So many suffer from illnesses in our society, debilitating diseases for which we try to find cures and to provide support for those who suffer from them. Yet, there is a sickness, a cancer that is rampant in our culture that few recognize. Pornography is a scourge which plagues men and women, threatens marriages and traps unknowing young people in its grasp.
Think of the young men between the ages of 18 and 34 that you may encounter during your day. Surveys tell us that 3 out of every 4 of them have viewed pornography in the last month (Media Matrix). In other words, 75% of young men are regularly viewing images and videos that degrade not only the person pictured, but also the person viewing them.
Simply put, pornography is a grave offense that reduces what should be a beautiful union of two people into sensual entertainment and, let us be clear, profit. Each person has human dignity, and pornography uses and manipulates all involved — those creating it become mere objects and those consuming it use their fellow human beings. It is a cycle of mutual degradation.
I ask you, first of all, to recognize the danger that pornography poses to individuals, to marriages, to families and to our culture. Never before have so many people of all ages been able to gain easy access to pornography. The temptations seem to find us — through pop-up ads, while channel surfing, on mobile phones — even on game consoles. Too often, men, women and, sadly, even children turn to pornography thinking that it will afford them pleasure and fulfillment.
Instead of fulfillment, pornography brings with it secrecy and a sense of shame. When a husband and a wife are no longer pursuing intimacy solely through marital love, there is a rupture of trust. Priests often hear of the destruction caused in families by one spouse using pornography — using others as objects, instead of honoring the life-giving capacity of conjugal love given to us in the Sacrament of Marriage. Children whose parents use pornography grow up with a skewed vision of the purpose of sexuality and tragically become users themselves.
Innocence is so easily lost.
I write to you concerning the destruction of pornography so that you might protect your family and defend the dignity of those being exploited. Our Lord cares about each person — the woman who has been exploited through sexual trafficking — the young child who has been exposed to perverted images for the first time — the young man who finds himself addicted to a habit of which he cannot rid himself without help — the married couple who exposes the long-time use of pornography by one spouse.
As a diocese we have begun an initiative entitled “Bought with a Price” which offers the first steps towards healing for those who have fallen prey to pornography. It also provides resources for parents so that they might be supported in their attempts to protect their families and guide their children on the path to purity.
If you are struggling with pornography, I urge you to bring this sin to Confession — the Lord is waiting for you with open arms. There are also brochures with the Bought with a Price logo available in all of the parishes in our diocese to support you as you begin this journey towards healing.
Those who are struggling, as well as parents of children of all ages, will find valuable resources at www.arlingtondiocese.org/purity. On this site, there are practical first steps for you to take, such as putting a filter on your computer and setting boundaries with your children when they use the internet and other electronic devices. Take a moment to read through this site and share it with others. This is a battle we must begin fighting today!
On the night of the Easter Vigil we pray, “The power of this holy night dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence.” As we face this threat of pornography, pray that the Lord might restore your lost innocence and protect the purity of those dear to you.
Please visit http://www.arlingtondiocese.org/purity and share the link with others.