Category Archives: Pornography

What is pornography doing to us?

This is a snippet of a presentation I gave at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in San Antonio recently to High School Students who are preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation. It is crucial that they learn how to see so they can love.

If you’d like to see the full talk, check out ofwcmedia.com and their CatholicCasts: https://www.catholicasts.com/

Pamela Anderson: The New Mary Magdalene?

Pamela Anderson: The New Mary Magdalene?

A preface to this post: I remember as a teenager how both the Internet and my hormones were exploding. I spent many a nights using dial up modems lusting after the latest digital pin-up.

Front and center in my quest was the blond bombshell named Pamela Anderson. During the 90s, she was the crown jewel of all my pornographic pursuits. My first exposure to Ms. Anderson was during Baywatch, where her red one-piece swimsuit would continually turn my head. My attraction to her would grow as I would see her in Playboy, of which she would go on to grace the cover of the now non-nude magazine 15 times. 

Such fantasies kept me bound for 12 years from being able to truly perceive reality. I was bound in my lust, unable to see women for who they are. A woman (just like a man) is way more than any video or image can capture. She has thoughts, feeling, and gifts to offer to the world that go way beyond mere sex-appeal, even if she cannot see it herself. It is the job of every man to help every woman be aware of their God-given dignity. For a man not attempt such a mission is an abject failure of masculinity.

I write this post as a public apology to Ms. Anderson and repent of my years of using her with my mind. I would like to make amends, and I hope this writing is a small of token of this desire.

Recently, Ms. Anderson co-wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal with Rabbi Scmuley Boteach. While prompted by the ongoing saga of Anthony Weiner and his compulsive behavior, their writing was a larger commentary on the inherent destructive nature of pornography and how it is affecting all segments of the population.

To see her name attached to this editorial was nothing less than shocking. Was this just another way to keep herself relevant as she continues to age? Or is she really experiencing a conversion from a lifestyle that many other pornographers have witnessed to its destructive nature?

Is this a turning point for Ms. Anderson? I believe so. Like all women who enter the pornography industry, she did not start out as a libido-obsessed maniac (as the false narrative of pornography describe) but instead as a young girl with hopes and dreams like any of us. The desire to be wanted for who we are can be intoxicating, and if a girl is not surrounded by men who want her best, if she fits the pornographic body-type, she may be coaxed into doing something contrary to her true desires. We can only be lied to for so long until we either despair into destructive behavior or instead make a radical U-turn.

For someone who has taken her clothes off in public for many decades, I believe Ms. Anderson is getting naked here – but in a very good way; she is unveiling her heart. She is letting us know what her deepest desires are, specifically in stating we need a “sensual revolution”:

The ubiquity of porn is an outgrowth of the sexual revolution that began a half-century ago and which, with gender rights and freedoms now having been established, has arguably run its course. Now is the time for an epochal shift in our private and public lives. Call it a “sensual revolution.”

The sensual revolution would replace pornography with eroticism – the alloying of sex with love, of physicality with personality, of the body’s mechanics with imagination, of orgasmic release with binding relationships.

Ms. Anderson added to this on her blog:

A healthy, loving sexual experience demands both intimacy and respect, both of which pornography addiction destroys, and I am committed to raising this fundamental awareness and protecting the vulnerable enslaved in the sex industry and abusive relationships.

Reading between these lines, we can see that in all of her pornographic displays and broken relationships with broken men has been a search for what most of us long for: someone who will love us for who we really are, to see us as the person God has created us to be, and to be united in a permanent and exclusive relationship open to what the sexual act most often leads to: children.

Pamela Anderson horizon light

Ms. Anderson finally seeing the light

To spell it out: Ms. Anderson is saying that she wants marriage and a family, one not based on the lies that pornography promotes – that one must have a “perfect” body, be sexually available at anytime, and not be tied down to anything that reduces our pleasure – but instead to give and receive everything from another where she knows the other person is with her through good times and bad. 

