Category Archives: Nudity

Out of Darkness – Part 9

In part 8, I shared about how although I had received a taste of freedom, I still had some chains that God had to break. In this concluding part, discover how my desires were transformed to seek out only what is true, good, and beautiful.

Getting to the root of my desire

Over the course of the next year, while doing some pro-life work in St. Augustine, Florida, I got in touch with an Evangelical couple who were trained in Theophostic Prayer Ministry (TPM). They began to work on healing my shame and anger and I experienced a little bit of emotional reprieve. I returned to Steubenville in February of 2008 where I met with my former Spiritual Director once again. He mentioned he knew of something more effective than TPM for me. Something better? Sign me up!

He gave me the number of a traumatologist who used a unique form of intensive trauma therapy (ITT). She explained what happens to the brain in a traumatic event, how the right and left are affected by such events, and that I needed to have my brain rewired so I could form new neural pathways. This would not be done by anything as drastic as shock therapy, but rather the whole process involved drawing and writing. She further explained that ITT is designed to bring light to darkness, truth to lies, and wholeness to disintegration.

I was skeptical that something so simple could bring me healing, but I was in such emotional pain that I was willing to do whatever was required to break free. Over the course of one week, working eight hours a day, I drew pictures and wrote, going through all of the traumatic events I had experienced, not the least of these which was the sexual abuse of pornography. After day one, upon walking out of the office, everything seemed brighter, as if a veil had been lifted from my eyes. During day two, as I was processing one of my traumas, I literally felt a weight lift off of me. Something oppressive left my body and I could breathe easier. On the third day, a Wednesday in April 2008, I experienced my own resurrection: the pain in my face significantly lifted and the shame that had kept me locked in fear of entering into intimacy with others was eviscerated. I had been infused with joy and felt as though I could fly! The love I had experienced from coming to know my Heavenly Father began surging through me and I had a deep sense of peace, finally being comfortable in my own skin.

I finished my time in ITT and, as the weeks passed, I realized the what I had experienced was not temporary. I had received a substantial healing and my shame had really been absorbed by genuine love. I finally felt as though I was in possession of myself, able to freely live my life as a gift.

Later in 2008 I was invited to speak at a men’s retreat in Chicago, where I shared my testimony and this new-found healing from shame. At that retreat, I learned that one key antidote to pornography is sacred art, particularly with images of the body being unveiled appropriately. In meditating on these images, I discovered the full truth about the male and female body. My blindness was finally removed and I was able to put final nail in the coffin of my attraction to pornography.

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace. – St. Augustine

For Freedom's Sake Christ has set you free. – Gal 5:1

For freedom’s sake Christ has set you free. – Gal 5:1

Transformed

By the grace of God, I can boldly proclaim: I HAVE NO DESIRE TO LOOK AT PORNOGRAPHY. This false desire has been crucified in me and I am a man resurrected with the fire of love in my heart. The lustful images our world so highly idolizes are a weak, whimpering thing compared with the glorious grandeur of seeing the human body displayed as God has intended. I would rather die than lust. Because of this redeemed vision, I am able to do even more effective work for which God has created me, as long as I continue to humbly say yes to Him.

One of the benefits of receiving this redeemed vision led me to one of my heart’s greatest desires: my wife, Valerie. We were blessed to be married in June of 2009 and, as a testament to the Truth that God’s great love is so much greater than any of the false “loves” pornography can tempt me with, He revealed to me what true sexual pleasure is supposed to be.

On the night of our wedding, soon after we had consummated our marriage, something unexpected happened: I laughed. This big, bellyaching laugh rose out of me. My wife knew everything about me, but there was neither shame nor disgrace. Precisely because of the grace of the Sacrament of Marriage, we experienced a profound union in becoming one flesh, something I had been seeking in all of those images but had never attained. Finally, the joy of the marital act was gifted to us and there was peace, a peace that lust just cannot give.

That was not the best part. About fifteen months later, a little person came forth from my wife who changed me forever. Although conceived nine months prior, on September 15, 2010, I held in my arms one of the deepest meanings of my masculinity: my daughter, Isabella Rose, was living proof of the father God had destined me to become. The fruitlessness of pornography was transformed into a fruitfulness that has changed the planet, for every birth recreates the world anew. I am eternally grateful to my Heavenly Father for the privilege to participate in this great and noble calling (He has since blessed us with another daughter, Francesca Grace, and perhaps more little Pokornys in the future).

