John Jalsevac

Porn: devil or an angel?

John Jalsevac
John Jalsevac
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Note: This is part two of a five part series on pornography

Part I: My porn addiction
Part II: Porn, devil or an angel?
Part III: Three ways to kick porn out of your life
Part IV: The fight for sexual sanity in a world awash in porn
P
art V: The pointlessness of pornography

November 27, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - But there is no use going any further until we can all agree that porn really is a devil.

Strange as it may seem, many of our modern sex educators believe that porn use is simply a natural part of the healthy development of an adolescent sexuality, and that it is only harmful in cases where the habit interferes with the user’s capacity to perform his or her daily duties. In this view porn is, at worst, a mischievous but usually “harmless” sprite, or, at best, an angel.

I once read an article about pornography under which hundreds of people had posted comments. One of these, a young man, confessed that he had several hundred gigabytes of lesbian pornography on his computer, but assured his readers that his attitude towards women had not changed, and that in real life he always treated them with respect. His comment was only the most extreme of many to the same effect: arguing that porn use is a purely private affair, and kept within its proper boundaries, is no more or less harmful than having a gin and tonic every now and again.

This argument has about it an aura of reasonableness, if you accept its underlying premise: namely that the purpose of life is to get as much pleasure as you can while causing the least amount of harm to others. But it is exposed as absolute rubbish the moment you reject this premise and accept the competing worldview: namely, that the purpose of life is to learn how to love. Let me explain.

There are some critics of pornography who will immediately cite cases of serial killers and rapists who have been porn addicts. They will accompany their sordid list with dire warnings that it is only a matter of time before porn users begin to “act out” what they have seen. It’s not an altogether wrong-headed approach. After all, it makes a certain amount of sense that the most inhuman criminals would be immersed head-deep in something that essentially dehumanizes others. And certainly, there is some solid evidence that in some cases the danger of “acting out” is real: which is likely why we are seeing, for instance, an increase in reports of young children performing sex acts on one another, growing complaints from women that their boyfriends or husbands are demanding that they do things in the bedroom which they find naturally repellant, and the widespread practice of “sexting” among young teens. 

But both of these arguments have the same basic weakness: that they put the emphasis on fringe actions that porn may lead some people to commit. And in response most porn users will respond, “Well, I have no desire to violate and kill strange women,” and will place themselves outside the scope of argument. The same weakness applies, to a lesser extent, to the argument that porn use leads to addiction, since there are men and women who only view porn occasionally, and who do not find that the weekend hours they give to it interfere with their ability to function as responsible members of society.

To really show why porn is so harmful we have to go deeper than that, to the root of the problem, which is simply this: that porn is always and everywhere, in every single case, without exception, a profound corruption of the true meaning and beauty of sex, and that every single minute spent looking at it debases its user, no matter how “in control” their porn habit may seem to be. The problem is not that porn may cause some users to perform perverse or violent actions (though in some cases that may be a problem), but that it is in itself a perverse and violent form of entertainment.*

In the first place, we cannot ignore everything we know about what goes into the making of a lot of porn - the abuse, the coercion, the drugs, the disease, and the violence. Donny Pauling, a former highly successful Playboy pornographer who quit the business after a conversion, once told me, when I asked if he still struggled with porn addiction, “There’s nothing appealing about a girl curled up in a corner sucking her thumb because her mind is so blown by what she’s been doing.” In other words, when Pauling sees porn, he doesn’t see the white-washed fantasy, he sees the rotten framework on which the fantasy is supported: the broken lives, the broken dreams, the broken bodies.

But even this argument misses the mark. Porn is not perverse and violent simply because the industry is exploitative. The exploitation is merely the logical outcome of the fact that porn takes that which is intended to unite two human beings in a beautiful, intimate, self-giving bond of love, and transforms it into a selfish transaction in which one person uses the other’s body for pleasure, without any interest in encountering the other as an actual person or even considering the question of his or her welfare. Sex, used properly, brings a person out of himself. Porn turns him inwards. Sex unites. Porn drives apart.

The problem with this argument is that it is somewhat abstract; and so I will say this: that those who argue that their porn habit has not affected their lives or the way they view the world in any negative way have never really experienced what sex or the world can really be. The only reason they think that porn has not affected them is because they cannot remember what it was like not to have an imagination stuffed to overflowing with porn. In other words, they have been enslaved so long, that they have forgotten what it is like to be free.

