Monday, January 25, 2010

The Problem of Pornography

"You know, surely that your bodies are members making up the body of Christ – Your body, you know, is the temple of the Holy Spirit." St. Paul takes it for granted that we know the high dignity to which we are called as Christians. And with that dignity comes the responsibility of living according to our state as sons and daughters of God. Our lives and our actions should always unfold keeping that dignity in mind and we are urged to avoid anything that would be a betrayal of who we are called to be, who we claim to be – Christians. St. Paul tells us to use our bodies for the glory of God, but indeed our whole lives as followers of Our Lord Jesus should be lived for the glory of God. Anything that compromises that dignity is not of God and has no place in our lives.

In another of his letters – to the Ephesians - St. Paul has this to say: "Among you there must not be even a hint of fornication, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are unbecoming of God’s holy people. Entirely out of place is obscene, foolish or vulgar talk." This is the inspired Word of the Lord.

The Greek word St. Paul uses for fornication is “Pornea”, meaning illicit and immoral non-marital relations. And though it covers quite a number of things – it is no coincidence that it is the root word for what we call pornography. St. Paul issues a stark warning. It’s a warning that is perhaps more relevant in the world we live in today than at any time in the past. “Keep away from fornication.” He is calling us to see the real damage that it causes to us and to our relationship with the Lord.

Many today won’t agree that pornography is that harmful. If they did think that it was harmful, that it is seriously sinful, seriously compromising their lives as Christians, then our world would not be so awash with it and it wouldn’t be one of the most profitable industries in the Western World.

But pornography is more harmful to a person than many might think. Someone who uses this kind of stuff, quickly loses the ability to look beyond the flesh, to the person. The images viewed present no personality – the person’s story – his or her life, what brought that person to such a low ebb as to show that which is so intimate, holy even, in such a public and unholy way – none of these things are important to the pornography user – who quickly teaches himself or herself that what is important is the exterior; the personhood and the dignity of the other is lost. That person is being used for the users’ own gratification.

The fact is that Pornography warps the great gift of human sexuality. It is a poison coming from the very depths of hell with the sole purpose of corrupting one the highest gifts God has given to us as human beings: The ability to give oneself completely to another, the ability to bring new life into the world. All that is swept away by this poison, and how many marriages and families are torn apart because of this poison we will perhaps never know. But a poison it is and it can get right to the heart of a marriage and kill it. And there are many who at first thought it harmless but who are now addicted to this poison and struggle to get free, it can become like a drug. But it is so prevalent, so available and, unfortunately, so widely accepted as normal that it is difficult to escape it. The first step is repentance, an honest confession and the Lord will surely help the person to overcome it. The second step is to close ones heart and ones mind to this kind of stuff, to get rid of it once and for all from ones life. That’s perhaps the hardest step.

How sad it is that the human body and human sexuality has become such a degraded and undervalued commodity in our world, something to be bought and sold. How sad that many, young men in particular, think pornography to be harmless fun, when it is really the worst possible preparation for marriage; and pity the poor woman who falls into the hands of someone like that – someone who will only have eyes for the externals, and not really care much for her soul. Is she supposed to live up to his warped expectations of a woman? His relationship with her is in real danger of being driven by lust and selfishness, instead of love and self-lessness, because that is what he has learned from pornography.

The real problem with pornography is not that it shows us too much – it shows far too little, focusing on the flesh and the pleasure it can give while obliterating the person in all his or her dignity.

Our world is awash with impurity as perhaps never before; and all around us human sexuality in all it goodness and greatness is debased and thrown like a priceless pearl before swine. Everything that was once taboo seems to be everyday stuff, to be flaunted and talked about openly and shamelessly. It seems we have gone from an extreme in the past where everything was deemed bad and dirty, to the other extreme where anything goes and virtues like purity and chastity, modesty and fidelity are seen as old fashioned and have become something to be scorned at.

St. Paul calls us to know our dignity, but also to recognise the dignity that others have. Your body, you know, is the temple of the Holy Spirit – do not defile that temple, reverence the temple you are and reverence that temple in others. By rejecting anything which compromises our dignity, by rejecting all forms of fornication, we will have a recipe for happier and healthier, men and women, happier and healthier relationships, happier and healthier homes and families; and so we will be building a happier and healthier society.
For anyone who struggles with an addiction to pornography I recommend a visit to a Catholic website which seeks to help people in that situation. The website is called
HERE you will find another article by New Oxford Review on the danger of pornography.
In the Hearts of Jesus and Mary,
Fr. B
UPDATE: HERE is another article that approaches the topic of Porn Addiction from a more scientific viewpoint.

No comments:

Post a Comment