I do not know what Ms. Anderson’s relationship with Jesus Christ is, or if she even has a positive view of Christianity. However, with all of the above compelling evidence, I must ask: Is Pamela Anderson be the new Mary Magdalen?

If we recall, Mary Magdalen (who many Early Church Fathers believed to be the same woman caught in the act of adultery (John 7:53-8:11)) had lived a life of pleasure seeking, not because she was intentionally seeking evil for evil’s sake, but instead was looking for intimacy in a way that sexual acts outside of a loving marriage can never provide. In her darkest moment, the Person of Love appeared. Instead of condemning her, He called her to embrace her own greatness. She responded to that call, and the Catholic Church now honors her as a Saint.

In a similar manner, Ms. Anderson is revealing that the Playboy lifestyle is full of emptiness and pain. She knows what its like to be used, and it seems as though she is be waking up to reality: namely, that men and women are never meant to be used, but instead are the type of creatures that are to be loved for their own sake (Cf. Gaudium et Spes 24). To violate this inalienable law is to do violence to the human person.

I’m not saying she is completely converted to the Love Who alone can satisfy. She probably has a very skewed notion about what “gender rights” and “freedom” really mean. Like all of those who have failed to live their sexuality in accord with their worth, there is probably a lot of regret and shame, and she needs to experience the healing that only God can provide.

That being said, Ms. Anderson is to be applauded for ability to see the septic tank of the pornography industry for what it is and her courageous action of using her public profile to alert others of its destructiveness. Our response must not be  not condemn her for past actions, but instead help her see that her desires for marriage and family are not mere fantasy, but can be fulfilled, ultimately on the other side of eternity. Let us pray for her, that she may come to know deeply the Intimacy of Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom, the One who alone can satisfy her longings to be seen as beautiful, lovely, and cherished.

Steve Pokorny is the Founder of Freedom Coaching, a one-on-one mentoring system designed to break the power of pornified images. His book, Redeemed Vision: Setting the Blind Free from the Pornified Culture is coming soon. 

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 6

In Part 5, I shared how throughout my college career my compulsion to pornography began to fester. Today, we begin looking at how God had other plans for my life.

Changing winds

The summer after graduation from college, I was confused about where God was calling me. I seriously questioned whether I was being called to priesthood, for I was radically struggling with celibacy.1 For my three years at minor college seminary, I told God, “I’m going to be a priest.” As the old phrase goes, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans,” and He was cracking up. Instead, I should have been asking: “Lord, do You want me to be a priest?” In order to really discern well, I came to understand that I needed to continue onto the Major Seminary at St. Mary’s Seminary in Cleveland.

During that year, I became more serious about questioning my vocation. Through this, I was granted some relief from my addiction (although it would come out to play every so often). I began to pray a Holy Hour most days in front of the Tabernacle where Jesus in the Eucharist resided, rising at 6 am to pray. Although I struggled with my theological studies, I remained committed. I was involved in the community and was striving to grow in masculine intimacy with my brothers. I was faithful to my apostolate of serving at a local parish. I also began working out on a regular basis, which helped to direct my energy from pent up frustrations and stress.

Even though I was striving for balance, I still was not satisfied. I was still yearning for someone – some woman – to love me. While celibacy is a genuine gift and my respect for priests was growing immensely, a pain in my heart and a question in my head would not go away: What if there is someone out there for me? What if, in all those lonely days through junior high, high school, and college, of wanting female companionship, God had one woman prepared for me?

Madonna of the Streets

It was the beauty of our Lady that was leading me forth to another vocation.

