Catholic TeachingSeeds are Holy
The Truth about Pornography
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. (I Corinthians 6:19-20)
Pornography has become a public health crisis in the US that is destroying relationships, destroying the family, sexualizing children, contributing to alcohol and drug abuse, and leading to an increase in sexual violence against women and children. It has even been claimed recently that watching pornography shrinks the human brain. Never before in the history of telecommunications media in the United States has so much indecent and obscene material been so easily accessible to so many minors in so many American homes with so few restrictions. Pornography production is sinful because it rips sex from its relational, fruitful context and turns it into entertainment. Pornography participation is sinful because it turns one's body into a commodity to be consumed, assaulting our own dignity. Pornography consumption is sinful because it take our bodies—bodies that are meant to communicate love to another-and isolates us from community.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks clearly about God's plan for human sexuality:
CCC 2332: Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others.
CCC 2336: Jesus came to restore creation to the purity of its origins. In the Sermon on the Mount, He interprets God's plan strictly: "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.
CCC 2354: Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials. (In today's world, would probably violate laws protecting free speech.)
A recent youth survey by YouGov revealed the following shocking facts: Recent statistics estimate that about 64-68% of young adult men and about 18% of women view porn at least once every week. Another 17% of men and another 30% of women view porn 1-2 times per month.
1. Nine out of ten boys and six out of ten girls are exposed to pornography before the age of eighteen.
2. The first exposure to pornography among boys is twelve years old, on average.
3. 83% of boys and 57% of girls have seen group sex online.
4. 69% of boys and 55% of girls have seen same-sex intercourse online.
5. 32% of boys and 18% of girls have seen bestiality (sex between a person and an animal) online.
6. 15% of boys and 9% of girls have seen child pornography.
7. 71% of teens hide online behavior from their parents.
8. 28% of 16-17-year- olds have been unintentionally exposed to porn online.
9. 20% of 16-year-olds and 30% of 17-year-olds have received a sext. (A sext (or the act of sexting) is when someone sends a nearly naked or naked photo of oneself to someone via their cell phone.)
A multi-billion dollar industry! According to a 2007 study, the US pornography industry went from one billion dollars a year in revenues to three billion a year within the preceding two-year period. Now, eight years later, the pornography industry takes in 97 billion dollars per year worldwide, including 13 billion dollars in the US alone. Three billion of the latter is through internet sales of pornographic images and videos. While these statistics are startling enough, it should be noted that 90% of all pornography users exclusively access free online material, which means that the volume of consumption (and addiction) is far higher than the monetary statistics indicate. Agencies monitoring internet usage state there have been more than 542 million searches for pornography during the first three months of 2015.
Why is this an issue? For starters, The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers now reports that 56% of divorce cases involve one party having "an obsessive interest in pornographic websites." Several studies have found that partners of those who view pornography often report feeling loss, betrayal, mistrust, devastation, and anger when they learn that the other half of their committed relationship has been using pornography. Many show physical symptoms of anxiety and depression. Research has found that after men are exposed to pornography, they rate themselves as less in love with their partner than men who didn't view pornography. Additionally, another study found that after being exposed to pornographic images, people were more critical of their partner's appearance, sexual performance, and displays of affection. Pornography is quite literally killing love and weakening the bonds between spouses.
Christians must realize and be convinced that pornography is indeed a sin. When we let our eyes watch impurity, and not only see it but also enjoy it, we are sinning and we defile our whole body. The Holy Bible says, "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are" (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). If we believe the Holy Spirit is really within us, would we invite Him to see these things? Many try to justify the use of pornography by claiming that as long as they are not physically performing the act, there is nothing wrong. However, the eye sins as much as the whole body. Our Lord taught us, "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell" (Matthew 5:28-29).
Man creates a world according to his own image and it is pleasurable, captivating, and seductive...but it is also addictive. Watching pornography has disastrous consequences for the individual, family and society at large. The prevalence of pornography addiction is truly alarming and underestimated because of its "private" character. A corrupted worldview, perverted lust, social isolation, and addictive cyber-sex are just a few different facets of the pornography epidemic.
