In a somber sign of the times, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has opened a major new web site to help its members deal with the effects of pornography.

Located at CombatingPornography.org, the site features research and advice from mental heath experts, interweaving videos of Mormon prophets and apostles, who provide counsel and guidance from a spiritual perspective.

The site’s home page presents a clean, uncluttered design with many key features accessible directly from the home page.  First-time visitors can easily navigate for advice about specific concerns through five main tabs: Individuals, Spouses, Parents, Youth and Leaders.

Each of those main categories includes four subcategories – Prevent, Recognize, Overcome and Support – containing specially tailored content for individuals, spouses, etc.

Dr. Michael D. Gardner, a therapist at LDS Family Services – the social counseling arm of the Mormon Church – and one of the site’s lead creators, indicated that a Church-sponsored anti-pornography resource has been in the planning stages for several years.

Every 39 minutes, a new pornographic video hits the Internet, and in the time it takes you to read this sentence, American pornographers will make another $23,000 for selling such material, according to a 2006 Internet Filter Review.

Once considered a harmless if unvirtuous pastime, pornography is increasingly seen as a social problem with far-reaching effects upon personal relationships, mental and emotional health, and social stability.

Experts like Dr. Donald L. Hilton, a Texas neurosurgeon and author of the book “He Restoreth My Soul,” explain how viewing pornography overuses pleasure centers in the thalamus and brain stem, which physically alters the brain.

Geoff Steurer, a licensed marriage and family counselor who lectures about sexual addictions, outlines ways for individuals to know if they’re addicted. He recently told a packed room at the Utah Coalition Against Pornography Conference that a man’s craving for a pornography isn’t necessarily triggered by sexual stimuli, or a need for it. Instead deeper longings of attachment often activate such behavior.

He also says many husbands are silently calling out for such attachment — just not verbally.

“(Husbands) will come home early, share in duties around the house, offer to watch the kids and start talking about how they feel,” Steurer said. “Sometimes those aren’t obvious to the partner, but they’re all signs he’s looking for that attachment.”

Resources available to site visitors include relevant definitions, frequently-asked questions about pornography, high-quality downloadable publications, and links to the Church’s Addition Recovery Program.  Written content is augmented with video clips and hyperlinks to the LDS scriptures and other online resources.

Visitors can quickly get sound answers to questions like, Why should I avoid pornography?  Is pornography really addictive?  How can I tell if I have a pornography problem?   Can pornography addition be cured?  Will I need professional help? and Who can I turn to for help?

The site also contains material for parents, youth leaders, Church leaders, and others seeking to assist persons who have been harmed by pornography.

While the new web site is specifically intended and designed for a Latter-day Saint audience, much of the content is not religion-specific and may be useful to people of varying beliefs.