John Jalsevac John Jalsevac Follow John

The pointlessness of pornography

John Jalsevac John Jalsevac Follow John
By John Jalsevac
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Note: This is part five 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

December 13, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - A quote of dubious origin, but often misattributed to G.K. Chesterton, goes like this: “The young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God.” It is a somewhat shocking claim, but is, I think, nevertheless true. And the corollary is obvious: that every young man or woman who searches for pornography on Google, is unconsciously looking for God.

I do not believe that most people who look at pornography do so because they are particularly interested in sex, per se – at least not at first. Women, especially, are likely to confess that their interest in pornography is not so much about body parts, or how they come together, but is rather an expression of their deep craving for romance, affirmation, and relation. They don’t so much care about seeing nude men, as they do about fantasizing about having a satisfying love affair, in which all their unspoken needs and ardent desires are anticipated and met.

And while men, naturally more promiscuous, have earned a reputation as sex-obsessed brutes, I’m not sure that the reputation is entirely deserved, or that our motivations in viewing porn are any less “sublime” than those of women. Certainly in the beginning, I did not go to porn in search of sex, for I was not completely clear about what sex was. All I knew is that I increasingly found women beautiful, and that I wanted to see more of them.

There is, in men, a reverence for the female form that I think would be difficult, if not impossible ever to fully convey to a woman. For the average man, the female body is imbued with a sense of mystery and of meaning that rises very nearly to the level of the mystical. Every detail seems to whisper promises of happiness, of excitement, of mystery, of adventure, of fulfillment. This, of course, is why our advertisements are so packed with photos of beautiful, and often scantily clad women. Advertisers are not simply making their ads “attractive” by using these attractive women, they are cynically associating the aura of mystery and meaning that surrounds the female body with their banal and useless products.

Many great poets and artists, citing Genesis as backing, have claimed – with, I think, good reason - that woman is the pinnacle of physical creation, God’s final and greatest masterpiece. Perhaps this is why many men look to the female form to satisfy their deepest cravings. They have surveyed the earth and found nothing more beautiful, nothing more exquisite, nothing more sublime: and so have devoted their lives more or less to pursuing this most beautiful thing.

Why, then, does it fail to satisfy? Because it does fail to satisfy.

What man who has given in to the craving to view porn can ever honestly say that he has found the happiness that he hoped to find? Almost inevitably he has found disappointment. At first, it is true, there is the excitement, the anticipation, and then the thing itself, and finally (since masturbation typically accompanies viewing porn) the climax. But then there is the aftermath – the sense of deflation, of waste, of emptiness, of pointlessness.

In time the porn addict may come to accept those brief, highly intoxicating moments of anticipation as the nearest thing he will ever experience to happiness. But if he is being honest he will admit that he has settled – that he really craves something much, much more satisfying, but does not know where to find it. Again, here I am speaking from personal experience as a man, but I have heard women speak of the same thing – the sense of repulsion that follows a bout of viewing porn and masturbation, and which ironically drives them back to porn in the hope of erasing that sense of emptiness and recapturing the ecstasy that briefly seemed akin to happiness.

There are, I think, two reasons for the sense of pointlessness associated with porn. The first is the most obvious.

Sex is designed to bring two people together, to unite them, to bridge the gap between them. And it is also designed to be creative, to have the potential for new life. Porn, on the other hand, is simply an attempt to fool the body and the mind into thinking that sex has occurred. But the body and the mind will not be fooled. Porn is to sex what the Twinkie is to food. The first few bites of the cellophane-wrapped bundle of oil and sugar may be delicious, but the taste soon cloys, while the Twinkie provides no meaningful nourishment to the body. Eat only Twinkies and you will soon lose your taste for real, nourishing food, and you will become sick. Porn is sex without an object, sex without nourishment. It is a parody of sex. It is like winning a lottery, only to be told the prize is in Monopoly money. Porn does not, and cannot satisfy, for the simple reason that it is not real: it is fantasy, a shadow of the real thing, a mockery of sex.

But there is also another, and deeper reason for this sense of pointlessness. No one has addressed this reason better than the British Christian writer C.S. Lewis.