Pornography not only distorts the image of pure and private marital sex, it is an enslaving addiction that must be resisted like any other sin. This addiction is a selfish reaction of an individual in which the focus is shifted from the significant other to the self. By creating a world of one's own, with the main purpose of self-gratification and irresponsible pleasure, one is tempted to isolate from society and become immersed in this seductive and addictive fantasy creation. Once addiction occurs, the individual develops a tolerance and therefore needs a stronger dose of stimulant, which can lead to compulsive sexual behavior. Because of the private character of sexual behavior, problems may only be discovered when the individual hits rock bottom: low self-esteem, perverted worldview, abusive relationships, marital distress, broken families, and many others serious problems.
Not only is pornography destroying marriages and corrupting our youth, a strong link exists between pornography and an increase in sex trafficking. To quote Laura Lederer, former Senior Advisor on Trafficking in Persons for the U.S. State Department, "Pornography is a brilliant social marketing campaign for commercial sexual exploitation." Porn is marketing for sex trafficking both directly and indirectly: directly, because online and offline hubs for trafficking use pornographic images to draw the buyers; indirectly, because of porn's influence on the culture. A key ingredient to the success of commercial sex is the belief that people (women especially) are sexual commodities, and Internet pornography is the ideal vehicle to teach and train this belief. Catherine MacKinnon of Harvard Law says, "…consuming pornography is an experience of bought sex" and thus it creates a hunger to continue to purchase and objectify, and act out what is seen. For some, this means objectifying one's wife, girlfriend, or acquaintances. For others, this means turning to the world of commercial sex.
In her comprehensive study, The Global Sexual Revolution: Destruction of Freedom in the Name of Freedom, the German sociologist Gabriele Kuby points out that those who view pornography are at first blinded to the gravity of its nature, then enslaved into patterns of clinical addiction, then desensitized; and then, if the trajectory is not reversed, they move in the direction of acting out sexual immorality with others. Kuby states, "...pornography means complete separation of sexual function from the person, thus making sexuality anonymous. Those who use it reduce themselves and the other to an object of lust and are driven ever deeper into degradation, humiliation, violence, perversion and obsession. With time, all limits can disappear — even children and infants can be victimized in this hell of unleashed sexual greed..."
It is estimated that 2 million children worldwide have been offered on the web or depicted in sexualized violence. According to the annual report of ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes), in the European Union alone, several hundred thousand children are trafficked every year. Many thousands of children are abducted and never seen again. This traffic in children serves the Internet supply and demand."
The vast majority of pornographic "actors" are impoverished and/or substance-addicted young women and men, selling their bodies to feed themselves or to purchase drugs. They are used as disposable commodities by the criminal and semi-criminal organizations that exploit them. Their humanity is held in utter contempt by those who sell the images—and by those who consume them.
Shocking as it may be...if a child has an iPod touch, smart phone, laptop, tablet (like an iPad or a Kindle Fire) or mobile video game device, the child has in his or her possession a device with access to pornography. With these devices, children have access to unlimited pornographic images and movies, the ability to create and distribute their own pornography, and the ability to connect with other people for the purpose of sex – virtually or even in person. However, this does not have to be the case. With appropriate parental controls enabled, these devices are much safer for children to use. It is crucial for parents to ensure that these devices are properly safeguarded and monitored against pornographic use, as it is becoming an increasing problem. Sadly, this is true even among children from good, Christian families.
So what can parents do? "Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). Our children are prime targets for the enemy, and during this particular stage of development, sexuality is their biggest weakness. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE) encourages parents and leaders to educate themselves and protect children. The NCSE offers a collection of peer-reviewed research articles, along with current news and opinion articles about the dangers of pornography:pornharms-research.com. Additionally, resources are provided at the end of this article for protecting your family from the scourge of pornography. a service of accountability & monitoring to protect families from exposure to pornography.
Thankfully, it is possible for individuals to overcome the assaults of pornography. The Catholic Church proposes chastity as the antidote; an apprenticeship in self-mastery that takes time, focus and the spiritual healing of the Sacraments. The Church's teachings on chastity protects and will continue to protect what history has proved as the value hardest to achieve, but nevertheless the one held highest by any advanced civilization - true love that is life-giving and self-sacrificing.
The following quotes are offered, in conclusion, as food for thought:
"More souls go to hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason." ~ Our Lady of Fatima
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." ~ Matthew 5:
"Holy Purity, the queen of virtues, the angelic virtue, is a jewel so precious that those who possess it become like the angels of God in heaven, even though clothed in mortal flesh." ~ St. John Bosco.
