Saturday, January 18, 2014

Quick Takes: Pornography help

1) For quite a while now, I have been wanting to address the scourge of pornography, and how it destroys marriages, families, souls. Porn kills authentic love and has even caught good Catholic men in a fierce and seemingly hopeless addiction.

My friend, blogger/author Devin Rose, broke free from years of addiction to pornography, and I admire his courage in coming forward to help others who are struggling under the weight of this sin.

Devin says, in Overcoming Sexual Addiction:

Pornography is the worst kind of perversion because Satan takes God’s most beautiful creations and twists them. Satan cannot create anything -- he can only distort those good things which God has already made. 
Most men know that pornography and lust are evil. Even if they have convinced themselves that these evils are okay to do, deep in their hearts they know it is shameful and wrong. Nonetheless, the addiction to pornography can be incredibly strong and hard to break. I don’t pretend to have the magical recipe for breaking the addiction, but I have some ideas about it from my own struggle against pornography addiction.

Read the rest, here.

Devin speaks honestly to wives in another piece, The Compulsion of Lustful Vice:

I want to explain to women especially how powerful this compulsion to lust is in men, especially in those of us who were addicted to pornography for years, even from the early teens. I knew it was wrong; I wanted to stop doing it, but I couldn’t. Even once I became a Christian, the desire to look lustfully at women and be impure with myself was stronger than my nascent virtue. 
But that virtue, that starts as a little sapling, has God’s grace to give it resilience and spring in its stem. Every time lust smashed it down, it righted itself again and kept growing. Leaves were ripped off; it grew more to replace them. This was through God’s grace of repentance, confession, and forgiveness, through the Eucharist, and through those human helps that Christ offers to us: friendship, prudence about being alone with computer access, and so on. 
It can be devastating for a woman to discover that her husband looked lustfully at other women via pornography and was impure with himself. It feels like an awful betrayal, and while it is a betrayal, I would caution against excessive over-reaction to it. The power of the compulsion caused by the evil habits is incredibly strong; it is thus not that your husband is personally attacking you, but this vice which compels him to lust. The common enemy is not your husband, but the vice. And you, along with God, are his greatest ally in overcoming this sin.

All of it, here.

2) Catholic apologist and blogger Matt Fradd, who was first exposed to pornography at the tender age of eight, gives a simple but brilliant tip for...

Several years ago, while living in Ireland, I walked into a chapel, got on my knees before a statue of the Blessed Mother and spiritually adopted every woman I had ever seen and objectified in pornography….

How cool (and powerful) is that? Read more, here.

Watch Matt being interviewed on the subject of porn addiction by Catholic Answers host Patrick Coffin (my new best friend, but that is a story for another day):

Part I (including the science behind porn addiction):

Part II:

Part III:

Part IV:

For resources in breaking the addiction, Matt recommends the website Integrity Restored, which is chock full of information and help.

3) On to a different kind of porn, more acceptable in polite company, but which still entails the objectification and commodification of fellow human beings:

If we believe that human beings should not be for sale and should not be trafficked or manufactured like products, and if we believe that women deserve better than to be treated as mere baby machines, then we must oppose third-party reproduction.

Read Alana Newman's report from the recent conference of the American Association for Adoption and Reproductive Technologies Attorneys (AAARTA), where the attendees "consisted of people who make a living by facilitating third-party reproduction." And try not to get sick to your stomach.

4) While we're at it, another disturbing trend in the seemingly never-ending corruption of science and medicine is the intense pressure placed on women to abort their "defective" children. Not only does this attitude dehumanize and devalue the disabled, but it also results in the abortions of many perfectly healthy babies who are misdiagnosed via prenatal testing.

