ENDING THE SCOURGE OF PORNOGRAPHY

 

Brother Knights, 

 

On the last weekend of March, the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City launched the Safe Haven weekend, in an attempt to address a vitally important topic for all of us to consider. The Archdiocese was only the second diocese in the USA to address this topic. So, let me as State Chaplain bring some light on the topic as well. This topic impacts many men and women across many age categories. While the impact is broad, it does seem true that this spiritual health risk seems to have a more significant hold on men and boys. I think it is necessary to speak on the topic of the pervasive presence and use of pornography in our society. All indications are that this is a widespread problem in our society, made even broader by easy access and free content through the internet. The statistics are alarming:

  • Studies indicate that 93% of boys and 62% of girls were exposed to pornography before the age of 18
  • 71% of teens have done something to hide what they do online from their parents
  • 57% of young people seek out porn once a month
  • 75% say their parents had never discussed internet pornography with them.
  • 1 in 10 American males view porn daily
  • 68% of men and 18% of women said they used pornography at least once every week; another 17% of men and another 30% of women said they used pornography 1 to 2 times per month
  • 56% of divorce involves one party having "an obsessive interest in pornographic websites"

No one is immune from this invasion, and the problem exist in Catholic homes as it does in other homes. I do not want to be misunderstood as if the problem does not exist among girls and women, too. However, boys and men fall prey to this at significantly higher rates. In all categories of statistics measuring things like type of content viewed, age of the first exposure, and frequency of use, boys and men outpace girls and women by large percentage margins. One study indicated that the strongest predictors of the use of explicit material is simply being male. First exposure happened easily enough in past generations, but we must now admit that, with the dawn of the internet, it happens much more easily and frequently, and it comes directly into your home. First exposure to explicit material now happens in our homes, right in the room where your child is on the computer, tablet or smartphone. This is a matter that cannot be ignored in our parishes, in your family life, or in each person's examination of conscience. We cannot be silent while souls are being ensnared. Use of this explicit material makes its users spiritually cripples and deadened. It is a serious sin that needs to be confessed, and especially before coming forward to receive Holy Communion. It becomes enslaving. It negatively impacts personal discipline, dating, marriage, and even the ability of a young person to discern a call from God to priesthood or to a religious vocation. 

 

I hope I do not cause rash judgment or awkward situations her, but given the statistics on the use of explicit material, parents should be likely to assume that their child has been exposed. Your middle school and high school aged child may already have a habit and is addicted to it. You must speak with them. You must first treat the issue in your own life with serious resolve. you must take measures to control and eliminate the entry points for this material into your home. Use internet accountability and filtering software and even have everyone in the house turn in all cellular and internet devices each evening, where they remain locked in the parents' bedroom until morning. Brother Knights, you especially need to take such measures to protect yourselves, your wives, and your children. You need to live courageously in your fatherly role of protector in your home. 

 

As State Chaplain, I want to set the tone for our response to this moral epidemic by saying that, in the spiritual family, no is permitted to shame anyone else about this struggle. The devil knows what he is doing in trafficking this filth, in pulling people down into this cesspool. Anyone who is struggling needs to know they are loved, they are supported, and that they are called to true and authentic human relationships. Jesus gives us the example from the woman caught in adultery who easily could have been shamed. Instead, Jesus says, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again." There is hope and help for getting out of this addiction. We have learned so much in the social sciences and 12 step models. Sexaholics Anonymous is one of the best resources for getting free from this addiction. It is the closest to our Catholic faith and can help immensely when it comes to recovery. Using a recovery program like Covenant Eyes and other materials from experts is one way to start. Make sure you have an accountability partner. have a plan of how to break free. You have to have a plan of three stages of what you can do to break free. Saying I want to quit but doing nothing about it never works. That is like the alcoholic who plans to quit but has a bottle of booze in front of him at all times. 

 

I hope we are opening this topic for conversation. I am asking that you continue the conversation in your home and with your family. Opening this to conversation can allow healing to take place. This is because in talking openly and honestly, we will draw each other, our spouses and our children, into more authentic relationships that, together with confession, prayer, struggle, and acts of penance, will result in lessening the grip of false virtual "relationships". Anyone struggling needs to be prudent, but opening this matter - not to everyone, but to a trusted friend - can offer accountability in the battle. I want you to know that there are in fact people who do not use explicit material. The battle is possible. Victory is already won with Christ Jesus. 

 
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