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Hello everyone, 

I have been extremely discouraged lately about my inability to get a temple recommend. Every time I get close, I shoot myself in the foot and ruin everything. I haven't held a temple recommend since I was 12, it's been 10 years. I work so hard to try to improve, but it feels like I'm spinning in a hamster wheel.

I am engaged to a wonderful Mormon girl. We are both active in the church, and have been dating for 21 months. If I had a temple recommend, we would already be married. 

Unfortunately, I've been working through a 11 year porn addiction, which started at age 12. Through all the ups and downs, I've never given up. I recently have been getting closer and closer to a temple recommend. I've been "clean" for 2 months, which has been difficult and miserable, my withdrawals feel like torture. 

So being 2 months clean felt great, then I goofed up again. My fiancé and I got handsy, and engaged in in appropriate touching. Between my being clean for 2 months, the resulting withdrawals and cravingsfrom this insane addiction, and two sex-starved young adults, we just had one night where we were both very weak. 

Its important to note: we did not have sex. We did not touch front genitals. We engaged in other inappropriate touching (petting). 

Im terrified. Completely terrified. How will our bishop react? Ive been "clean" from my addiction for 2 months, and bishop wanted me clean 6 months. Will this recent petting transgression between my fiancé and I put us back at square one? Or can I hold my head high and continue to say, "I've been clean for over 2 months" and we will simply keep plugging along and trying to better ourselves?

Just very worried this will delay our marriage plans even further. It's an awful feeling. Obviously we both regret what we did, and wouldn't do it again if we could go back and fix the mistake. 

Please, no judgemental comments. I've worked my butt off to fight off this addiction. Countless men inside the church struggle with it. 

We have been dating for 21 months. We broke down ONE night and engaged in petting. Don't judge. Most relationships in society have sex and sexual touching on the first date or within the first week of dating. We went 21 months without any of that, and still haven't had sex. We are active members of the church, and truly our trying our best to improve ourselves and stay strong together.

Both of us feel a lot of pressure right now. Everyone keeps asking us when the wedding date is. It's my fault we haven't set one yet. This entire situation has already been extremely painful for me, and now this feels like another brick on the shoulders. I want a temple recommend, and I desperately want to marry THIS girl in the temple. I love her so much, we are the best of friends. 

That was a lot of talking and explaining. Ultimately my biggest question boils down to: 

Can I repent and get a temple recommend within the 2016 calendar year, between now and December 31st? Gosh I hope like crazy this process doesn't take longer than that.

Since everyone is expecting us to set a wedding date soon, I would hate for us to get dragged through the mud and still not be married when 2017 comes around. 

Helpful comments and advice only, no judging. 

Thank you! 

GoldenOrange

Edited by goldenorange
Deleted some fluff sentences

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I commend you for trying to do the right thing. It's obvious that you are.

I would talk to your bishop. Tell him everything. Ask him your questions.

I have heard of people getting married civilly first, and then working toward the temple after. Maybe that is something to discuss with your bishop as well.

Also, you may want to change the way you spend time with your fiance. Perhaps only meet in public places, where you can still talk. Perhaps only be with her when others are present, such as at the house of your family.

Good luck and best wishes!

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GoldenOrange, I commend you for making every effort to repent - don't give up now.  Go to your bishop and tell him the truth.  It will require humility, but humility brings the power of God into your life (on your side).  Ask the bishop for his help - it's what he's there for.  The Lord is looking for your sincere humility and repentance, and in this case, that includes confession even of this.  I don't judge you, but I know from personal experiences that all the statements of mitigation / explanation don't help either - you did wrong.  The end.  Admit that freely and it will help.

IMO, instead of saying you'll get married after you've been able to control your addiction for 6 months, set several goals, including small ones, e.g.:

* We're getting married in December 2016

* I will not give into addition now or ever again (bag 6 months - this is a lifetime goal)

* Every time you pray, ask for help (don't miss a single prayer - at least 2 / day) - this may not seem like it's helping until a year (or more or less, as the Lord sees fit and you are able) later when you suddenly realize you no longer feel overwhelmed by temptation (and you're not sure when it happened, just that it did).  After that, keep praying.

* Spend at least 30 minutes / day in the scriptures and / or General Conference talks

* Find ways to seek for conversion rather than just testimony and rather than doing right just because you know it's right - do it to become converted to the Lord

* For our date tonight, we'll go to the park and share our favorite scriptures (or do some service together, or some other good thing) (Like Tesuji said, avoid being alone together - it only gets harder the closer you get to your goal and to each other.)

* Repentance includes restoration - what have you lost / ruined / taken through your sins?  How do you restore that? (hint: you can't, but Christ can - you need him (as we all do))

* Fill your life with virtue - in all forms of media and activities - music, pictures on the walls, what you read and watch, where you go, who you spend time with, etc. etc.