This all came to a head one Saturday morning. The night before, I went to bed early because I felt deathly ill. Waking up at about 9:30 am, I did something I rarely ever do: I just laid there. Looking around, I noticed the copy of Madonna of the Streets one of my brothers in seminary had given me (who would become the priest to witness my marriage). At that moment, a scene from the first Matrix movie popped in my head (you know, when you think of Mary, you think of Keanu Reeves…it is only natural). I replayed before my eyes the scene toward the end where Trinity says to Neo, “I’m not afraid.” At that moment, I was not afraid anymore. I knew, deep within the recesses of my heart, while celibacy is a gift, God had not granted it to me. I needed to jump. I did not know where I was going, but I realized that if He had led me into seminary, He was going to light my path. He had other plans for me, but a turning point — in my life and in my heart — would be needed if I were to fulfill what He had destined for me before the world began.

I had experienced a tremendous gift, and I knew there was a very different vocation ahead of me. But first, I needed to receive a full healing from my compulsion to pornography.

To be continued…

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.

1 The Catholic Church teaches clearly: Those with non-integrated sexual desires are not to be ordained to the priesthood. They are to be fully in possession of themselves to freely give themselves away to the whole Bride of Christ as a celibate in Holy Orders.

Out of Darkness – Part 5

In Part 4, I shared about how my first experience of pornography on the internet began to shape me. Today, we’ll look at how the this exposure would begin to create a deeper hole in my heart.

Porn goes to college

I graduated from high school in 1997 with the vicious cycle of addiction beginning to take over. I went to Syracuse University in New York to major in acting where the Internet was newly available in every dorm room. While I was involved with the Newman Center and was growing in my Catholic Faith, with the exception of a roommate, there was nothing stopping me from getting my steady supply of this drug. I legitimized it because, hey, every guy in my hall was into it (one guy who I was teaching me guitar had a vast amount of his hard drive caked with porn images), and it was readily available elsewhere (the local movie theater on campus showed porn flicks all the time).

Emotionally, in college, I was pretty much an empty seat.

Emotionally, in college, I was pretty much an empty seat.

The situation grew worse. In my first two years in college, I experienced an emotional shutdown. I lived a “flat line” existence, feeling neither lows nor highs, except during fleeting moments when I indulged in porn. Pornography had neutered my spirit and my capacity to truly form bonds of intimacy with others. What was left was a dull ache in my heart, a hurt I thought could not be mended. I had a self-inflicted, gaping wound I did not know how to heal.

Even through the emotional emptiness, God was still trying to speak to me. Sometime during that year, because I still continued to pray (as well as confess nearly weekly my lustful habit), I received what I thought was a genuine call to the priesthood. The following year I moved back to Cleveland and transferred to Borromeo Seminary where I began undergraduate studies in philosophy. It was during this time that I truly met Jesus in the Eucharist, knowing He was alive and REAL, physically present for me in every Catholic Church (somehow, even with all of the years of religious education in my youth, I never really “got” this until then). Building off of what I learned at the Newman Association at Syracuse University, I continued to develop my relationship with Mary, our Mother, primarily through regular recitation of the Rosary. I felt that although I had lost my earthly mother, Mary was taking me under her mantle as her son. These two very Catholic elements would eventually help draw me forth from the darkness.

Throughout seminary, I struggled with my attachment to porn (like Syracuse, we had Internet in our room, as well as two large TVs where I could access scrambled porn). Through my brothers-in-arms, I came to realize that I was not the only one who was having problems. Because our formation did not really touch on this subject and my spiritual director would give me the typical advice most people are given who are trying to overcome pornography, there was no real victory, merely toleration. One guy named Joe, a man who was very open with his struggles, started a “Gold Star” program. For every day we did not masturbate, we got a gold star and whoever could go the longest would get some sort of a prize. Although it was good to realize we shared a similar problem, it did not move me closer to an answer, it only functioned as a coping mechanism. The fear of being found out was not enough to keep me from drinking the porn Kool-Aid.

Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?

– Luke 6:39

Throughout my college years, I would often wear sunglasses during the day, even if it was cloudy. Part of it was practical, as I had a problem with brightness during the daytime even if the sun could not be seen. Mostly though, it was a reflection of my interior state; I did not want anyone to see me for me. I had a severe self-hatred and kept anyone from getting in. Although I got laser-eye surgery in the year 2000, which helped alleviate some of my problems with brightness, I knew I needed another type of “laser-eye surgery,” one for my heart.

