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What’s Wrong with a “Little” um… Lust?
In the world we live in today, we are bombarded by many strange notions of sexuality — whether it’s pornography on the Internet or TV adds selling shampoo with sex. Lust is so common in our modern world that you are seen as strange or prude if you don’t embrace the laissez faire attitude about this free-love notion of sexuality.
It’s Only Natural
Any Catholic who says it's okay — even if he is a priest, even if it’s within the bounds of marriage — is very mistaken. Am I just speaking about hardcore pornography? No. As our Lord said: “every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” and that includes any pictorial representation, whether it is intended to be “pornography” or not.
Sadly, I hear comments like these all the time: ”I'm not into that hard stuff that you were into. I'm not obsessed with it. I just like to look at the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition"; or "It's only natural. Men are attracted to beautiful women. There is nothing wrong with looking at some harmless pictures of attractive women once and a while"; and "I just use it to enhance my marriage. I'm a very sexual person and I need it to help fulfill my needs." In addition to these arguments, I have also often heard the argument that "If you are married then it’s ‘anything goes’ as long as both the husband and wife agree."
If you agree with any of the above statements, I urge you to read on and then ask yourself if it’s all right to entertain your fantasies with pictures of scantily clad women as long as it’s not the "hard stuff"!
The Slow Poison of Selfishness
It’s bad enough that adultery afflicts some Catholic marriages, and that artificial birth control is welcomed into far too many sacramental covenants, but I see that the deceptions of our sex-saturated society slowly poisons many marriages little by little with the ultimate goal of destroying families and more importantly, leaving men impotent to defend them.
In many ways, the sex-hungry pagan attitudes of our Western media resemble the debauchery of the waning days of the ancient Roman Empire. Though many people are either blind to or choose to remain silent about its real harm to our society, pornography is very destructive to our morals. It is a major contributor to the problems that we face in the world today. Pornography is just one of the aspects of the “culture of death” that seeks to destroy the family, devalue the dignity of human beings and disdain any references to God. Pornography is a symptom of a disordered view of the human person and the purpose of sexual behavior.
Pornography is based on selfishness no less than the “choice” to kill children in the womb and so-called “freedom” to entertain any sexual perversion at any cost. It reduces human beings to valueless commodities to be ogled and disposed of like used tissue. Sadly, many of the individuals whom pornographers target and then dispose of are vulnerable young men and women. Their vulnerability to exploitation by pornographers often is a result of their introduction to homosexual behavior. They have been told that this type of behavior is normal and desirable, but it warps their sense of themselves and makes them easy prey. The root cause is the intrinsic evil of obstinate selfishness flaunted by the media.
Virtually all advocates of a purely secular sexual code of behavior center on an "It's all about me" philosophy. Selfishness is at the core, rather than mutual love and care for one’s partner. Abortion is tragically too often the result of sex being separated from a committed marital relationship that is both open to life and centered on uplifting one another. The unborn child does not fit into the selfish program of using another person for self-gratification. This too is the supreme motivation behind pornography. It promotes intrinsic selfishness and says that sexual pleasure is more important than quality, life-giving relationships. The false message of pornography is that sexual pleasure equals happiness. But as I have experienced and I'm sure others have too, it actually causes much unhappiness and leaves a wake of destruction in our lives. It leaves a person feeling empty and used up and more and more selfish. Ultimately it may succeed in destroying a person’s soul and leaving him mentally afflicted, even spiritually dead.
The sexual union within marriage, between one man and one woman, is meant by the Creator to be an act of supreme love, giving and unity. It's a picture, if you will, of the supreme selflessness. Sadly, when pornography is allowed to be included in a conjugal relationship between a husband and wife, it brings a destructive force into many areas of the relationship. I'm personally aware of several marriages which have ended, in large part, because of pornography. I know of others which are currently suffering because of the husband’s addiction to pornography. In fact, my own marriage was nearly destroyed because of my own problems with pornography.
Polluting What Should Be Holy
So why is pornography allowed to intrude into so many marriages? The main reason is that we have been duped by society and the Great Deceiver. We have been lied to and told that we need this “toxic waste” in our lives or we are not normal. I'd liken it to serving a wonderful meal for dinner each evening, but adding a small amount of rat poison to it. Even a little is deadly over time. Conversely, while one spouse might initiate the inclusion of pornography in the relationship as a so-called “enhancement” to a couple’s sex life, both spouses are culpable. One spouse cannot initiate that to which the other does not agree. Sadly, many women will accept their husband’s perverse habits for fear they would only do it behind their backs anyway — or even worse have an affair. I have often heard wives rationalize this behavior by saying, “I would rather have him looking at pictures of women than sleeping around.” They are using the so-called “lesser of two evils” argument.
For the truly serious couple who are devoted to each other, to their vows, and to the higher level of holiness into which they entered with Christ at the altar, God provides everything necessary for a blessed, happy and satisfying conjugal life: “God who created man out of love,” states the Catechism (1604-1605), “also calls him to love — the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. Man and woman were created for each other: it is not good that the man should be alone.”
Thus, we have been given everything that is necessary to live a holy and happy marriage as bestowed by Christ through His Holy Spirit in the graces received on our wedding day. When pornography is allowed to intrude into a marriage it only serves to adulterate and pollute what should be a pure reflection of Christ’s love for His bride the Church. What should be “of God” should be zealously defended against influences of this world, lest they become worldly and pass away with this world in its time rather than last forever, as do all things that are of God.
Therefore, it is not “anything goes” between husband and wife. God wants us to live a holy and pure life — especially as husband and wife. Pornography is adultery — plain and simple. Jesus Christ said so Himself in Matthew 5:27-28 quoted above. That includes looking at any woman for the sake of lust, including Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, Victoria’s Secret catalogs and even including your own wife! If a man that looks at the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition were honest with himself, he would have to say he is looking at the models in lust, not because he wants to give glory to God and praise Him for His great work in creating these beautiful women. If he says he is not lusting, he is lying to himself and to God and he’s certainly not honoring his wife by looking at them.
Entrapped in a Web of Sin
When we indulge in pornography, we separate the body of the person in the pictures or movies from the whole person — the unity of body, soul and mind as God created him to be. We “use” their bodies for our own selfish pleasure, and many today, especially young women, are convinced by the messages they receive from society that should allow themselves to be “used” in this way. The lines have been blurred between lust and love. Lust is selfishness and selfishness is the opposite of love.
The God Who Sees Is the God Who Frees
Addiction topornography will not go away on its own, and I feel it is the greatest problem among Catholic men. You can never be free by your own power, no human being is strong enough to do so. It is only possible with the help of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Only He can set you free. Humility is the key. Satan holds us prisoner when we allow our sin to dwell in the dark, but when we bring it the light of Christ, Satan and his demons flee. Admit your problem and bring it out into the light of Truth.
© Copyright 2005 Catholic Exchange
Kenneth Henderson is the founder of the "True Knights" apostolate with a special mission of helping men and all people become free of addiction to pornography. He has appeared on EWTN’s Life on the Rock and is available to speak on many topics concerning authentic catholic family life. For more information visit www.trueknights.org, send an email to Info@TrueKnights.org or call 512-684-0767.