This is my first blog post about Equipped, I hope to post about 1 chapter each week, usually on Wednesdays.
My paw paw used to tell us a story about a group of scholars working for an emperor. The emperor charged them with collecting all human knowledge; so the scholars worked for ten years collecting copies of all the books and manuscripts in the world. The collection was so large that it filled up an entire palace. After the ten years were up, the Emperor came and saw the collection, and said that it was too much. They would have to reduce the size of the collection. So the scholars worked for another 10 years going through the tomes and manuscripts, getting rid of repeated information and useless books, until the collection could fit into a building the size of a mansion. But this was still too large to the Emperor. So, they worked for another 10 years until it was could fit into a large room, but this was still too large, so they kept working. Then one day, the Emperor came to check on his scholars, and found the room empty of books. The head scholar came up to the Emperor and handed him a slip of paper. The paper said, “There ain’t no free lunch.”
In the first chapter of the book that we gave out after Mass a few weeks ago, Equipped: Smart Catholic Parenting in a Sexualized Culture, you can read that some studies show that, in the Millennial Generation, 79% of men and 76% of women say that the view pornography at least once a month. More disturbing than that, though, is that some people think pornography is actually good for society. This shouldn’t be surprising, since sexuality is one of the most powerful human passions, and we live in a highly sexualized culture where pornography is available for “free” on thousands, if not tens of thousands. We all know from personal experience, however, that nothing is free, everything has a price.
Heavy use of pornography can be damaging for anyone, although this will be different for everyone. When we view pornography, we train ourselves to view other people as objects of sexual gratification, instead of as people with human dignity. Just like we don’t want other people to view us as a means to get something for themselves, so we shouldn’t treat others that way. Human sexuality was given to us by God as a way for husbands and wives to express their total love for one another. Love is concerned for what I can do for you, whereas lust is concerned with what you can do for me.
When someone views pornography, it becomes very easy to stop thinking of them as people at all, but as objects, and we don’t want to train ourselves to do that. During this season of Lent, and as we go through the rest of this book, let’s pray that God will help us to learn more about the dangers of pornography, grow in the virtue of chastity, and become better at controlling our desires so they don’t control us.
Fr. Bryan was pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes from July 3, 2017 to June 2022.