What’s the Big Deal?
Have you ever been asked that question? I have. People seem to have a problem with someone taking a stance against pornography. You need not be ashamed to stand against it, in fact, you should be compelled to openly fight it. Pornography is quite simply one of, if not the, greatest threat to the New Evangelization today. With the exception of abortion, which has claimed millions of innocent lives in the past few decades, there is no force more damaging to the individual, the family, and the people Christ died for than pornography. There is simply not enough being done to combat pornography and its harmful effects on the fabric of our human society. We need, as my confessor once told me, to take radical steps to combat this problem…and we need to take those steps now.
Porn is an industry with what some commentators ballpark to be around $19 billion in revenue (that is about $6 billion more than the total net worth of Netflix), an industry that claims over 1/3 of internet web traffic, and an industry that can generate upwards of $3,000 dollars per minute. Those figures do not account for the $2.8 billion revenue projection for mobile porn alone in the coming year, or the much anticipated “virtual reality” pornography market expected to sky rocket in the next ten years.
It gets worse, folks. Over 40 million Americans visit pornography sites regularly, every 39 minutes, a new pornographic video is being made, and there are 116,000 queries for child pornography on a daily basis.
Still do not think that we are in a crisis as a society? Ok, please explain to me what is so “natural” about the fact that there has been a 774% increase in the number of child pornography images and videos on the internet, according to the “National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Child Victim ID”? Please explain what is natural and good about the fact that the number of child prostitutes exceeding 10 million world wide, according to the “Global Coalition to End Human Trafficking Now”?
You might be thinking that the average person has nothing to do with those crimes. However, according to a 2015 study, “Porn users demand a constant stream of new, increasingly violent and fetishized content. In order to keep up with this demand, more women and children become prostituted and trafficked.” So, what might have started as a harmless late night browse of premium cable, easily evolves into something much more deranged; with horrifying second and third degree effects. You really have no idea what your business contributes to in such a large and dark industry.
The fact is, we could go on and on about the gruesome connections of Pornography. We could discuss how it destroys the lives of its actors and actresses, to the families of its addicts, and to the corruption of young misguided children. I highly suggest the website www.fightthenewdrug.com for some really great materials on this expansive topic. If you do nothing else, educate yourself. Arming yourself with knowledge is the first step, whether you want to partake in the New Evangelization, or simply want to protect you and yours.
With these daunting statistics that illustrate just how pervasive pornography is in our society, one can see how easy it is to hear that America is a “Christian” nation (with the largest segment of Christians being Catholic) and easily think, “hypocrites”. In fact, the United States of America produces more hardcore pornography (to include DVDs and web material) than any other nation on earth. The United States accounts for approximately 89% of hardcore websites. This dwarfs Germany, which stands at barely 4%. Does it really sound like we are a “Christian” nation, or does it sound like we are a nation of hidden voyeurs, deranged sex addicts, and closeted pedophiles?
Now hopefully, you were raised well enough to be shocked and appalled by those statistics, or you just might be asking what the big deal is. You might be saying something like, “Sex is natural, right? And I would never do anything deranged like child porn!” Yes, it is natural, and good Lord I hope not. God and His Holy Church want you to have sex and enjoy it. Clearly, though, without some sort of guidance on how to properly engage in human sexuality, we can fall down some deep dark rabbit holes! Let us all just stop denying that! (Read “Theology of the Body” or listen to virtually any talk by Jason Everett for an in depth and powerful explanations on Chastity, Pornography Addiction, and Parenting)
I urge, with the highest prejudice, all of our Christian brothers and sisters to take arms against this threat. If we truly wish to call America a “Christian Nation”, then we cannot stand for this dark and ominous reality. If we truly wish to take apart in the Holy Father’s call for a New Evangelization, then we cannot sit idly by while sex slavery and crimes against our own children go not only unchecked, but complicity enabled by out own inaction.
How to Talk About It
Porn is so common, yet, almost everyone is ashamed of it and will deny partaking. Most people will outright lie, or at least downplay, how often they indulge. They get so ensnared that their addiction truly takes control. Some people actually adopt a sort-of “double identity” when they are watching it. They search for, watch, and ‘enjoy’ things that they normally would never condone or even say out loud. Hence, they are not so willing to let people know what rough beast dwells within them. They are resistant, and are ashamed to seek help.