In his autobiography Surprised by Joy, Lewis catalogues his encounters with what he labels “Joy.” Joy, in the sense that Lewis uses the word, is that overwhelming sense of desire, the “immortal longing,” which is at once painful and immeasurably pleasurable, that we sometimes experience when we encounter something beautiful. It is, of course, nothing other than the divine discontent, the “restlessness” spoken of by St. Augustine in his Confessions, the pulley of George Herbert’s poem that draws wearied man to the breast of God.

Lewis points out that some irreligious people have interpreted Joy as simply a manifestation of the erotic instinct. Now, this is not an entirely unreasonable interpretation, since Joy very often is associated with sex. A newlywed beholding his bride on their wedding night, for instance, will experience a veritable tidal wave of Joy. But even a newlywed will in time learn that sex, no matter how pleasurable and loving, is not an adequate answer to Joy. Sex may lead to the experience of Joy, but Joy is not the desire for sex. Joy is a desire for something immeasurably more, and those who go looking for that something more in sex, or even worse, in porn and masturbation, will be sorely disappointed.

“Those who think that if adolescents were all provided with suitable mistresses we should soon hear no more of ‘immortal longings’ are certainly wrong,” Lewis explains in Surprised by Joy. “I learned this mistake to be a mistake by the simple, if discreditable, process of repeatedly making it.”

He continues:

I repeatedly followed that path – to the end. And at the end one found pleasure; which immediately resulted in the discovery that pleasure (whether that pleasure or any other) was not what you had been looking for. No moral question was involved; I was at this time as nearly non-moral on that subject as a human creature can be. The frustration did not consist in finding a “lower” pleasure instead of a “higher.” It was the irrelevance of the conclusion that marred it. The hounds had changed scent. One had caught the wrong quarry. You might as well offer a mutton chop to a man who is dying of thirst as offer sexual pleasure to the desire I am speaking of. I did not recoil from the erotic conclusion with chaste horror, exclaiming, “Not that!” My feelings could rather have been expressed in the words, “Quite. I see. But haven’t we wandered from the real point?” Joy is not a substitute for sex; sex is very often a substitute for Joy. I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy.

In other words, the reason porn fails to satisfy, is the same reason anything else fails to satisfy – because it is not God. And the reason we become addicted to porn is the same reason anyone becomes addicted to anything – because we do not possess, and do not know how to possess, God, and thus we frantically scramble about for something to take His place. Woman may be the pinnacle of creation, but even the most beautiful and most fascinating woman ultimately fails to satisfy a man, because creation is not enough – we desire the Creator. One need only consider the endless cycle of divorce and remarriage among the world’s most beautiful people in Hollywood to see how true this is.

If you have ever attended AA meetings, you will have noticed the curious fact that many of those who struggle the most with addiction, are also some of the most passionate, sensitive, and interesting people you will ever meet. AA meetings are packed with people who are anything but “normal” or “boring” or “safe” – they are filled with philosophers and poets and artists, who, in their desperate desire for happiness, have followed the rabbit down the rabbit hole, only to discover their terrible mistake. This is, I think, one reason why the 12-step program puts such a strong emphasis on a belief in a “higher power.” God is the only real, long-term solution to addiction: not only because He is the only thing that can possibly fulfill the infinitude of man’s desires, but also because He is also the only One who can give us the strength we need to fight the myriad temptations we will face, and to catch us when we inevitably fail: he is both the Goal and the Safety Net.

Yes, it may be possible for a certain type of person to beat a porn habit (or any other addiction) simply through willpower and psychological tricks. But in general, I do not believe most people with a porn problem will ever be able to ditch porn for good without developing a relationship with God. For without God we will continue our frantic searching for the Thing That Will Satisfy, a search that will be continually frustrated because there is nothing on Earth that can satisfy. And in our frustration we will return again and again to the thing that promises happiness, but instead leaves us feeling deflated and miserable.

Yes, a porn habit is a shameful thing. But if it brings us to our knees, and reveals our weakness and our need for something – or better yet, Someone – greater than ourselves, then it may yet prove to be our salvation.

I will leave the final word of this series to former Playboy pornographer turned devout Christian Donny Pauling. I once asked him how he believes people can beat a porn addiction. This was his response:

So many people don’t ask for help because they’re sitting there feeling guilty about their actions, saying, “There I go, I’ve done it again.“ I think that they need to realize that, although sin does separate us from God, He still loves them. It doesn’t matter what they’re doing. His love doesn’t change. It’s not conditional.

