Combat pornography’s evil with the truth about God’s gift of sexuality

This week is the annual White Ribbon Against Pornography (WRAP) Week — a movement initiated in 1987 by a Pennsylvania woman after she heard her Catholic pastor lament the lack of concern about the effects of hard core pornography.

For too long, we didn’t really understand, or perhaps didn’t want to face up to, those destructive effects, particularly on children and young people. Production and dissemination of pornographic materials was said to be an exercise in “free expression” protected by the First Amendment — although the U.S. Supreme Court has held otherwise — and its use hailed as one more glorious result of the sexual revolution, liberating us from our “repressive” attitudes toward sex.

Now, however, as pornography has exploded across our culture and literally intruded into our homes via cable television and the Internet, it is impossible to ignore its devastating consequences; and attempts to do so only contribute to the harm being inflicted on countless human beings, of virtually every age group, by those who profit from this dehumanizing, multibillion dollar industry.

Pornography objectifies and degrades human beings — primarily women — their bodies and their sexuality, for the prurient pleasures of others. Add to that the countless numbers of children and adolescents who are lured or forced into pornographic exploitation, and the mask of sexual “freedom” is torn away to reveal a sick, twisted social pandemic of pure evil.

Some contend that the practice can simply be regulated, limiting its production, distribution and use to “consenting adults,” with laws against child porn strictly enforced. But this ignores the addictive nature of pornography, and the huge profits to be made by those who strive to create and then feed that addiction. This further spreads the harm, ensnaring more and more people — especially vulnerable young people, so readily accessible now via the Internet — into pornography’s addictive lure, perverting their own sexuality and their relationships with others; and, we certainly know by now, inciting in some users deviant and aggressive sexual proclivities that lead to abuse and violence perpetrated upon innocent victims.

So we must, as the White Ribbon campaign reminds us, and as organizations like Morality in Media have long been doing, stand up against the destructive evil of pornography. We must do it through our laws: “Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church forthrightly states. We must do it through community action, and through our power as consumers. We must do it most especially in our homes, and with the cooperation of our schools, monitoring what our children are exposed to.

Just as importantly, we must combat the evil affects of pornography by giving witness in positive ways to the beauty, and the true meaning, of God’s gift of human sexuality. We have in the Church the wonderful tool of Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body, and we, Catholic parents, Catholic educators, Catholic clergy and evangelizers, must work together, mutually supporting each other in fortifying our young people with this marvelous, life- and love-affirming teaching.

That is exactly what will be happening at the Father-Son Brunch sponsored by the diocesan Respect Life Office Nov. 20 at the Chaminade Activities-Athletic Center (see page 3). It’s a great opportunity for fathers to share some time with our adolescent sons, and to both teach them and learn with them about the true happiness and fulfillment to be found in living according to God’s plan, and using His gifts as He intended us to.