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.
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.
In part 6, I shared about how I was being called to a different vocation than priesthood. In this post, come see how every wound in my past was baptized in the redemption of Jesus Christ.
Discovering God’s plan for humanity
During the summer of 2002, my friend Ellen gave me an audiotape. Thinking it was just another apologetics tape, she told me, “Just listen to it.” When I popped it in, it changed my life forever. It was a presentation by Catholic theologian and author Christopher West who was explaining the Truth about the human person and the gift of sexuality. My jaw hit the floor. I realized this vision of life — this understanding of what it means to be male and female — was everything for which I had been searching!
For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. — Jeremiah 29:11
Saint John Paul the Great’s unveiling of God’s glorious plan for our lives brought about a mixture of emotions. On the one hand, I experienced great hope, realizing I was not abandoned in my struggle for sexual purity. On the other, I felt a deep pain because I was so far from where I needed to be and had no plan in place to break free from the chains binding me. It sounded almost surreal: “Could this message be true? Could I really be set free from my lusts?” I could relate intimately to the words of St. Paul, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15). My body and soul were crying out, “How long, O Lord?” I had known for a long time that the pixilated images of women would never satisfy the deep ache within me, but merely knowing such information was only one part of the answer. I needed to have a radical heart transplant to be set free to love.
After finishing a very painful experiment of teaching high school theology for a year, I was accepted for the masters program in theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio. Little did I know, God had much more in store for me than a degree in theology and catechetics. Among many things, one of the attractions of Franciscan is its world-renowned charismatic prayer events, known as Festivals of Praise. Picture 2,000 people united, praising God in song. At my first service, it became apparent God was beginning His work in me. One of the Scripture verses proclaimed several times that night was Isaiah 43:19: “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” Through a crack in my stony heart, living waters were beginning to bubble up.
Like many students on campus, I attended daily Mass, where things began getting a little weird — in the best sense of the word. It seemed that the message of virtually every hymn and praise song was directed toward me. God was trying to break through my darkness with His glorious, blinding light to allow me to see the Truth of His deep love for me. He was wooing me as a Bridegroom woos His Bride.
Over the course of the next two weeks, Jesus met me powerfully in the Eucharist. Through the reception of this most Holy Sacrament, I was infused with the love of God in a way I had never previously experienced. Although I had grown in my relationship with God throughout high school and college, He was introducing me to His most personal and intimate love. I was especially moved to thanksgiving and a bit of the dark fog in my soul began to lift.
Coming to know the Father
After one of the daily Masses, on a particular Wednesday, during prayer I felt an intense moment of gratitude for what Jesus was doing with my life. And then it hit me. It was not only Jesus who was moving me to gratitude. It was my Father – not just any father, but God the Father. This was the Father I had longed for. This union with God — my origin and my destiny — was what I had been yearning for in all of those empty pornographic images. The One who I thought had abandoned me had not rejected me; instead, He wanted to hold me close and tell me He loved me. He had always wanted to hold me and tell me I was His own.
I waited, I waited for the Lord.
And He stooped down to me;
He heard my cry.
He drew me from the deadly pit,
From the miry clay
He set my feet upon a rock
And made my footsteps firm.
– Psalm 40: 2-4.
At that moment, I knew I had a Father, a Father who wanted me more than anything. My Abba was calling me to climb into His lap and be held. And it was enough. All the fears I had held inside – all the hurt, all the shame, all the forgiveness I could not bring myself to accept – was washed away by a love that penetrated the deepest core of my being. The floodgates opened and I sobbed like the prodigal son in the arms of his father.
Just when I thought my cup was overflowing with too much love, it happened. Boom, boom, boom, boom – my chains hit the floor! I experienced my first tangible, potent sense of freedom. For the first time in my life, I had a genuine experience of freedom from sexual compulsion. Just as St. Augustine was liberated from his bonds of slavery to sin when he read the words of St. Paul, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh,” (see Rom 13:14). I no longer desired to look at sexually explicit images. I had been set free. He had brought me to such beauty pornography failed to contain, namely, Himself. The desire to use women gave way to a desire to serve and love them humbly as my sisters in Christ.
How did this transformation happen? How did it come to be I would be telling this story of my compulsion to pornography? For years, I lived with fear, “Do not ever let anyone find out about this compulsion or you will be ruined.” But I did not have to fear anymore. The destructive vision of myself that had dominated much of my youth gave way to the “new thing” He was doing in my life. The clouds of darkness in my life dissipated and I heard in my heart the voice I had longed to hear, “This is my well-beloved son, with whom I am well pleased” (see Matt 3:17). The Father? Pleased with me? After everything I had done? After all the times I had turned my back on Him – He still wanted me back? Yes, the Father was very pleased with me. At that moment I knew I had a Father and I was His son. After all the years of drinking the slop from the pigs, this prodigal was being called home. He knew where I had been, but that was not important to Him. He wanted all of me, not the masks I presented to others in public.
Satan wants us to think we are not good enough and we can never be worthy of our Father’s love. He wants us to believe if we come from broken homes, if we have run away too many times, then we are through. The Evil One wants to immobilize us and keep us locked in our woundedness. But he is wrong — dead wrong. It is not that we are too bad – we are too good to be left alone. God never tires of us; He cannot get enough of us. That is why the Father sent His Son and that is the only reason why Jesus’ death makes any sense, because God loves us so much that He would rather die than be without us.
Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh – Romans 13:14
From: Die Bekehrung des Herzogs Wilhelm von Aquitanien durch den heiligen Bernhard von Clairvaux
There are many approaches to fighting attachments to sin, but not all of them will solve the problem. Many strategies are often “sin management”. Unless we attack the root of the issue by allowing the Father to infuse us with His radical grace, we will either continue to struggle or give up because the pain is too much. True, it is good to take precautions and seek assistance, especially in Confession, but the key to being healed from any compulsion lies not in “doing” things, but in coming to know the Father’s love. That is the secret. This is not to detract from the power of the Sacraments; God definitely was preparing my heart to receive His gift of love through these supernatural gifts and does, in fact, give us His love through the Sacraments. However, if we are merely doing things and not opening our hearts to receive His love, we will never be set free from our brokenness. We will never fly with the power of love, but simply limp along in our blindness and shame.
Most of us have sold out to a big, fat lie. We are told to be hard and to avoid our emotions, but the love of our Father is totally different. God’s love is not a sentimental, fluffy, Lifetime-television kind of love. This love goes beyond the hardness of this world and gives us the strength to go on when life seems unbearable. We have to receive this love and know in our hearts that we are loved by our Father. If we are going to complete the work of Christ, we must remember that we can give only what we have first received. Christ was able to walk on water, perform miracles, give us the Eucharist, and stay on the cross because he knew His Father loved Him and He had opened Himself to fully receive that love. There was no question in His mind that His Abba was guiding Him with His Love.
I wish I could say that from that moment on I had no problems with pornography. For about four months, it was true until…
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.
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!
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.