In my own case, while I never believed pornography was anything but an unwanted millstone about my neck, my abhorrence for it grew exponentially after my marriage. Until then what I had learned about theoretically from books, the beautiful truth about the real meaning of sex, had been at war with what I had learned about sex from porn. But in marriage I really learned, for the first time, that there is a vast world of difference between the lonely, selfish, and often-violent world of porn, and the world in which a man and a woman come together as an expression of their love and commitment for one another; and in which – how has basic biological fact become so counterintuitive? – their union has the mind-blowing capacity to bring a totally new human being into existence.

Porn, for all of its carefully constructed storylines designed to satisfy every fantasy and fetish, for all of its mood lighting and music and costumes and elaborate camera angles, for all of its representations of a sanitized casual sex free from any fears of disease or pregnancy, and for all of its airbrushed and “enhanced” actors and actresses, will never be one thousandth as beautiful as the real thing. Because the lie, no matter how dolled up, is never as beautiful and convincing as the truth. 

In the end, of course, the doomsaying prophets of porn are proved correct. A lie, even if not spoken aloud, will always do harm, even if it is only to the person who is thinking the lie. No, not every porn user will become a rapist. Not every porn user will completely destroy their lives or their marriages through addiction. Not every porn user will follow the temptation to seek out the most extreme high, ending up in the darker and seedier districts of the world of porn.

But every porn user will inevitably, to one degree or another, lose his or her capacity to love.

This is why, I think, we now have a world in which young men and women are increasingly incapable of engaging in long-term, committed relationships. In which the “one-night stand” is the norm. In which the divorce rate is sky high, with a majority of divorce cases citing porn use as a contributing factor. In which more and more men and women are not bothering to get married in the first place, instead moving about from live-in partner to live-in partner – seeking, in vain, for the one who can give them everything, without asking for anything in return. In which more and more men find that they derive no satisfaction from real women, instead preferring to cavort with their favorite porn stars, who do not demand even their own orgasm, let alone love, in return. In which many women have ceased to believe even in the possibility of “true love,” because all they have ever known are sexual advances at best “dressed up” as love.

This list only scratches the surface, for, though it may sound extreme, porn poses a threat to the very structures of a functioning civilization. Porn essentially habituates people to take, without any thought of giving. It habituates people to look upon others as mere vehicles for pleasure, and not as fellow, equal human beings to love. It is essentially an axe laid to the very root of community. And with whole cities of people now hooked on porn, it is hard to overstate the profound ways porn is transforming the hearts of our citizens, and ultimately, our civilization. 

Tomorrow: Part III of this five-part series - Three Ways to Beat a Porn Addiction

* Supporters of pornography will understandably disagree with my absolute condemnation of all pornography. While I stand by this position, let me anticipate an objection and clarify that I do believe there are vast differences between various forms of pornography. Some are worse and some are better. There are some who will agree that the more “hardcore” forms of pornography are damaging, but argue that forms of “erotica” that emphasize romance and relationship are not only not damaging, but can even be healthy for a relationship. While I agree that such pornography may be less harmful than porn depicting violence or other forms of exploitation or “extreme” sex acts, it seems obvious to me that in the long run it is still profoundly damaging, for the reasons stated above. The notion that viewing and fantasizing over other people having sex can legitimately help one grow closer to one’s spouse or partner, or help one grow as a person, is simply a contradiction in terms.

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Cardinal Walter Kasper Catholic Church of England and Wales / Flickr
Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

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Kasper: Cardinals defending Catholic teaching on marriage are attacking Pope Francis

Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary
By Hilary White

ROME -- Cardinal Walter Kasper, who unveiled a plan at last February’s consistory of cardinals to admit divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to Communion without receiving sacramental absolution, is claiming again in the Italian press that he has Pope Francis’ backing. Kasper said the cardinals who are opposing his plan are, in fact, targeting the pope himself.

In interviews published over the last two days in Italy and Germany, Kasper has depicted himself as a victim of an “ideological” campaign.

“They claim to know on their own what truth is, but Catholic doctrine is not a closed system, but a living tradition that develops,” Kasper said yesterday in the Italian paper Il Matino.  “Some of the next Synod want an ideological war. The doctrine of the Church is open, but they want a crystallized truth.”

Responding to the publication of a book of essays defending traditional teaching by five cardinals and other theologians, Kasper said, “The target of the controversy is not me, but the Pope.”

Asked whether he expects a “doctrinal war in the Synod” Kasper said, “I certainly don’t want it. They perhaps want it. I think of a pastoral Synod.” He added that the pope “also wants a pastoral synod.”

“I’m not naïve,” Kasper said. “I knew that there are other positions, but I didn't think that the debate would become, and now is shown to be also, without manners.”

