One of the benefits of living in the craziest city in America is meeting some of the craziest people in America. A memorable example was a couple years ago at a friend of a friend’s birthday party. Making small talk with a woman I just met,
“So what do you do for a living?”
“Oh, I’m a porn producer for [big porn company]”
Seeing the stunned look on my face, “Oh it’s great! The women only do it for a few years, make a ton of money and it’s very empowering. Besides, who doesn’t like porn?”
“Uhhh…Well I don’t.” I stammered
She looked unconvinced.
“Wow, a real live porn producer!” I thought. Here was my chance to really tear a strip out of someone who engineered the incredible evil of pornography. Yet something told me that wasn’t the right thing to do. I prayed for God’s guidance on what to say, but only drew a blank. So I continued to make small talk with her.
It wasn’t until she introduced me to another friend that I had anything pithy to say.
“This is Mark, and he doesn’t like porn.”
“Oh really? Why is that”, the new girl asked.
“Well, I’d like to have children someday, and every one of those actors is someone’s son or daughter. I don’t think anyone, myself included, want their children growing up to be a porn actor”
That finally got a convinced look on their faces.
I had a hard time coming up with that bit of wisdom, but if I had read the USCCB’s new document on pornography, “Create “Create in Me a Clean Heart – A Pastoral Response to Pornography” it would have been ready at hand among many other insights.
I’ve been hearing from priests for years that pornography has become the primary pastoral problem of our age. It’s such a large issue that it deserves special treatment, making the release of a whole document on it appropriate. As someone who talks to men regularly about this, I’m encouraged they’re addressing this significant issue and guiding what our response should be.
They note how our culture has become increasingly sexualized:
“Video games, music lyrics, music videos, clothing, and even costumes have become progressively more sexualized, including content targeted to children and adolescents.”
Pointing out that pornography is not confined to visual media:
“… certain romance novels, erotic literature, phone conversations, social media, online video chats” can be pornographic. Pornography is everywhere, thanks to technology.
“The rise of the Internet presents the most dramatic difference between pornography in decades past and more recently. Literally at one’s fingertips with the prevalence of mobile devices.”
This can have profound effects upon us, most noticeably supporting the “throwaway culture”, where people and things are used and then discarded.
Most importantly though, the document is incredibly pastoral and hopeful:
“Freedom from pornography is possible! No one needs to fight this battle alone.”
This can’t be stressed enough. Many men fight this battle alone, hopeless and ashamed, when they really need to be revealing it to others for their support. We are encouraged to
“Be patient, persevere, and do not be discouraged. … [seek] the Sacrament of Penance …, and start anew.”
The church is to be a field hospital – a hospital that doesn’t wait for patients to arrive, but instead seeks them out where they are. Those afflicted should seek out support groups, counseling, and many other resources the USCCB have compiled at www.usccb.org/cleanheart.
They also include a whole section addressed to those who are involved in the pornography industry – which would have been perfect preparation for my chance encounter with this woman. The USCCB state that those involved rarely get into it through a hopeful rational choice, which was supported by my conversation with her. She shared with me that most people she knew came from broken homes, had addictions or some severe emotional issue. It was sad to hear the stories.
Whether Internet pornography directly affects you or not, I strongly encourage you to read this document. Because odds are it has or soon will affect someone close to you.
Mark J. Matthews – our Hollywood Undercover Missionary @HUMissionary
Mark Matthews is a graphic designer and animator working in Hollywood. Listen to his “What’s Good About Hollywood?” column once a month on the SLHour.