Bought With A Price
Pornography and the Attack on the Living Temple of God
Excerpts for Married and Engaged Couples
from a Pastoral Letter by Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington, VA
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In my forty years as a priest, I have seen the evil of pornography spread like a plague throughout our culture. What was once the shameful and occasional vice of the few has become the mainstream entertainment for the many - through the Internet, cable, satellite and broadcast television, cell phones and even portable gaming and entertainment devices designed for children and teenagers. Never before have so many Americans been so tempted to view pornography. Never before have the accountability structures - to say nothing of the defenses which every society must build to defend the precious gift of her children - been so weak.
This plague stalks the souls of men, women and children, ravages the bonds of marriage and victimizes the most innocent among us. It obscures and destroys people's ability to see one another as unique and beautiful expressions of God's creation, instead darkening their vision, causing them to view others as objects to be used and manipulated. It has been excused as an outlet for free expression, supported as a business venture, and condoned as just another form of entertainment. It is not widely recognized as a threat to life and happiness. It is not often treated as a destructive addiction. It changes the way men and women treat one another in sometimes dramatic but often subtle ways. And it is not going away.
Spouses - especially husbands - striving to grow in the fidelity inherent in their marital vocation, encounter temptations to escape and seek false comfort in images and fantasies.
The true guardian and caretaker of the unique dignity of human persons is the family, and most particularly husbands and wives, who are custodians of the sacredness of life. Pornography not only poses a danger for the promise of faithfulness that is the fundamental element of the marriage bond, but also threatens the moral and sexual development of children whose nurturance is entrusted to the watchful care of parents. Husbands and wives are the most immediate and direct combatants in the struggle against pornography.
So (also) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the Church, because we are members of his body. Ephesians 5:28-30
While husbands and wives share equal dignity as persons, they do not share temptations equally - especially the temptations associated with the scourge of pornography. It must be admitted that the use of pornography is largely, although certainly not exclusively, associated with males. If a marriage begins to be damaged by pornography, it will most likely be introduced by the husband.
Husbands, be aware that your solemn promise of faithfulness, which is the foundation of the formation of your family, is damaged by any use of pornography. Strive to bring honor to the promise you made at the beginning of your married life. The times where intimacy is difficult are opportunities to practice the sacrificial love of a spouse that only your noble vocation illustrates most perfectly.
Seeking comfort in the illusion of pornography will incrementally corrupt your understanding of self, your perception of your beloved wife, and the model you present to your children. It is futile to believe that this secret preoccupation can be continued and isolated from family life. In small ways, the self-centeredness and disrespect of self and others, which lie at the heart of this vice, will become manifest within your relationships with your family.
Wives who find that their husbands have entered into a sinful attraction to pornographic images or stories must be loving and forgiving, but also stern in calling the spouse to return to his true manly vocation of marriage. The betrayal of a spouse over a mere illusion is a bitter experience, yet one whose most sure antidote is love, support and counsel.
The field of psychological counseling, when in keeping with the proper understanding of the human person and natural law, can also be of great assistance. Many have found themselves incapable of struggling against impurity alone, and that the assistance of a counselor or a therapist has made a sizable (sometimes the decided) difference.
Protecting the Home
Husbands and wives must practice constant vigilance to ensure that the plague of pornography does not enter into the lives of their children. This vigilance begins with a prudential control of media available in the home. Encourage the use of uplifting and positive magazines, films and books. When exercising parental controls over media, provide children with understandable standards and moral reasons for recommending and rejecting media content. Always be clear and consistent when explaining these standards and demonstrate their importance by accepting the same standards for yourself.
Insist on strict and clear controls on any child's use of the Internet. Internet use in the home should always take place in family areas. Children, even older children, should not be provided Internet access in the privacy of their rooms. Technology controls on both computers and television should be a routine part of family media use.
Most importantly, husbands and wives provide the clearest and surest teaching of chastity through the love, devotion and self-sacrifice they display in their relationship one to the other. Recall always that the Lord has entrusted to you by your very life together the perfect means to bring children to a true and mature understanding of human intimacy.
We stand at a threshold - either we can continue to allow this plague to spread with fewer and fewer checks, or we can take concrete steps to uproot it in our lives, our families, our neighborhoods and our culture.
We are a people called to share in the pure and noble vision of God and His creation. We are also a people whose future glory has been bought with the precious sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. We must never forget the high cost of this purchase.
Entrust each other and your children always to the care of the perfect spouse, Saint Joseph.
Prayer to Saint Joseph
O most provident guardian of the Holy Family, defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ. Most beloved father, dispel the evil of impurity and sin. Our most might protector, graciously assist us from heaven in our struggle with the powers of darkness. And just as you once saved the Child Jesus from mortal danger, so now defend this family from the snares of her enemies and from all adversity. Shield each one of us by your constant protection, so that, supported by your example and your help, we may be able to live a virtuous life, to die a holy death, and to obtain eternal happiness in heaven. Amen.
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