I personally know of three local friends who resisted the pressure to abort their children after a prenatal diagnosis -- children who turned out to be perfectly healthy. One of those friends, Jessica, wrote her story on the occasion of her daughter's sixth birthday. It is beautiful and inspiring, and it is infuriating:

With juries awarding tens of millions now for "wrongful birth" lawsuits, no wonder doctors are vigorously recommending termination for the imperfect. And only the strongest women can resist the kind of scare and shame tactics that are pushed on them when they are already frightened and vulnerable after a bad diagnosis.

5) On to something totally new! A fascinating article on The Genius of Ritual:

It is not hard to live through a day, if you can live through a moment. What creates despair is the imagination, which pretends there is a future, and insists on predicting millions of moments, thousands of days, and so drains you that you cannot live the moment at hand. 
That is what Father Paul told me in those first two years, on some of the bad nights when I believed I could not bear what I had to: the most painful loss was my children, then the loss of Gloria, whom I still loved despite or maybe because of our long periods of sadness that rendered us helpless, so neither of us could break out of it to give a hand to the other. 
Twelve years later I believe ritual would have healed us more quickly than the repetitious talks we had, perhaps even kept us healed. Marriages have lost that, and I wish I had known then what I know now, and we had performed certain acts together every day, no matter how we felt, and perhaps then we could have subordinated feeling to action, for surely that is the essence of love.

I'd never thought about many of the things in the article, and I delight in stumbling upon new ideas and spiritual insights!

6) I just love this:

"A man who is eating or lying with his wife or preparing to go to sleep in humility, thankfulness and temperance, is, by Christian standards, in an infinitely higher state than one who is listening to Bach or reading Plato in a state of pride." -- C.S. Lewis

7) And finally, let's help 12-year-old Jeff, who has Down Syndrome and is doing very well, but who has been waiting for a family far too long.

He was found abandoned at the age of 2, and was put in foster care. He is an active boy and would thrive in a family of his own!

More information here, and thank you for your prayers for this sweet little guy.

Have a great weekend, guys! And thanks to Jen for hosting Quick Takes!


  1. Love this! I'm sharing!

    And I can relate somewhat to #4, though it wasn't a medical situation with the baby. I was told it would be better to abort based on what happened to me and the "odds" that it could happen again. Pretty sad, considering I found this doctor off of the list of "prolife doctors." Here is a better resource for anyone that might be in this position:

  2. Thanks, Becky! You had a harrowing experience. :(

    I just received a private email from a woman who is being pressured to abort her child because of a potential for a diagnosis. She will not abort, but is asking for prayers from our prayer warriors here! It's a shame that a pregnant woman would have to encounter that kind of stress from doctors, just when they need to be supported and cared for.

    What a eugenics, utilitarian world we live in, where killing is the answer to our problems. We have forgotten how to love, and what it means to be human.

    1. …just when *she* needs to be supported and cared for.

      [Check your grammar next time, Leila!]

  3. If you haven't seen this porn-fighting website yet, it looks like a great effort:

    I stumbled upon it when reading this post via Difficult Run:

    I am thankful that individual porn problems have never touched my immediate family, but I know this problem has invaded society and impacts our lives even when we don't personally engage in it. I saw the devastating effects of porn in our old parish firsthand.

  4. Devin's words are compelling but I find it difficult to accept his lack of accountability with porn: "The power of the compulsion caused by the evil habits is incredibly strong; it is thus not that your husband is personally attacking you, but this vice which compels him to lust."

    I mean, as powerfully visual as the porn may have been for this guy, the magazines/internet sites/tv programs themselves didn't force him to sit there and watch-he did that on his own.

    1. Miss G, I also had a hard time with the wording. I try to give him the benefit of the doubt, because I have never struggled with this issue and I have not been close with anyone who has. But part me thinks that all mortal sin comes with strong temptation, and we all still must hold ourselves accountable for our actions. If one has been immersed in porn for a long time, I imagine that breaking out of it would be extremely difficult as it would have a hold on the person and take on a life of its own. Maybe similar to how one would imagine demon possession. The individual invited the demon into their life but, at some point, the demon took over further down the road. That doesn't exempt the individual from personal responsibility, though. It just makes it harder to exorcise the demon. And maybe he is speaking to this?

