John Jalsevac

Christians must start talking openly about porn: creators of ‘Shamed’

John Jalsevac
John Jalsevac
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LOS ANGELES, November 8, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Every minute Americans spend more than $3,000 on pornography. The average age of exposure to porn is now 11 years old. An estimated 25 percent of all internet searches are for porn. Every second, more than 28,000 people are looking at porn. And more than half of all divorces cite porn as a contributing factor to the breakdown of the marriage.

Indeed, from a statistical standpoint, odds are that you have looked at porn, and that either you or someone you know is seriously hooked on it. Yet, despite the fact that porn and porn addiction is practically ubiquitous, even amongst dedicated Christians, can you think of the last time you had an open, frank conversation about porn?

Chances are you can’t.

According to the creators of a new documentary called Shamed, which is currently in production, this deafening silence is precisely the environment in which porn addiction flourishes – leaving those struggling with sexual sin isolated and trapped in a self-destructive cycle of shame and deception.

“It’s imperative that we shift our culture’s current attitude of not speaking openly about pornography and sexuality for the sake of our children, emerging adults, and young adults with sexual secrets, confusion, or addictions,” reads a message from the creators of Shamed.

According to Jessica Mockett, co-producer and director of the film, the goal isn’t to talk about sex in the same way the wider culture talks about sex – to trivialize it or affirm immoral behavior. The movie, she assured, will approach the issue of porn from the standpoint of traditional Christian sexual ethics. But, she told LifeSiteNews.com, it will also seek to teach “from a compassionate and hopeful place.”

“Removing the mass amounts of shame does not mean we condone acting out sexually,” according to a synopsis of the project on the website for Shamed. “What it does, is allows for a safe place for those entrapped by pornography to come forward and begin to heal.”

The creators of the film draw a distinction between guilt – which they say is a good thing, because it can drive someone to change and healing – and an unhealthy “shame” – which they say “is a constricting emotion.”

“Shame tells us that we are not worthy of love or support; that we have to conceal the worst parts of ourselves in order to be accepted and loved,” they explain.

To break the cycle of unhealthy shame, Shamed has compiled a who’s-who list of experts on porn addiction, as well as a variety of men and women who have struggled with or otherwise been affected by porn addiction and who are willing to share their stories.

Recently, Mockett and her team released an eight-minute segment from the film, as part of an effort to raise publicity – and funds.

The first thing that strikes a viewer is the top-notch production quality - the crisp camera work, the visually striking set, and the music that perfectly sets the mood. But then comes the testimony - earnest, honest, hope-filled and frequently heartbreaking. Men and women whose lives have been torn apart by porn addiction - either their own or that of a loved one - and who have since climbed to a place of hope and healing.

“There’s something in [porn] that kept me from having a whole life, and I mean just experiencing things to a depth that’s rewarding and fulfilling,” recounts one tearful man interviewed in the clip.

Another woman, Jessica Harris, agrees. She recounts how she accidentally encountered porn while researching for a school project. After this she began to “sex chat,” before being pulled deeper and deeper into the world of hardcore porn.

“I think the biggest thing,” she says, “is that I lost my joy. When I was little I can remember just being so full of energy and life and creativity, and I wanted to go outside. I would sing because I was happy. But when I got exposed to [porn] I lost that, and I lost the connection that I wanted to have with real people.”

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Every testimony approaches the problem of porn with an understanding of the power of the addiction and the difficulties inherent in overcoming it – but also with a profound conviction that a porn-free life is a much happier and joyful life than one tainted by it.

Mockett doesn’t hide her eagerness to see the film hit the shelves. “Of all the video material on the subject that I have seen to date, I feel our work is the most viable in helping to get to the root of the issue and to bring healing,” she said.

But at the moment the project has come to a temporary standstill.

While there have been some very positive developments - the film has already secured a distributor who is willing to market and shelve the DVD, something that Mockett observes “is a big feat, especially for an independent project” - at the moment the production team lacks the funds to finish the project.

The production schedule calls for another cycle of interviews, which requires the use of a studio, the proper film equipment, and the experts to operate it. And then there is the business of post-production.

While Shamed has the enthusiastic support of numerous anti-porn organizations, Mockett says these groups have understandably been unable to offer major funding for the project, and so instead she has turned to the grassroots. Last year a fundraiser in Kickstarter raised $40,000. But this fall, a fundraiser on indiegogo to cover the costs of the second phase of the project has stalled at just under $5,000, far from the $50,000 they need to complete stage two, and the $110,000 they need to finish the project completely.

“How amazing that so much money is spent on the destruction of our culture and how ironic that it has proven so hard to find the needed $160,000 to complete Shamed, an amount that pornographers make in under a minute!” Mocket says.

Mockett attributed the difficulties they are having in completing the project to the widespread addiction to porn, and the effectiveness of the porn industry’s marketing.

“So many people believe the porn industry’s well placed lies that it is harmless entertainment, many others are involved as users and too ashamed to go near the subject in any way, many naive people think that pornography doesn’t affect them personally,” she observed, “so there is only a small group of folks who really get that pornography is damaging and are willing to make a stand against it.

But despite the present setbacks, the Shamed team is determined to forge ahead.

“We know this film has the potential to help hundreds of thousands of people to find the much needed hope, tools, and motivation to remove pornography/lust from their lives in healthy, realistic ways,” they write on their indiegogo fundraising page. “The producers are dedicated to the cause and movement.”

To learn more about Shamed, click here. To contribute to Shamed, click here. To see more videos from the film on the Vimeo page for Shamed, click here.

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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