Yesterday we discovered that, for the past month, some of our older children have been accessing online pornography via their "school" laptop computers. These were not just pictures of naked bodies found in Playboy that my father hid in his bedroom or that others passed around the school yard. (The stuff of my youth.) These were sights and sounds of hard-core, sometimes violent, sexual depravity and unrestrained debauchery, worse than any movie ever offered at any XXX theater. My children saw everything -- every "golden calf" "graven image" or "dumb idol" that fallen man has ever devised or imagined, every perversion of sexuality that humankind can conjure and perform. My children spent hours and days captivated by the images and seductions flowing from the internet sewers.
Many years ago we "sacrificed" cable and satellite television in our home so that our children would have a "safe haven", a chance to have a "proper" childhood. We wanted to protect their innocence. We put "blocks" (or so we thought) on the internet and on each of our computers. We even homeschooled!
But we discovered that, despite our efforts, our castle walls have, nonetheless, been breached. Our own children brought into our home, into their minds, into their lives, the very garbage and demons we were trying to keep out! Our children let it all in through the "front gate". They didn't just open the door. They invited it in!
We recently noticed among our older children a certain "fascination" with "nasty" words. They sometimes asked us how to spell this word or what does that mean. (We tried to avoid these conversations.) I told them there were no "bad" words, per se, only words used very inappropriately. (I didn't want to suggest to my children that any words possessed intrinsic powers, like special incantations or evil spells, able to overpower and captivate the victimized user thereof.) We avoid using "bad" words, but we don't obsess over them. The world is filled with filthy language. We cannot allow ourselves to be vexed and perturbed by it. We would hardly be able to go outside! I didn't want to give "nasty words" undeserved importance, like they were bullets or bombs themselves, from which everyone must run and hide.
I was wrong. Words mean something. Words are powerful. We reverence and protect the name of Deity, do we not? Have not the lame walked and the blind received their sight by the power of faith in His name? Words indeed can be powerful things! They can quicken and inspire and they can defile and destroy.
Ought we not to cast out and eschew even the thought of certain words, banishing them forever from our existence? Wouldn't the acts associated with those words themselves then cease to exist?
But what if we had no word for rape? Would rape cease to exist? Can anyone ban snow by simply refusing to give it a name?
The fact is evil exists. And if evil didn't exist, it would exist. And if it can, it will. Satan is quietly (and not so quietly) doing what has been done in other worlds: peddling the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil to those who will partake. His intent is to make those who will listen to him just like him. He aims to poison and destroy the souls of men. In his mind, if he cannot have some holy, wonderful thing, then no one can. That which he cannot claim and enjoy for himself, he ruins and deprives from others. If he cannot take something good away, then he perverts, subverts and corrupts it. That is his way. That is why he peddles pornography.
My wife asked me last night: "What do we do now that our children have opened the gates of hell?"
The answer is to be found in a word, even a name, the only name under heaven by which mankind can be saved.
When I confronted my children with the facts, they first denied them, feigning "innocence". (How ironic!) Then I reminded them that nothing they do "online" -- whatever is searched, viewed or communicated via the internet, telephone or tv -- is ever forgotten. Someone, somehow, somewhere (even in Utah!) is recording every website, every image, every word, every keystroke. There are no "hidden works of darkness" that shall not ultimately be revealed. Our phones and computers now have tiny cameras pointed at us to capture even our expressions as we "surf the web" of worldly wonders, both good and evil.
My children crumbled with awareness that their activities were surveiled and, thus, indelibly traceable. We did not make them rehearse the matter entirely. Once they acknowledged what they had done, we urged them to go to their rooms and closets and offer up their prayers to God for forgiveness. We demanded that they never bring such influences into our homes (and their lives) again. We adjured them to consider "What Would Jesus Do?" (WWJD) and to do that in all situations. There is no limit, I told them, to the evil one may imagine. No one can, or ought to, list all the ways one may sin, do evil, or harm. To try to do so only invites more evil as it "gives ideas" to the uninitiated.
One may always ask, however, "What would Jesus do?" and, by the voice of the Spirit, one may receive the answer. No one can do much evil or walk for long in error so long as one strives to comport one's life and actions to the pattern and example of the Savior, seeking to do Christ's will in all things. Nephi counseled us (I told my children) to first pray to God before undertaking any activity, asking God to consecrate our performance to the welfare of our souls (2 Nephi 32:8-9). That was Nephi's way of asking "What would Jesus do?" He counseled us to pray, "feasting upon the word of Christ" (2 Nephi 31:20; 32:3) and then to do whatsoever Christ tells us.
Faith in Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion in water (demonstrating obedience) and continuing in prayer thus invites the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, whereby one may be cleansed with light and love, pure knowledge and sanctification of the Spirit. This is the process by which one may be redeemed and brought back into the presence of God. Only He can save, restore and redeem us from the Fall.
Taking upon one's self His name -- the name of Jesus Christ -- is the only means by which one may prevail against the gates of hell.