* Recognize the feelings, situations, even places which make you more susceptible to sin, and avoid them (e.g. maybe a hard day at work, or some frustration, weakens you - recognize that fact before it's too late and do something about it).

Your girlfriend should share in this effort (she too was involved in that petting, putting you at great risk and committing a sin herself).  Working together humbly can bring strength to your relationship.

Satan will try very hard to keep you from your goal - don't let him.

You have my prayers for your success.

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You posted that if you could get a recommend the two of you would be married already.

I realize there can a lot of pressure to get Sealed in the temple that makes a Civil ceremony seem like a "sinful" option.  But the scriptures are quite clear that "Marriage is Honorable in all" (Hebrews 13:4) this includes Civil ones and that it is "better to Marry then to burn" (1 Corinthians 7:9)... There is nothing wrong with a civil ceremony when a temple sealing is out of reach. (Which it is currently for you).

Please note that a Civil marriage is not a 'trick' or a way to get around repentance.  It is an action you can take to positively improve your situation and reduce the temptation to sin (Namely that of when you spend time bride-to-be, you will still have to deal with your porn issues).

Talk to you bishop, seriously discuss a civil marriage with him and your bride-to-be, and don't let social pressure from family. friends and ward members, sabotage your efforts to get right with God.

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4 minutes ago, estradling75 said:

I realize there can a lot of pressure to get Sealed in the temple that makes a Civil ceremony seem like a "sinful" option.  But the scriptures are quite clear that "Marriage is Honorable in all" (Hebrews 13:4) this includes Civil ones and that it is "better to Marry then to burn" (1 Corinthians 7:9)... There is nothing wrong with a civil ceremony when a temple sealing is out of reach. (Which it is currently for you).

Please note that a Civil marriage is not a 'trick' or a way to get around repentance.  It is an action you can take to positively improve your situation and reduce the temptation to sin (Namely that of when you spend time bride-to-be, you will still have to deal with your porn issues).

I was going to post a message very much like this.

I strongly commend it to you. Especially this:

5 minutes ago, estradling75 said:

Talk to you bishop

Lehi

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Not judging, just saying others' sexual ways have no bearing on ours.

 

Lay all out on the bishop. Everything. Let him know what you all have to work with.

I third the civil marriage option. A sealing is not a race not a contest. Just commit to getting there at some point.

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Quitting using porn is not the same thing as being in recovery of a porn addiction.  When you get to the recovery part, you won't be white knuckling it all the time.   If your gf is willing, in your shoes, I would get civilly married and work towards the sealing together.  If she is already in it for the long haul, then you might do better being in it together.   (Don't count on it helping your addiction though: research says that being married, with the perks, doesn't do that.)  I don't see this as giving up.  I see this as accepting yourself where you are at.

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12 hours ago, tesuji said:

I have heard of people getting married civilly first, and then working toward the temple after.

11 hours ago, estradling75 said:

There is nothing wrong with a civil ceremony when a temple sealing is out of reach. (Which it is currently for you).

48 minutes ago, Backroads said:

I third the civil marriage option. A sealing is not a race not a contest. Just commit to getting there at some point.

30 minutes ago, thoughts said:

I would get civilly married and work towards the sealing together.  If she is already in it for the long haul, then you might do better being in it together. 

I agree with the above as well, AS LONG AS your girlfriend knows you have a 11 year old porn addiction. If I missed it, I apologize, but she needs to fully understand who she is marrying, just like you should understand the same about her. 

11 hours ago, zil said:

Your girlfriend should share in this effort (she too was involved in that petting, putting you at great risk and committing a sin herself).  Working together humbly can bring strength to your relationship.

You are worried about your temple recommend - correct. She in turn should also consider the status of her's too. Civil marriage after my above comment^^

Edited by NeedleinA

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On 5/10/2016 at 2:38 AM, goldenorange said:

Unfortunately, I've been working through a 11 year porn addiction, which started at age 12. Through all the ups and downs, I've never given up. I recently have been getting closer and closer to a temple recommend. I've been "clean" for 2 months, which has been difficult and miserable, my withdrawals feel like torture. 

 

I'll address a couple of points starting with the porn issue. You haven't mentioned it so I will assume that you have not sought outside help with this issue. I am sure that you bishop is a thoughtful and caring man, but going 6 months cold turkey will not "cure" you. If you are serious about recovery you need to see a trained professional and discover the underlying reasons for this addiction. Only then will you truly be free of it. Does your GF know of your struggles? Now is the time for full disclosure, she needs to knwo what she is getting into.

