Pornography Addiction and How It's Damaging Catholic Society
Pornography Addiction FAQ
- Am I addicted to pornography or to masturbation?
- I never look at pornography-how do I stop masturbation?
- How do I know if I'm addicted to pornography?
- If I'm addicted to pornography, will I ever be able to stop looking at it?
- Can I still go to communion if I'm addicted to pornography or masturbation?
- Do I have to tell my wife about it if I'm addicted to pornography?
- What if my wife tells other people about my pornography addiction?
- Where do I get help with pornography addiction?
Actually, it doesn't much matter. One leads to the other. Not every single time, but for most people, they coincide. They are also both sins of the flesh. One involves another person (actually, several other people, when you take into account the number of people it takes to produce and distribute pornography) and the other doesn't involve anyone specific... unless you are thinking about a specific person during the act. But the main point is, both problems are fixable and both require the same steps to fix them.
Even if you've never seen a picture of a naked body, masturbation still stems from lustful thoughts. Of course, if you're addicted to it, you might not be thinking about women while you do it anymore, but it still started from lust. To stop, you must start by starving your eyes and mind. Learn to look away from any woman's body. Learn to stop thinking about them. Starve yourself of everything sexual.
If you've been addicted for a long time, you might need some counseling to deal with the problems you've been hiding from. Masturbation, like other addiction, can be used to self-medicate and cover over the day to day struggles. You would also benefit from a 12 step program like Celebrate Recovery.
Get my latest book on breaking free from pornography addiction. You might also try the book "Every Man's Battle."
The difference between addiction, habit, and frequent usage is kind of fuzzy. On one extreme, a man resists the temptation to look at pornography constantly, only rarely breaking down. On the other extreme, a man looks at it constantly, even though he's not even in the mood. One is a simple matter of giving into temptation, the other is escapism.
If you're looking at pornography or masturbating more that once a week, then you've probably gotten into a habit. If you're doing it every two days, you've escalated. If you're using pornography to escape from life (the way people use drugs), then you definitely have an addiction.
Another way to tell whether or not you're addicted, is to look for ritualization. Do you follow a certain pattern, just before looking at pornography: Certain sites you go to. Things you might do in the home. A general disassociation with your physical body... as if you're watching yourself go through these actions, wanting yourself to stop, but feeling unable to make yourself stop. This is very common for addicts.
If you have these problems, you should get help. Pornography addiction can (and usually does) escalate. Imagine going through the same ritualization, but you don't stop at pornography. What if you were unable to stop yourself from doing other things--illegal things? Think about it. It would be much easier to stop the addiction before it escalated to something that could put you in prison.
Stay tuned to The Catholic Letter. I will soon make a book available that will help you eradicate pornography and masturbation from your life. One that will pull you out of that darkness. If you can't wait for the public distribution of the book, and want a copy before then, send me an email through the Contact Us page and I'll send you a link where you can buy it right now. You might also try the book "Every Man's Battle."
Yes. Freedom from pornography is not impossible-even in this new, sexually charged and media driven culture. I've outlined six steps to purity on this site. For more detailed instructions on breaking free from pornography addiction, get my latest book. You might also try the book "Every Man's Battle."
The Catechism does mention the possibility of being less culpable for a sin if addiction is involved, but there's no clear definition. Objectively, looking at pornography and masturbation are both mortal sins... which means you can't go to communion after doing either until you've been to confession. Subjectively, an addiction can warp your will, making it less possible to resist temptation.
Since the catechism doesn't specify, it's probably a better question for your confessor. The Catechism (or even the Church) isn't here to spell out and judge on the affects of medical or mental conditions. The Church has claimed what is wrong and right. She has told us that looking at pornography is wrong. If there is a mental condition that makes a person less culpable, it would be more of a medical opinion at this point.
If you're worried about receiving communion today, then don't go to communion. Go to confession at the nearest opportunity, and talk to your confessor about your problem. Ask him if you should go to communion after having committed this sin.
That's a tough question. Let's start by asking another question-do you really want to stop? I don't think I've met anyone who has been able to stop without telling their spouse about it.
In the union of marriage, you became one with your wife in body and soul. You entered into a union that cannot be broken by man. Every one of your actions affects her. If you are afflicted with an addiction, she is afflicted also. So in that sense, she has a right to know--the same as if you had cheated on her. You broke the vow, you have to fess up.
On the other hand, telling her about your addiction could be very devastating to her. You have to pick the right time and circumstances to come clean. For that, you'll both need God's help. Pray constantly for God to show you when and how to approach her. If you're serious about quitting, God will provide a way.
But don't put it off for too long. Addiction (especially sexual addiction) can escalate unexpectedly to abnormal (and even illegal) behavior. Would you rather fess up to your wife now, or would you rather her get the news when the FBI shows up at your door with charges against you? It happens. Believe me, it's happened to many men.
There are several ways to approach this question. First of all, if you can't pay the time, don't do the crime. That's the hard-nosed way to see it.
But you might consider a few other things. Do you honestly think that other men do not struggle with pornography? Do you think they're going to ostracize you because you struggle with the same thing? Not hardly. You'll find that men are generally very sympathetic.
As for other women, most of them accept the fact that men don't have the same approach to sex that women do. They understand that men face a different kind of struggle. It's not something you should discuss with women, but if they happen to know that you struggle with it, it probably won't change their view of you very much.
Either way, it's a chance you'll have to take. Pornography addiction is almost impossible to fight if you're doing it alone. And if a few more people know about it than your wife, it will be even easier to quit. That's not to say you should go around announcing it--you have to have some tact. But light can definitely help you destroy some of the darkness you've been hiding in.
Get my book on how to end pornography addiction and never turn back. You might also try the book "Every Man's Battle." (not a Catholic book, but very effective in fighting the sins of lust). I would also recommend you join a program like Celebrate Recovery. Fellowship with other men can really help you deal with the heavy temptations you're facing. Also, follow the steps I've outlined here.