John Jalsevac

Porn: devil or an angel?

John Jalsevac
John Jalsevac
Image

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.

Last call!

Help us reach our critical spring fundraising goal! Donate today.


Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
Lisa Bourne

, ,

Archbishop Chaput: Obama’s White House ‘may be the least friendly to religious concerns in our history’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

PHILADELPHIA, PA, April 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Philadelphia’s archbishop told a group of young men preparing for the Catholic priesthood that under the Obama administration hostility toward religion has reached an unprecedented level.

“The current White House may be the least friendly to religious concerns in our history,” Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap, stated in an address at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.

With religious liberty at the top of news headlines, the archbishop spoke to the seminarians March 17 in observance of the 50th anniversary of the close of Vatican II and its Declaration on Religious Liberty – Dignitatis Humanae. He talked about the decline of religious practice in the U.S. and the various ways religious liberties are being eroded in the country, forewarning of what’s to come with the nation on its current path.

“We’ll see more of the same in the future,” Archbishop Chaput said. “Pressure in favor of things like gay rights, contraception and abortion services, and against public religious witness.”

“We’ll see it in the courts and in so-called ‘anti-discrimination’ laws,” he continued. “We’ll see it in ‘anti-bullying’ policies that turn public schools into indoctrination centers on matters of human sexuality; centers that teach that there’s no permanent truth involved in words like ‘male’ and ‘female.’”

Archbishop Chaput detailed religious persecution across the globe currently and in the past, before delving into the present climate in America.

“We’ll see it in restrictions on public funding, revocation of tax exemptions and expanding government regulations,” the archbishop stated. “We too easily forget that every good service the government provides comes with a growth in its regulatory power. And that power can be used in ways nobody imagined in the past.”

Archbishop Chaput expressed how certain terms so prevalent in American culture today - justice, rights, freedom, and dignity - are used with conflicting meanings, rendering public discourse futile in addressing truth.

“Our most important debates come down to who can use the best words in the best way to get power,” he said. “Words like ‘justice’ have emotional throw-weight, so people use them as weapons.”

Reports of Archbishop Chaput’s remarks come as the state of Indiana and its governor face tremendous hostility for its recently adopted religious freedom law.

Republican Gov. Mike Pence has spent the last few days retreating after a national barrage of attacks on the law, which mirrors that of 19 other states and was shaped from 1993 federal legislation passed by a Democrat Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton.

Click "like" to support Catholics Restoring the Culture!

Opponents claim the law amounts to state-sponsored discrimination, despite the fact its purpose is to protect religious liberty against government overreach.

In speaking to the seminarians from his archdiocese, Archbishop Chaput said we are lying to ourselves if we think we can keep our freedoms without revering the biblical vision--the uniquely Jewish and Christian vision--of who and what man is.

“Human dignity has only one source. And only one guarantee,” he said. “We’re made in the image and likeness of God. And if there is no God, then human dignity is just elegant words.”

The archbishop stressed for the young men that the faithful must live out religious liberty by practicing faith in their lives and by defending it.

“We need to remember two simple facts,” Archbishop Chaput said. “In practice, no law and no constitution can protect religious freedom unless people actually believe and live their faith – not just at home or in church, but in their public lives.” 

“But it’s also true that no one can finally take our freedom unless we give it away,” he said.

The archbishop closed by cautioning against becoming a cynic, saying there’s too much beauty in the world to lose hope.

“In the end,” he said, “there’s too much evidence that God loves us, with a passion that is totally unreasonable and completely redemptive, to ever stop trusting in God’s purpose for the world, and for our lives.”

Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
Rachel Lu

,

Dissent trumps Faith in new ‘Catholic’ LGBT film

Rachel Lu
By Rachel Lu

April 1, 2015 (CrisisMagazine.com) -- “Human beings procreate male-female, but human sexuality isn’t just about that. It’s about so much more, which is self-evident.”

So says Fr. Patrick Conroy, chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, at the outset of a recently released short film promoting the normalization of LGBT lifestyles within the Catholic Church.

The film is entitled “Owning Our Faith,” which is richly ironic in ways that the director, Michael Tomae, surely did not intend. Except for Catholic writer Eve Tushnet (a complicated case, whose work has been discussed on Crisis in the past), all the featured participants clearly and openly dissent from Catholic teachings on sexuality. They are indeed interested in “owning” their faith. But the ownership they seek is of a distinctly proprietary nature.

