Patrick A. Trueman

The pornographic pandemic - we are awash in porn

Patrick A. Trueman
By Patrick Trueman
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Note: This article originally appeared in Columbia magazine, the magazine of the Knights of Columbus, and is reprinted here with permission

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November 18, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In a conversation with a priest in my diocese, I shared my spiritual director’s report that every other confession he hears from men involves the sin of pornography. The pastor’s response was shocking: “Oh, it’s much worse than that!” Since then, this sad reality has been confirmed by many others: The sin of pornography is overwhelming Catholic men.

Pornography is now more popular than baseball. In fact, it has become America’s pastime, and we are awash in it. Porn is on our computers, our smartphones, and our cable or satellite TV. It’s common in our hotels and even in many retail stores and gas stations. For many men — and, increasingly, women — it is part of their daily lives.

Yet, Catholic teaching on the subject is clear. Use of pornography is a “grave offense.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Pornography … offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others” (2354).

In Life of Christ, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen wrote, “The penalty of those who live too close to the flesh is to never understand the spiritual.” Hardcore pornography on the Internet offers an ocean of perversion. It takes the mind where it should never go, loosening its moral moorings and leaving it adrift in a treacherous sea of sin. That is the fate of those who give themselves over to pornography: They find themselves alone with their images and an insatiable appetite for more.

While astounding to many, users of pornography eventually put religion, marriage, family, work and friendships secondary to their desire for pornography. They may want to change, to go back to life as it was before porn, but most will return and descend further. Dr. Mary Anne Layden, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the Center for Cognitive Therapy, likens pornography to crack cocaine. In a testimony to the U.S. Senate in November 2004, she noted, “This material is potent, addictive and permanently implanted in the brain.”

Sadly, for the regular consumer of pornography, confession and contrition are normally not sufficient to break from pornography because, like drug abuse, pornography is not just a bad habit — it is often an addiction.

A DESIRE THAT DOES NOT SATISFY

Addiction to pornography is now commonplace among adults and is even a growing problem for children and teenagers. Few who are addicted will get help, and the consequences can be lifelong and severe.

Pornography’s addictive strength is a result of long-term, sometimes lifelong, neuroplastic changes in the brain. Psychiatrist Norman Doidge, author of the best-selling book The Brain That Changes Itself (Penguin, 2007), writes, “Pornography, by offering an endless harem of sexual objects, hyperactivates the appetitive system. Porn viewers develop new maps in their brains, based on the photos and videos they see. Because it is a use-it-or-lose-it brain, when we develop a map area, we long to keep it activated. Just as our muscles become impatient for exercise if we’ve been sitting all day, so too do our senses hunger to be stimulated” (108).

With pornography, in other words, our brain’s pleasure system that excites our desires is activated, but there is no real satisfaction. This explains why users can spend endless hours searching for pornography on the Internet.

Doidge further notes that porn viewers develop tolerances so that they need higher and higher levels of stimulation. Thus, they often move to harder, more deviant pornography. More than a decade ago, Margaret A. Healy, adjunct professor at Fordham University School of Law, and Muireann O’Brian, former head of End Child Pornography, Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT), observed a link between adult and child pornography. Since that time, scores of current and former law enforcement authorities have noted that many adult porn consumers will eventually move to child pornography, even if they are not pedophiles and had no interest is such material at first. These findings account, in part, for the prevalence of child pornography in the world today.

Viewing porn changes the user’s attitude toward sex, his or her spouse and society. He or she uses sexual fantasies to get aroused, tries to get partners to act out pornographic scenes, is more likely to engage in sexual harassment and sexual aggression, and views sex as a casual, non-intimate, recreational privilege. Laydon and other clinical psychologists have reported that, ironically, erectile dysfunction is commonly associated with constant porn use among men. One reason for this is that the constant search for sexual images and often-accompanying masturbation lead to dissatisfaction with one’s spouse. After all, a man’s wife cannot possibly maintain an image that competes with the women in the fantasy world of pornographic videos and images. The regular porn consumer sets himself up for disappointment and the almost-certain disintegration of his marriage.

