Tuesday, April 19, 2016

There but for the grace of God.

But for the grace of God ...

I never got 'into' porn.  Not sure why.  Perhaps I learned about custody of the eyes at a young age?  I recall confessions when young how priests always said, never look at porn, later, never have it in the house.  I'd reply, "I don't."

I suppose the closest I got to it would be books on anatomy or select photo collections by photographers such as Bruce Weber - the man famous for Abercrombie and Fitch fashion images.  To be sure much of his work is homo-erotic/soft porn - but I avoided that and used his milder commercial work.  (Later I determined it would be more prudent to dispose of Weber's stuff.)

I resorted to some of these sources in the early '90's to teach myself how to paint the human figure, specifically for compositions I was working on at the time.  For years I avoided life drawing classes fearing temptations against chastity.  The photography books helped me work through that.  Whenever I noted any sense of arousal, I resorted to prayer while working.  In fact, that is where the rosary came in.  I used a tape of the rosary to pray along with as I worked - it became a habit, and I still do it no matter what I'm painting.  I pray along as I drive as well.  I never listen to the radio or music or have television on, I just pray the rosary - over and over.  I learned not to objectify.  Porn was always unreal to me anyway - but I knew its attraction, and so looked away immediately whenever I came across it.

I'm not trying to sound holier than thou with this, as I always say, there but for the grace of God.  I suspect some might claim life study and nude photography is not the same and was an occasion of sin.  That wasn't my experience.  I do know many people are really into porn however - and when trying to avoid it, a man in a swim suit, or a Victoria's Secret ad could be a turn on.  I never knew how deeply into porn people have become until recently.  Joe Sciambra, a former porn actor writes about it all of the time.

Today I came across an article at CNA regarding the problem, which I think people should read.  I simply was not aware of how pervasive porn use has become, especially online and with new technology.  It must be a terrible addiction.

An evolving problem.

In the earlier days of the Internet, before the boom of smartphones, a 2004 study from an internet traffic management company saw porn sites grow by 1,800% between 1998 and 2004. At the time, Nielsen/Net ratings estimated that about 34 million people visited adult websites every month.
Today, those numbers seem almost laughable. PornHub, one of the world’s largest adult sites with explicit video streaming, reports that it averages 2.4 million visitors per hour. In 2015 alone, the number of hours streamed from the site was double the amount of time human beings have populated the Earth, according to TIME Magazine.
The amount of content is not the only thing that has changed either. Because of the constant availability of pornography, many users find themselves seeking more and more extreme forms of content, and the Internet has kept up with the demand. - CNA

Fr. Sean Kilcawley

I'm not familiar with this priest, but I like his approach to pastoral care, and he praises Pope Francis for his teaching as well.

“Pope Francis has talked about pornography more than any other pope in history, I guarantee it,” Fr. Kilcawley told CNA.
Pornography is also important for priests to address with their parishioners in order for them to feel comfortable enough to seek healing, Fr. Kilcawley said.
“It’s just giving people permission to be wounded, which I think is what Pope Francis has been trying to do,” Fr. Kilcawley said. “You have permission to be wounded, and so it’s ok to come and tell your priest that you have this problem in your life. He’s not going to run away from you, he’s not going to scold you, he’s not going to condemn you, he just wants to help you heal.”
“The most shameful sins in our life, we need permission to talk about them,” he said. - CNA
One of Fr. Kilcawley's best pieces of advice is this:
Fr. Kilcawley said he also encourages people who are addicted to abstain from receiving the Eucharist unless they have gone to confession. Even though they may not be in a state of mortal sin due to the compulsive nature of the behavior, not being able to receive the Eucharist unless having gone to confession is an added incentive in the recovery process. - CNA

I believe that is great advice, and true for any habit of sin - especially compulsive, habitual or addictive sin.  I think this attitude is correct and in line with what Cardinal Schönborn has said regarding Amoris Laetitia as well - stressing access to the sacrament of penance before the Eucharist.

"The most shameful sins in our life, we need permission to talk about them."

Recently some bloggers have created a controversy over a video of Los Angeles Archbishop Gomez presiding over a Mass wherein a gay couple - two dads and their child were part of the group who brought forward the gifts at the Offertory.  The critics provided the commentary, claiming the Archbishop gave approval to same sex marriage  in the process.  I didn't quite see it that way.

I don't know the story of course, nor the situation of the two men.  It appears they have a child.  I don't know anything else.  It seems to me a great leap to assume that the Archbishop was condoning gay marriage at that Mass.

What if the men were living chastely, as brothers, and they had a son, for whom they are responsible for?  What if they are fulfilling an obligation to raise that son a Catholic?  What if these guys are chaste and celibate, disinterested friends, going to confession, receiving spiritual direction?

I do not hear Archbishop Gomez promoting gay marriage.  I do not hear Pope Francis or Cardinal Schönborn doing so.  Each has affirmed gay marriage is not possible and cannot be considered analogous with traditional marriage and family.  Nevertheless, inviting people to reconciliation, to prayer and worship together as Catholics is not condoning a sinful situation or lifestyle.

As Kilcawley said:
“You have permission to be wounded, and so it’s ok to come and tell your priest that you have this problem in your life. He’s not going to run away from you, he’s not going to scold you, he’s not going to condemn you, he just wants to help you heal.”

That's what it's all about. 

1 comment:

  1. A complex subject. Is art pornography? Is viewing a naked human body sinful? Can we really deny, repress, a human instinct so powerful, necessary and natural? It is, I suppose all a matter of degrees. God gave us sexual desire for pleasure and reproduction. It is dangerous to be preoccupied with what is sinful. Ethics of course enter the picture. The Muslims have very strict rules too, but it does not eliminate the excesses we see in their world either. A good healthy formation is necessary for young adults to avoid disordered behaviors later. I doubt too many are getting that these days. Not sure what the answer is in today's world, but to repress everything is not good either. It just goes underground and exists in a secret world.


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