God who loves us that much is not looking for a reason to send us to Hell, he’s looking for every reason to bring us to Him. So just stand back up. Stop letting your guilt get you down.


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The Romanian Orthodox Church's Patriarchal Cathedral in Bucharest Wikimedia Commons
Bogdan Stanciu

Romanian news outlet sanctioned for discrimination in attacking pro-life initiative

Bogdan Stanciu
By Bogdan Stanciu

BUCHAREST, Romania -- A decision of CNCD, Romania's Council Against Discrimination, has recently become definitive, recognizing the right to dignity of all Orthodox Christians in the country.

Last year, PRO VITA Association - Bucharest branch, one of the main nonprofits in Romania defending life, family and religious liberty, filed an official complaint with the Council, showing that a blog post dated May 17, 2013 and hosted on the Adevarul.ro platform prejudiced the image of Christian Orthodox believers.

The article, signed "Alex Dumitriu," challenged the support given by the Romanian Orthodox Church to the “One of Us” European initiative, which required a ban on public funding for the destruction of embryos during research and medical procedures.

The blog post described the Romanian Orthodox Church as an “anti-human, criminal and anti-life organization, whose purpose is spreading suffering and abjectness, mysticism and ignorance for their own profit.”

The applicant argued that these allegations created a degrading and hostile atmosphere for Orthodox Christians in Romania, thus harming a whole community.

The Council agreed that the affirmations in the article referred to both the clerics and the simple believers and discriminated against the Christian Orthodox community. It concluded it was discrimination, infringing upon the right to dignity granted to persons of Christian Orthodox confession.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

The council cited the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that freedom of expression is not an absolute right in Europe, carrying with it duties and responsibilities. Also, the Adevarul.ro platform was fined a symbolic sum of 2,000 RON (approximately 445 EUR).

It is for the first time in Romania that a media institution is sanctioned for discriminating against Christians.

As a brand, the Adevarul newspaper has continued the tradition of a title established in the 19th century, but after 1989 it took over the infrastructure and human resources of the recently-deceased communist newspaper Scanteia, the official propaganda channel of the Romanian Communist Party. Today it has also developed Adevarul.ro, an online platform that is one of the most popular media channels in Romania.

Adevarul.ro has recently made it a habit of harassing the Romanian Orthodox Church with almost daily frequency, presenting negative aspects in the church and tendentious articles of opinion about this institution and about Creationism and Christianity in general, in what looks more and more like an ideological guerrilla warfare.


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Paul Russell

Nitschke heads a suicide cult that must be stopped

Paul Russell
By Paul Russell

Following The Australian's news story today about another young life lost that was related to Philip Nitschke and the Exit organisation, senior journalist, Angela Shanahan says that Nitschke and Exit must be stopped.

Shanahan opens: 

PHILIP Nitschke, contrary to his claims as an advocate of euthanasia for the terminally ill, is the chief mover of something resembling a suicide cult.

The case histories of Lucas Taylor, 26, and Joe Waterman, 25, who committed suicide after being in contact with Nitschke’s group, Exit, leave little doubt of that.

Lucas Taylor was the subject of the other article in today's paper while Joe Waterman's story was covered earlier in the ABCs 7:30 Report that created the original furore leading to the medical board suspending Nitschke's practicing licence today.

Covering the information Judi Taylor found on her son's computer after his death the story adds: 

His heartbroken mother realised that her son was not the only young person on this site. Nor was anyone on the site interested in the motivation for his thoughts of suicide, nor in helping Lucas to overcome his feelings.

“They were only interested in the ‘endgame’,” she said, including detailed advice about where and when and how to go about it.

Again, this destroys any pretence that Nitschke and Exit are only involved in advising sick and dying people about how to commit suicide. This is a macabre and clandestine death industry. Hope joins with Angela Shanahan in calling for this organisation to be stopped and is joined now in our call for a National Inquiry into Exit and other euthanasia organisations by the mothers of both of the young men mentioned in this article.

Shanahan closes by saying: Nitschke’s claim of political persecution is risible. He and his organisation must be stopped.

Reprinted with permission from NoEuthanasia.org.au.


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Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

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Leaving the Matrix: what is the cost of conversion?

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By Hilary White

What do you do when you decide to leave a sexually disordered lifestyle? What do you do, when all the people you have contact with, all your friends, even your family, have accepted and embraced a way of living and thinking about life that you have realized is harmful, psychologically and morally destructive, and which you know you must leave? What is the cost of conversion?

