THE FOLLOWING HOMILY IS (GENERALLY) WHAT I DELIVERED THIS PAST SUNDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2012 — THE PASTOR WANTS US TO PREACH ON IMPORTANT SOCIAL ISSUES. IT IS NOT ENTIRELY CLEANED UP, BUT MOSTLY SO.
Some of you have already heard the rumors about the homily topic today, or guessed at it from the content of the bulletin. And it’s on pornography. That’s right. I am so thrilled, and I am sure that you are, too.
So here is where we are going, just so that you know. First, I’m going to give you a bit of an introduction to the topic and let you know why we are talking about it. Second, I’m going to give you some statistics about the present state of the problem. Third, I’m going to indicate how we got to this state of affairs and what some of the consequences are. Fourth, I will indicate how there may be some healing.
So I include the same disclaimer that I included last week on abortion that it is not my intention to offend, but I don’t know any other way to tackle this issue but to do it truthfully and straighforwardly. My guess is that if your children are listening then they may ask questions about this, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. You can guarantee that the world is bombarding them with information or will do so, and it is better that they do so in a forum where they are more certain to get the truth than the fantasy and the lie. But as for whether or not it would be better to take your children to the back for 20 minutes, that’s your call. But I think it’s my duty to at least warn you. You parents are better equipped to make that decision than I am.
As for you adults that think you should leave just because you’ve decided to be offended, let me suggest that that is a trick of Satan himself. Because we will tolerate this junk on our T.V.’s, billboards, magazines, and just about everywhere else, but woe to us if we try to actually bring it up in church and expose it to the light of Christ? Let’s stand up and realize how much of a problem some of these social issues are and actually have our churches try to take some responsibility for them.
The reason why we are doing this is because several years ago, Fr. Frank and the staff decided that there should be a set time when we do some specific teachings about Catholic Social thought, and it was decided that this would happen in October. So we were presented with about 9-10 pamphlets, and the staff voted on four of them to be presented this month. And pornography was one of them.
So I stand before you in obedience. But I am not going to sugar-coat it, because that’s not my way. If I’m going to teach about a topic, I do it. When I read over my notes for this homily, I noticed that the word pornography came up a lot, and I didn’t really like it. I even had an idea to replace it with some other word, like the writer of the old comic Bloom County, and call it snugglebunnies; but that just seemed ridiculous. So I’ll try to make some of my references generic and let you guess what I’m talking about.
First, let me offer you some statistics as to the state of pornography in the United States of America. I am gleaning this information from the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, just so as you don’t think the figures are exaggerated because they come from a religious source that is trying to make a “big deal” out of this issue.
- Every second of the day, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, 372 people type in explicitly sexual words on search engines on the Internet.
- Every 39 minutes one of these videos is being made in the United States alone. If we included the entire globe, this figure would increase to nearly every 2-3 minutes.
- In the United States Alone, it is a 100 billion dollar industry, with 3 billion dollars of that being spent specifically on child pornography.
- Every second of the day, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, almost $4000 dollars is being spent on pictures and videos.
- The last estimate is that there are about 4.2 million pornographic websites on the internet. Please keep in mind that this figure is the number of websites, with each website containing the capacity to house thousands if not millions of demeaning text, videos, and pictures.
- 10% of men have admitted being addicted to pornography, with the actual figure being closer to 20%, which is 1 out of 5 men. Almost half of the male population admits to at least having some trouble with this issue.
- Women are not free of this problem either. Approximately 9.4 million women access pornography per month. And although men are much more likely to have a problem with this issue because of the fact that men are actually mentally wired to be stimulated visually, women are 80% more likely than men to actually go and meet someone whom they know exclusively on the Internet, which is extremely, extremely dangerous. The reason that the psychologist give for this fact is that women’s brains are more wired to respond to actual relationships, and so they will risk themselves more than men in order to attain that relationship.
- HERE ARE SOME FACTS ABOUT YOUTH
- The average age of initial exposure to it is 11 years old
- The largest group that accesses these sites is the ages of 12-17
- 29% of these teens said they would or had given out their addresses online
- And make no mistake about it parents, and this is vital information that you really need to know — MOST OF THIS ACCESS IS THROUGH THE CELL PHONE, AND NOT THE COMPUTER. You can get anything through the internet on a cellphone, so if you were not aware of this before, than please make note of it.