On breaks throughout college seminary, I would return to my aunt and uncle’s house, where despite my best efforts, I kept giving in because the addiction was far too powerful. No one suspected a thing because, as a seminarian, I was presumably above suspicion. Yet my Mr. Hyde personality was killing me. All my best attempts to quit ended in failure. I told myself this was my cross and I would have to carry it for the rest of my life. I would never be free. Or so I thought.

To be continued…

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.

 

Out of Darkness – Part 3

You can read part 2 of this series here.

During the summer before eighth grade, when I was twelve, I “hit the big time,” and my life would be forever altered. One day, a friend, “Sam” invited me to his house and we watched TV. Not just any television program, it was hard-core porn. We had a seemingly endless supply of pornography, thanks in part to his parents’ nearly countless videos stashed in their room. As we watched, I experienced mixed emotions. On the one hand, I was excited and wanted to keep watching, as there was definitely something very attractive about what the men and women were doing on the screen. On the other hand, I had intense feelings of guilt. The more I watched, the uglier I felt.

A scene from the movie A Bug’s Life captures how those pornographic images had begun affecting me. In the movie, two mosquitoes are hanging out near a bug zapper. The first mosquito says, “Frank, get away from the light!” Frank responds, “I can’t help it—the light is sooo beauuuuuutiful!” and then … ZAAAPP! Frank becomes bug juice. As “beautiful” as I thought the images were, this was a tractor beam I just could not break free from.

As all of those who get involved with porn can attest to, the initial images stop satisfying: a person has to escalate in order to get his high. My friend was no exception. He was not interested in merely watching porn with a buddy. During a later visit to his house, when we were in his parent’s room looking for another video to watch, Sam reached into his parent’s top dresser drawer and pulled out a “sex toy.” When I asked what it was, he said, “It will make you feel good.” I did not know exactly what he meant and was embarrassed by the whole situation. I made up some excuse and got out of there.

Our relationship came to a head when we were over at my house alone, watching a video Sam had brought over. A few minutes later, my mom’s boyfriend came through the front door unexpectedly. Instead of just turning off the VCR and continue watching TV, I got up quickly and tried to get the tape out of the machine. He sized up the situation rapidly and took the tape. I begged for him to give it back but to no avail: my mom was going to find out.

pornography, seeking help, mother-son conversation

Our mother-son conversations didn’t quite help.

I knew there was no way out of this situation, so when mom came home from the store, I immediately went up to her in tears and confessed my crime. There was no condemnation on the part of my mom. Instead, she wrapped me in her arms and showed me the love only a mother could give. She gave me the intimacy I was looking for from porn in the first place.

Soon thereafter she sat down and talked with me about what was on the video. She told me she watched it briefly, and that there was nothing beautiful or lovely in what she saw. She could not understand why I would want to watch it. To this day, I can still recall the scene my friend and I were watching when we were busted. It turns my stomach now, realizing porn really is all about power and domination, yet as a youth, I did not understand this. My mother was trying to teach me why this was wrong, but she did not have the language to explain it, and I had tasted something carnal that would expand my downward spiral.

To be continued…

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 2

Last time I shared about how the lack of my father’s presence in my life impacted my growth and development. In this post, I’d like to share a little how my vision about human sexuality began to be distorted.