“Not one of my fellow Cardinals ever spoke to me. I, instead, [spoke] twice with the Holy Father. I agreed upon everything with him. He was in agreement. What can a cardinal do, except be with Pope? I am not the target, the target is another one.”

Kasper again claimed that Pope Francis knew what he was going to propose and fully approved of his speech.

“They know that I have not done these things by myself,” he said. “I agreed with the Pope, I spoke twice with him. He showed himself content [with the proposal]. Now, they create this controversy. A Cardinal must be close to the Pope, by his side. The Cardinals are the Pope's cooperators.”

In another interview with the Tablet, a liberal Catholic magazine in the UK, Kasper said that he has the “impression” that Pope Francis is open to his idea. “I hope the bishops will listen to the voice of people who live as divorced and remarried – the sensus fidei. They should listen and then next year they should decide what is possible and what is not possible.”  

Since his consistory keynote speech, there has been a steady stream of interviews and articles by some of the Church’s highest-ranking cardinals and bishops explaining repeatedly why any change to Catholic teaching is impossible. The Church teaches, in keeping with the words of Christ in the Gospels that marriage cannot be broken unless one spouse dies, and that therefore those who divorce and remarry are living in a state of mortal sin as adulterers. Only if they pledge to change their lives and receive absolution in the sacrament of confession can they be allowed to receive Holy Communion.

But Kasper’s plan does not include any attempt to directly change Catholic doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage or the nature of the sin of adultery. Kasper himself has also said that Catholic teaching is impossible to change, coming as it does directly from the words of Christ in the Gospel. He says he merely suggests that the Church could “tolerate” a “second marriage” of which it does not approve.

On the second day of the consistory, following Kasper’s speech, Pope Francis opened the proceedings by praising Kasper’s “deep” and “serene” thoughts in theology, and asking for unity among those cardinals present. “This is called doing theology while kneeling,” Francis said.

In an interview given in New York in May, Kasper, who is one of the hierarchy’s most prominent old-school “liberal” theologians, said that couples in what the Church calls “irregular unions” who live chastely “as brother and sister” are indeed exercising “heroic” virtue, but that such heroism is “not for the average Christian.”

At the same time, Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp, known as one of Europe’s more “progressive” Catholic prelates, has published a 22-page open letter to the Synod bishops, translated into several languages. Bishop Bonny has asked for the Synod to move beyond the restrictions placed on Catholics by the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae that confirmed the Church’s ban on birth control and restore the supreme place of individual “conscience” over Catholic doctrine.

Bishop Bonny called for the Synod bishops to close the “gap” between “the moral teachings of the Church and the moral insights of the faithful.” He asked the to Synod to “restore conscience to its rightful place in the teaching of the Church.”

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He dismissed Pope John Paul II’s document Familiaris Consortio, which upheld the traditional teaching on marriage and sexuality, saying that in it “the judgment of personal conscience on methods of family planning features rarely if at all.”

“Many believers, particularly those belonging to ecclesial organisations and ‘centre field’ Christians, were no longer able to agree with the dogmatic texts and moral statements coming from Rome,” Bishop Bonny wrote of the years following Humanae Vitae’s publication. Afterwards, a “succession of documents on sexual, family-related and bio-ethical issues, and with the highest doctrinal authority, was faced with increasing incomprehension and far reaching indifference.”

He complained that the doctrine of Humanae Vitae has since been “enforced with a firm hand,” which has created “exclusion and missed opportunities.”

“This discord cannot continue,” the bishop wrote. “The bond between the collegiality of the bishops and the primacy of the bishop of Rome that was manifest during the Second Vatican Council must be restored and without delay.”

“Whenever I speak with people,” he wrote, “I’m unable to repeat certain formulations from church doctrine without appearing unjustifiably judgmental, without hurting them deeply and without giving a mistaken idea of the church.”

“What do I expect from the forthcoming Synod? That it will restore conscience to its rightful place in the teaching of the Church in line with [Vatican II document] Gaudium et Spes.”

Vatican journalist Sandro Magister wrote today that the rhetoric continues to escalate in the final days before the opening of the Synod, which will make no final decisions and be followed by another meeting of bishops in October 2015.

Magister wrote that the Synod has come to “resemble Pope Francis in one thing,” explaining that “it admits no predictions on how it will develop, far less on how it will end.”

“This is the way the pope wanted it: open to free discussion even on the most divisive points, like for example whether or not to give communion to divorced Catholics who have remarried in a civil ceremony.”

