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The fight for sexual sanity in a world awash in porn

John Jalsevac John Jalsevac Follow John
By John Jalsevac

Note: This is part four 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

December 10, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - My roommate during my first year at college was a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. As part of his recovery he regularly attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and out of both curiosity and a desire to support his efforts, I often tagged along.

So it was that under the glare of florescent lights, in dingy boardrooms in the basements of schools and churches, with the acidic smell of cheap coffee wafting under my nose, I received a better education in human nature than I ever received in any of my anthropology classes – witnessing first-hand its endless varieties, its perverse penchant for self-destruction, its endurance for suffering, and its astonishing capacity to rise from the lowest, most despicable gutters of the world to a place of true greatness—and vice versa.

In the process I also learned many practical truths that applied to my fight against many of my own faults, including my fight for sexual sanity in a world awash in porn.

The first of these truths is that once you have fought to the death with the devil, you never forget the foundational lesson every fighter must learn, often the hard way: never to let your guard down.

Attendees at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings typically introduce themselves in this way: “Hello, my name is [blank], and I’m an alcoholic.” It doesn’t matter how long it has been since they took their last drink. It may have been decades, but they still say, “I’m an alcoholic.” At first this struck me as odd and unnecessarily self-deprecating, but after listening to dozens of testimonies I realized that there is a very good reason for the practice: namely that the moment an alcoholic relaxes his vigilance, that he convinces himself that he has “beaten” the devil once and for all, that (thank God!) he can finally just “relax” and enjoy life, is often the same moment he takes the drink that ruins him.

At first glance it might seem a neurotic way to live. However, one need only listen once to the testimony of someone who “beat” their addiction years ago, and, after painstakingly piecing their life back together, promptly lost everything the moment they decided they were home free, to realize just how practical this attitude really is.

The fact is, every one of us has bad habits that could ruin us, if we didn’t constantly work to overcome them and replace them with something better.  It may seem a neurotic way to live from the outside, but in reality it’s just life. What we call “addiction” is, after all, simply a more extreme version of the common experience of all human beings: that against our better judgment we regularly choose to do things that we know will likely harm us and our loved ones. In this sense we are all addicts.

I mention this in the second-to-last installment of this essay for a good reason: that even if you agree with everything that was in the preceding installments, and even if you once had a problem with porn and have put it behind you, is no reason to relax. For my part, I would never say that I have “beat” pornography once and for all: too many failures over too many years have taught me my profound weakness in this area. To simply “relax” is out of the question, especially now, when sexual sanity is made so much more difficult by the ubiquity and the vehemence of the temptations around us, and when the stakes are so much higher, when I am tasked with protecting my marriage, and providing a good example for my children.

The world wants us to “relax” about sex. It finds all this fuss and bother about “chastity” distracting and rather uncouth. Why get your panties all up in a bundle when you can simply give in and enjoy this gleaming new era of sexual freedom? Why stress yourself out?

And yet, somehow, those who make this argument fail to note the irony when their marriages fail, when depression strikes, when they start collecting STDs, when they experience an unplanned pregnancy, or when their own children discover porn and fade into their own rooms, sadly lacking parents with the moral authority to lovingly help them.

Once again we find a false dichotomy: it is not a choice between a frigid chastity, and a hip, relaxed, happy “free love.” We have seen the fruits of “free love,” and it is neither love nor freedom, but rather the rise of the gonorrhea superbug and the spread of violent hardcore pornography.

Deciding to shoulder the task of taming our sexual passions before they tame us does not mean we will be neurotic or unhappy. On the contrary. One of life’s paradoxes is that choosing what appears to be difficult in the short term often leads to a far more pleasant and peaceful life in the long term. Life may be a treacherous balancing act, but an experienced tightrope walker does not spend his time pondering the abyss, and how terrible it would be if he fell. He knows the abyss is there, but its existence does not torment him; in fact, it may even provide him with a certain thrill, the thrill of mastering something difficult and dangerous.

It is true, of course, that the process of learning to walk the tightrope may be a perilous one. Anyone who has attempted to quit pornography will have learned this the hard way. After falling so many times they may even have been tempted to give in to despair, as I so often was.

Those tempted to despair must keep in mind two key truths: first, that with every step forward, the going gets easier. Habits are built through practice, and the more the habit is practiced, the easier it becomes. Sexual sanity will never be effortless, but there will come a time where the effort will be more or less successful, and that success will be accompanied by a joy that you never even knew was possible. That joy will in turn make the effort easier, because you will see that all the effort really is worth it.

And the second truth is this: that the “abyss” is something of an illusion, for there exists the Great Safety Net – an all-merciful God who will not allow us to perish. Here again the 12-step program has it right. The overt religiosity of AA has led to some accusations that it is a cult, or at least unfriendly to atheists. I don’t know enough to say whether it is a cult, but I do know through experience that belief in a Higher Power, particularly one that is loving and merciful, is as practical as potatoes for someone trying to beat a bad habit. In fact, I would be suspicious of a recovery program that didn’t give a prominent place to God.

Of course, one doesn’t like to treat God as a mere “tool,” and conjuring a non-existent Deity simply to have a crutch to lean on would be intellectually dishonest. However, it does make sense that if God is real, and if human beings were made for union with Him, that believing in Him, and invoking Him, would have positive effects in one’s life. This, it turns out, is the experience of the overwhelming majority of humans throughout history.

For the person fighting porn, the practical benefits of theism are myriad. Porn, of course, is a subject that is mired in shame and guilt. This is not a bad thing, if our shame motivates us to self-improvement. But very often the shame is excessive and overwhelms us, paralyzing our efforts. To know that we have an Ally in our corner who is Love and Mercy itself, and who will stand with us no matter how many times we fall, even if our failures drive every other person in our life away, is comforting beyond words. And then, to know that we don’t even have to pick ourselves up, but that He will pick us up, and that we don’t even need to walk using our own strength, but can lean on Him and allow Him to carry us – well, this may seem too good to be true. However I, for one, believe it is true. And for me, this belief has made all the difference.

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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Vatican is pressing forward with plans to reform the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In an interview published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that the reform of the LCWR, which was undertaken after an assessment of the group found serious doctrinal problems, will be carried out with the goal of helping them "rediscover their identity.”

“Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out," Müller said. "We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

Moreover, the cardinal said that problems specific to the LCWR are not a reflection of all the women religious in the US.

"We need to bear in mind that they do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association,” Müller said.

“We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

Cardinal Müller's remarks confirmed the assertion he and the Holy See’s delegate to the LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, made in an address to LCWR officials in Rome on April 30, that the theological drift the feminist nuns are taking constitutes a radical departure from the foundational theological concepts of Catholicism.

The Holy See “believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church,” Müller said in the address.

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“The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” he stated.

The LCWR has openly defied the mandate of reform intended to bring their organization into line with basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, the Church, and sexual morality.

Among the CDF’s directives, to which LCWR has strenuously objected, is the requirement that “speakers and presenters at major programs” be approved by Archbishop Sartain. This, Müller has explained, was decided in order to “avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The LCWR has invited speakers to their Annual Assembly such as New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Sr. Laurie Brink, who is particularly noted for flagrantly denying the Divinity of Christ and telling the sisters that to maintain their “prophetic” place in society they need to “go beyond” the Church and even “go beyond Jesus.”

In one of the first public statements of his pontificate, Pope Francis affirmed that the investigation and reform of the LCWR must continue.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, the lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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