with your bishop, work with your wife, your work with your husband, they will know that, you know, they've seen it, they're seeing it in you, they know what is going on for you. And then, you know, work within the bounds of your capacity to create ways to resolve that. And we talked again, and we talked about that, you know, if you listen to the podcast, I've taught you several ways to resolve that. But if you need more help, come to the membership. That sort of there, we go deep into exactly what's happening for you. And we help you solve that every single time. 

All right, my friends, I am super excited about this new Strength of Youth pamphlet; I hope you guys are I hope that you are taking it out and reading it and also reading it with your kids if you have any kids. But I'm, I really hope, and I pray that the message is loud and clear from this new first Strength of Youth pamphlet. That sex is not bad. Sexual feelings are important. And if we can solve for the way that we've been kind of running from them, or pushing them down or beating ourselves up over them, we're gonna succeed at leaving pornography behind forever, and we're gonna succeed at being the people that we want to be. Alright, my friends. I love you guys, and I will talk to you next week. Thanks for listening to the Self Mastery podcast every day. Darcy and I work with amazing men and women to remove pornography from their lives and relationships. If you're ready to take the next step in your journey, let us help you sign up for a console at with me. And you can set up some time for you or your spouse to meet with Darcy or with me. And we can help you get started on your Self Mastery journey.

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