What the world perceives as good is painfully piercing into the very heart of our society and culture. One of these false goods is none other than Pornography. In this installment of our guide series, let us acknowledge the fact that our secular and popular culture have embraced a twisted and upside down perspective of human sexuality, where thanks to the anonymity provided by the internet, the acceptance of pornography and our exposure to it is likely more common than the practice of eating breakfast. Indeed, such a dependence has been created in our culture for pornography that both reason and morality are forsaken in our world’s conclusion to address pornography as good.
Just like many other issues of moral confusion, it is essential to approach this issue with charity and understanding. Pornography is a big business that employs intelligent and purposeful strategies, just like any other big business, to get your attention and to acquire your patronship. Countless men and women in our world are, sadly, ignorant victims to the lure and bondage of pornography. In a world that says viewing pornography is a common or natural behavior, many people fall into its trap and have very little chance of escaping. Despite the widespread sexual confusion in our culture, we can’t go so far as to say the porn viewer is not culpable for his own actions, but we must understand that it is a process for the porn viewer to arrive at a point where his actions and choices are accepted as his own. Where there is a lack of power in the face of a porn attachment, there must be found a greater power to rise above its clutches. Through charity and understanding, we must not stand on the sidelines in pity and despair, but rather, we must lovingly direct and inspire others, and perhaps ourselves, to rise above pornography to a vision of sexuality that is healthy, complete, free, and joyful. Let us pray that our hearts, minds, bodies, and sexuality may be strengthened with resolve to combat the lure of pornography with the better truth of God’s plan for human sexuality and that we may stand in courage to proclaim this message!
Very recently, a few states have declared pornography as a “public health crisis,” and while I think there are great reasons for that claim to be made, many more people scoff in skepticism that a little pornography should be labelled a “crisis.” I have two points in saying this: One, that the time is right for this debate to occur and be in the public dialogue. Two, there are many, many people who are so quick to passionately defend or rationalize pornography use as harmless, normal, or even healthy. Unfortunately for the pornography proponent, the myth that pornography is anything other than unconstructive, unbeneficial, and unhealthy to society is, with a little rationality, on the verge of a colossal debunking, thanks to ongoing research in psychology and neurology. (The fact that studies cannot even find a control group of men today that have NOT been exposed to pornography attests to the absolute universality of the problem!) For more on this, check out our youtube playlist.
To be clear, pornography is not good. It is utterly evil. In fact, what good has truly ever come from pornography? At this point, I’m not going to provide an exhaustive argument against pornography, but I am going to make some statements and claims that, when considered in more depth, begin to debunk the myth that pornography is harmless.
Pornography is not just wrong because of weightless religious arguments, but because of well-grounded logical, scientific, and social reasons, as well as moral ones.
Pornography is not appropriate for anybody, regardless of age. It is strange that pornography is made with adults, by adults, and for adults, and all is well. But as soon as anyone involved is not legally an adult, pornography is suddenly inappropriate or even illegal. The paradox is that pornography makes adults more childish. And sadly, it exposes children to the darkest sides of the adult world. I really wonder: If pornography is bad for kids, what exactly is it that makes it good for adults?
Pornography does nothing to liberate and empower women. At the end of the day, pornography just perpetuates the view that women are sexual objects to give men pleasure. It does nothing to ennoble masculinity either, as it is an industry that presupposes the powerlessness of men to their sexual appetites. While it’s true, pornography makes less manly men, is there any wonder why there is a man crisis in the world today, where men don’t know how to be men?
The pornography industry is not safe, preys on the vulnerable, disregards the dignity of the human person, and is plagued with mental illness, woundedness, and depression. No one would argue in favor of slavery. We’re beyond that as a culture and we’ve admitted that wrong. BUT, we as the consumer, by creating a demand for pornography, ultimately contribute to the trafficking and slavery of men, women, and children in an industry that makes big money.
Pornography is addictive. Because it is virtually unrestricted, accessible, widespread, and easy to find, the scope of pornography’s reach is unfathomable. It may even be that nearly all young people today are viewing, or have viewed pornography. And many can’t stop or control themselves. Pornography addiction is as real as addictions to other substances, such as drugs or alcohol, and has much the same effects. Considering its widespread usage, I’d say it most certainly is a health crisis that we’d better universally identify soon.
Pornography is showing itself to have the physiological effect of reducing gray matter in the brain, which affects areas of the brain involved with planning, prioritizing, controlling impulses, the reward center, self-control, empathy, and compassion. Pornography is changing the way we focus, act, live, and think, and not for the better to be sure.
Pornography plays a part in the perpetuation of sexual violence, rape, prostitution, sex slavery, and child pornography.
Pornography destroys relationships, destroys marriages and families, wounds spouses, and causes mistrust. Actually, it destroys committed exclusive relationships before they even have a chance to begin, because a porn addict is conditioning himself to be always moving on to the next woman, looking for a novel experience.
Pornography is linked to erectile dysfunction and other problems with arousal. With pornography so common, should it be any surprise that erectile dysfunction is a skyrocketing problem faced by droves of otherwise young and healthy men. Sadly, it seems a real woman is no match for a pornography binge.
Pornography is twisting the understanding of sex within the minds of our upcoming generations, much of which objectifies women as merely sexual beings, who only have power or worth because of the appeal of their body, but which also sets up men to act with aggression and violence towards women.
I could keep going, and I could even go more in depth into each of these points so that each might be its own post. Luckily I don’t have to, because much of what I’ve stated against the myth of pornography is already assembled in a great new book, which I’d highly recommend. From Ignatius Press, Matt Fradd’s The Porn Myth is a non-religious, fact based and incredibly researched and referenced book that exposes the reality behind pornography from every angle you could possibly approach it with. Read it once or twice, then pass it on to your pal, or get it for your men’s groups, or get a few copies to circulate in your parish. I’ll definitely be lending my copy out!
Being Catholic doesn’t preserve us from the reaches of pornography. Every day, many Catholic men enter that battle. Many of us will fight that battle, many of us have fought that battle, and many of us will win it. For a Catholic man, the hope of becoming a Catholic Gentleman is what drives us to be better men, more Christ-like men. To counter the pull of porn is a game plan of its own, involving resolve, reconciliation, responsibility, and accountability (also laid out in The Porn Myth). Unfortunately, I don’t think Catholic men stand out in the fight against pornography in a world that thinks porn is good. We’re rather hush hush about the matter. But, as men, it is our duty to preserve ourselves, our spouse, our family and children, our communities, our world, and each other from the devastation wrought by pornography, and to make the world see it for what it truly is: Evil. As Catholic Gentlemen, it is our duty more than ever before to be vigilant, to cling tight to what is true, good, and beautiful, and to call evil by its name while we face it head on.
~ The Catholic Gentleman's Guide