Growing up, I never discussed sex with my parents. In elementary school, I remember writing Mad Libs with one of my friends, filling in all the blanks with sexually explicit words. My mom caught us and sat me down for a little chat. “Do you know what sex is?” she asked. “Sure,” I answered. That was the extent of our conversation. It was obvious she was uncomfortable talking about the subject. How different my path might have been had she been able to articulate something of the glorious splendor and God-given purpose of human sexuality — how much pain and agony I could have been spared!

man woman romance

My education about human sexuality was anything but wholesome. (Photo from Morgan Sessions)

Since I lacked true sexual education, I had to learn on my own. It really is true that “what isn’t taught will be caught,” and I certainly was predisposed to be infected by the porn epidemic. My earliest exposure to pornographic material I had was in fifth grade (age ten) when one of my friends, “Adam,” and I discovered several copies of my brother’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Illustrated editions. When no one was home, we took those issues, ripped out the women we thought were the prettiest, and laid them in a circle. We put a used Coke bottle in the center and we played a unique version of “spin-the-bottle.” When it was my turn, I had to spin the bottle and wherever the head of the bottle landed, I would have to kiss that image. I was attracted to these images yet did not know why. My response to the apparent beauty flowed out of that misunderstanding. I did not really understand why we were doing this, but looking back now I know I was seeking real intimacy in a faulty way.

In sixth grade, as I was crossing from one block to another in my suburban neighborhood, in the middle of the street I saw a brown paper bag filled with paper (I like to think of this as Satan “accidentally” dropping one of the pieces of forbidden fruit – just for me). I picked up the bag and realized it was not just any type of paper, but ripped up images of naked body parts. Later, after assembling the pieces, I discovered it was hard-core pornography. I knew what I had discovered was contraband, so I took it home and hid it in the basement. I was ashamed of what I had seen but was really excited and, like a thief who had just stolen some poor chap’s lottery ticket, I could not keep the secret. I blabbed about my find to a classmate. Like me, he was from a home without a father and had been looking for love in all the wrong places. When I showed the images to him, he could not help himself. He offered me $20 for the bag on the spot. For an eleven- year-old, I had hit the jackpot, so I traded up.

Although this had been a small exposure, the hook had been set in my heart, and I was beginning to be led to a place of great darkness.

To be continued…

Steve Pokorny is the founder of Freedom Coaching, 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 1

As with any blog, there has to be a motivating factor as to why a person would commit such time to sharing with the world their message. I am convinced that our pornographic culture is anything but good, and it is stealing the beauty that we need in our lives. This doesn’t come from a place of judgment from on high but from my lived reality of how porn kept me in bondage for years. The Good News is I have discovered freedom, and I believe I have been called to help lead countless others to freedom.

Thus onto my story…

I was born into a stable, two-parent home, the youngest of two boys. In 1985, at five years of age, my life changed. My father, a Vietnam veteran with a get-rich-quick mentality, wagered our house on the stock market without my mother’s permission — and lost.

Acting upon the faulty notion that our family needed financial support more than his physical presence, my father believed it would be better to kill himself than to lose the house. He went into the garage, closed the door, and turned on the car in an attempt to end his life. When my mother found him thirty minutes later and dragged him out of the garage, he was alive, but his short-term memory would be gone forever due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Our family was taken care of financially because my father was a veteran. Thus, in a sad twist of irony, my father’s fears for a bleak future never came to pass.

Darkness, clouds
A shroud of darkness was beginning to form around my life.

My father’s condition prevented me from really knowing him. After the accident, he was placed in a nursing home and I would occasionally visit him. I always felt uncomfortable around him, for his speech had been slowed and he was unable to retain anything I told him. I could not share my experiences of growing older and I felt as though we could not build a relationship together. He was not the father who had played baseball with me in the front yard. Here was a man who had sold out to his fears and compromised the future of his family. I felt his selfishness had destroyed the possibility of having a stable home and being raised by both a father and a mother.

Because of this abandonment, I grew up insecure and questioned the point of everything. I often felt depressed and even felt at times that it would be better if I had never been born. I remember writing more than a few times in my journal that I should kill myself – like father, like son. Despite the counseling I went through during childhood, I could not shake the deep-seated feeling of isolation and worthlessness in my soul.

Around Christmas 1996, when I was 17, my father, at age 51, began to lose a lot of weight. Doctors discovered he had developed brain and lung cancer and he did not have much time left. Within two months, he was moved to The Hospice of the Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio. I knew I had to say something to him before it was too late.

