There are computer programs that allow parents to block their children from watching pornography on the Internet. CNS photo/ Zoran Milich, Reuters)

No dignity in pornography

By  Meredith Gillis, Youth Speak News
  • September 5, 2014

TORONTO - Pornography deadens healthy sexual relationships, says Moira McQueen.

McQueen, a moral theologian who teaches at the University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto, will be speaking to young adults on the topic at an upcoming Theology on Tap in Toronto, why it’s a sin and our responsibility to not partake of this forbidden fruit. The event is hosted by Faith Connections.

Pornography is not just an adult problem. In a May 2014 study by MediaSmart in Ottawa, 40 per cent of boys in Grades 7 through 11 admitted to viewing porn online, and most said they did it frequently. Other studies suggest that more than 70 per cent of teenage boys have viewed Internet porn, with the first exposure coming, on average, before the start of high school.

Research has demonstrated that teens exposed to pornography are more likely to experience feelings of loneliness, depression and lower self-esteem, and they question their moral values.

McQueen’s mantra is about how the age and stage of a person are important when determining someone’s moral culpability. Viewing pornography is wrong, but “if you don’t know you’re doing something wrong it can’t be a sin. You have to be aware of the harm and do it anyways,” said McQueen.

Pornography is not a “water cooler” topic of polite everyday discussion, but it lurks in the Internet browser history of people’s laptops and in people’s homes, affecting relationships.

The existence of relationship is a key element in Catholic teaching regarding pornography and masturbation. Both are listed as offenses against chastity, the first of the seven heavenly virtues.

“It’s different than the doctor patient, teacher-student relationships. Those are real relationships, trying to help them to grow and develop,” said McQueen.

She said when a person feels a need to purchase sex from a prostitute or watch pornography, it indicates a lack of something in their life, because they’re not using it as a means to develop intellectu-ally or spiritually.

“It’s that consumer element that’s so deadening to the idea of healthy sexual relationships,” said McQueen.

Part of the problem today is just how common pornography has become. What used to be sold on the top shelf of magazine racks behind a black bar or brown paper wrapper and could only be purchased by adults is now just a click away.

McQueen said another way we know pornography is wrong is by the secretiveness surrounding it.

“There’s all these attempts to shield young people, and prevent them from being exposed too young. People forget that aspect,” said McQueen.

Programs exist so parents can block web sites from their children, and last year Iceland introduced legislation to ban online pornography.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church does encourage civil au-thorities to prevent the production and distribution of pornography.

“We’ll be talking about the dignity of the body, how we’re temples of the Holy Spirit,” said McQueen. “This is what the Catholic teaching offers. It appeals to the higher sensibilities. From a spiritual point of view, we’re aiming for the higher things. Catholic theology reveres body as good as long as it’s in the framework of a relationship. Porn is opposite.

“Anything that makes people use their bodies to earn their keep, sexual or otherwise, is automatically harmful to the person,” said McQueen.

Theology on Tap: Pornography takes place Sept. 22 from 7-9 p.m. at the Duke of York Pub. McQueen and Denis Costello ofCatholic Family Services will each speak for about 15 minutes. The remaining hour and a half will be devoted to group discussions and questions.

(Gillis, 25, has an undergradu-ate degree in journalism from St. Thomas University in Fredericton, N.B.) 

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