close
close
Posted in

Elder Renlund delivers keynote address at anti-porn conference – Church News

At the 2024 conference of the Utah Coalition Against Pornography, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles asked an audience member to do the seemingly impossible.

He gave the audience member a nail, which he hammered into a block of wood so that it stood upright. He then asked her to balance fourteen other nails on top of the one upright nail.

Not surprisingly, the woman had difficulty completing the task. But then Elder Renlund showed her a trick: by interlocking twelve nails in a specific pattern between two horizontal nails, all fourteen of them could successfully balance on the single upright nail.

The two horizontal nails were key, Elder Renlund said, with one representing a person affected by pornography and the other representing belief in a higher power. And the other twelve nails represented family members, friends, church leaders, mental health professionals, and others who can help lift the person affected by pornography.

Each symbolic nail “helps make the impossible possible,” Elder Renlund said, adding, “I believe that individuals, marriages and families can heal and overcome the ills of pornography if willingness, education, hard work , faith and appropriate treatment come together.”

Elder Renlund was the opening speaker for the Utah Coalition Against Pornography 2024 conference on Saturday, May 4, in Salt Lake City.

He was accompanied by Dan Gray, a licensed clinical social worker specializing in addiction treatment; and Jill Manning, who has a doctorate in marriage and family therapy and specializes in treating individuals affected by infidelity or compulsive sexual behavior. Elder Renlund presented them with hypothetical scenarios in his talk, asking for their professional opinions on a variety of pornography-related challenges.

“My church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I condemn pornography in any form,” Elder Renlund said. “It harms individuals, families and societies. It draws us away from God and damages our ability to feel the influence of the Holy Spirit. Because all forms of pornographic material are unhealthy, opposition to its production, distribution and use is justified.”

Elder Dale G. Renlund turns to speak with Jill Manning and Dan Gray in a panel discussion for the Utah Coalition Against Pornography conference at the Salt Palace Convention Center.
Elder Dale G. Renlund, left, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, delivers a keynote address with panelists Jill Manning and Dan Gray during the Utah Coalition Against Pornography Conference at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 4, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News

Professional perspectives

Elder Renlund presented four hypothetical scenarios to Gray and Manning:

  1. 16-year-old Bob often watches pornography and is extremely ashamed of himself. He finally tells his parents. How should they respond?
  2. Joan’s boyfriend, Eric, told her about his occasional pornography use, which is usually caused by stress. He has worked with church leaders and is in an addiction recovery program. Should Joan end the relationship?
  3. Karen has been open with her husband and church leaders about her long history of viewing pornography. She has improved considerably, but after a recent relapse she feels so broken that she believes no one can love her, not even God. What is the best way to advise her?
  4. Natalie’s husband Joe had a major problem with pornography. While working with a therapist, he became happier and more in control. But Natalie still feels hurt. What’s the best way to counsel both her and Joe?

In the first scenario, Gray said it is important that Bob’s parents not react with shock, anger or dismay, which will only increase his shame and make it less likely that Bob will confide in them in the future.

In the second scenario, Manning said Joan needed to know that healing and recovery are possible, and that Eric’s struggle doesn’t necessarily have to be a relationship breaker. But she should also ask Eric lots of questions about his pornography habit, observe how seriously he takes his recovery efforts, and be “rigorously honest” with herself about whether she can walk next to someone in recovery.

“Not everyone can do that, and I want to say that’s okay,” Manning said.

In the third scenario, Gray said Karen needs to change her mindset from “toxic shame” — the feeling that her actions make her a bad person — to a sense of “godly remorse,” which recognizes that her actions were wrong and that she can do that. learn from her mistakes.

And in the fourth scenario, Manning said it’s important for Joe to acknowledge the damage he’s caused. Natalie’s pain will begin to heal as you witness her pain, Manning said.

Elder Dale G. Renlund speaks to a woman in the audience after the Utah Coalition Against Pornography conference at the Salt Palace Convention Center.
Elder Dale G. Renlund, right, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaks with Jeanne Jardine after his keynote address at the Utah Coalition Against Pornography Conference at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday May 4, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News

The healing power of Jesus Christ

In addition to highlighting the knowledge of professionals, Elder Renlund also testified of the healing power of Jesus Christ.

“He offers hope to the seemingly hopeless and help to those who feel lost,” Elder Renlund said. “As I’ve come to know Him, I’ve learned that He loves to heal wounds you can’t heal, fix things that are broken beyond repair, and make up for all the unfairness you’ve experienced.

“And He absolutely loves to mend even broken hearts permanently.”