In response to my restored masculinity and redeemed freedom, I began Freedom Coaching, a one-on-one mentoring system designed to break the bondage of those ensnared by pornography. So many good men are blind to the authentic beauty of women — and Satan desires to keep them in darkness. Because Satan neutralizes these men, women and children become easy targets. My work is a life-long penance for all the times I said “no” to His love. In reality, I know I can never repay what Christ has done for me, as everything is a gift, even my falls that led me to the heart of the Father. It is my hope that if men can reclaim the meaning of their masculinity and pledge their sacred honor to the dignity of all women and children in their lives, we will see the culture of love and life blossom in the world.

The genuine freedom from pornography I have experienced and the renewal I received are not exceptions to the rule; they can and should be the norm for all men and women. This is not some pipe-dream, but a genuine possibility — and the destiny to which we are called.

In order for this happen, we have to believe this liberation is possible, allowing our Father to come into even the darkest corners of our hearts. We have to recover genuine purity and sexual integration. This is only possible by learning how to see – not as the world does, but with a redeemed, divine vision. Then we will be able to see and experience the full truth of love, something the false “beauty” of pornography can never capture.

[Picture of John Paul]

At World Youth Day in Toronto in 2002, Saint John Paul the Great said, “We are not a sum total of our mistakes and failures. We are the sum total of our Father’s love for us.” I am a witness to this hope, proclaiming to a world in darkness that the Father does not see us as mistakes but as sons and daughters who are loved beyond measure. I pray my testimony may plant seeds of this hope and give birth to a redeemed sexuality, and thus effect a great healing in countless men and women on their journeys to true freedom.

To read the whole story, as well as learn how to overcome the power of pornified images, as well as to transform our pornified culture, check out Redeemed Vision: Setting the Blind Free from Pornography, coming soon. Comment below so you can be notified as to when Redeemed Vision is released.

Steve Pokorny is the founder of freedom-coaching.net, a one-on-one mentoring system devoted to breaking the power of pornified images. If you or someone you care about is hooked on porn, click on the link above to learn how you can be set free.

Out of Darkness – Part 4

For Part 3, click here.

During ninth grade, when I was 14, my mom was being treated at the hospital for cancer that had come out of remission (she originally was treated for breast cancer when I was ten), so I had to stay with my grandmother. It was during this time that I started acting out on my lustful desires. I obtained a copy of Howard Stern’s Private Parts, a book with plenty of written porn, and because of the discussion in that book, over the course of my stay at my grandmother’s, I taught myself how to masturbate. I was not simply watching images that went in one eye and would dissipate; thanks to the masturbation-fueled chemical flood, the mental images were being burned into my brain. The fruit I had tasted was bitter and yet I could not get enough.

Because I was raised Catholic, I came to understand the guilt and shame I was feeling was because of my sinful choices, so I went to the Sacrament of Confession. I still remember the first time I confessed looking at porn – I told the priest I had fornicated, having no idea what I was actually saying. Because I did not have a correct understanding of my sexuality, a vicious cycle began. My typical week would go like this: I would be tempted, look at porn, masturbate, feel guilty, go to Confession (with different priests if possible, because, as I thought, “if the priest actually knew, he would think I was really sick”1), and feel freedom for a few days. Yet like Frank’s mosquito friend, I inevitably was sucked back into the devastating zapper of my soul.

“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

– Hotel California, The Eagles

A line in the classic ’70s Eagles song Hotel California hints at the trap I found myself in after viewing porn: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” Whenever I tried to stop watching pornography, it was as though I was not in full possession of myself. Throughout my porn addiction, every time I stayed up late, I was drawn into the funnel where I watched for hours, unable to pull myself away. Instead of the peace of climax in a healthy marriage, after masturbating I was left with anxiety. My heart would race and, overcome by the guilt of what I had done, I would lay in bed for hours, tossing and turning, unable to fall asleep. Eventually, sleep would come, but the shame would haunt me until I had the opportunity to go to Confession, where I was given the medicine of mercy. However, that lustful itch would begin again, and the vicious cycle would continue. Later on I would take NyQuil to knock myself out to overcome the noise of my conscience inside me. When I would awake, the shame would be pounding at the door of my heart.

The absence of a father was very apparent growing up. I did not have a strong male role model who addressed my coming-of-age issues and as a result, I was not taught how to view or treat women properly. Instead, porn taught me women are merely objects to be used, abused, and discarded, valued only for their sexual values. I became increasingly uncomfortable around women. Their physical beauty made me feel ashamed because I had automatically equated beauty with a lustful attraction, so I found myself disposed to blame women. Just as Adam blamed “the woman” immediately after the Fall, I looked upon attractive girls with disdain, blaming them for “doing this to me.” As much as I claimed to “love” women, because they were unreachable and untouchable to me, my emotional reaction toward women, which I kept hidden from public view, was a secret hatred of them. I began blaming women for my lust.

