Pornography is a big problem in modern society; actually no, pornography is a huge problem in modern society. Did you know that 10-15% of all search engine requests and 20% of smart phone searches are for pornography? Studies show that 90% of boys and 60% of girls are exposed to pornography before they are 18 years old. In addition 70% of young men and 20% of young women view pornography every week and pornographic sites have more monthly visitors than Twitter and Amazon combined.
While the numbers are high, especially amongst males, it is not true that all men view pornography, and we must not allow ourselves to believe that pornography constitutes normal sexual behavior. However, especially for young men, if any sort of regular pornography use is not dealt with swiftly it risks becoming a debilitating addiction.
The good news is that authentic religious observation and involvement has been shown to contribute in a major way to lessening pornographic use and dependence. The following, are ten steps to help beat pornography. The steps focus on the spiritual life but some of them will require major changes in one’s practical life, but if we are sincerely determined to regain control of who we called to be as men and women in Christ there is no other way.
- Commit to go to Mass and receive Holy Communion every day. Holy Communion is food and strength for the journey and if we don’t have it atop our list then we are not serious about the battle. Getting to Mass every day will almost certainly require earlier mornings or shorter lunch breaks, but how much do we want success?
- Seek out the sacrament of confession as often as needed. If you are in the midst of the battle consider getting there at least once per week, but if you need to go every day, go every day. Remember this sacrament is the chamber of mercy and this is where we can really ask God to transform our hearts.
- Find a Spiritual Director (usually a priest) who you can meet with regularly. Pornography is a sin and all sin thrives in secrecy. We must shine a light on the dark areas of our life and call them out. You must be completely open with your spiritual director about the struggle so that the path to healing can begin.
- Spend 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening in prayer. Depending on where you are you might be able to spend this time in a church, but if not, find a quiet place where you can simply talk to God. You may begin by reflecting on a short Scripture passage and you may additionally find it helpful to write your prayer into a journal. Most importantly, the bulk of this time should be an attempt at heart-to-heart conversation.
- Pray a Rosary each day asking the Mother of the Lord for purity. The beauty of Christianity is that we exist amongst the communion of saints and we can, and should, ask all those in heaven to intercede for us.
- Deal with the device that is leading you to sin. If you access pornography on your smart phone then contact your provider to have data disconnected from your phone (or alternatively move to a simple phone). If the home computer is the problem then get it out of the house until you are ready. These actions can seem extreme but pornography is extreme and it must be dealt with in a radical way.
- Say goodbye to friends, contacts or situations that are causing you to fall into sin. Each person must examine their own life to see those things that are stumbling blocks to success and deal with them. These are personal decisions but how much do we put on the price of true freedom?
- Spend regular quality time with a group of friends of the same sex who share your faith and are active in the faith. If you don’t have any faith based friends then start engaging with your local parish to meet some. This step is not necessarily about gathering to discuss faith or personal struggles but establishing relationships with good men or women who are also on the journey.
- Get busy. The old phrase that ‘idle hands make the devil’s work’ is true. If we spend excessive time lazing around or playing computer games we are leaving an open door for temptation. The positive choices are endless; sport, charity work, hobbies, visiting the needy etc. When our head hits the pillow at night we should be really tired; if not there’s a problem.
- Don’t allow yourself to believe that your personal struggles put you in a category apart from everyone else on the planet, and in addition, do not make the struggle be beat pornography bigger than it needs to be. In other words, don’t give the devil too much credit. We all struggle in various ways but as Pope John Paul II once said, “We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.”
Copyright 2015 Bernard Toutounji.
Photo copyright Fiona Basile, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne. Used by permission. All rights reserved.