If you’re reading this post because you’re looking for the links I mentioned in a presentation, skip down to the bottom of the article to find them.
One of the primary reasons I’ve been able to serve in ministry as long as I have is the fact that I’ve served under some tremendous pastors who had a deep love for young people. While I could say a great deal about the ways in which I recognized their care and compassion for youth, there is one moment that particularly stands out above all others.
In the spring of 2011, I was in a parish staff meeting when my pastor, Fr. Paul Terrio (who is now the Bishop of St. Paul, AB), shared one of his greatest worries with us: he was concerned what the proliferation of pornography was doing to the minds and hearts of the young people we serve. And he’s not alone in this: Bishop Paul Loverde, the former Bishop of Arlington, wrote a strong letter expressing his concerns a few years later.
We’re living in the midst of a social experiment the likes of which has never been attempted before. We’re raising a generation that has free and unlimited access to all sorts of explicit material – material which often takes the human body or the act of loving intimacy and turns it into entertainment for another to consume. Twenty-five years ago, if you wanted this sort of image or video, you had to go to a particular section of a video store or aquire an “adult” magazine. Today, they are a search and a click away from all sorts of content – which is to say nothing of all that’s available through the various streaming services many of us subscribe to.
This social experiment is bringing with it tragic results. There are many stories being told about addiction, unrealistic expectations, broken families, and so on.
However, the unparalleled proliferation of pornography into the hands of young people and adults has also given rise to an anti-pornography movement. This movement features religious leaders like Bishop Loverde and Bishop Terrio, therapists like Dr. Peter Kleponis, and gifted speakers like Matt Fradd. Fightthenewdrug.org has approached this question leaving out the religious implications of consuming porn and presenting evidence of the ways it harms our minds, hearts, and the world at large. Even actor & comedian Russell Brand has spoken out candidly about his own struggles with pornography and the impact it had on his own life.
When Bishop Terrio looked across the table and said “talk to our young people about pornography,” I had no idea the journey this would set me on. In the spring of 2018, I’ll make my fourth trip through my schools to discuss with them what I’ve learned about pornography and its dangers. But I’ll also talk to them about the goodness with which God created them, their peers, and each person whose image they consume. It has been said that one of the great problems in our society is that we love things and use people… my goal is to try and help flip that narrative. To offer a clear reminder that being a human being, made in God’s image and likeness carries with it dignity and a (reasonable) expectation that others would not use you. I also want them to know if they’ve consumed pornography accidentally or deliberately – or if they believe they are addicted and can’t stop – that there is always hope. Finally, I want to point them to practical resources that will help them break the porn habit, or to avoid it in the first place.
And here’s a few of my favorite resources:
- The Path of Recovery: 7 Things to do to quit using porn (from Dr. Peter Kleponis) – a resource designed from Dr. Kleponis’ clinical experience helping people fight this addiction.
- Fightthenewdrug.org – research done on the ways porn kills love, and what to do to quit the habit
- Covenant Eyes – accountability software is a tremendous tool you can use to fight the battle against pornography (has a monthly subscription cost).
- The Victory App is also a great tool for young people who want to fight porn (designed by Matt Fradd & LIFETEEN), and comes with no subscription cost – and is available for iOS & Android.
- Good Pictures/Bad Pictures is the resource I’m using to have a conversation with my own (younger) kids on this topic.
- http://www.arlingtondiocese.org/purity/index.aspx – A letter from (retired) Bishop Paul Loverde in response to the crisis he sees around him.
- http://nyfamilylife.org/chastity/ – downloadable resources for parents to help in the battle.
Know that I am praying for you in this battle – please pray for me as I try to help others understand the goodness of who they are and the danger pornography poses to each of us.