      I also know that practicing virtuous behavior makes virtue easier. Practicing a vice also entrenches one further into that vice. That ritual behavior, for good or bad, will entrench in one's life over time. But I still have a tough time with the wording.

    2. Miss G, yes my wording was perhaps not the best there. While one may feel a compulsion, one is still responsible for his actions and culpable. Mitigating factors can reduce that culpability, but it is still up to the person to seek help, to work hard, to do everything they can to overcome the sin. My target people were men sincerely trying to overcome this evil but still falling to it due to the force of the lustful habit that they had developed. God bless!

  5. Actually, Miss G, I believe that Devin is very much holding himself accountable (while acknowledging that addiction -- any addiction -- is a beast, and hard to throw over). Watching porn is a sin, and sin involves consent. The thing with Catholics is that we so clearly do understand our own accountability that we go in humility to confession and we speak our sins out loud to another human being. That is not easy to do, and no one would do it if they did not acknowledge their sin. I will see if Devin can pop over here and address your point himself.

  6. oh, dang, I did the reply incorrectly. I am rusty on the Bubble! I think I am finally creeping back into the blog commenting world now that my baby girl is five months old. I pretty much disappeared for the entire pregnancy and well into postpartum.

  7. Elizabeth, no problem! That "reply" flowed seamlessly! :)

    And, welcome back!

  8. I don't think I was clear with my previous comment. Clearly, he's held himself responsible for being addicted to porn but the statement I quoted above seems to suggest that in general, the person with the addiction is helpless from engaging with the porn.I don't see it that way-it takes a person to seek out, engage with and continually think about porn.

  9. As with any addiction, porn has a way of wanting you to watch more and to crave more. It fills a void that people are seeking to be filled; but it's not enough to fill, if only it makes you feel empty and alone. So maybe porn isn't the primary addiction, but the need of fulfillment is.

    At the moment, I'm having a problem with eating too much. It's not an addiction (yet), but I've noticed that I feel the "need" to satisfy the longings which is like hunger needs to be satisfied. I've noticed that every time my spiritual life suffers in some way; I seek to fill it through a weakness rather than through prayer. I like what Matthew Kelly has said: "People try to fill a God-sized hole, which only God can fill."

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Miss G, thanks for the clarification. I am reminded of something that Matt Fradd said in one of the videos above, that it used to take time and energy to get porn, now it takes time and energy to get away from it. Especially hard now, since young children are exposed to porn all the time and the addiction often begins before they are even into puberty. It's very devastating, insidious.

  11. Man, is this is excellent (from The Genius of Ritual post in your #5):

    Ritual is not only a remedy for despair or destruction. We cannot survive daily life without it, and we fill our days with all sorts of practical rituals: brushing our teeth, showering, eating meals, checking our e-mail, paying our bills, calling our parents, and so on. The Church teaches the same lesson about surviving spiritually. Every day, she does the same few holy things over and over again, because they’re the very best things. Every Mass, the same bread and wine are offered as the Eucharist. Every confession concludes with the same prayer of absolution. There is only one rosary, said over and over again.

    But isn’t ritual blamed as the reason why things don’t work? What about the claim that a relationship failed because one party just wouldn’t change? What about the complaint of every child at some time that Mass is boring? Can we really foster healthy lives by doing the same things over and over?

    It’s true that ordinary objects do quickly grow old: we grow used to one another and start taking each other for granted; we need vacations to quit our work for a week; songs on the radio have a maximum shelf-life of two to three months. But it’s different with what is holy, for Christ can never be exhausted. The barest facts of his life remain fascinating, and so we read the Gospels over and over. Our neighbor is also holy. While maintaining peace can be a bear, we can never claim to know someone “enough.” If we do, we’ve written them off and reduced them to our judgments, not the whole reality. Good relationships have their hiccups, but they naturally and peaceably want to last forever. It would be absurd to imagine a man on his 50th wedding anniversary toast to his wife, “My dear, we’ve come to know each other entirely. I can say surely that we’ve made it. Perhaps it’s time we went our separate ways in this wide world, and found out what other new lives are out there waiting for us...

