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February 25, 2010

Column #1,487

Give Up Porn For Lent

By Mike McManus

Catholics, Lutherans and others traditionally “give up” something for this season of Lent, such as liquor or desserts.  However, I have an unconventional suggestion to 70% of American men, and a surprising 30% of women who regularly look at pornography.

 STOP watching it.  Can you stop for the remaining five weeks of Lent without a peek? Did your Lord die for you so that you could gaze at naked people having sex? Jesus said, “I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matt. 5:28).”

A growing percentage of people are addicted to porn, spending hours gazing at this stuff, especially since it is so available on line. 

“Sexual intercourse, like atomic energy, is a powerful agent for good if channeled well, but for ill if not.  Healthy societies maintain their stability by channeling the sexual energies of young adults into marriage, an institution that legitimizes sexual intercourse, protects the children that are the fruit of intercourse, and channels the giving and receiving of sexual pleasure in a way that builds up rather than tears down society. Sexual taboos are one set of the normal mechanisms of social control of the sexual appetite.  They are analogous to the control rods of a nuclear reactor plant: they block the sexual from straying off course and into destructive pathways,” writes Dr. Patrick Fagan, Director of Marriage Research at the Family Research Council.

He reports that when viewing porn “rises to the level of addiction, 40 percent of `sex addicts’ lose their spouses, 58 percent suffer considerable financial losses, and about a third lose their jobs.”  Why is it so dangerous for marriage? Only one-third of couples maintain an interest in sexual relations with one another when one partner was engaged in `cybersex.’”

In fact, porn users increasingly see marriage as “sexually confining.”  Steven Stack of Wayne State University report that porn use increased marital infidelity by more than 300 percent. I regularly see invitations on my computer to meet with “cheating wives.”  While men are six times more likely to view porn as females, 80 percent of women who “meet on-line companions” had real life sexual encounters with them, while only a third of males do so.

The National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity estimates that 6 to 8 percent of Americans – 18 million to 24 million people – are sex addicts.  People dive into porn to escape feelings of low self-esteem, shame, isolation, or pressures of life, work or relationships. It is a place to get lost and feel wanted, imagining the perfect partner who always desires them.

In 2008, Nielsen Online reported that a quarter of employees use the Internet to visit porn sites during the workday.  Online porn sites report their highest usage is between 9 am and 5 pm!

Even more shocking, a fifth of all Internet porn involve children, according to a 2003 study. And one study of those convicted for distributing child pornography found that a majority of them had also committed real life sexual abuse of children. Similarly, 83 percent of rapists are current users of hard-core pornography, what the law calls “obscenity.”

Most porn users are not criminals, but these numbers are red flags showing the genuine danger of becoming addicted, and what it can lead to – divorce, loss of job, crime.

What can be done?  I have several suggestions.  The simplest is to stop cold. If Lent gives you a reason to do so, great. Second, to remove temptation, install an Internet filter that will keep pornography off your computer screen.  Every man should do so.  You can get such a filter from AFO.net.  You must protect your eyes and brain, and those of your family, and co-workers.

If you need more evidence, go to a new website, PornHarms.org, which is packed with research, articles and commentary and was my source for this column.  It was created by Pat Trueman, who directed Justice Department prosecution of obscenity under George Bush I.

If you are addicted, you need to seek help.  The best place to start is Sexaholics Anonymous, where you can meet people who have found a way to stop their destructive behaviors. Go to SA.org and learn how to overcome your lust.  You will find SA groups near your home, where you can get genuine help to overcome your addiction via a 12-step program.

Finally, it is essential to prosecute the creators and distributors of obscenity. Hard core porn is illegal. More on that next week. 

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