"Only the chaste man and the chaste woman are capable of true love." St. John Paul II
Filtering and monitoring options available to protect your loved ones:
www.covenanteyes.com: Accountability and filtering software for Mac, PC, Android and iOS ( iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad) devices. Also includes a blog and resources for parents to help their teens. The family plan is $13.99/month for an unlimited number of users. Accountability and filtering are both included.
teensafe.com: TeenSafe offers smart phone monitoring for your child's devices. It offers the opportunity to monitor text messages, Facebook and Instagram activity and more. TeenSafe works on both Apple and Android devices. TeenSafe is $14.99 a month with a discount given if you pay annually.
wwwx3watch.com: Accountability software that works on the PC, Mac, iOS, and Android devices. There's a free version, and a more robust version for $6.99 a month or $64.99 per year for unlimited devices.
Dr. Peter Kleponis, PhD: "The Pornography Epidemic: A Catholic Approach" and "Integrity Restored: Helping Catholic Families Win the Battle Against Pornography"
Pastoral letter by Bishop Paul S. Loverde of the Diocese of Arlington, VA: "Bought With a Price: Pornography and the Attack on the Living Temple of God"
Patricia Johnson (Patricia is a mother of six and resides in Morgantown WV)
Note: Thanks are given to the following organizations and resources: Catechism of the Catholic Church; LifeSiteNews; Brad Schmidt [Your Children & Personal Electronic Devices]; Bishop Paul S. Loverde of the Diocese of Arlington, VA; National Center on Sexual Exploitation; Fathers for Good, an Initiative for men by the Knights of Columbus; ECPAT, End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes; and, Covenant Eyes, a service of accountability & monitoring to protect families from exposure to pornography.
Seeds are Holy, Profound, Beautiful, and Generous
Seeds are holy, profound, beautiful, and generous. They are fascinating when you study them.
I call them holy for many reasons, but for one I will cite the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament with an explanation of how all plant forms began:
"Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed, and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it"; and it was so."
God was generous. He created the smallest of things to provide mankind all of the nourishment, shelter and beauty needed. The seed is the most powerful of all his creations. It provides us with a variety of food to eat, lumber to build our homes, flowers to admire plus birds and animals for our pleasure. When I think of this I remember the story of the single grain which, when planted and nourished, became a single plant, with 60 seeds upon it. Those 60 seeds were planted and each multiplied 60 times. The grain grew until its surplus fed an entire village and eventually grew to the extent its plants were harvested and sold to pay for boats used to expand the economy of the town.
Jesus used the seed in his parables many times teaching his disciples about God. Perhaps the most famous is "The Parable of the Sower". In this story, a sower dropped seed on the path, on rocky ground and among thorns, and the seed was lost; but when seed fell on good earth it grew, yielding thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold. There has been many an essay written regarding this interpretation, but the general analysis is that God is the Sower; the seeds which fall on the road represent those who hear the Word but dismiss it right then. The seeds falling on the rocks represent those who hear the Word, but do not take It seriously and reject it as soon as It causes them affliction or persecution. The seeds falling on thorns represent those who hear the Word and take it to heart, but give higher priority to worldly concerns such as money which choke it. The seeds falling on good soil represent those who hear the word and truly understand it, causing it to bear fruit.
We need to take a lesson from the means God used to propagate the plants of the world. Plants have limited ability to seek out favorable conditions for life and growth. As a result God disperses their offspring, the seed, in many ways: 1) God used the wind which can carry His specially designed seeds, like those for an orchard, for long distances; 2) God produced buoyant seeds to float on rivers to the oceans and wash up on beaches; 3) God designed seeds with barbs which attach to animal fur or bird feathers and then drop off later. 4) God designed seeds with a flesh-like covering to be eaten by birds and animals and dispersed in their droppings; 5) God designed seeds which animals and humans use for long-term storable food resources e.g. acorns and other tree nuts. These seeds are stored some distance from the parent plant, and some escape being eaten and become another plant. 6) God designed seeds which the foraging ants love and carry back to their nests. The part of the seed which is hard and inedible to the ants then germinates more plants.
