Hear me out. :)

I was talking with a friend recently about addictions. Things like alcohol, caffeine, meth, and heroin (among many other substances) all seem to rob the addict of their free will to some extent. At some point in the conversation we started talking about mythology, and he mentioned how vampires could be viewed metaphorically as heroin addicts. (There is even a movie with the vampire/heroin metaphor, “The Addiction” staring Christopher Walken as a vampire who abstains from blood through fasting and meditation.)

edward_cullen1

Of course being LDS I couldn’t resist making the comparison to Twilight. I’ll spare you the plot synopsis but the “good” vampires in the story also abstain from human blood. This is incredibly difficult for some. The temptation is so great that they need a lot of social support as well as constant effort to stay on the straight and narrow. Even the sight of blood triggers their urge to the point that it is nearly uncontrollable. As they progress, they may be more in control but still feel the temptation, as Edward often does with his human girlfriend Bella. The father in the story is the most controlled of all, having abstained for decades.

Pornography seems to be the major addiction of choice in Mormon culture. Granted, there are other addictions that members face, but this one seems to stand out above everything else. Twilight is, like it or not, THE vampire mythos of choice for Mormons. Edward Cullen may as well be a metaphor for a porn addict because he wants more than anything to be with Bella, but he is constantly fighting off his urge to drink her blood, just like an addict may end up destroying, or at least ending, their family or marriage if ultimately they succumb.

This conversation led my friend to remark how unfortunate it is that someone who drinks a lot is not seen to have a problem until they’re a raging alcoholic. There is no middle ground in mainstream society for someone to “have a problem” with alcohol. They either enjoy drinking, and you wouldn’t dare say they had a problem, or they drink all the time and they have a disease.

I think that Mormon culture is on the opposite end of the spectrum, and it may serve to exacerbate the problems of addiction. A drop of alcohol, a quad shot of espresso, a glance at a porn site all spell a serious problem. Note that I am not justifying any of those actions. I DO think abstinence is the best rule to follow in those cases. However, it is often not the reality, and I think it would be more effective to view problems with addictions as being on a spectrum. The flaxen cord in the Book of Mormon illustrates this very well. One cord isn’t going to be that strong, but many will be binding. Each choice we make contributes to who we will become.