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Pornography- “I’m not hurting anyone.”

Jeff Cormier, More Truth

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Preface from the Chancellor

STM is a Catholic institution of learning, owned by 12 Catholic Churches in our City.   The School exists for one primary purpose – to teach, wrapped in the truths of the Catholic Faith.   I have always believed that one should never “put down” other religions. Such an approach is weak and trite. Yet, at the same time, neither should Catholics feel we have to apologize for what we believe. The Catholic Church has something beautiful to offer the world. And, in its history, has given to the world some of the greatest men and women who have ever lived. Have there been those “others”?   Of course!   But we never judge something by those who don’t live it, but by those who do.

I have asked the Religion Administrator to put together a series of articles on some of the more “debated” and “controversial” issues of our day.   It’s actually a “follow-up” to the catechetical homilies I introduced last year at the STM Masses. It is wrong for the Church to insist and expect her children to live up to her teachings without explaining “why” she teaches them.   And certainly, in a Catholic institution of learning, we are charged to do so all the more.

The series of articles that will appear in this periodical will address issues of sexual morality. Why? Because this is THE moral issue teens struggle with in our culture. The articles are not meant to judge, to condemn, or to put down.   Rather, they are meant primarily to AFFIRM what the Church teaches, to CLARIFY why she teaches them, and to help FORM our students to live the truths of the Gospel and holiness of life.   To those who may argue that such subject matter is a bit too sensitive for our ninth or tenth graders, my answer is that perhaps in years past. But today, even pre-teens are bombarded by images and messages that shout out to them another way. It is never too early to equip and to teach the holier way, the more virtuous way, the way rooted in Gospel values.

In the debate that will no doubt follow, and in the struggles we each have to live up to these truths (Administration, Faculty, Students and Chancellor), we dare to do what we are called to do as a Catholic School –to teach the truths of our Faith with charity and love.   Why? Because we believe that what we have to say to the world brings happiness and fulfillment.

With gratitude to Mr. Jeff Cormier for writing the articles, enjoy the read…and the “conversations” that will no doubt follow.

In His Love, Rev. Michael J. Russo, Chancellor

Pornography — “I’m not hurting anyone.”

Since most people today are born into a very digital world and are forced to navigate through it for school, work, and social communications, we have all had some type of contact with pornography, intentionally or not.  There is no way around it.  The internet is flooded with it.  Statistics vary on how much of all internet content consists of pornography, but it doesn’t matter – we’ve all encountered it.  It’s now too easy to create, distribute, and access.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly and succinctly defines and analyzes pornography: “Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties.  It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other.  It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others.  It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world.  It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials” (#2354).

One may ask, “So what’s the problem with it – I’m not hurting anybody?”  First of all, pornography is a form of adultery.  The person viewing it is taking sexual delight in someone to which s/he is not married.  As Jesus reminded us:  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:27-28).

Though you may not be directly hurting anyone else with porn usage, you are hurting yourself tremendously and may cause long-lasting negative consequences that will affect your current and future relationships.  Sex is a beautiful gift from God.  He created our bodies with the ability to experience it and intended it to be enjoyed within the proper context of marriage.  It is sacred and holy and the method chosen by Him to create new human life.  As with any other pleasurable experience, it has the potential to be abused and addicting, especially when taken out of its proper context.  My Morality professor in college was also a counselor who worked with people with various forms of addiction.  He told us about a man he was counseling at the time who was addicted to alcohol, cocaine, and pornography.  This man revealed that his pornography addiction was by far the most difficult for him to handle[1].  Why is this?  As rational beings made in the image of God, sex is more than just a biological function but involves the whole person, body and soul, so a sexual addiction runs very deep psychologically.  It is unusual for a person to become addicted to sex if s/he uses it properly within the safe confines of marriage as God intended.  Though the sexual activity is just as physically pleasurable within marriage, it is also balanced by an actual relationship with an actual person and the sacrifices and dying to self that make-up marriage and family life.  Pornography is just a quick hit staring at an image on a computer screen – no sacrifice, no love, no commitment, no procreation, only pleasure – a serious recipe for addiction.  Tragically, many innocent children today are exposed to pornography leading them to years of unnecessary and complex emotional struggles, and, for some, down dangerous paths to harmful, perverted, and even illegal sexual misconduct.  Over the last few years, several notable adults have courageously spoken about the harm pornography has done in their lives including executed serial killer Ted Bundy, comedian Chris Rock, actor Terry Crews, and Kay Warren[2] (wife of Pastor Rick Warren).

We all long for love and intimacy and to be truly known and understood.  Our hearts crave it.  What we are really desiring is union with God, the One who made our hearts and the One who fully knows us, and this longing is inside of us so that we will seek Him.  Many people turn to pornography trying to satisfy this longing because it gives the feeling of intimacy and love.  But it is a lie.  It is not real intimacy.  People who struggle with pornography often therefore also struggle with loneliness and depression, and the quick thrill of pornography seems to satisfy this emptiness.  Most young people using pornography truly want love and do not want to hurt anyone, but it is clear that pornography, by its nature, is designed to enslave one to lust.  “Lust is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure.  Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes” (Catechism, # 2351).  Lust and love are opposites.  If a person truly wants to love and be loved, pornography is leading in the opposite direction!

“What do I do if I have a problem using pornography?”  Don’t struggle alone.  Bring it to the light and get help from a trusted adult.  As Catholics, we have the beautiful gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we can confidentially confess this mess to Jesus through the priest acting sacramentally in the Person of Christ (in Persona Christi).  Priests know very well that young people today are struggling with this issue and are ready to offer advice and the mercy of Jesus.  Go to Confession as often as you need and don’t give up!  Even if it takes a while – you can win this battle with God’s grace and some personal maturity.[3]

Finally, most of you young people reading these words are being called by God to marriage.  This means that your future spouse is probably walking this earth somewhere, maybe even the halls of STM.  If you think God is calling you to marriage, you can start praying for your future spouse today, wherever s/he may be.  This will generate a holy love within you and a desire for fidelity.  Viewing pornography today is infidelity to your future spouse, yourself, and the God who created sex and wants the best for you.  Pornography is not training you to be a selfless man or woman of God, but a selfish and emotionally immature child, judging the value of others by how much lust they generate in your heart.  Sex was created to be an act of intimate, life-giving, self-donation to your spouse, a real person, not a cowardly, selfish activity between you and an inanimate picture or video.  This is psychologically damaging, emotionally frustrating, and does not lead to personal growth and maturity.  You were made for so much more than this.

 

[1] See online article:  “Neuroscience has proved that porn is literally making men’s brains more childish. Seriously.”

[2] Though pornography usage is most often regarded as a male problem, many females also struggle with it.  See online article:  “Jessica searched for help for her porn addiction. What she found disturbed her

[3] See online article:  “Three ways to kick porn out of your life

 

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Pornography- “I’m not hurting anyone.”