When I was sixteen, at the start of my junior year of high school, my mom passed away due to cancer. This major event in my life increased my feelings of loneliness and abandonment. Yet as a response to an undetected grace, I began to pray almost every day. I believe it was God’s way of keeping me grounded during a time when grief could have caused me to lose my mind.

While my aunt and uncle were kind enough to bring me under their roof, I also brought my growing addiction with me. While repainting my room, they discovered, hidden between my mattresses, a book of erotic stories I had ordered. Again, those in charge of my formation could have addressed this issue properly, but they themselves were not formed well in matters involving sexuality, nor were aware of how dangerous pornography use can be. They essentially laughed it off as something mostly harmless.

Although I was very uncomfortable around the girls in my classes and did not date much, inside I was crying out for the attention of any female. During my senior year in 1996, I became involved with a classmate who also did not have a healthy relationship with her father and we embarked on a lustful relationship that was not her first. We began, through a very early type of instant messaging system, to write an erotic story together. We eventually acted out these words by engaging in a couple of sexual escapades. Like all lustful relationships, because real love was not our foundation, as quickly as the flames had ignited, they were quickly dowsed by the cold reality that we did not really love each other.

During our relationship, my craving for pornographic images began to take hold. The perfect delivery system for porn, the Internet, was just beginning to become popular and I can remember doing my first search for nude images online. One time, my aunt burst in on me and asked what I was doing. Although nothing significant was on the screen, my heart was pounding and I was ashamed of what I was seeking. I lied and told her I was thinking about my mom. In a certain sense, in the images of all those women, I was looking for the comfort of intimacy with a woman, but could not find it.

Static, TV,

Like Poltergeist, I was being drawn into the haze.

My aunt and uncle also had cable television and I would spend nights watching scrambled Cinemax in order to try to satisfy my desire. While they slept, I would stay up late watching one show after another, trying to see some skin to try and quench my thirst. Although I was terrified that my aunt and uncle might catch me watching, this drug kept me coming back for more.

In a very real sense, I began to develop two faces. One was public, where I was very outgoing, involved in drama club and show choir and often known as the class clown (I was voted by the senior class “most likely to trip while going to get his diploma”). Yet in my private life, the darkness inside of me was growing. For example, after hanging out with friends, on my drive home at night, I would contemplate what would be showing on Cinemax. Although I may have been able to fool others into believing I was extremely confident and comfortable around people, I could not deceive myself, for I knew viewing lustful images was crippling my ability to form bonds of communion with those around me. I had become deathly afraid of anyone getting to know the real me, because I thought they would not like what they would see.

To be continued…

1In truth, all sinners are sick, yet a priest who knows his dignity does not think less of a person who continues to come to Confession; he thinks more of them, because priest too are sinners and know only Christ, ministering through the priest, can give the remedy to those entrenched in something as powerful as addiction. Working with the same Confessor on a sin can be very helpful, as he knows where you have been, and is able to walk with you on the journey to freedom.

Steve Pokorny is the founder of freedom-coaching.net, a one-on-one mentoring system devoted to breaking the power of pornified images. If you or someone you care about is hooked on porn, click on the link above to learn how you can be set free.

 

No Nudes is Not Good News

By Steve Pokorny

The impossible happened. Playboy is giving up nudity. At least, at first glance that’s what it looks like.

From their press release: “A reimagined Playboy magazine will include a completely modern editorial and design approach, and, for the first time in its history, will no longer feature nudity in its pages.”1 They’ve decided to go anti-au naturale in the same print magazine that gave Americans an entirely different view of Marilyn Monroe.

This is partly a business decision, aPlayboy bunnys the circulation currently stands at 800,000, down from 5.6 million in 1975.2 It seems that it’s about trimming the fat, as it’s costly to pay the women who are featured in the buff. If readers aren’t buying, then they have to to change course in order to cut their losses and stay competitive in the marketplace.

This is not the first time Playboy has stripped nudity from their products. Playboy.com has been nudity free since August of 2014,3 What‘s fascinating is that when they did this, “Playboy executives said, the average age of its reader dropped from 47 to just over 30, and its web traffic jumped to about 16 million from about four million unique users per month.”4

Maybe they’re onto something, and maybe this is a good thing for society in general. In the course of trying to increase their revenue streams, it appears they’re creating one less avenue for pornography access.

