Friday, June 25, 2010

The freedom of chastity vs. the slavery of pornography

In this Sunday’s second reading, we will hear St. Paul speak about freedom. “For freedom, Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery…For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters” (Gal 5). In Christ, we are free! When we first hear this, it may not mean much. But, when we contrast life in Christ and His Spirit against life in the flesh (as St. Paul does later in the reading), it means everything.

This might hit home most with people when it comes to living chastity (sexual purity). The greatest example of slavery to sin in the modern world is pornography. Priests have said for many years now that pornography is the most confessed sin. Marriages are being ruined, families are being destroyed, and careers are being lost to the addiction and slavery of pornography. And, kids have the target audience of those in the pornographic industry. Their thinking is that if they get them at a young age, they get them for life. A few years ago, the parents of a 9-year-old boy came to me, horrified that their son and his friends had been looking at pornography. 9 years old! When I speak to young people, particularly young men, about pornography, I tell them that this is what happens: that no one starts with pornography as a teenager (or younger) thinking they’ll do it for the rest of their life, but that’s often what happens.

What is the solution to the problem of the vice of unchastity, particularly pornography? The Grace of Jesus Christ, particularly in the Eucharist and Confession. I tell these same young people that a regular confession can root out the ugly habits of pornography and masturbation. To live in the Grace of Christ means to live in the Spirit. It means to live in freedom! For those who have agonized for so long in the slavery of unchastity, the freedom of chastity is refreshing and life-changing.

How bad is the problem of pornography? The following interview from gives us a sense. To view the full (part 1 of the) interview, please click on today’s title.

Interview With Psychotherapist Peter Kleponis

…In this interview with ZENIT, (Peter Kleponis, a Catholic psychotherapist who specializes in marriage and family therapy) speaks more about the nature of the pornography problem, its causes, and how to address it on the personal and societal levels...

ZENIT: What are the latest statistics on the prevalence of pornography use today?

Kleponis: The prevalence is huge, and even the statistics that we have are underestimates, because this is something that is going on late at night in the privacy of people's homes, so we really don't know how serious it is.

What we do know is that it is a $97 billion industry, and $13 billion of that comes from the United States. Also, looking at the sheer number of pornographic Web sites, we see that it's huge.

ZENIT: How does this use compare between men and women?

Kleponis: Currently about 83% of pornography addicts are men, and 17% are women.

For women, it's the chat rooms rather than the visual pornography that they're looking at.

Men and women are wired differently. Men are visually stimulated.
When a man looks at a pornographic image, there is a chemical reaction going on in the brain. Dopamine is released, there is euphoria, and, when combined with sexual arousal and orgasm, it becomes what I call the "perfect recipe" for an addiction. Thus they're going to be more attracted to the pictures and videos.

Women, on the other hand, are more relationally oriented, so they're looking into the chat rooms where they can develop a false persona.
Here they can be anyone they want to be, look anyway they want to look, and engage in these erotic relationships with men on the Internet, all through words.

It is like they're working with this man and writing their own romance novel together -- and that is what they get addicted to. There are some women who do get addicted to the visual pornography, but it is a very small amount.

There are a number of younger women who are forced into this because their boyfriends insist that this be part of their relationship. They fundamentally don't want it, and that's a different issue.

This gets into the issue of what pornography has taught young people.

First of all, it has taught young men and teenage boys that women are there for their own sexual pleasure -- call it the sexual utilitarian philosophy, or on college campuses they call it the "hook-up culture."
This is the belief that it's okay to use someone for your own sexual pleasure.

What this teaches young women is that in order to get a boyfriend and keep him, they have to be sexually active and participate in pornography.
Right now it's a popular thing for women to use their camera phones to take nude pictures of themselves and email them to their boyfriends. They feel that this is what they have to do. Do they like it? No.

If you ask them, deep down inside they feel that it is degrading, and they're very angry about it. But they feel that they're stuck, that it's what they have to do.

Thus you can see where it warps a person's sense of what a healthy, loving relationship really is; they don't learn about respect for one another…


Anonymous said...

And what IS it with those *bleep* spammers? They don't care that some of their messages about enlarging male body parts and women who want "friends" land in kids' mailboxes.

Anonymous said...

In a homily heard at mass, yesterday, the priest said that anything that does not originate in God cannot bring freedom.

I thought about this post and the previous one on contraception. It is plain to see that neither originates in God. They both bring about a type of slavery.

Finally, I thought that should I ever be in a conversation, again, where a person says that the teachings of the church on contraception are not from God, but are man-made, I will respectfully respond with the words from that homily in mind.