The Holy Ghost Can Handle It

I recently viewed the new video aimed at children and youth regarding what to do if they encounter pornography. By and large, I was very impressed, especially with how it normalized the feelings of attraction and curiosity around pornography and sexual content in media. The reminder that God still loves them and they can talk to their parents about what they saw is a major step in the right direction in removing shame from this topic in our LDS culture.

There was one point in the video where a young child explained that “these videos give you a bad feeling because they offend the Holy Ghost.” I grew up with similar suggestions–the Holy Ghost goes to bed at midnight, the Holy Ghost leaves when we are in bad places, the Holy Ghost will leave if there is a bad scene in a movie, etc.

At some point you wonder what kind of constant friend, comforter and helper withdraws every time things get difficult.

If there is one thing I could tell that little boy it would be:

No, it doesn’t offend the Holy Ghost.
No, the Holy Ghost isn’t going to leave you because you saw pornography.
No, the Holy Ghost isn’t going to make you feel bad for what happened, whether it was intentional or accidental.
In fact,

The Holy Ghost can handle it.
The Holy Ghost will help you know what to do next.
The Holy Ghost will help you to know of your worth.
The Holy Ghost will help you to feel peace.
The Holy Ghost left the house wearing its big kid panties this morning.


Mother, writer, dreamer, hopeless romantic, opera singer, reader, researcher, lover of Jesus, Mormon and a feminist. I spend my days taming toddler tantrums and kissing boo boos. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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11 Responses

  1. Maggie says:

    So, when I think of who the Holy Spirit is, I think of Her as my Heavenly Mother (teacher, comforter, guide – sound familiar?).

    To that point, I don’t think saying the Holy Spirit is ‘offended’ by pornography is off base. I’m offended by pornography. I think it’s gross (on a lot of levels – not least because of the exploitation of women). But, as you say, that doesn’t mean I can’t handle it. It doesn’t mean I don’t love my children / husband if they’ve seen it. It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t tell them of their worth, or judge them for having seen, or even sought out, stuff that I don’t like, because I can totally understand the temptation. I think (hope!) there’s a big difference for all of us between being offended and abandoning those we love.

    I really liked that video, and I didn’t come away from it feeling that there was any implication of blame or abandonment by parents, earthly or heavenly.

    • Amy says:

      I find as Mormons we have a lot of baggage around the word “offended.” When we’re talking about people who have a hard time with the church, we say that “they left because they were offended” like it was a bad thing, but when it comes to the Holy Ghost, we talk about the Holy Ghost “being offended” and leaving us. As I stated in the initial paragraph of the post, I too thought the video was overall very, very good. I was quite impressed. But I don’t like us painting the Holy Ghost as this character that leaves when things are hard or offensive. If we are out late or in a location that may be seen as less desirable, wouldn’t that be the time that we need the Holy Ghost the most?

      One thing that I’ve really taken to heart as a mother is that I want to project to my children that “I can handle whatever you throw at me.” It doesn’t mean that I always know what to do, but they need to believe that I can handle it or they won’t come to me with the hard things. I also think of the Holy Ghost as our Heavenly Mother and I see her as a strong, wise Goddess who can handle whatever is thrown at her.

    • Pete says:

      Margaret Barker believes that the Holy Ghost is our Mother in Heaven.

      Q5. Do you believe the Holy Ghost is our Mother in Heaven?
      A5. The answer is yes.
      Q6. Is there any relationship between the Heavenly Mother and the Holy Spirit?
      A6. Yes, another name for the same Lady.
      Q7. Should the traditional concept of the Godhead (i.e., Father, Son, Holy Ghost) include her?
      A7. Well, it does.

  2. Hilary says:

    My biggest issue is telling kids they’ll feel awful, icky, shameful, and gross if they see porn. Actually, while that may be true for some kids, they may actually feel curious, excited, interested, and/or intrigued. That’s normal too — porn is designed to tap into our natural curiosities and the our their body works. Telling kids they will only feel freaked out and icky, will leave them feeling more shameful when their own bodies react so differently than that. We need to normalize sexual feelings and teach them we’re designed to feel that way — ’cause God designed us that awesomely.

  3. Spunky says:

    I dunno. I don’t think it’s a matter of being offended or “handling” it. I was in a situation that is too personal to discuss at length. However, in general terms, I was in a place with the intention of doing something that was righteously justified. But the place was not a good place. Suffice to say, I audibly heard a voice say, “I cannot abide with you here” – and the spirit left. So did I.

    Most times, the Holy Ghost is with you in any variety of situations, and any level of righteousness or otherwise. But I have a personal witness that there are places and situations where the Holy Ghost cannot abide, even when you have good intent.

  4. anita says:

    My kids’ biggest question watching that message was “what’s a spleen?” They were so distracted by that question that we had to focus on the spleen thing for a while, which turned into appendix research as well. Wondering if they showed this to any focus groups with similar reactions, or if my kids were unique that way. Afraid the real message was a little lost.

  5. Liz says:

    I’ve always thought that the Holy Ghost depends much more on us and our own attitudes/thoughts/feelings than it does about outside influences. I have felt the Holy Ghost in the strangest of circumstances, usually because I’m reaching to God in desperate circumstances (like dragging an intoxicated friend out of a party, for example). I am always flabbergasted when people suggest that loud kids at church “drive away the spirit,” too, as though the Spirit can’t handle crying or exuberant children. I think, like you say, that the Holy Ghost helps us through those difficult times, and that our attitudes towards our setting/circumstances have more to do with it than the circumstances themselves.

  6. EmilyCC says:

    That was the one part of the video I corrected with my kids. The Holy Ghost always has on her big kid underwear 😉

    Thank you for explaining more why that part made me uncomfortable…I couldn’t quite articulate it, but you hit the nail on the head.

  1. October 12, 2015

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