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Leaders in the Catholic Church might advocate vulnerability and transparency. However, change in the lives of people is served by forums where people will be evangelized, counseled, and healed. These forums are incomplete if they leave people stuck in their vulnerability and unchanged by their transparency. 

In some faith circles, it has become fashionable to be transparent, to be raw and real. Church leaders with the best of intentions plan an education night or men’s or women’s breakfast on the topic. They open the hearts of the closet porn addicts in their midst—only to realize they have nothing in place to really help them. 

Parishes need to have the tools and resources in place in order to ensure their people who struggle with pornography are put on the path to freedom. 

Understanding the Why Behind a Behavior

Someone who struggles with pornography needs to understand the why of their behaviors. They have asked for forgiveness in the Sacrament Reconciliation and have begged our Lord to help them overcome pornography and masturbation. They need to understand the war they are fighting and the two primary fronts where the battle is fought: the body and the heart. 

The Body

Today, we can see pornography’s imprint on the human brain, the way the habitual porn use rewires our brains and hijacks our mental circuits. For many Catholics, an understanding of how pornography does this can help them understand the reasons why they feel so physiologically drawn to porn. It can also give them hope that God can bring life out of their woundedness and struggle. 

The Heart

The heart is the seat of what we trust the most—our deepest commitments, our greatest treasures. Ultimately, people are drawn to porn not just because of the naked bodies but because it promises to give us something we long for, something we have positioned as an ultimate good in our life. Sacred Scriptures calls this idolatry, the worshipping of something (or someone) other than God.

The one who is hooked on porn needs to ask him or herself this question, “Beyond the obvious physical enjoyment, what is the fantasy world of porn offering me that I find so appealing? Is it a place of refuge to relieve my stresses? Is it the illusion of respect or intimacy? Is it the place where I play out my anger at God or the world?”

Seeking healing and forgiveness from God for porn is not about white-knuckle, try-harder strategies, but about recognizing one’s own woundedness. It means acknowledging both the reasons someone is using porn, as well as what that person is missing in their life—what void they are filling with porn—and turning to God, who offers love, healing, and joy–all better promises than what porn could ever offer.

Pornography Impacts the Whole Person 

The body and the heart are not distinct parts of the struggle. They are two perspectives on the fact that pornography impacts the whole person. 

The ministry you develop for your parish to help those who are struggling with pornography consumption should help them understand why they struggle. There are wonderful resources available to the Church today to help you communicate these reasons. For more information on the spiritual and physiology dimensions of porn addiction, sign-up for STRIVE. It is a 21-day challenge from Matt Fradd with a step-by-step plan to fully break free from porn, delivered each day to your email inbox. 

 

Resource
Strive

STRIVE: A 21-Day Detox from Porn

Description

STRIVE: A 21-Day Detox from Porn by Matt Fradd has transformed the lives of men from all around the world. It is a step-by-step plan to finally break free from porn, delivered each day. Powerful videos, challenges, live events, a free trial to Covenant Eyes, and a world-wide community included. 

Audience: Men ages 18 and over 
Language: English
Resource Type: Detox Challenge

Cost: Free 

Amanda Zurface is the Catholic Campaign Coordinator for Covenant Eyes. Amanda holds a License and MA in Canon Law and a BA in Catholic Theology and Social Justice. Amanda has served in various roles within the Catholic Church both in the United States and internationally. She is the co-author of Equipped: Smart Catholic Parenting in a Sexualized Culture and Transformed by Beauty. She resides in Pueblo, Colorado, where she also serves as the Vice-Chancellor for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pueblo.