21
Wed, Feb

Corrosive effect of porn undercuts sacramental love

Layman's Minute
Typography

By Ted Furlow

 I was comfortably seated at our Men’s Fellowship, when the conversation casually drifted towards pornography. I could feel the tension tighten in the room; most men are not at ease talking about this issue.

While pornography when I was a boy was limited to surreptitious reading of Nation Geographic at the barber shop, we now live in an intensely pornographic society. A discussion of the topic is fair game in any setting

 We have lived in this highly sexed world since the 60’s, so I don’t believe or trust anyone who doesn’t cop to indulging in pornography at some point in their life. Despite our prohibitions and moral attentiveness, porn has become a rite of passage for many, possibly the result of hormonal curiosity or our human weaknesses. The issues arise when that curiosity becomes a fixation, a regular event, an addiction, or feeds abnormal behavior. We are seeing the harvest of this behavior in the current flurry of complaints about sexually abusive men... and that is only the miniscule tip of the enormouse iceberg that is porn’s effect on our society.

 When porn went to the Internet, it grew exponentially. A recent article in Aletia outlines the shocking math of porn’s grip on America. Internet porn is localized by one major provider, and their largest site outdraws all other major general-use search sites and information sites combined. Some claim a staggering 96 billion hits a year on these sites. This reflects that porn is available 24/7 to anyone, of any age, who has access to a smart phone, tablet or computer. 

 So, what’s at risk? Porn might titillate, gratify the viewer, or simply be a personal moment of indulgence, but forgotten is the corrosive effect it has on a balanced view of sex and relationships. Porn doesn’t reflect real life, just look around you … normal people don’t look like porn actors, behave as porn actors, are extreme exhibitionist or financial opportunist like porn actors. Women who are used in everyday soft porn ads on television and magazines to sell everything from hamburgers to lingerie, are women that I don’t recognize in real life. And even if you live in a different neighborhood, I suspect you don’t recognize them either. So why would we allow porn to make them and their behavior the benchmark for the women in our life?

 The church rightly condemns pornography because it sees the inherent danger of porn, and porn is diametrically opposed to our Catholic ideal of sex in our life. The Church and God want you to have a great sex life because the sexual dimension of a couple in a sacramental relationship of marriage is an important element of their married intimacy. But it is only in the context of the intense interrelationship of marriage that sex finds its fulfillment as a gift from God.

 The constant exposure to porn leads the unwary to objectify women, to presuppose the intent of women, and to accept abhorrent behavior as normal. The Gospel warns us about the sinfulness of lusting in our heart, and I would add to that the words of President Jimmy Carter. In a 1976 interview in Playboy (politics make strange bedfellows) Carter admitted that he has lusted in his heart toward women, and then called himself out for it being an act of adultery. It was an honesty we should all consider.

 We are called to a purity of vision and that means we should watch out about what we watch.


Ted Furlow is a retired former Director of Pastoral Planning for the Diocese of San Bernardino and continues in marriage preparation ministry in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.