    It is only by ritual that we keep growing.”

    Praise God for the rituals of life, because they actually allow room for higher worship, higher "knowing", a closer sense of being with transcendental reality. The more habituated we become to someone or something, the more we're allowed to let our minds ascend to a higher degree of worship or knowledge or love. When something becomes so familiar, it's "second nature"; and how much more we're able to focus on the depth of the interaction or the relationship, rather than focus on the technicalities or shallower steps. Hard to explain, perhaps, but a very true reality.

    The whole article is striking. Thanks for the great read.

  12. On ritual, I know you guys have probably seen these quote a hundred times, because Chesterton is a popular guy, but the article reminds me of them:

    Chesterton: "[Children] always say, 'Do it again'; and the grown-up person does it until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, 'Do it again' to the sun; and every evening, 'Do it again' to the moon."

    coupled with Chesterton again: "What is now needed most is intensive imagination. I mean the power to turn our imaginations inwards, on the things we already have, and to make those things live. It is not merely seeking new experiences, which rapidly become old experiences. It is really learning how to experience our experiences. It is learning how to enjoy our enjoyments."

    1. Yes.

      "It is not merely seeking new experiences, which rapidly become old experiences. It is really learning how to experience our experiences. It is learning how to enjoy our enjoyments."

      Knuckle bump. Exactly.

  13. In Jessica's story : "There are things we can do now that would make it less complicated."
    Sometimes I still cannot believe we have so arrogantly assumed power over life and death. And Jessica is right in asking "What do those things even mean?! How can they be said to a mother? Right!
    Make “it” less complicated. “It” meaning this tough situation that is causing “us” discomfort. Let us big strong powerful able body planners eliminate this problem. Same conversation happens over hospital beds with the silent elderly.
    Hafsa, I just dig it! Love ya.
    The Genius of Ritual: Such a good post. Many things there but a few examples come to mind. Dinner prayers. The loud anarchy that precedes our dinners comes to a fever pitch with people going in every direction all speaking at the same time. Usually I’m asking “does anybody know where the baby is ? and why do I smell smoke?”while my wife fingers something out of the 2 year old's throat. But something amazing happens when my wife or I finally yell, “In the name of the Father…etc”. All stops, and everybody changes gears. Suddenly those deeper more focused conversations start. The kids imaginations seam to take off. It’s that ritual prayer that turns everybody towards God and then to eachother.
    “You shall gather together often, seeking the things related to your souls.”
    Elizabeth and Nubby: Brilliant additions!

  14. I enjoyed the videos under 2. But I disagree with Matt when he advisers the woman not to take her husband back while he is addicted to pornography. He may need her support to kick the habit.

  15. With my oldest he flunked the downs test. We had genetic counseling tests abortion name it. Those tests are so unreliable in part because drs measure from last period not conception date. But they still pressure you anyway. My oldest doesnt have downs. The only genetic blip is he is a carrier for CF. Its something I'll tell him about when he's older. By then I imagine CF will be much more managible.

  16. Loved "The Genius of Ritual." Thank you for posting it!

  17. As weird as this sounds, if women were more authentic and approachable it would keep a lot of men from falling into the doom of chasing 'fantasy women'. Good women can actually prevent bad men. We're in a society where men are accountable and women are not. Men are weak for chasing a fantasy woman but women are OK when they have Disneyland weddings. I think a little bit of that is part of the problem. Mostly it's the mans own fault, but women should encourage men to be good men. Not discourage men. The word 'courage' in encourage is important there.


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