If you knew something was bad for you, would you do it anyway? Lads, it’s about time we talked about something a bit awkward. You all knew it was coming at some point. This is a blog for young blokes on a Catholic website, after all. Yep, I’m talking about porn. Ugh, just let that feeling of awkwardness set in a bit…
It’s the stuff we never want to talk about. Why? Because admitting to it is shameful. Cosmo magazine can try and justify it however they like (seriously, they actually put out an article recently entitled 8 Reasons Watching Porn Doesn’t Make Him a Cheater – watch Matt Fradd rip it to shreds here), but I think there’s a part inside you and I that understands there is something very wrong with pornography. And yet, we live in a world where only a few clicks of the mouse and you’re watching people you don’t know perform (note: it’s not real life!) sexual acts while you obtain a brief moment of pleasure from it.
Virtually no one is immune from the scourge that is Internet porn in modern western society. The lethal combination of porn being anonymous, accessible and affordable has resulted in a crisis. Stats consistently reveal that porn consumption is higher among males, sometimes suggesting that as many as 90% of Aussie men use online porn. If you are free from this awful vice, praise the Lord!
Most Christian guys and girls, if they have been fortunate enough to receive solid formation, know something about the value and sacredness of sex. Even if you haven’t been schooled in Pope JPII’s awesome teaching on Theology of the Body, I’d like to think that you’d at least intuit that sex is not a recreational activity, as the rest of the world might tell you. In the context of a committed, faithful, permanent, exclusive, loving, heterosexual relationship (i.e. marriage) sex is a truly beautiful thing. It’s pretty much the peak of human intimacy and the sexual union of man and woman also reveals something of the divine; like a mirror of the Holy Trinity.
When that’s your benchmark for the meaning of sex, it’s easy to see how distorted and disgusting pornography is. The sexual acts exhibited in porn videos are often violent, obscene and degrading. They show people not loving, but using each other. It’s almost always the man using the woman like an object. And perhaps even worse is the ridiculous lie you’re sold that the woman is enjoying it or being empowered. If these are the images you consume, then you’d be pretty naïve to assume that it won’t have some kind of impact upon how your brain thinks about sex and sexuality, how you look at women, and even how you view your own body, especially if you’re not exposed to any other sexual experience outside of porn.
I know I’m not the first person to write a blog about porn. Actually, these days it seems that more and more people, and not just Christians, are starting to realise actually how damaging porn is to the development of the human brain. You might have heard of the Fight the New Drug campaign or the hashtag #pornkillslove. Even GQ magazine put out an article 10 Reasons Why You Should Quit Watching Porn.
You might be aware of all of the reasons why porn is bad for you and how it will ruin your capacity for authentic relationships (read another blog here). And still, you might end up watching it anyway.
We live in a culture that conditions us to seek and value instant gratification over what’s best for you in the long run. I can imagine it’s a bit like if you’re addicted to smoking. Advertising constantly reminds you that smoking is bad for your health, but when you’re craving a ciggie the immediate desire for the short-term benefit or gain of a smoke (stress relief or whatever) takes precedence over the desire not to get lung cancer. When it comes to pornography, the moment when you’re experiencing temptation is crucial. It can be a moment of unbearable interior tension. You have the choice to turn to God in prayer, or to say, ‘Screw it’ and fall into this fake fantasy world in search of that release… only to be followed by emptiness.
I guess I should acknowledge that there is something alluring or appealing about pornography. Why would we struggle with it so much if there wasn’t? But any pleasure that you derive from porn is fleeting and the negative consequences are enduring. It’s an equation that basically gives you the answer “It’s not worth it!” Sorry to be graphic here, but it’s not worth corrupting your mind for years for an orgasm that lasts a few seconds.
‘Future you’ will thank ‘past you’ if you make the decision to get porn out of your life. If this is something you struggle with, know that there is power in actually making a choice. Know that it is possible to break free from this addiction and there is help out there. If you do slip up, don’t let it discourage you, but run to Jesus, the fount of mercy. Through knowing his forgiveness you’ll learn to forgive yourself as well. Know that you can’t fight this battle in your own strength, but if you get on your knees and pray, “Lord, I need you,” He will give you the grace to choose purity, to choose authentic love, to choose to be a true man of God.