The Word of God needs to be propagated like the seeds of the earth. We humans are the plant. We need to propagate our faith! Like the seeds which have an embryo, we humans also have embryos which require nourishment to survive. Our children are our responsibility. We are the ones who must give them the Word of God and provide the rich environment for its nourishment. However, unlike the seed embryo, we cannot leave their development to chance. We must not only provide instructions, but teach by example. This does not mean dropping them off for a catechism class once a week. Entire books have been written on this topic.
In addition to nourishing our children, we must sow the Word of God in many other ways; first by example! This is not only by living the Word of God and avoiding sin, but by showing outward signs you are a Christian in ways ranging from participating in church activities with others to participating in Eucharistic Adoration where you may be alone. Other, very simple methods of demonstrating your faith are prayers said in public such as Grace before meals in restaurants and at social gatherings.
Other activities include Evangelization as promoted by Pope St. John Paul ll. Again, there are many ways of doing this such as talking to friends and coworkers. One way favored by Pope St. John Paul ll is to sponsor Christian radio and television stations which need money to keep them on the air and listeners to support them.
Support good Christian publications. Write articles yourself and distribute to various publications. Write letters to the editor of the local newspapers. Post good Christian articles on Facebook.
Visit the sick and elderly in hospitals and nursing homes. Bring the Sacred Host to them if you are able.
Participate in pro-life activities such as praying and even sidewalk counseling in front of abortion facilities. You not only will be evangelizing, but saving babies as well. Participate in, and/or support, pregnancy centers to assist mothers with young children.
Volunteer at soup kitchens and other facilities to help the poor.
The list has no end. There are organizations throughout the world with needs for your support.
Plant the seeds of your faith and you will become holy, profound, beautiful, and generous.
Post Script to "Seeds are Holy, Profound, Beautiful, and Generous":
The following is from Via Crucis, the Way of the Cross, composed by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, once Pope, now His Holiness Benedict XVI, for the 2005 Good Friday observance at the Coliseum in Rome.
It is interesting how Pope Benedict also picks up on the true value of a single seed, in this case, a grain of wheat. Also note, in this day and age we do not put the same value on bread, as was done in the time of Christ. At that time it was the staff of life as bread usually comprised the main portion of a meal.
His writing includes meditation and prayers to be recited at The Last Station of the Way of the Cross as Jesus is Laid in the Tomb.
Meditation at The Last Station:
"At the very moment of his burial, Jesus’ words are fulfilled: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (Jn 12:24). Jesus is the grain of wheat which dies. From that lifeless grain of wheat comes forth the great multiplication of bread which will endure until the end of the world. Jesus is the bread of life which can satisfy superabundantly the hunger of all humanity and provide its deepest nourishment. Through his Cross and Resurrection, the eternal Word of God became flesh and bread for us."
Prayer at The Last Station:
"Lord Jesus Christ, in your burial you have taken on the death of the grain of wheat. You have become the lifeless grain of wheat which produces abundant fruit for every age and for all eternity. From the tomb shines forth in every generation the promise of the grain of wheat which gives rise to the true manna, the Bread of Life, in which you offer us your very self. The eternal Word, through his Incarnation and death, has become a Word which is close to us: you put yourself into our hands and into our hearts, so that your word can grow within us and bear fruit. Through the death of the grain of wheat you give us yourself, so that we too can dare to lose our life in order to find it, so that we too can trust the promise of the grain of wheat. Help us grow in love and veneration for your Eucharistic mystery – to make you, the Bread of heaven, the source of our life. Help us to become your "fragrance", and to make known in this world the mysterious traces of your life. Like the grain of wheat which rises from the earth, putting forth its stalk and then its ear, you could not remain enclosed in the tomb: the tomb is empty because he - the Father - "did not abandon you to the nether world, nor let your flesh see corruption" (Acts 2:31; Ps 16:10 LXX). No, you did not see corruption. You have risen, and have made a place for our transfigured flesh in the very heart of God. Help us to rejoice in this hope and bring it joyfully to the world. Help us to become witnesses of your resurrection."
For an audio and the text of the entire the Way of the Cross, composed by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, go to Fr. John Zuhlsdorf's blog, "Fr. Z's Blog" at http://wdtprs.com/blog/
The Ratzinger stations, audio recorded by Fr. Z:
The text on the Vatican website:
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