I begin by wishing all of my readers a happy and Christ centered New Year. New Years is a time of making resolutions. Usually we all make resolutions to change ourselves. Today I am asking you to do more than that. As a Christian I am asking you to make a resolution to become the "key" that brings freedom to someone else. Many New Year's resolutions are broken. In this case I hope it is the chains that bind someone that are broken because you agree to accept this challenge.
Our sexuality is one of God's greatest gifts to us. In its purest form the sexual act of a husband and his wife provides the self-giving union of the minds, bodies and souls of two individuals as one and together they participate in the miracle of co-creation with God of another human life. On the contrary, the viewing of pornography is the selfish act of sexually objectifying another individual for one's own personal gratification. Please, even if you have never viewed porn, read this entire email.
Statistics tell us that over 70% of all men admit to viewing porn and statistics show us that viewing porn is on the rise among woman as well. One statistic I have read tells us that by the age of 11 most children have performed a Google search on porn. One could extrapolate that perhaps over 50% of all Christians have viewed or are viewing porn. (Click here for statistics)
The readership of these 4thdayletters is made up of committed Christian leaders, so therefore I assume we all agree that pornography has all kinds of negative impacts on our society. I think we can agree it exploits the performers who engage in these films, and finally I think we can agree that it is degrading and depicts sex in a way contrary to the beauty for which God created it.
When someone views porn, powerful neurochemicals are released in their brains that act as a chain to bind them to this behavior. Pride then becomes the padlock that fastens the chain and prevents their escape. Jesus Christ is the master key that can unlock the addicted individual and you my friend are the one who may be called upon to deliver the key. Here is what Paul says: Romans 7:23-25
Now here is the reality, a significant number of the people reading this right this minute must admit that they too have viewed objectionable materials on the Internet or in some form of print media. I will admit here I am guilty of having done so in the past. Now be honest, have you? The key point I want to make is that I am not sure if we really know the extent to which our good Christian brothers and yes, sisters too, can get sucked into this evil. Priests report that sexual issues are one of the most commonly confessed sins during the sacrament of reconciliation and that among the sexual sins confessed, pornography addiction is plaguing our society. This sin infiltrates all aspects of society; children, adults, seniors, men, woman, professionals, blue collar workers, politicians, even clergy and religious leaders. To read a five part article on the reality of the porn problem click here.
My purpose in writing on this today is to get this topic on the table. For those who struggle with this there is a hidden shame. This is a topic that Christians don't seem to be able to turn to their fellow Christian brothers and sisters for help and support. In today's world you could turn to others in your church or parish for help with drug or alcohol addiction and readily find support but these sexual issues leave millions of Christians struggling in shame and hiding their struggles from their closest friends and family.
So what can caring Christians do to help? First, we can be aware of the prevalence of the problem. Next, we can assume that others close to us, whether it be our children, our spouses or our friends, are secretively hiding their struggles with this insidious issue of pornography. Next, we can create an atmosphere of openness to allow others to come forward without fear and admit they struggle with this, and we can provide non-judgmental caring, support and love for them. Finally, we can pray. Yes we need to pray with them and for them. We all know there are issues in life that can only be conquered by turning the problem over to our Lord and Savior.
Psychologists and scientists who study the brain tell us that pornography can be far more addictive than drugs like crack. Once a person gets hooked they can struggle in darkness for years. Just like some people drink and don't become alcoholics, some view porn and don't become addicted, others do however and as a result it can cause: depression, shame, guilt, marital problems, and in severe cases can lead to divorce or deviant sexual behavior.
Sadly, some Christians view porn and believe it is an acceptable thing to do. If you are one of them, let me ask you a few questions. Do you hide what you do in "the dark"? Is your viewing of porn kept secret? Maybe even you, deep inside, realize it is wrong too.
Let's be there to help others overcome this. Please be willing to ask for help if you need it. Finally as Christians let's take a stand and speak up in all public forums against this scourge on our society. Christ is love, and love is the solution. We are called to condemn the sin and love the sinner. Our brothers and sisters long to be the best Christians they are called to be. They long to rid themselves of this evil. Pride, shame and embarrassment have them under lock and key and afraid to admit they need help. They just need our love, caring support and prayers. If you have never viewed porn, count it as a blessing and reach out to others in need. If you are viewing it, take your first step to quit today!
Have you ever asked those you care for most, your family or friends if they have ever viewed pornography? Be bold and ask them. You might be surprised when they answer truthfully. Then ask them if they struggle with it. If they do, listen, love and care!
Suggested Action step:
Be the key to someone's freedom. Try printing out this week's email and then take it with you to any weekly get together you have with other Christians or with your family or your weekly Friendship Group Reunion and use it as a conversation starter to bring a difficult hidden issue into the light.
Important Links for those who struggle with this:
Non-Catholic Christians who struggle with porn click here
Catholics who struggle with porn click here
Father, we thank you for this most wonderful gift of our sexuality. We know it was intended to complete and fulfill the love of one married spouse for another. We know too that our sexuality can be a grave source of sinfulness. Father, help us to embrace this gift as you intended for it to be. We also ask that you be with and help everyone who is addicted to pornography. You alone can be their answer! Amen.
Feel free to forward this to as many friends as you want. Also, I love to hear from you. Click here to send me an email. Finally, past emails are archived at www.4thdayletters.com.