It’s evident that speaking and reflecting upon the reality and damage that pornography is causing in our homes and in our society today is not at all pleasurable. As with everything, there are times to talk and times to be silent.
Nevertheless, if we are to help others and ourselves, we must aim our efforts where they will do the most good. We must serve where we are needed. The battle against pornography is unmistakably an urgent one, ignoring it would be to abandon millions in their time of need. For this, we must use every means necessary, including the social networks likes Facebook, Twitter, and others, to call people to face the truth of this issue.
The first video called “We Need to Talk”, released by the Fight the New Drug campaign, is, in my opinion, excellent! I’m afraid that many times when speaking against pornography, people only attack it from a moral standpoint. This is necessary, but it leaves out an important part of the puzzle. If one is to fight against an enemy as potent as pornography, any naïve or simplistic approaches are sure to result in failure. The knowledge that it is wrong and the decision to resist may serve for a time. However, just as an emergency brake can burn out, so too can the person’s reservoir of willpower. Awareness of the neurological and psychological effects (the basic ones, no need to get into anything complicated), is crucial for the person to be able to plan an appropriate strategy.
The video speaks of how pornography changes our brain. Why is this important? Imagine telling someone that they must stop thinking of a certain subject. The person agrees and does pretty well. Then implant a small speaker right next to their ear that continues to bring the subject up. Obviously, the whole game has been changed. Is the fight over? Of course not. Still, if that person continues to try and resist, without knowing that a speaker is in their head, he or she will find themselves on a fast track to a lot of frustration and is much more likely to abandon the fight.
As with any drug or addiction, willpower must go hand in hand with other means, such as looking for an accountability partner, a support group, or professional help. In addition, the importance of prayer and participation in the sacraments of the Church cannot be overemphasized.
This next video touches on the same subject. Matt describes his “eye-opening” moment when he discovered the real effects of pornography and it’s drug-like symptoms. The part that I found most interesting is when he says, “The most difficult thing about it was, unlike drugs, I couldn’t just detox. I couldn’t just change my environment, or my friends, or anything like that. Triggers were now everywhere and a lot of these things were seared in my mind. And, I could tell the difference it made in my perception and thinking that were absolutely identical to the changes that I also had with drugs.”
The next video speaks of how pornography affects the family life. Maria gives an extremely compelling testimony of how it destroyed her marriage. A point I would like to highlight is the fact that her argument against pornography is one based purely on real-life experience. For those who have closed themselves to the teachings of the Church (especially with regards to this subject), perhaps labeling them outdated or oppressive, this could serve as a good wake-up call. After seeing it, I wonder how many marriages have gone through or are going through something like this now?
For another perspective, I would suggest using this video: “What Teens Think About Pornography.” A group of teens talk about their initial reactions when dealing with or confronting pornography. Then, they go on to tell about the dangers and the progression that can lead up to a full-blown addiction. The teen’s frank and direct way of talking about pornography could help some to overcome a sort of “taboo” kind of fear of discussing it, and learn to open up more about their own experiences.
Now it’s time to touch upon the consequences of pornography. The following video is perhaps the one that most powerfully illustrates its corruptive capacity. It takes but one chink, one small gap in the armor, for the arrow’s blade to run its course. If one doesn’t deal with the true problem, it will little by little, very quietly, wreck you.
Maybe we could consider pornography as Cupid’s evil twin brother. His target is nothing less than the person’s heart, and when struck, there arises a compelling force, a weakening and desperate desire for anything that might heal the wound. Yet, unless the arrow is extracted, any attempted short-term remedy simply increases the desperation and desire for something more: a little compensation here, a little compensation there, just to get through the difficult moments. But, it never ends there. It’s a one-way path towards a very unhappy ending.
Ted Bundy was raised in a wonderful home. He was a “normal person” and, like all people, he had a chink in his armor. Unfortunately, he allowed his wounds to fester in silence and secrecy. The results were horrifying. Moments before his execution in 1989, he confessed to having committed 30 homicides. Others have estimated the total number of murders and rapes to be as high as 100 or more. That same day, he gave an interview in which he spoke about his ¨normal¨ life, which was slowly, yet radically, distorted by “one small, but very potent and very destructive segment of it” which he kept “very secret, very close to [himself] and didn’t let anyone know about it:” pornography.
I hope and pray that these videos, although difficult and painful to watch, can help us all to understand the gravity of this issue. How is it that so many have succumbed to its temptations, to its lure of glamor, to its blinding and misleading suggestions?
This is a Latin phrase from St. Gregory the Great that translates as: “The corruption of the best is the worst of all.” The gift of our sexuality is one that is intimately fastened to our identity and our heart. The desire to love and be loved springs from the depths of our humanity. Because of this, those who abuse their sexuality suffer in a particular way that is not present in other types of abuse such as with alcohol or drugs. The damage is not always apparent at first, but its effects will present themselves without fail.
Picture in your mind a parasite that attaches itself to the foot, causing an infection. Then, compare it with one that attaches itself to an artery located near the heart. It remains unseen, but is causing life-threatening damage, even while the person still looks fine from the outside, at least for awhile. Pornography, although similar to other addictions in some ways, differs in the fact that it touches something more inward, more intimate, and more sacred, in the person.
I believe these videos can provide an invaluable service to many who suffer problems with this issue. I believe we should speak to them with mercy, hope and candor. We must invite them to eradicate, to uproot, with total determination and resolute perseverance, all that leads them away from Christ and His Church. They must do so, not through mere repression, but rather by filling their heart, mind, and life with goodness and true beauty. They must rediscover the experience of awe; marvel when gazing upon the beautiful; appreciate the sacredness and dignity of authentic beauty; and find again the path of mercy and conversion that the Lord offers to us each day. We must encourage them to draw near and trust in the sacraments, especially Confession and the Holy Eucharist, allowing them to be the foundations of their life, their love, and their happiness. Lastly, we must speak to them of the Lord’s invitation to be an apostle, to leave behind a life of self-indulgence and self-destruction, and to embark on an adventure of radical love and service.
“With all the strength of my soul I urge you young people to approach the Communion table as often as you can. Feed on this bread of angels whence you will draw all the energy you need to fight inner battles. Because true happiness, dear friends, does not consist in the pleasures of the world or in earthly things, but in peace of conscience, which we have only if we are pure in heart and mind.”
– Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
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