Magister said that Francis started the speculation by allowing the Synod’s preparatory questionnaire to be distributed to the laity in parishes – “on all the questions concerning the family, from contraception to communion for the divorced, from de facto couples to marriage between homosexuals.” This, he said, was taken up by the German episcopate, “igniting expectations of liberalization in the discipline of the Church.”

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Don Feder

The only way to beat our demographic crisis is to confront the Sexual Revolution

Don Feder
By Don Feder

Editor’s Note: The following address was delivered by Don Feder, communications director for the World Congress of Families, at the International Forum: Large Family and the Future of Humanity in Moscow September 10-12, 2014.

If current trends continue, we won’t run out of energy or other natural resources in the foreseeable future. We will run out of people. This global catastrophe will be the result of rapidly declining fertility, known as Demographic Winter.

In 1960, worldwide, the average woman had 5 children. Now, that number is 2.6 and falling – in other words, a decline of almost 50 percent in a little more than 50 years. Today, 59 countries with 44 percent of the world’s population have below-replacement fertility. Many developed nations have fertility rates of 1.5 or lower, with 2.1 needed just to replace current population.

This didn’t happen spontaneously. Demographic Winter is the direct result of the Sexual Revolution – which first became noticeable in the late 1960s, not coincidentally, about the time birth rates began to fall.

The dogma of the Sexual Revolution – which has become ingrained social wisdom in the West -- might be summarized as follows:

  1. Sex is the most important aspect of existence;
  2. When sex is consensual, it’s always good;
  3. The primary purpose of sex is pleasure, not procreation or the physical expression of love;
  4. The primary purpose of life is pleasure;
  5. Inhibitions lead to neuroses and must be overcome;
  6. Sex has nothing to do with morality; and
  7. Sex should not only be guilt-free, but free of consequences -- hence contraception, hence abortion, hence abandonment of marriage.

The prophets of the Sexual Revolution include Sigmund Freud,  “researchers” like Alfred Kinsey and Masters and Johnson, pornographers like Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, and feminists like Margaret Sanger, Betty Friedan, and Simone de Beauvoir.  In the United States, the Sexual Revolution is spearheaded by groups like Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women, the (homosexual) Human Rights Campaign, and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS).

The impact of the Sexual Revolution on fertility cannot be overstated.

For the first time in history, just under half the world’s population of child-bearing age uses some form of birth control. By 2015, the global contraceptives market will generate an estimated $17.2 billion annually.

Overwhelmingly, this is financed by governments, businesses or international aid agencies. Other species have become extinct. Ours may be the first to finance its own extinction.

Worldwide, there are approximately 42 million abortions a year.  That’s more than twice the number of military deaths in World War II.

From a demographic perspective, we’re not just losing 42 million people annually, but also their children, grandchildren and other descendants down through the ages. We are, quite literally, aborting our future.

The flight from marriage has affected fertility even more profoundly than contraceptives. In France, in 2010, more people began living together than married.

In the United States, in 1960, 59 percent of 18-to-29-year olds (those in their prime childbearing years) were married , compared to only 20 percent today.

Once a central reality of existence, marriage is increasingly optional. In its place have come cohabitation, casual liaisons and out-of-wedlock births. Not surprisingly, fewer marriages – especially early marriages -- result in fewer children.

Just as Demographic Winter is the result of the Sexual Revolution, the latter is the result of something called Cultural Marxism – a movement associated with Antonio Gramsci, the Frankfurt School and Herbert Marcuse.

Cultural Marxism was their answer to the failure of worldwide revolution after the First World War. Gramsci believed family and church gave workers what communists called a “false class consciousness” that made them immune to the appeals of Marxism.

The solution, then, was to destroy the family and religion – and what better way to do that than to foster sexual license and a society oriented toward mindless pleasure and away from hearth and home.

While there’s no proof that dramatically declining fertility is what Cultural Marxists wanted, it’s the natural consequence of creating a highly eroticized society where family is viewed as an obstacle to self-fulfillment and children as a burden.

We won’t find our way out of the forest of Demographic Winter until the Sexual Revolution is overthrown -- its prophets exposed and its dogma debunked.

Ultimately, the Sexual Revolution is about death – abortion, contraception, sexually-transmitted disease, pornography and promiscuity, in place of marriage, fidelity, procreation, and responsibility.

To combat both the Sexual Revolution and Demographic Winter, we must embrace a philosophy of life. For does not the Bible tell us: “I have set before you this day life and death, blessing and curses. Therefore, choose life so that you may live – you and your children.”