There’s little point in trying to refute the film’s arguments as such, because there really are none. If the word “Catholic” were omitted from the audio track, almost nothing would suggest to a listener that the content of the film had anything to do with the Catholic tradition. There is no serious discussion of theology or doctrine. The quote from Fr. Conroy above is the closest it ever comes to “engaging” the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics. It’s clear throughout that the individuals featured are not interested in learning what their faith might have to teach them. As they see it, they are the teachers, appointed to remake the Church in their own image.

Thus we see Fr. Conroy lamenting that gay and lesbian Catholics cannot be “fully participating in the sacramental life of our Church.” In case anyone is unclear as to what he means (because of course, experiences of same-sex attraction do not exclude anyone from full participation in the Church’s sacramental life), this is juxtaposed against “married couple” Matt and Rick Vidal discussing why they choose to remain “faithful Catholics,” despite criticism from their LGBT friends. “We are the Church,” declares Rick, “and if we leave it, if we abandon the Church, then it’s never going to change, so we have to continue living here, being an example, and encouraging other people to be that example, because that’s what’s going to change the Church.”

Is there anything these men like about Catholicism as it is? Any reason not to seek out one of the (numerous) other communities and churches that would be happy to affirm them in whatever sexual lifestyle they might choose? They don’t say, and neither do any of the other featured speakers. Here and elsewhere, we are left with the distinct impression that most of them remain in Catholic communities primarily as a favor to the rest of us, so that we can benefit from their gifts and unique insight. A review of the film at National Catholic Reporter stated that, “Not every viewer will agree with every opinion expressed in ‘Owning Our Faith,’ but only the most rigid of believers would question the love these Catholics have for their church.” At the risk of joining the ranks of the rigid, I do indeed feel moved to ask: what do these Catholics love about their church? They don’t tell us. We only hear about what needs to change.

It’s difficult to argue with a film that isn’t working on the level of rational argument. Nevertheless, it’s worth responding to the general thrust and ethos of the film with three important points.

The first relates to the claim, made on the film’s website and in other promotional materials, that productions of this sort are created as part of an effort to “promote open dialogue” about same-sex attraction and related issues. This is exactly the opposite of their intent, and it’s important to be clear on this point. Propagandistic videos of this sort are intended to bypass, or even to shut down, any real or serious discussion of the moral dimensions of same-sex attraction.

In a dialogue, morally relevant issues are stated clearly so that they can be analyzed and considered. What we have here is a long string of emotional appeals. “My gender transition was immensely spiritual to me,” says Mateo Williamson, who self-identifies as a transgendered man. “Sexuality is how we express our inner soul, our inner energy,” enthuses Mike Roper who self-identifies as gay. In a particularly shameful piece of emotional blackmail, grandmother Nana Fotsch urges parents of same-sex attracted Catholics to accept their children’s declared sexual identity and related lifestyle choices or “you’re going to lose them.” (Don’t all of Christianity’s hard teachings have the potential to alienate us from loved ones? Shall we just jettison the whole Catechism right now? Our Lord has some rather stern words about those who prioritize family relationships above the truths of the Gospel.)

Though there’s nothing Catholic about its message, Owning Our Faith pursues a strategy that is entirely consonant with a larger (and thus far, remarkably successful) progressive project. Don’t try to win the argument about sexuality and marriage. Play for sympathy. Appeal to emotion. People today are so thoroughly confused about sex and marriage that they have few defenses against an onslaught of politically loaded sentimentalism. And you can’t lose an argument that you never have.

This leads us to the second important point. Uncomfortable as it may sometimes be, loving people just doesn’t entail approving everything they do. Neither should we accept anyone “exactly as he is,” because of course all of us are sinful, fallen and in need of transformation by grace.

This is not a message that these “owners of faith” want to hear. Katie Chiarantona, one of the film’s representative “straight” contributors, sums up the film’s prevailing view even more neatly by declaring that she cares enormously about the place of homosexuals in the Church because she has many LGBT friends and, “it is unconscionable and unthinkable for me to support an institution that doesn’t celebrate them and encourage them to live fully as who they are.”

Who among us can really say with any confidence that we know who our friends (or we ourselves) really are? This is a dangerous conceit. None of us here below have yet realized our perfected state. Most of us, I expect, still have a significant way to go. But progression towards supernatural fulfillment is not possible if we begin by issuing ultimatums to God about the conditions under which we will accept divine grace.

