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The fight for sexual sanity in a world awash in porn

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By John Jalsevac

Note: This is part four of a five part series on pornography

Part I: My porn addiction
Part II: Porn, devil or an angel?
Part III: Three ways to kick porn out of your life
Part IV: The fight for sexual sanity in a world awash in porn
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art V: The pointlessness of pornography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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. 

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