 

On 5/10/2016 at 2:38 AM, goldenorange said:

Its important to note: we did not have sex. We did not touch front genitals. We engaged in other inappropriate touching (petting). 

Without asking for more details I'm not sure what the issue is here? Home repentance plan on this one. Your mileage may vary and if it does you should talk to your bishop.

On 5/10/2016 at 2:38 AM, goldenorange said:

 Im terrified. Completely terrified. How will our bishop react? Ive been "clean" from my addiction for 2 months, and bishop wanted me clean 6 months. Will this recent petting transgression between my fiancé and I put us back at square one? Or can I hold my head high and continue to say, "I've been clean for over 2 months" and we will simply keep plugging along and trying to better ourselves?

Who knows how the bishop will react, you know him we do not. 

 

On 5/10/2016 at 2:38 AM, goldenorange said:

 

Please, no judgemental comments. I've worked my butt off to fight off this addiction. Countless men inside the church struggle with it. 

Yes they do and congrats on taking this on and trying to overcome it. Since you have struggled from the age of 12 on my single suggestion would be to employ the help of a trained professional.

On 5/10/2016 at 2:38 AM, goldenorange said:

Both of us feel a lot of pressure right now. Everyone keeps asking us when the wedding date is. It's my fault we haven't set one yet. This entire situation has already been extremely painful for me, and now this feels like another brick on the shoulders. I want a temple recommend, and I desperately want to marry THIS girl in the temple. I love her so much, we are the best of friends. 

Social pressure in the church can be unbearable, I recommend marrying civilly as others here have. There may be objections from her family and yours but it is your life. Unless they are going to be paying your bills or helping in some material way tell them to pound sand and make the decision that is right for you and your future wife. My last bit of advice and I'm saying it for the third time get professional (yes you may have to pay) help for your porn addiction, cold turkey won't cut it you will relapse, you need to get to the root cause of it. Inform your girlfriend of your struggle FULL disclosure needs to be had or it is just a recipe for disaster.

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I sympathize with a lot of the rationales for marrying civilly first.  That said, I think you'll be starting your marriage off on a much stronger foundation if you and your girlfriend are able to know that you were able develop sufficient self-control to stay out of trouble for a fixed period of time prior to the marriage.  If, having brought in the assistance of outside experts, it appears a temple marriage is attainable; I think you should continue to aspire to it.

I would also humbly suggest, both as a porn addict myself and as someone who works with drug addicts almost daily--obviously I don't know you at all; but your OP does show a lot of indicators of "addictive thinking":  fixation on timelines, self-justification, hyper-sensitivity to outside criticism, and insistence on the implementation of one's own will; among other traits.  Frankly, no duration of abstinence will get us very far until we get a handle on our addictive thought processes--otherwise, we're just the porn equivalent of a "dry drunk".  

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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8 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

Frankly, no duration of abstinence will get us very far until we get a handle on our addictive thought processes--otherwise, we're just the porn equivalent of a "dry drunk".  

That may very well be true, I'm not a "trained professional", but it seems it would be better than being a "wet drunk".

Further, if addiction is a life-long thing ("Hi, I'm Dave, and I'm an alcoholic. I've been sober for thirty-seven years, six months, and fourteen days."), and there is no hope of total recovery, then the Church shouldn't, following this train of thought, recommend "recovering" alcoholics for the Temple.

At what point, then, would anyone be sufficiently "clear" to qualify?

Lehi

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Sure, it's better than being a "wet drunk" and I wouldn't go so far to state that it should bar an otherwise sober and penitent individual from temple access. 

On the other hand--it's a heckuva mind state from which to commit to marriage; which is--although I expressed it very poorly--the point I was trying to make.

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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10 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

Sure, it's better than being a "wet drunk" and I wouldn't go so far to state that it should bar an otherwise sober and penitent individual from temple access. 

On the other hand--it's a heckuva mind state from which to commit to marriage; which is--although I expressed it very poorly--the point I was trying to make.

If we all waited for the perfect spouse, there would be no children.

Full disclosure is important before marriage, but we all must make allowances for our partner's foibles and weaknesses. Then, we must decide to get on with the process, and know that there will be times when things aren't fairy tale perfect.

Lehi

Edited by LeSellers

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12 minutes ago, LeSellers said:

If we all waited for the perfect spouse, there would be no children.

Full disclosure is important before marriage, but we all must make allowances for our partner's foibles and weaknesses. Then, we must decide to get on with the process, and know that there will be times when things aren't fairy tale perfect.