Such an effort brings to mind the parable of the wedding banquet, in which a king invites all and sundry (including the poor and commoners) to his son’s wedding, but ends up evicting one guest owing to a lack of appropriate wedding attire. Quite obviously, the king in the story is not a philistine when it comes to standing on ceremony; he’s just ushered the local riff-raff into the most formal of state affairs. Nevertheless, the guest who refuses to dress properly is forcibly removed. Clearly there is a lesson about the importance of accepting grace on God’s terms, and not our own. All of us are welcome at the Lord’s table, but we may not simply come as we are. Being Christian means looking for faith to change us, not the other way around.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

This leads to the final point. While there is some space for discussing the appropriate pastoral response to deep-seated same-sex attraction, the Church’s broader position on same-sex attraction is perfectly clear. It is intrinsically disordered, and homoerotic relationships are immoral. There is no reason to think that this teaching can, should, or ever will change. Quite the contrary, once one understands the Catholic position on sexuality, it becomes clear that it cannot possibly be tweaked in such a way as to allow disgruntled LGBT activists the affirmation they seek.

Fr. Conroy’s position, as stated in the opening quote, is a straw man. Of course no reasonable person supposes that sexuality is “only about” procreation, if by that we mean that sex should be viewed in a coldly clinical light as a utilitarian means to achieving pregnancy. Clearly, erotic love involves far more than that, and how could it not, given the magnitude of what procreation really is? To even begin to do justice to that tremendous good (the begetting of immortal souls and perpetuation of the human race) erotic love must be a noteworthy thing indeed.

However, the Church has consistently maintained that erotic love, at least among mere humans, must be ordered towards procreation. Every effort to slice and dice the relevant pieces of the conjugal package into more-palatable portions (by sanctioning sex without marriage or marriage without permanence or erotic relationships of multiple sorts that are intrinsically closed to life) has been rejected by the Church, and for good reason. Embracing the life-giving nature of sex is the key that enables Catholics to articulate a noble, elevated and meaningful portrait of erotic love, which makes sex into something more than a tangled mash-up of bodies and emotions.

The conversation that dissenting LGBT Catholics (and their “straight allies”) want to have is already over. On some level they know this, which is why they seek sympathy instead of engagement. But there is some good news. For those who really do love their Church, full participation in its sacramental life is always available. They need do only what all Catholics are expected to do: stop trying to fix our faith, and pray instead for it to fix us.

Reprinted with permission from CrisisMagazine.

Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
During his political days, Andy and his wife Angela with George and Laura Bush
Andy Parrish

On the fast track to political stardom, recent LSN hire gets more than he bargained for…

Andy Parrish
By Andy Parrish
Image
Andy Parrish

I’ve been a Chief of Staff to Rep. Michele Bachmann, I’ve managed multiple Congressional, Senatorial and Ballot Initiatives, some would say I’ve even ‘made’ members of Congress.

I’ve been a Senior Political Advisor to a Presidential candidate and I’ve sat across from President George W. Bush and advised him on political matters.  

I did most of that by the time I was thirty-three. I was on the fast track and no one was going to stop me.

Well, Jesus had other plans for me.

Even though I was on the fast track to the top it came at a significant price. I was putting me first and my family second.  

That’s not what Angela had signed up for when we got married and it’s certainly not right for my children. Nor is it the way God designed marriage.

After suffering a few defeats, I made the decision I didn’t want to be in politics anymore. But it was all I knew how to do so I started my own business and Angela kept encouraging me to seek out contracts in areas that I was most passionate about.

I was looking for contracts and stumbled upon an opportunity at LifeSiteNews.com that I never would have expected. I’ve been passionate about the life issue since I was three years old. My first memory in life was outside of a Planned Parenthood abortuary.

Providentially, a few weeks later I was on board. I thought it would be a simple job, you know one of those that you didn’t have to invest much into.  

I was wrong.  Dead wrong.  

It only took a few days for me to realize that this isn’t a job at all: this is a mission.

What amazed me most is these people just don’t talk the talk. Every one of them walks the walk, and they all put their faith and families above anything else.

Since starting work at LifeSite, I have followed the example of my co-workers and I’ve learned to show my family how much I love them by putting them first again.  

At LSN we start everyday and most every meeting with either a devotion or prayer (of course it’s voluntary).  We pray for you the readers of LSN, we pray for our supporters, we pray for each other and we pray for the success of LSN.

I’ve also found that LSN isn’t about any one person, it’s about a mission and it is larger then anyone who works here. We all trust that Jesus will continue to make LSN successful and will continue to be a blessing to our families and to you.  

LSN has given me so much.  They’ve given me my priorities back, they’ve given me more than I can ever give them and I am just one story.

I ask that you continue to pray and support the mission of LSN. We are changing hearts and minds with the truth and we are changing lives. As we end our Spring campaign, I hope you will consider clicking one of the donate buttons on our site to help us reach our goal.

Andy Parrish, Public Relations and Media Specialist for LifeSiteNews

Share this article

Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook