There comes a time when we, as men, have a responsibility to call each other out when we get out of hand.  It’s an act of fraternal kindness, a desire for what is truly good for each other, and an act of authentic Christian charity.  This applies even if this is an uncomfortable thing to do or if it deals with an uncomfortable topic – perhaps even more so.  This article hopes to provide this call to men who read it and are struggling with pornography in their lives.  It’s time to can the porn – and begin to live a fuller life.

There’s been a recent, cultural trend attacking the porn industry, citing scores of sociological and psychological studies, and claiming that pornography is destroying our marriages, our ability to be good parents, our relationships, our families, our capacity for intimacy, our ability to understand others, the minds of our children, our capacity for empathy, our view of sex, our respect for women, and more – essentially, they claim that porn is eroding the foundations of society from within.  Again, this is a cultural/societal movement, not a religious one (though, of course, faith-based motives and cooperation are not ruled out).  You can find some examples of these organizations and studies hereherehereherehere, and even buy the t-shirt here.

All of this shouldn’t come as a shock.  The U.S. government, for example, has had its eye on these types of negative effects of pornography for decades.  It’s nothing new to hear reports like this.  What is new, however, is that popular opinion on this issue is shifting dramatically from a perspective that considers porn “harmless” and “victimless” to one that views it as destructive to persons, marriages, families, and society.

The cause of this shift is beyond this article.  It does, however, give us an excellent opportunity to make a point about what the Church has consistently taught:

[Pornography] offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials. (CCC 2354)

Sounds awfully similar to what the culture has needed a lot of research to learn, doesn’t it?  The point we are making is not to say, “We told you so,” though.  A sense of arrogant triumph doesn’t get us anywhere in this conversation.

What is most important to understand here is both more subtle and more helpful: the Church does not teach that pornography is evil because it has destructive consequences.  Instead, it teaches that pornography has destructive consequences because it is evil.

But what makes it so wrong, anyway?  “It perverts the conjugal act,” says the Catechism.  That is to say, it fails to respect the inner meaning of sex: that sex is a gift to human beings that allows spouses to include their bodies in the expression of the deepest human love.  To put it simply, sex is about love – real love: the total, committed, self-giving kind of love that cares more about the beloved than oneself.

What, then, does porn do to the gift of human sexuality?  It takes what is meant to be focused on another person and focuses it on oneself: its goal becomes only the pleasure that one can gain from his sexuality; it becomes self-centered.  So – before considering any bad side-effect that porn might have – it is this way that it twists and perverts the meaning of sex that makes it evil.

With this understanding, we can see why it would so destructive for society.  This perversion of sexuality changes the way that a person sees other people.  When this core aspect of who he is becomes twisted and self-centered, the world begins to be seen through a self-centered lens.  Other people become nothing more than objects that are meant to lead to his own pleasure or benefit (look at the research).  He loses the understanding of what love really is: being focused on another.  With time, it makes him incapable of entering into real relationships, romantic or otherwise (look at the research).  It encapsulates him a world of self-focus and leaves him alone (look at the research). He begins now to return to porn as a drug to ease that pain of isolation (look at the research).  And the vicious cycle continues.  In sum, life becomes self-centered and ugly.  And a society of people leading self-centered, ugly lives cannot be a healthy society (look at the research…and the world around you).

In the end, the societal effects of porn could have been predicted from the very beginning of its proliferation in our culture: because it is evil, it was destined to harm individuals, marriages, and families.

A number of conclusions could be made at this point.  We limit ourselves to the one that this article aimed to accomplish: men, porn is evil; because it is evil it will ruin your happiness and your life; and if it’s a problem for you, it’s time to do something about it.

Here are a few practical points to help you succeed on the path toward freedom:

  • Go to Confession.  Porn is an addictive habit.  It isn’t easy to break.  Frequent Confession offers the one thing that you can’t afford to overlook in this battle: God’s grace and divine help.
  • Talk to a spiritual mentor.  Have an experienced person who understands the spiritual life to give you direction and encouragement in this fight.  Often, Confession also provides this.
  • Pray.  Prayer will help you to know God, to know yourself, to gain a greater self-awareness, and to be able to resist sin and temptation.  Pray at a predetermined time every day.
  • Get rid of the near occasions of sin.  Learn the things that generally lead you into sin (stress, certain situations, habits, times of day, etc.).  Get rid of the things that make looking at pornography easy.
  • Find an accountability partner.  Have a friend or group of friends to keep you on the straight and narrow.  Porn is often a hidden evil.  Place it in the light and own your actions.
  • Check out these great sites.  Help is available online, too: try thisthisthis, or this.

So, men, take this as your encouragement and call to get porn out of your life.  You can do this!  Your soul, your marriage, your family, and your society will thank you.

  • MC

    Yout article misses more key points. Your wrong to say its not spiritual. It is even an exorcist from the church explains what it does to a soul. Science has backed up as well how it changes the brain similar to a drug attic. God is not there with such immodesty and impurity. Men do not understand not address well how it hurts wife's. How it complicates things in marraiges. This artucle would serve best if it showed more accountability and leaning towards sensitivity towards how it hurts woman. A man addicted to porn changes to an unrecognizable state of mind and narcissist nature.

    https://m.facebook.com/Reign-Intervention-1518164321831749/

  • Leila Drake

    Oh, look, one of my favourite pages (fightthenewdrug)...
    Yes, we have got to get the word out and save the people's hearts and minds! I'm really glad that I noticed the signs that my boyfriend was addicted to Porn. It really messes up your ideas of "love" and "how to do it right". How can a lover compete with a fantasy?

  • Pat_h

    "What is new, however, is that popular opinion on this issue is shifting dramatically"

    That is interesting, isn't it.

    It turns out, perhaps, that this might be another example where we Catholics win because we kept to our message, and our message begins to sink in as correct. So, like the debate over when life begins, the culture begins to go our way, after learning the lesson we put out there for free the hard way.

    Perhaps, given that, the situation regarding recent events such as the whole same gender marriage issue aren't nearly as hopeless as they might at first seem.