During one of my few visits to hospice, I sat down and was honest with him. I looked him in the eyes and said, “Dad, you abandoned me. You walked out on Mom. You left Brian. You were not there when we needed you most.” For a brief moment, he looked back into my eyes and said, “I know.” That was his way of saying, “I’m sorry.” From that moment, I was able to begin forgiving him. Three weeks later, I lost my father for the second time.

To be continued…

To read the whole story, as well as learn how to overcome the power of pornified images, check out the forthcoming Redeemed Vision: Setting the Blind Free from the Darkness of Pornography, available in paperback or on Kindle in 2016.

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.

On Thanksgiving, Sundays & Porn

Yes, another Thanksgiving has come and gone, and hopefully you’re done digesting the turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed taters, cranberry sauce, beans with bacon (BACON!), gravy, apple pie, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, & wide variety of liquids you consumed. I want to reflect a little bit on this reality we call Thanksgiving and connect it to some deeper realities of life.

Historically, the first settlers of America came from Europe in search of religious freedom. The Patuxet Tribe, led by Squanto, befriended the settlers and helped them survive their brutal first winter. After having a very successful harvest, the 50 or so Pilgrims shared their gifts with 90 Native Americans in gratitude for have such plentitude in abundance of what nature’s Creator had provided for them.

This feast Americans celebrate every 4th Thursday in November is a remembrance of that first event is not just about food; it’s to be a further expression of the abundance that we have been given by God. Thanksgiving is about recalling all aspects of our life, recognizing that everything that is given, what we’ve done, or what has been done for/to us, is a gift (even the tragedies have silver linings if we have the eyes to see it). From this copiousness of gifts we are to share with others and do so from a grateful heart. Thanksgiving was never meant to be one day – it should be lived everyday, at every moment of our lives.

I write the above as context for this post. Some years ago, onlineschools.org created a graphic (seen below) with some solid stats about internet pornography.1 While the info is most likely outdated, the general truth behind it stands: porn is a problem. It’s wreaking havoc on all aspects of life, and the porn epidemic has not improved, but gotten exponentially worse.2

Pornography Stats, Thanksgiving, Sunday
“Porn’s not that big a deal.” Really?

What’s fascinating is the last graphic, which states that “The least popular day of the year for viewing pornography is thanksgiving,” and “The most popular day of the week for viewing porn is Sunday.”

Why is this? I think it has everything to do with the nature of the two days.

Regarding Thanksgiving, when we are grateful, it is psychologically impossible to be what I call B.L.H.A.S.T.T.ed3 – Bored, Lonely, Hungry, Angry, Stressed, Tired, Turned On. Are these not the main driving factors of why people seek satisfaction in pornography in the first place?

There are a ton of health benefits4 for living from an attitude of gratitude, from improving mental & physical health to increasing our self-esteem. Most importantly, it can open doors to more relationships, which is exactly what those who seek out pornography are looking for in the first place. They’re trying to seek out a genuinely human need in a way that will never satisfy.

As for Sunday, why is this day of the week reportedly the highest amount of porn use? I think it boils down to 3 reasons:

First, on a practical level, it’s the day before most people have to go back to work. The tensions of the week are beginning to creep up. There’s “nothing to do.” And through the years of being programmed to respond to such stimulus – or lack there of – the person feels impelled to wade into the septic tank of pornography.

Second, because of the splintering of marriage and family life, many of us are incredibly isolated and lonely. It is our father and mother who were supposed to provide for us nurturing and care, as well as help us to develop the ability to express our emotions in a healthy way. Everyone longs to be accepted by those who brought them into this world and to grow up in a home where they can be who they were created to be by God.

When our biological parents are absent physically and/or emotionally during our formative years, there is a tendency to be stunted emotionally. This is certainly manifested in many ways, but most especially in the way we relate to others. The programmed lie that we may begin to believe to be true is that “I am not worthy of love.” Because of the rejection and hurt, walls are built to keep us from forming bonds of communion with others.