Lehi

Sure, but I think addiction--not necessarily casual porn use, but addiction--that's not a typical imperfection.  It is--quite frankly--a mental illness with layers and layers of symptoms and ramifications and repercussions.  From the perspective of the addict--like I said, it's a hard mental state from which to make a decision with long-term consequences; and from the perspective of the partner--if they're willing to undertake that obligation, good for them; but I would get really concerned about any attempt to use LDS teachings on forgiveness, in order to guilt or shame young LDS singles--especially single women--to accept a partner who is in the throes of addiction.

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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2 hours ago, LeSellers said:

That may very well be true, I'm not a "trained professional", but it seems it would be better than being a "wet drunk".

Further, if addiction is a life-long thing ("Hi, I'm Dave, and I'm an alcoholic. I've been sober for thirty-seven years, six months, and fourteen days."), and there is no hope of total recovery, then the Church shouldn't, following this train of thought, recommend "recovering" alcoholics for the Temple.

At what point, then, would anyone be sufficiently "clear" to qualify?

Lehi

Better than a wet drunk yes, but the underlying issues have not been resolved. They are still present and will find another way to manifest themselves if they are not cleared up.  A recovering alcoholic knows why he is an alcoholic. He also knows that going cold turkey is not enough. His self awareness about his recovery allows him to be temple worthy.

The church in the opinion of Omega needs to be a little clearer about what qualifies as a porn addiction and what is merely a bad habit (yeah very touchy ground) most bishops treat it a bad habit that can be stopped and never repeated. If the OP is suffering from a true addiction and it sounds like he is, a few months of sobriety will not "cure" him.

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There is an upside and a downside for getting a civil marriage first.  It will allow the two of you to express your feelings for each other fully without any transgression,   It is also pretty common that the first couple years of a new marriage are hard as the couple adjust to each other, find out disappointing things about each other, have new conflicts that come up etc. There can be a mindset in the hard times of 'good thing we aren't sealed so I can leave this person easier'.  Everyone thinks that won't happen to them, but there is a bigger chance of divorce when you put being sealed off till later and that's the downside.

Talk with your Bishop first.  Usually there is a lot of compassion for things like this when it is a couple who are in a committed relationship heading toward marriage and if you can make it a temple marriage from the start then that is better.

Also, you have to understand that being married by itself isn't going to resolve your porn addiction, you will still have times of temptation and need to be able to deal with that.  She needs to understand that too, she can't 'fix' that for you no matter how great a sex life you have as husaband and wife.

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I am not proud of my behaviour in the following but I think the message is very relevant so here goes. I returned to the church after many years of absence. I started to pray and felt the tug of the Holy Ghost. I moved provinces and found a new job. Along the way, I met a man who took one look at me and decided I was the one. I started to attend church and simultaneously slipped up a few times, quite seriously.

 I started attending regularly, my friend got baptized, we began to obey the law of chasitity and we set a wedding date. The whole ward was quite excited. One of my visiting teachers was determined that we should get married. The other was worried. We had a great deal in common, same line of work, both rabid researchers on the same topic, we published together. However once we were morally clean, I realized we did not love one another. There was no glue to hold us together.

You need clarity to calmly evaluate whether or not you want to marry another person. If you are intimate, you can not rationally make a sensible choice. If you have relations before marriage, then marry, time passes, passion wanes and then you are stuck with someone that you never would have married if you had been in your right mind when you made the decision. Passion is irrational. Very useful after marriage. Very dangerous before marriage. Passion leads to poor decisions.

Bluntly, your girlfriend is not the person that you think she is. You are not the person that she thinks you are. You can not see clearly through the haze of passion. Neither of you are in your right minds. Quit fooling around and you may well find that you lose interest in each other. It would be preferable to stop fooling around and see if you actually like each other than to marry and then to find, once passion wanes that you have no interest in each other. 

The strength of youth pamphlet is a remarkable document. The steps work if you follow the steps. Don't be be alone together. If you can't follow the steps in the strength of youth then you are too immature to marry..and then have kids..and handle professional set backs, failing economies, illness, callings and all the other stuff that life brings.

i am sorry to sound unsympathetic but you could be walking into a big mistake.

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2 hours ago, Sunday21 said:

If you can't follow the steps in the strength of youth then you are too immature to marry..and then have kids..and handle professional set backs, failing economies, illness, callings and all the other stuff that life brings.

Thanks for sharing your personal story Sunday. Hearing yours and JAGs today has been great. I enjoyed your entire post and especially how you closed it out (quote above).

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1 minute ago, David13 said:

Sunday21 you have said it perfectly.  I wish I would have taken that attitude many years ago when I got married.

It would have saved both of us a lot of grief.

dc

Yeah well.I wish I had stayed active ...now I get why the Law of Chastity is so important. Blessed are those who do not have to learn from experience. Heavenly Father gives us commandments because He loves us.

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