You have probably seen all of the studies that have been done on what pornography does to your brain, right? These studies are commonly posted on Facebook among the faithful crowd. But, the one thing that I have noticed is that almost NONE of these posts are posted by men. Perhaps this is because of the nature of the subject.
The numbers are staggering when it comes to porn usage. Four out of five teens from ages 15 to 17 regularly view Internet porn. The average age of first exposure to Internet porn is 11. Nine out of 10 children from ages eight to 16 have viewed porn online. Seven out of 10 young adults from ages 18 to 34 view porn at least once a month. One out of four young people between the ages of 16 and 20 have tried to stop watching porn but couldn’t kick the habit. Even among practicing Christians, 75% of regular Church goers report viewing pornography at least once a month. Can there really be any greater problem that the Church faces? Tied to these studies are the 50+% divorce rate, 53 million souls aborted, rabid use of contraception, and even some cases of homosexuality. This really isn’t shocking news. If you are familiar with St. Paul’s writings, you are aware that this has been going on for millennia. So what can we do as Christian men to combat the influence of pornography on ourselves and our families?
In order to answer this, it is necessary to have an understanding of how we come to know. St. Thomas states that we are sentient beings and that we know and learn by what enters through our senses. This is the key. Keep that stuff out of the house; do whatever it takes to block access to anything even remotely pornographic. But, take it a step further. Review every movie and T.V. show that your children want to watch. In just about every case, the suggestive comments and sexual innuendo displayed in movies and TV shows has been a catalyst in progressing pornography use, even though nothing pornographic is displayed. Install Covenant Eyes, or Net Nanny to protect your children. Turn your router off at the house past bedtime, do whatever it takes. Review movies at kidsinmind.com or IMDB. But, probably most importantly, talk about sex with your children openly and honestly. Sexual sin by its very nature, is secretive, so get it out on the table and talk about the beauty of sex in its proper context. This is important because if you do not talk to your children about sex, someone else will. And what the internet offers is less than desirable.
There is really only one way to stop sexual sin and that is with sincerity and humility. Sexual sin, at its root, is about distorting reality into fantasy. It is an escape from wounds never dealt with. Sexual sin does not discriminate. It effects all social classes of people from students and dock workers to lawyers and doctors, cashiers to CEO’s. The dawn of the internet has exploded the problem due to its ease of accessibility. But, the good news is that it is now out in the open. The first step in addressing any problem is knowing it. Here are 5 tips for preventing sexual sin and combating it within your family.
- Prayer – Real prayer. No making deals with God. Prayer, meaning conversation with God, reading scripture and applying it.
- Sincerity – We should always be honest, but sincerity allows us to be more than honest, it allows us to not hide anything. Sexual sin, by its nature is taboo, and embarrassing. Be not afraid to discuss it openly with a safe person. Dads, you are EXTREMELY important here for your boys! Safe persons are trusted persons that will hold you accountable. It can be a close friend, parent, or a trusted priest or clergyman. Remind yourself that all will be revealed at the end of time, so there is really nothing to fear. The more one hides their secretive sin, the worse it will get.
- Frequency of the Sacraments – I cannot stress this enough. Frequent confession and reception of the Eucharist at Mass are the best tools. Sincerity in confession will help tremendously and it will support us and provide strength that we do not possess. In particular, with this being the year of Mercy, frequent confession will help in recognizing that we need to rely on Our Lord in the Sacraments.
- Fasting and Serving – In the Gospels, Our Lord commits us to fasting to eliminate certain problems. Sexual sin feeds the passions. Fasting at least once a week and offering to God small sacrifices of discomfort will help in training your body and taming your mind. It is a good idea to discuss this with a trusted confessor or director, as this can lead to a rigid ideology of religion which will only exacerbate the problem of sexual sin, if it goes unchecked. Again, sincerity with your trusted adviser, confessor, or director is so IMPORTANT. Serving others is the best way to free yourself from that which ails you. When we give ourselves to others, we free ourselves from our own nonsense.
- Recourse to the Mother of God – In the Mother of God, we find the model of purity. This is really the goal in combating sexual sin. Mary’s life was a life of service to Christ and others, and she continues to serve all Christians! Honoring Mary with a well said Rosary, contemplating Christ’s life, with a calm and repetitive cadence, will pay massive dividends. If you are not a Catholic, simply walking in her footsteps and modeling her behavior of service in the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel is great start.
If the problem persists, you may want to seek counseling. There are some great counselors out there that are trained in dealing with sexual sin. Our friends over at Dads.org have a great list of counselors by area. Or you may wish to choose to attend a workshop with Life Ministries. At the root of sexual sin is always something that is lacking in living a normal and healthy Christian life. Sexual sin is a problem of the heart, as Christ reminds us in the Gospel’s (Matthew 15, Mark 7). Internet filters and other things are useful in prevention, but ultimately are just ways of strictly that, avoidance. There needs to be real conversion of the heart, and the only way to combat sexual sin is to be sincere, which is humbling. Be not afraid!