Why is there such a high relapse 
for individuals dealing with sexual sins? (particularly with porn addicts)

It’s quite common in my experience to see porn users (and individuals with other sexual problems) to relapse AFTER they have reached some level  of  “sobriety”. That level of “sobriety” is typically – they’ve stopped the sin / looking at porn. 


As a Mormon shrink I’ve learned about two reasons:

1) The individual is not following 
the plain and simple path.
See Overcoming Porn -a Plain and Simple Path
  2) The individual does not know how to repent.

I will illustrate how an individual using porn –  has “stopped viewing porn” but clearly has “not” repented.


First: Admit

… repentance can never come until one has bared his soul and admitted his actions without excuses or rationalizations. He must admit to himself that he has sinned, without the slightest minimization of the offense or rationalizing of its seriousness, or without soft-pedaling its gravity. He must admit that his sin is as big as it really is and not call a pound an ounce. Those persons who choose to meet the issue and transform their lives may find repentance the harder road at first, but they will find it the infinitely more desirable path as they taste of its fruits. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation.” (2 Cor. 7:10.) Once we understand how we have injured ourselves and others and are deeply sorry, we are ready to follow the process that will rid us of the effects of the sin. (Spencer W. Kimball The Gospel of Repentance)

Example of NOT admitting:
After this couple had been married in the Temple 15 years and three kids ago the husband’s porn problem was discovered. His wife came home from visiting her family after a few days. She was impressed to review the browser history on the family laptop. She found porn.
She confronted him.
He admitted. (Or did he?)

As I talked to the husband he said things like “I only did it on down time at work … I hardly did it on the weekends or at home … It wasn’t hurting anybody … ”  The only “sorrow” I sensed as he talked was the “sorrow” of being caught by his wife. 🙁

While using excuses and rationalizations he said he had viewed porn 
AFTER he was discovered by his wife.
However, he has stopped viewing porn.

Second: Abandon

The next step in the process of repentance is to abandon the sin. The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.” (D&C 58:43.) And to the adulteress, the Master said, “Go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11.) Prayer is important throughout the entire process of repentance, but it is vital now. In the process of abandoning a sin, it is often necessary to abandon persons, places, things, and situations that are associated with the transgression. This is fundamental. Substitution of a good environment for a bad can hedge the way between the repenting person and his past sin. (Spencer W. Kimball The Gospel of Repentance)

Example of NOT abandoning:

I listened as the husband shared more of his few weeks of recovery. I learned that he continues: to carry his smart phone with internet access where he historically has viewed porn; to spend time alone at work alone with a particular peer employee who historically shared porn with him; to listen to off colored jokes and have occasional “lustful” thoughts as a result etc etc.
He said he had made no changes his environment.
However, he has stopped viewing porn.

Third: Confess

The next step, confession of the sin, is a very important aspect of repentance. We must confess and admit our sins to ourselves and then seriously begin the process of repentance. We must also confess our sins to our Heavenly Father. Especially grave errors such as sexual sins must be confessed to the bishop as well. One begins the process by going to the Lord in “mighty prayer” as did Enos. Then, if appropriate, one goes to the bishop. The Lord has a consistent, orderly plan to bless us in this great law of growth and development, the law of repentance. … In these matters, the bishop is our best earthly friend. He is one who works with the Spirit of the Lord in blessing our lives …  (Spencer W. Kimball The Gospel of Repentance)

Example of NOT confessing:
The husband talked about his recent meeting with the bishop. His wife having been devastated called and made the appointment for them to visit the bishop. On several occasions over the years this husband had the impression to tell his bishop about his porn problem-particularly during the temple recommend interview. But never did.  He simply lied.
He acknowledged to the bishop he viewed porn because his 
wife made him go with her. During the interview he mostly sat and listened.
However, he has stopped viewing porn.


After these steps of sorrowing for sin, abandoning sin, and confessing sin, comes the great principle of restitution. One seeks to restore insofar as possible that which was damaged. If he has stolen, he returns that which was stolen. If he has injured through lies or evil-speaking, he does all that is possible to establish the truth. Perhaps one of the reasons murder is so serious is that having taken a life, the murderer cannot restore it. Restitution in full is not possible. Similarly, it is not possible to give back robbed virtue. But as fully as he can, the truly repentant person will make restitution. The prophet Ezekiel taught, “If the wicked … give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live.” (Ezek. 33:15.) (Spencer W. Kimball The Gospel of Repentance)

Example of NOT doing restitution:

This husband stated several times about his viewing porn by saying “I never let it effect my marriage and family … It didn’t hurt anyone… and I’ve stopped.” He seemed to believ no restitution is needed. He sat and stared on as his wife as she cried uncontrollably with a broken heart. I’m quite sure he had not even said “I’m sorry” to his wife. (It is my believe that ANY SEXUAL SIN always damages another’s virtue- requiring serious –if not impossible- restitution.)
He showed no clue that he recognized the pain his porn use 
has caused to his wife and their eternal family.
However, he has stopped viewing porn.

The Lord’s promise is sure: “If thou wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God.” (D&C 6:13.) When one seeks to bring his life into full conformity with our Heavenly Father’s teachings, then his life of good works is evidence of his repentance. The Savior truly said: “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? … “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. … “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matt. 7:16, 18, 20.) When necessary, we seek a total transformation in thoughts, ideals, standards, and actions in order that we may fulfill the assignment given us by the Savior: “I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” (3 Ne. 12:48.) This step requires no holding back. If one neglects his tithing, misses his meetings, breaks the Sabbath, or fails in his prayers and other responsibilities, he is not completely repentant. The Lord knows, as do we, the degree of full and sufficient compliance we make with these fundamental aspects of the law of repentance, which is really God’s law of progress and fulfillment. This transformation should cause us to be more concerned about others, even to wanting others to have the blessings we enjoy. In fact, the Lord has lovingly told us that our sins are forgiven more readily as we bring souls unto him and remain diligent in bearing testimony to the world. (See D&C 31:5; D&C 84:61; James 5:20.) (Spencer W. Kimball The Gospel of Repentance)

Example of a life NOT being in conformity with God:

As I continued to visit with this husband. He talked as if in only a few weeks he had his porn addiction well under control. He explained  “I’ve stopped… I read my scriptures and say my prayers now.”  

He showed no other change.
Just a few prayers and reading of scriptures.
However, he has stopped viewing porn.

In summary, ponder “repentance” in relationship to one of your personal sins.

Repentance is one of the first principles of the gospel and is essential to our temporal and eternal happiness. It is much more than just acknowledging wrongdoings. It is a change of mind and heart that gives us a fresh view about God, about ourselves, and about the world. It includes turning away from sin and turning to God for forgiveness. It is motivated by love for God and the sincere desire to obey His commandments.(Repentance, LDS.Org Index)

Have you repented?

dr rick
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