My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
As we begin Holy Week, with the celebration of Palm Sunday, sometimes called Passion Sunday, we recognize that a modern-day passion event is unfolding in our society. The release of the movie version of the book “Fifty Shades of Grey” has brought to our national attention a problem that has been brewing for over a generation, which is the justification and mainstreaming of pornography.
Christian anthropology understands that human nature and our sexual nature must be treated with consummate care, otherwise it can lead to our downfall. In the garden of paradise, Adam and Eve’s recognition that they are naked is a consequence of the loss of original innocence due to sin which was not intended by God but because of our first parents’ pride and disobedience.
The widespread use of pornography is an expression of humanity’s lost innocence. Far from being a minor sin, it defaces the image of God in which we were created. The Church as mother and teacher knows the effect that sexual promiscuity can have on her children. Some say that the Church is preoccupied with sex. Perhaps we are not occupied enough. We must understand the powerful emotions that sexual urges well up in individuals. It is most important that we educate our children to understand their own sexuality and to put it into the proper perspective as they grow as individuals.
With the advent of the Internet, any one of us can fall victim to indulging our fantasies. Indeed, we are surrounded by sexual images, especially in the advertisements we see on television and in the print media. Sex sells, as the old adage goes, because it attracts our attention. Worse than attracting our attention, it can well up in us the worst of responses.
Sex is a powerful part of our personalities. Created by God, it is good and essential to our human personalities. However, it needs its proper place and understanding. It is intended to be a gift that is mutually given by man and woman to bind them to one another and bring life into the world. As creatures in the image and likeness of God, we are thereby invited to share in the communion of the Godhead and in His work of creation.
It seems that “pornography has gone mainstream,” as Bishop Paul S. Loverde, Bishop of Arlington in Virginia, states in a recent pastoral letter he wrote to the people of his diocese. Unfortunately, pornography is much more available today than it ever was; on the Internet and in the various media outlets, in hotel rooms and every possible conceivable place. Pornography has become privatized and all too available, especially to the young who still have yet to integrate their sexuality into their personalities.
It is not easy to educate our children to sexual maturity. This is primarily the responsibility of the family. In the educational institutions under our control, we make every effort to assist parents in support of this daunting task. In our public school system, however, we see a valueless distribution of information regarding sexuality which is truly detrimental to our young people.
And so what can we do about this assault on human dignity? Wringing our hands is useless. Yet, we must call attention to this and the epidemic proportions that pornography has in our society today. There are many ways of assistance for those trying to overcome this type of addiction. The web page http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/02/porn-goes-mainstream can be a helpful resource.
Another interesting meditative piece that could be useful, especially those who are struggling with pornography is called “50 Hues of Holiness” which has been made available on the USCCB website (http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/domestic-violence/upload/50-Hues-of-Holiness.pdf), using quotations from Sacred Scripture and from the teachings of the Church which provided 50 poignant and thought-provoking sentences on how our human sexuality can lead us to holiness and not toward the path of despair and destruction.
Another initiative by Morality in Media (soon to be called the National Center on Sexual Exploitation) to reference: http://endsexualexploitation.org/fiftyshadesgrey/
As we begin Holy Week, perhaps we can bring to our prayer the problem of sexual addictions caused by pornography in our society. The Body of Christ, which suffered in order to redeem us, stills suffers today because of the disorder of perversions of sexuality that afflict our society. Holy Week is a time when we truly put out into the deep mystery of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ which brings Him to resurrection. Do what you can in prayer and action to counteract the societal misunderstanding of human sexuality.
If you need help overcoming a pornography addiction, visit: foryourmarriage.org/help-for-men-and-women-struggling-with-pornography-use-or-addiction/.