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Cardinal Dolan greets worshipers and guests on the steps of Saint Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan after Easter mass on April 8, 2012 in New York City. Lev Radin / Shutterstock.com
Lisa Bourne

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Catholic leaders criticize Cardinal Dolan’s defense of gay group at St. Patrick’s Parade

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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New York Cardinal John O'Connor on the cover of the New York Post on January 11, 1993. http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan defended his decision to serve as grand marshal for the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Wednesday, in the wake of widespread criticism from Catholics after he praised the organizing committee for allowing a homosexual activist group to march.

“If the Parade Committee allowed a group to publicize its advocacy of any actions contrary to Church teaching, I’d object,” Dolan stated in his weekly column. On the contrary, he argued, “The committee’s decision allows a group to publicize its identity, not promote actions contrary to the values of the Church that are such an essential part of Irish culture.”

Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, was not impressed with the cardinal’s argument. This is precisely about publicizing advocacy contrary to Catholic teaching,” he said.

“As a Catholic father I find there is rapidly contracting space where this shameful agenda is not stuck in the faces of my children,” Ruse told LifeSiteNews. “The Church should be protecting our children rather than abetting those who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of innocent souls."

Pat Archbold, a popular blogger at the National Catholic Register and who runs the Creative Minority Report blog, lambasted Dolan for suggesting the embrace and promotion of “gay identity” can be separated from the sin of homosexuality.

“This identity is not a morally-neutral God-given attribute such as male or female, black or white,” he said. “The identity is with the immoral choice to engage in immoral behavior.”

“The best that can be said in this situation is that these people choose to proudly identify themselves with an intrinsic disorder.  But in reality, it is worse than that,” he continued. “The people find their identity and pride in sin.  Either the Cardinal knows this or he doesn't, either way Cardinal Dolan reveals himself unequal to his responsibility as a successor of the Apostles.”

The parade committee changed its longstanding policy on September 3 after decades of pressure from homosexual groups. Upon being announced as the parade’s grand marshal later the same day, Cardinal Dolan said he had no trouble with the decision at all, calling it “wise.”

The organizers had never prohibited any marchers, but did not ban issue-focused banners and signs, whether promoting homosexuality or the pro-life cause.

Cardinal Dolan stated in his column Wednesday that he did not oppose the previous policy.

“This was simply a reasonable policy about banners and public identification, not about the sexual inclinations of participants,” he explained.

“I have been assured that the new group marching is not promoting an agenda contrary to Church teaching,” he said as well, “but simply identifying themselves as ‘Gay people of Irish ancestry.’”

The homosexual activist group that will march is called OUT@NBCUniversal, which describes itself as the employee resource group for LGBT & Straight Ally employees at the media giant.

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The network held the broadcast contract for parade coverage. Reports indicated the contract was about to expire, and that NBC joined in pressuring on parade officials.

Cardinal Dolan conceded in his column there were many thoughtful reasons for criticizing the parade policy change, and noted that he shared some of them.

“While a handful have been less than charitable in their reactions, I must admit that many of you have rather thoughtful reasons for criticizing the committee’s decision,” he said. “You observe that the former policy was fair; you worry that this is but another example of a capitulation to an ‘aggressive Gay agenda,’ which still will not appease their demands; and you wonder if this could make people think the Church no longer has a clear teaching on the nature of human sexuality.” 

However, he said, the most important question he had to ask himself was whether the new policy violated Catholic faith or morals.

In stressing that homosexual actions are sinful while identity is not, Cardinal Dolan said, “Catholic teaching is clear: ‘being Gay’ is not a sin, nor contrary to God’s revealed morals.”

Making opinion paramount, the cardinal offered that the parade committee “tried to be admirably sensitive to Church teaching,” and even though the original policy was not at all unfair, the committee was “realistic in worrying that the public perception was the opposite, no matter how often they tried to explain its coherence and fairness.”

“They worried that the former policy was being interpreted as bias, exclusion, and discrimination against a group in our city,” Cardinal Dolan wrote. “Which, if true, would also be contrary to Church teaching.”

When the decision was announced and Cardinal Dolan named the parade’s grand marshal, Philip Lawler, director of Catholic Culture and editor for Catholic World News, called it a significant advance for homosexual activists, and a significant retreat for the Catholic Church.

Pointing out in his column that the media will be correct to concentrate on that narrative at next March’s event, Lawler identified what he said is almost certain to be the result of the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

“Next year there will be only one story-line of interest to the reporters who cover the annual parade in the world’s media capital: the triumph of the gay activists,” Lawler wrote.

“Photographers will be competing for the one ‘money’ shot: the picture of the contingent from OUT@NBCUniversal marching past the reviewing stand at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, under the benign smile of Cardinal Timothy Dolan.”

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