We can easily get caught up in the tumult of the ever-escalating legal, political, and cultural war against the traditional worldview and anthropology, so much that we forget that the “issue” is about real, individual human beings and how they should, concretely, order their lives. We culture warriors must remember that what we are asking people to do is difficult, that it can incur huge sacrifice and loss and will often require enormous upheaval and change. We are asking people to leave not only a “lifestyle” of sexual activity, but an entire world, populated with family, friends, co-workers, colleagues, and an entire global culture that embraces and aggressively promotes it.

I include not only the experience of leaving the “gay lifestyle,” but of leaving a worldview, a cultural paradigm that accepts and promotes sexual license of any kind in general. It is more than the questions surrounding the so-called “ex-gay” movement, and more than the issue of living chastely in an increasingly sexually obsessed world.

How ought a person who experiences same-sex attraction react when it begins to dawn on him that, for whatever reason, he cannot continue to live according to the world’s paradigm? We know how the homosexualist movement says he ought to react, and we know that the secular world (nearly all the world, therefore) is in more or less complete agreement. He should reject such self-negating thoughts. He should embrace his “orientation” and start to seek out same-sex sexual relationships, and carry on in the way that they tell us life is now normally lived.

He should engage in sexual encounters with various people, sometimes setting up “relationships” for varying lengths of time, breaking up, moving on, finding someone else, perhaps cohabitating, and maybe, some day, “settling down” with one person, either in “marriage,” or not, as the mood strikes. This is what the world now presents to us as normal. Nearly every television show and movie set in our times says this is just how people live nowadays. 

It is only too easy for those of us who live out here in The Real to forget how totally different our lives are from that of the majority of our fellow men. We shout, “jump!” because we see a whole other lush, green and happy world, but they see nothing but the shadows on the cave wall.

But those few of us left who think this is not a very good way to live, that it is morally and psychologically destructive, have in large part to forge our own way in life, figure out a set of rules and standards to live by alone, all the while fighting the pressure to conform. Even for those of us not plagued by sexual feelings towards people of the same sex it isn’t easy.

It is particularly not easy for those of us who have decided later in life to try to embrace a different path, but who had previously followed the world’s advice, and who had never known any other way of living. What does it take to totally change a worldview, a method of organizing one’s life and all social relationships? How hard is it to reinvent a way of life that the world has not only abandoned, but aggressively rejected and condemned?

The cost will usually be, at least, the loss of nearly all one’s friends, sometimes even very close friends. Very often it will include alienating, sometimes permanently, one’s own family. Since the Sexual Revolution’s paradigm has now been embraced by three or four or more generations, it will often mean alienation from parents and siblings.

It will sometimes mean the loss of good relations with co-workers and colleagues, and sometimes even the loss of jobs and careers. I know a man, a previously highly respected author, who was totally rejected by the entire literary establishment of his home country, a heavily secular nation, when he embraced Catholicism, including its sexual moral teachings. He told me that he expected he would never be published again outside the Catholic niche press. None of his previous friends would speak to him and for the first two years his mother had refused to take his calls.

He had been asked again and again why, if he felt he had to become a Christian, he could not have become an Anglican. And why this “sudden obsession” with “outdated” and “retrograde” sexual morality? He said that, in essence, he was treated as he would have been in the 19th century had he “come out” as a homosexual. Chastity, in other words, is the new perversion.

It is a momentous decision to leave that world, and people who make that transition compare it to leaving the Matrix: a painful, shocking and revelatory experience of a totally new and previously unguessed-at world that can leave the person disoriented, feeling as though he is now living in a kind of “parallel universe” in which he is alone and alienated from friends and family and fellow citizens.

There is an increasing number of us “converts” to a more morally sane life, who often find that once we have made the transition we are alone again. And even when we find others, a new community and friends – usually in a church – we learn that we must keep the door to the past closed. It’s not that we fear rejection, far from it, and it is not even a matter of shame.

But we understand that in a civilized society, no one wants to hear about barbarity, and we learn that to keep our past life closely in mind is to allow it to continue to rule the present. Close friends will know about our past, but, outside the most intimate circles it is passed over silently. We have reinvented ourselves and moved on, but the price is sometimes to become people with no past. To be wholly remade, it is necessary to leave behind the person we were.