Marital love is meant to be a total giving of oneself to a lifelong, faithful partner. It is a trusting, selfless giving. By contrast, pornographic sex is selfish, demeaning and mechanical. In his catechesis on the theology of the body, Pope John Paul II emphasized that there is a “moral goodness” in marriage, which is faithfulness. That goodness can be adequately achieved only in the exclusive relationship of both parties. Too many people miss out on that unique goodness of marriage and settle for the temporary, perverted and unfulfilling excitement of pornography.

PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN

A father has a duty to keep his children from pornography and a sacred obligation to set an example of purity for his family. What greater authority could a father have about the harms of pornography than the words of Christ?: “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:28).

If you have become a porn consumer, ask yourself this: Am I the same man who professed fidelity to my wife on my wedding day? Fidelity cannot be maintained if one consumes pornography. Wives of porn consumers feel as though their husbands are committing adultery. Affairs of the mind are every bit as destructive as affairs of the heart.

Divorce lawyers report a high correspondence between pornography consumption and divorces. One 2004 study in Social Science Quarterly titled “Adult Social Bonds and Use of Internet Pornography” revealed that persons having an extramarital affair were more than three times more likely to have accessed Internet porn than those who did not have affairs. Further, those ever having engaged in paid sex were 3.7 times more apt to be using Internet porn than those who had not.

If you have a porn habit, your children may follow. Many pornography addicts report that their first exposure to porn was the discovery of their parent’s porn collection, which started them on a life of sexual confusion and exploitation. A 2006 survey of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children revealed that 79 percent of youth gain unwanted exposure to pornography in the home.

To a child, pornography normalizes sexual harm, according to Dr. Sharon Cooper, a pediatrician at the University of North Carolina. “Research has shown that the prefrontal cortex — the home of good judgment, common sense, impulse control and emotions — is not completely mature until children are 20-22 years of age,” she explained. The introduction of pornography to the brain’s prefrontal cortex is therefore devastating to key areas of a child’s development and may be life-altering. “When a child sees adult pornography … their brains will convince them that they are actually experiencing what they are seeing,” Cooper added. In other words, what a child sees in porn is what they believe is reality.

Some children will actually emulate what they see in pornography and experiment on siblings, relatives and friends. Many studies show that children exposed to pornography initiate sexual activity at an earlier age, have more sex partners, and have multiple partners in a short period of time. A 2001 study in the journal Pediatrics also found that teenage girls exposed to pornographic movies have sex more frequently and have a strong desire to become pregnant.

THERE IS HELP AND HOPE

Thankfully, there are organizations, counselors and resources that provide hope for those suffering from the destructive effects of pornography on children, marriages, relationships and society. Many who have been addicted — adults and children alike — have been helped through counseling or online exercises offered by recovery services.

It is critical, however, that each person and each family does a reality check. Ask yourselves whether you and your family are protected from the scourge of pornography. Do you have adequate parental control or filtering software on your home computer? Is the computer in an open area of the home? If you have children, have you talked to them about the spiritual and social cost of pornography? Do you have premium cable or satellite channels on your TV that offer pornography as regular fare?

If you are viewing pornography or indecent material, you are harming your very soul and perhaps those of your children and your spouse. The biblical warning is severe: “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out” (Mk 9:47). At a minimum, make sure that your computer both at home and in the office is filtered and that you have an “accountability partner” — perhaps your wife or a good friend — who has access to your computer and the sites you visit. Finally, get involved in the war on pornography. It is worth the fight for you, your family and your nation.

Patrick A. Trueman is the president and C.E.O. of Morality in Media. A member of St. Francis Xavier Council 6608 in Buffalo, Minn., Trueman served as chief of the U.S. Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Criminal Division, under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

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There are numerous resources to help both men and women with porn addictions. Here are just a few:

* How to Deal with Your Sexual Addiction
* Porn Addiction – Identification and Help.
* Catholic Porn Help for Those Struggling with Pornography &Resources for Men Desiring to Maintain Their Purity

Many more can be found by searching the Internet.

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PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received millions in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

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If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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