OK. But we still need to reach these people. So how do you do it?
You can show them those statistics, or even direct them to some great lectures and talks by “Lighthouse Catholic Media” (“Detox” by Jason Everett was a fantastic one that started me on the road to recovery). Still, they will remain resistant. So, you might need a new tool to reach them.
It’s times like this, that we should always ask, “What Would Jesus Do?”. Jesus, when He was reaching people, would often first ask a question, and then illustrate his point further via story. I suggest doing the same.
I will give you a real life example I had when talking to someone about their use of pornography. We will call this other person “Sean”.
Sean and I were discussing what each of us was going to give up for Lent. Sean informed me that he would give up pornography and masturbation. A bit confused, I informed Sean that it’s not really acceptable to give up sins for your Lenten sacrifice. We should be giving those up all the time.
“Porn’s not a sin! Nothing in the Catechism about masturbation either!” he exclaimed.
Sean had apparently never read paragraphs 2351-2532 in the CCC, which clearly states, “Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.”
But I did not have that section memorized, nor do I walk around with a copy of the CCC. Plus, I did not think, even if I did, it would really have won him over. So, I took the new approach. I asked a question.
“Sean, when you watch porn, do you even know if that girl is alive or dead?”
“What?” (They will usually be getting very uncomfortable that you are pressing this much into their double identity. Not unlike demons getting more unruly the closer Jesus gets to them.)
“The women in the porn, do you even know if they are alive or dead? Or, like, what if that was your sister or daughter? Would you be OK with that? Because that is definitely someone’s daughter, and maybe even someone’s sister. I mean, she is your sister in Christ, right?”
“I guess so,” they may admit.
It’s at this point that the conversations will always differ. You really need to feel it out. Perhaps they are ready for a story to illustrate your point. I highly suggest going to “Fight the New Drug”, watching a documentary (Metallica’s James Hetfield just made one called “Addicted to Porn”), listening to a lecture, or telling your own story. Whatever it is, you need to press your point. Make them realize that they are partaking in something awful. The Law God wrote on their hearts wants to break out. Help them!
You might get some flak. You will be mocked. And people will get offended that you even have an opinion. Easily the first question that I am asked whenever I start to speak out against any hot button issue like abortion or pornography is, “What’s the big deal? Why do you care what other people do? Porn’s not a big deal, man. Mind your business, ya know?” I’m sure we have all encountered this form of “argument” against even having an opinion on the matter. This is moral relativism, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was correct when he called it ‘tyrannical’. Truth, though, should never be paralyzed by fear of failure. Truth cannot fail. Truth is reality.
Below you will find a short list of questions and follow-ups you can ask to lead off. It’s not a complete list, but they are questions worth asking.
Questions to Ask
Who is the person you are watching? Seriously. Who are they? They are someone’s daughter, sister, maybe even spouse. How would you feel if you stumbled across your own daughter, your own sister, or your own spouse on the internet? How would that make you feel, knowing what thousands are doing to their image?
Is that person even alive? If they are alive, do they regret making the video or images you are enjoying? Were they under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Desperate for money? How does it make you feel knowing that it’s very likely that person was under the influence while filming this? Again, that’s someone’s daughter. Are you ok knowing someone’s daughter is being coerced and manipulated into doing these acts for strange men hiding in their basements?
Is that person a victim of human sex trafficking? Sex trafficking is on the rise, so do you really think you are not complicit in it? This business is bigger than the NFL.
Men especially, be honest here, how many hours of your life do you think you’ve given to browsing, watching, and “enjoying” pornography? Seriously. How many hours have you spent hiding from everyone else, engaging in your double identity, and cleaning up after yourself since you were first introduced? Is that how you want to spend your life?
How does your wife or girlfriend feel about this? Another way of asking this question is, How would you feel if you found out your wife or girlfriend was lying, sneaking away for hours, and pleasuring themselves to the thoughts and images of other people? All the while, basically assuming another identity. How would that make you feel?
Above all else, listen to the words God spoke to us over 20 times in Scripture, “Be not afraid”. Go forth, and save yourself, and your brothers and sisters from this evil.