These figures do not indicate that snugglebunnies is just a problem for a few disturbed people sitting in a dark room. This is not a problem for bad, evil people. That’s simply naiive. It’s our problem. It’s us. It’s people in this church. It’s our country. And what should we expect from a world that has filled itself with garbage? Have you ever tried to play and work in a garbage dump and not gotten dirty?
In 1968, in the encylical Humane Vitae, Pope Paul VI predicted that if widespread contraception were available, it would lead to a universal idea that man has dominion over his own body, it would lead to a cheapening of sexuality in pornography. We have lived to see the face of the Unites States totally change since 1968. And Pope Paul VI, who was once criticized and laughed at, is now recognized for the prophet that he was. I would love to say so much more about this, but suffice it to say this: the marital act is supposed to have two separate dimensions: both unitive and procreative. By unitive, we mean that it is an act by which marriage vows are renewed and love itself is born again. If we look at this activity as merely recreational, we cheapen it far below what it was mean to be. Sex is not suppposed to be GREAT. Coffee is great. Frosted Flakes are great. Sex is supposed to be HOLY. If we totally separate it from its dimension as procreative, then we divide it from the great responsibility that is necessary when two people decide to come together in that embrace. If we treat ourselves like toys and recreation parks, those get boring. Want to know why homosexuality is on the rise? Well, if you cheapen this embrace so much that you think it should be recreational and separated from its dimension as procreative, then why not engage in that act with a person with whom it would be impossible to conceive a child with? Why not use videos or pictures and treat my body like a toy? Why not something even more terrible? True love given by two unselfish people never gets boring.
With pornography, there are no diseases, no broken families, no children or risk of pregnancy, no issues involved with performance or negative emotions — in short, it is fantasy pure and simple. But it’s not just a fantasy. The Lord of the Rings is a fantasy. Star Wars is a fantasy. Mother Goose stories are fantasies. But those fantasies can actually teach us something about heroism, about the meaning of life, the nature of suffering, and the battle between good and evil. Pornography is a fantasy of epically destructive proportions. It has nothing to teach us. What it teaches us is that sex is a recreational act completely separated from love, that human beings are purely animals, and that human beings — particularly women — are nothing more than objects of pleasure, and that it never causes problems with relationships, children, or an addiction that feeds a 100 billion dollar industry.
Their fantasy will not tell you that regular use of pornography can wreck not only your marriage, but even your friendships, and that it can also wreck your ability to perform and enjoy true romance when it tries to show up in your life. Their fantasy will not tell you about those statistics that I mentioned have.
There are five faulty believes that fuel this addiction. I want you to listen very closely to these, and try to realize how much they truly are lies. As a matter of fact, these lies in the soul are the fuel for almost any addiction:
1. I am unworthy of love.
2. If people knew me, they would reject me
3. I cannot trust anyone, including God, to meet my needs
4. I must find something that I can control to meet my needs
5. Pornography is my greatest need and source of comfort.
How can these lies be combatted? They can be combatted by the following things.
1. Self-knowldge and commitment — realize that you have a problem, realize that you have these lies in your soul and that your behavior is wrecking that soul and those around you and make a decision to change.
2. Purifying the environment — you need to get control of what you are looking at and what you are hearing. If you are what you eat, then you are also what you watch, what you hear, and what you read.
3. Get support and accountability from a group or a good trusted friend
4. Get some counseling if you are able
5. Make a spiritual plan of action and start a daily prayer life
6. Continue to get education about this issue so that you are no longer fooling yourself (that’s what this talk is for)
My brothers and sisters, we are supposed to be temples of the Holy Spirit, and this world has us believing that our bodies are simply animal, and at worst, dirty. That was not supposed to be the plan. Look around you. God’s plan for sexuality has failed and failed miserably. As a church, we are called into an adventure in which we give ourselves to one another in love and mutual self-respect–not use one another to gratify our needs.
LEWIS: “It is a serious thing,” says Lewis, “to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw [it in its full glory in heaven,] you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such [as if you met in hell], only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ‘ordinary’ people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whome we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously — no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love…
If it doesn’t cost us something to get it, then it isn’t real love. We might as a society spend money on pornography, but the Lord wants more. He wants love to cost hearts and souls. But he promises to give us his heart in return. Satan wants it to cost our hearts and souls, and plans to give us nothing in return. A heart hooked on such things ends up empty and lifeless. And if we as a church allow that to happen, then we aren’t doing our jobs very well.
The problem with pornography is not that it reveals too much — as a matter of fact, it reveals too little. We were meant to be immortal splendors, not cheapened toys. So lets be about the mission of building a more heavenly, purer heart. And let’s start with ours.