It works. I can say that it is possible to be radically morally rebuilt, that one can reconstruct an entire personality, consciously dismantle past habits of thought and approach to life and replace them with better ones. The damage from the previous life, whether physical or psychological, can be permanent, but it is possible to construct a way of living that is morally and psychologically and physically healthy, and reorder a life in such a way that the damage does not rule your present. 

But it’s expensive. For me, it started when I was still living in British Columbia. I felt something new beginning in my mind and felt a yearning spring up that could not be satisfied by anything I’d experienced… the usual convert’s tale.

I’d been aware all my life that the kind of world we lived in, and the kind of life we lived in it, was somehow just not right. I loved old films and television shows that depicted a totally different way of living. I was close to my grandparents and wondered why we no longer lived that way. When I moved to the mainland in my early 20s, I somehow started going to Mass again, and that was when the real struggle began. I knew full well that the way I lived and thought about life was deeply at odds with the Church.

But I was alone. None of my friends were Catholic and none of them could begin to understand what it was I had begun to talk about. And I had made no friends at the large inner city parish I attended. I had tried to join a few things, and had volunteered a bit, but I could see that I had nothing in common with them. It seemed as though these people lived in another universe, one I could not even want to enter. A priest suggested I get involved in the pro-life movement, and I rejected this idea out of hand as totally absurd.

I thought I could only ask God for help. I prayed for “Catholic friends.” This brought no change, so I scaled down and said, “All right then, just one. Just one Catholic friend.” In the end, I simply got up and left one day. I’ve written elsewhere that I just got in a car and went “on holiday” out east, and never returned. When I landed in the far-eastern Canadian town where I was to undertake my own radical conversion, I only stopped there because I had run out of continent.

And it was there I discovered a whole new world, a moral universe of whose existence I had been previously totally ignorant. I met my “Catholic friends,” and was able to start the painful task of first deconstructing and then rebuilding my entire worldview, my character, my beliefs, my total understanding of life, the universe, and everything.

“Painful”? I barely survived. It took a year but I emerged a new kind of person in a new kind of world that I had never suspected existed. I met a group of other people who had undergone the same experience and we traded war stories. We agreed that it was like living in a parallel universe, and we bonded over the loss of previous friendships and family relationships. We helped each other, this little group of Catholic refugees on the rain-washed East Coast, to figure out a way to live in a world to which we no longer belonged. 

We talk about the programs set up by various individuals and groups that propose to help people, (mainly men) leave the homosexual lifestyle. We defend the right of psychotherapists to offer healing and help for people who have been damaged by their own choices and by the violence and sins of others. We lobby our Parliaments, we write articles, we even argue in comment boxes on the internet. We sometimes get brave and give talks and engage in public debates where we confront our ideological opponents in public venues. In all this, we rightly speak against the New Paradigm that the world has embraced and we urge people to reject it. It’s a form of evangelization.

But I think we need to keep in mind, while we are doing this good work, that what we are asking people to do, concretely, is momentous. Indeed, from the point of view of heaven, it is of cosmic significance. In less exalted terms, however, we are asking something almost unimaginably difficult of people ensnared in a way of living and thinking that they may not even completely understand themselves.

So much of our anti-culture, our death-culture, has been simply absorbed unconsciously, so much of it has been fed to us with our Fruit Loops and Saturday Morning Cartoons from earliest childhood, that we often have no way of knowing anything else exists. We have become people trapped in Plato’s Cave, knowing only the vaguest shadows of reality.

It is only too easy for those of us who live out here in The Real to forget how totally different our lives are from that of the majority of our fellow men. We shout, “jump!” because we see a whole other lush, green and happy world, but they see nothing but the shadows on the cave wall.

Ultimately, the Matrix is not only unreal, it is designed to make men miserable, but in such a way that they are hardly aware of being miserable. It not only enslaves, but tortures its victims. There is a reason that suicide, divorce, drug use, violent crime, self-harm, eating disorders, depression, … misery, in short, have grown to such colossal proportions in our societies.

If I may make a suggestion, maybe we could start writing and talking about how much better it is to live in The Real. How much happier it is possible to be when living a morally integrated life of self-control, not being pushed around either by lust or by the merciless demands of a lust-worshipping culture...a life of real freedom, in other words. It might help make the jump less frightening.


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