However, I believe theres something else going on here. Three thoughts:

First thought: I was intrigued upon hearing that Playboy.com had no nudity. So I logged on myself and as stated in their press release, while there were articles discussing sex and relationships, the site has been scrubbed of nudes.

According to Complex.com, “Playboy chief executive Scott Flanders told the New York Times, ‘You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture.'”5 Taken at face value, this means that because porn can be found anywhere, they just can’t compete financially with other pornographers.

However, upon digging a little deeper, I found that this latest move is simply part of a larger inbound marketing schema to drive viewers to Playboy Plus (a pay-to-play site), where plenty of skin is shown. Thus, like Playboy from the beginning, they’re using false motives to push their product. The magazine will encourage readers (yes, you can actually say now that you read Playboy for the articles!) to check out the website, which will filter viewers over to their more graphic image sites.

As for porn being “Passé” – Pa-lease. Porn is everywhere, and business has never been better. The execs at Playboy know what they’re doing. They would not be where they are in the market and a driving force in the culture without being business savvy. Instead of being truly philanthropic, this announcement is a PR stunt to draw attention to the Playboy brand.

Second thought: As stated in their press release, “Playboy has effectively accomplished its founding goal of normalizing the female body by introducing women to the world in their au naturel state, the magazine’s mission has been accomplished.”6

From the very beginning of it’s launch, while Hugh Hefner may have had a legitimate goal, the way he went about it did the complete opposite of “normalizing the female body.” Instead of revealing and uplifting the dignity and worth of women where all aspects of her personhood are appreciated, women as a whole have been devalued, where now ordinary women are accepted or rejected on the basis of their “sex appeal.”

Never has Playboy valued what is truly important to most women: Real love, chaste intimacy, solid marriages where their gifts and talents are nurtured and given a place to flourish, a correct understanding (let alone acknowledgement) of her fertility, not as a disease to be discarded, but as part of her “genius” (from the phrase coined by St. John Paul the Great). In the fight for women’s liberation, Playboy has been nothing but a slave trader, selling a woman’s worth for the basest of desires.

Third thought: From their press release [http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/10/13/playboy-covers-up/], “It promised to “continue to publish sexy, seductive pictorials of the world’s most beautiful women, including its iconic Playmates, all shot by some of today’s most renowned photographers.” In essence, Playboy is going GQ.

Upon seeing this announcement, I’m sure some, including Christians, celebrated this as a good thing. But it begs the question: Is this move really a good thing? Is it really reducing the amount of porn available?

While there will be less nudity in the pages of the most prolific pilfering pornographic printed periodical, in a very real sense, this will only further entrench pornography in our culture. Playboy has always been synonymous with inspiring lust, and we shouldn’t expect this trend to change. Just because the models will have more stitches of clothing on doesn’t mean that they’re going to be viewed with more respect.

Playboy has always been about mainstreaming pornography, making people think that looking with lust at others (“NOW with more clothing on!” is an improvement) is as American as eating bacon, drinking beer, and driving up debt on your credit card. Everybody does it, so the notion goes, and so should you. Looking at porn is “normal,” a rite of passage, and we should just fall in line.

Like the first launch, this redesigned launch of Playboy Magazine will not satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts. We should be focused not on new ways to exploit women, but instead work to bring about a true sexual revolution, where the whole person, not just their sex appeal, will both men and women’s dignity be upheld and revealed.

What do you think about Playboy’s new policy?  Leave your thoughts in the box below.

1 Ryan Gajewski.Playboy to No Longer Feature Nude Women” http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/playboy-no-longer-feature-nude-831575.

2 Ibid.

3 Ryan Gajewski.Playboy to No Longer Feature Nude Women,”  http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/playboy-no-longer-feature-nude-831575.

5 CRISSY MILAZZO, “Playboy Magazine Will No Longer Publish Fully Nude Photos,” http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2015/10/playboy-stops-publishing-nudes-photos. [Date Accessed: October 14, 2015]

6 Bryan Logan, “Playboy will no longer feature nude women in its print edition,” http://www.businessinsider.com/playboy-magazine-will-no-longer-feature-nude-women-in-its-print-edition-2015-10 [Date Accessed: October 17, 2015]  

Steve Pokorny is the founder of Freedom Coaching, a one-on-one mentoring program designed to break the power of an attraction to lust and pornography. After 12 years of being enslaved, Steve has been granted the grace of freedom and offers a path for others to have their chains broken. He can be reached at steve@freedom-coaching.net.