For thousands of years, human beings have been degrading other human beings via pornography — from Greek pottery to glossy magazines, movies, the internet and more. Today, with isolation, loneliness, lockdowns, and anxiety, mental health problems are on the rise and so is pornography.
It’s well known that pornography earns a lot of money for those who produce it, but less well known is the cost to society in general. Employees who use company computers to look at pornography during work hours cost the economy $17 billion a year, and that’s nothing compared to the human cost.
According to Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D, psychologist and former Deputy Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary, “two recent reports, one by the American Psychological Association on hyper-sexualized girls, and the other by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy on the pornographic content of phone texting among teenagers, make clear that the digital revolution is being used by younger and younger children to dismantle the barriers that channel sexuality into family life. Among adolescents, pornography hinders the development of a healthy sexuality, and among adults, it distorts sexual attitudes and social realities. In families, pornography use leads to marital dissatisfaction, infidelity, separation, and divorce.”
We can cite many other numbers and statistics on the effects of pornography on society. It plays a major role in divorces; over 200,000 Americans are considered addicts; and over 40 million Americans visit porn websites regularly.
Fortunately, today we have many tools to safeguard children and adults alike — many filters for phones, tablets and computers are readily available. More and more witnesses are stepping forward to fight pornography, talk about their experiences and how they got out of this addiction. Movie stars, athletes, religious leaders, and others have given testimonies on YouTube and TED Talks.
I call pornography ‘‘The Silent Killer of Families,” because pornography is different from other addictions like drugs, alcohol, gaming, and gambling. Pornography is done in secret; even if it destroys relationships, brings shame, creates unrealistic expectations and decreases satisfaction and self-esteem, it doesn’t show.
In 2003, I went to a Catholic men’s retreat where I met so many men who were or had been struggling with this addiction that I knew we had to address the problem in marriage preparation.
My wife Christine and I did lots of research, talked to many counselors, addicts and ex-addicts, to priests and in 2004 it was part of the marriage preparation program. Our goal is to offer a safe environment where couples have to talk about pornography, where they can find sound advice and resources.
Several years ago, the Diocese of Colorado Springs launched a diocesan-wide awareness program called “As for Me and My House”; it helped to develop a greater awareness of this pandemic and made tools available to fight it. We compiled a list of great local counselors, many of whom are still part of the program. In 2019, another diocesan-wide program was launched called “Safe Haven Sunday” with Covenant Eyes.
Here are some excellent resources to fight pornography:
We’ll certainly launch new programs in 2021 at the diocesan level.
For more information, contact Christian Meert of the Office of Marriage and Family Life at 719-900-8229 or Christian@catholicmarriageprep.com.
(Christian and Christine Meert have co-directed the Office of Marriage and Family Life of the Diocese of Colorado Springs since 2005.)