Fr. Alan Boisclair

Pornography poisons God’s gift of sexuality

By  Nathan Rumohr, Canadian Catholic News
  • February 2, 2013

VANCOUVER - Pornography has become an epidemic that is tearing many Catholic couples apart and, in the process, wounding authentic masculinity and femininity.

“For Pope John Paul II, the very intent and method of pornography is not to reveal the whole truth and dignity of the person, only to over-accentuate the sexual values, such that the person is lost,” said Fr. Alan Boisclair, co-ordinator of Vancouver’s Theology of the Body office.

“Not only is the other person stripped and dehumanized, which is the specific sin of the ‘lustful look’ forbidden by the Ninth Commandment, but pornography becomes an addictive obsession, an ‘insatiability of the gift,’ since it merely appeases but never fulfils the deepest desires of our heart.”

“We would use the term epidemic to describe the situation,” said Peter White, an Abbotsford counsellor who specializes in sex and pornography addictions.

White and fellow Abbotsford counsellor Jake Khym, the founder of Life Restoration Counselling Services, plan to work with the archdiocese’s Office of Life, Marriage and Family (OLMF) to develop a program to battle pornography addictions.

“One of the lies is, once you are hooked on pornography you can never be free,” said Pavel Reid, director of OLMF.

“There are many men who have found help and are no longer addicted. That’s what the antipornography program needs to accomplish.”

“When you take sexuality out of its appropriate context and put it into a utilitarian mindset where it’s no longer about persons but using persons for pleasure, it strikes at the heart of what it means to be human,” Khym explained.

“Pornography has this allure to it: it seems like it’s fine because of the pleasure you receive, but it’s actually very deadly.”

He added pornography addiction takes God’s gift of sexuality, twisting what is intended to be good and poisoning it.

“Pornography destroys unity and love by alienating each person from the other, and even each person from their own body, heart and soul,” noted Boisclair.

“It is a formula for despair, since it acts precisely against the needs of the human heart for love, and of the human soul for what is sacred, substituting a shamelessness that violates the dignity of the other, and annihilates both the other and the self as authentic persons.”

White and Khym said a major reason pornography is so rampant is the three As: availability, anonymity and affordability.

According to a 2009 study on Internet pornography by Jerry Ropelato, there are approximately 400 million pornographic web sites.

“Pornography 50 years ago was a different animal than it is today because of the Internet,” Khym said. “Because pornography is so affordable and accessible, there is a high degree of anonymity that allows usage and consumption to go up while the risk doesn’t go up.”

“It’s a world without perceived consequence,” added White.

Khym knows firsthand what pornography can do. He struggled with the addiction throughout his life and it almost cost him his marriage.

“Pornography gives you the illusion of what a real relationship looks like,” Khym said. “You train your brain and your soul that this is an appropriate way to engage with others, but in the real world that doesn’t work and it’s highly unrealistic; it’s not based in truth.”

“When something like this comes into your marriage, where your spouse is seeking sexual pleasure elsewhere, it’s horrible,” said Khym’s wife Heather. “I felt like what I deserved and what I had was being ripped away from me.”

“Pornography can affect a woman in all areas, depending on how severe her husband’s use of it is,” said Mellissa Guzik of Guzik Professional Counselling Services in Calgary.

She said spouses feel they have been betrayed and have lost their dignity.

“They feel their marriage has been an illusion and the person they thought they were married to isn’t there. The experience is like finding out that their husbands have had an affair.”

White explained that pornography encourages its regular viewers to take the natural function of sex and meet unnatural objectives. Pornography becomes a craving for men, he said, as it increases testosterone levels in the body and dopamine levels in the brain, creating a cycle of compulsion.

“Men become imprisoned within a process that they find themselves unable to escape from,” he said. “These desires become heightened, and this isn’t something we see plateau; it’s something we see increasing.”

According to Dr. Randall F. Hyde and Mark B. Kastleman, pornography is indeed an addiction. The pair authored a white paper that explains how pornography addicts have similar actions to other addictions.

Hyde and Kastleman reported that experts in the fields of neuroscience and neuropsychology are researching the addiction, and “will provide the clinical evidence required to officially enter sex and pornography as ‘addictions’ in the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).”

The choice to seek help can be difficult for many, especially in the Church, because it is difficult to announce they suffer from pornography addiction.

“Sexuality is still uniquely stigmatized, especially in Christian circles and the Church,” said White. “That ends up being a major dilemma in the process. A person can pretty successfully stand up in a Church community and say they are 10 days sober and would probably receive applause.”

But a pornography addict feels he is discouraged from sharing his struggle. “It requires a boatload of courage, but the payoff is substantial.”

“Unlike other moral problems, pornography can afflict men who are serious about their faith,” said Msgr. Gregory Smith, pastor of Christ the Redeemer parish in West Vancouver, who has invited several speakers to address the topic at the parish. 

He said men, especially younger men, become addicted to pornography at a young age before they have significant moral defences.

“By the time they become serious Christians they don’t have the full freedom to avoid some of the compulsive aspects of this behaviour.”

(B.C. Catholic)

 

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