Because we are designed to receive and give love, when we don’t find the real deal, we will often sell out for the counterfeits. Porn is one of those counterfeits. Instead of spending our Sundays with our families truly recreating, we choose to be absorbed in a technological jungle that can snare our soul. Instead of being surrounded by real persons where we have the opportunity to establish genuine relationships with those we can share the whole of our lives with, we may choose the many airbrushed and surgically altered bodies who don’t fill us with gratitude, but instead steal our joy.


“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love.”  

                                                                               – Blessed Mother Theresa


Third, and most importantly, Sunday is not treated as sacred anymore. Most fill the last day of the weekend with all kinds of noise – shopping, sporting events, empty entertainment, everything but the One that can satisfy the craving for connection. All of this stuff has suffocated our ability to be aware of the transcendent nature of reality, that which speaks to the core of who we are.

Sure, we may go to church, but for many of us its not really the launching point for the week. Instead, just having our butt in the pew for maybe 45 minutes is treated as obligation that must be checked off a list to be seen by others as a “good Christian.” Besides, the game’s on soon, and we need to tailgate beforehand.

At root, too few Christians do not have a living, breathing relationship with Jesus Christ. They simply don’t know Him as the One who knows everything about them and Who wants to be involved deeply with every specific detail of a person’s life. What’s worse, in the Catholic Church, nearly 70% of self-identified Catholics don’t actually believe that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity, Real Presence of God Incarnate.5 70%! This is truly significant, and I think it may shed light on the fact that porn use amongst Catholic males is at the same rate as the general population.

The Solution to being B.L.H.A.S.T.T.ed.

This leads us to three very bare, bold truths. First, the Source and the Summit of the Catholic Faith is the Eucharist. Eucharist literally means “Thanksgiving.”

Second, God is Intimacy and it is Intimacy that we crave, a craving that leaves us vulnerable to every image of pornography that we come in contact with.

Third, it is impossible to be filled, to achieve communion, if we don’t believe that the Lord of Heaven and Earth is willing to come down and reside within and through us, if we will only let Him. The King of Reality gives us these transcendent truths to be practical and applicable in the lives of those who seek Him in every place and time.

So, how do we apply these transcendent truths? Two simple things we need to do:

Eucharist, Thanksgiving,

The Solution to being B.L.H.A.S.T.T.ed

First, we need to partake fully in the Mystery of the Eucharist. Mind. Heart. Body. Soul.

Second, we need to reflect that Thanksgiving, that Communion, that Eucharist in our lives by thanking God for every day, every hour; every time we experience temptations and every time we experience blessings.

These two simple tasks will increase our touches with Intimacy Himself and give us the fulfillment of our deepest craving that no earthly thing can supply.  By coming to rediscover this ever ancient, ever new gift, Love Incarnate will satisfy our every desire. 

What are you grateful for? Leave your comments below.

1Jason Chen, “Finally Some Actual Stats on Internet Porn,” http://gizmodo.com/5552899/finally-some-actual-stats-on-internet-porn, June 1, 2010 [Date Accessed: November 27, 2015].

2 For a recent discussion on this, see: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Create in Me a Clean Heart,” http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/pornography/upload/Create-in-Me-a-Clean-Heart-Statement-on-Pornography.pdf, November 2015, [Date Accessed: November 27, 2015].

3Adapted from a list provided by Mark Kastlemann in The Drug of the New Millennium.

4Amy Morin, “7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round,” http://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/11/23/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-of-gratitude-that-will-motivate-you-to-give-thanks-year-round/, November 23, 2014 [Date Accessed: November 27, 2015].

5Rev. Kenneth Doyle, “I don’t believe the Eucharist is the body of Christ. Am I going to hell?” http://www.cruxnow.com/church/2015/02/23/i-dont-believe-the-eucharist-is-the-body-of-christ-am-i-going-to-hell/, February 23, 2015 [Date Accessed November 27, 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.