Tag Archiv: porn

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 8

In part 7, I shared about how God had broken the chain of lust. Here we see that there was still more work to be done to be done with the snare of pornography forever.

Not out yet

Like Peter, I was out of the boat and drowning in my false desires; from Ivan Aivazovsky, 1888.

Like Peter, I was out of the boat and drowning in my false desires; from Ivan Aivazovsky, 1888.

I wish I could say that from that moment on I had no problems with pornography. For about four months, it was true; I had total access to the Internet in my room but I had absolutely no desire to look at porn. I was stupefied by what had happened and wanted to tell the world. Moved by the gift of love poured out on me and by the freedom I had experienced, I wanted to share this message of true sexual freedom with the world. I gave my testimony at a graduate student retreat and thought I had truly said good-bye to my past. But like Peter who took His eyes off of Christ and tripped on the waves, I took my eyes off Christ and sank really hard into the septic tank. I felt the “pull of the flesh” again and could not resist the grip of lust around my heart. I became discouraged, questioning whether the healing I had experienced was genuine. I cynically wondered if anything good could really last.

Although my falls became less and less frequent, there were times when I felt the impulse to lust and masturbate and I just could not say no. After a few falls, I threw up my hands and said it was not worth fighting anymore. Although my housemates and I no longer had the Internet because we wanted to save money, that external constraint was not enough. When the urge hit, I did not let anything in my way – not the grace of daily Mass, nor the fact that I would not be able to fall asleep because my conscience was bothering me so badly, nor the reality that I would have to wait multiple days before I could go to confession to receive the peace I needed to quiet my soul. All I wanted was to look more and more and I slumped back into my cycle once again.

One time, I had to scratch the itch of lust so badly that I sat on the covered back porch of my neighbor’s house with cold, pouring rain all around me to use his wireless connection while he was out of town. It did not mater that I was probably going to get sick from the cold rain. It did not matter that it was nearly 5:30 am and I still had not found that one image to quench my desire. It did not matter that this action could destroy my reputation as “Mr. Theology of the Body.”1 It did not matter that I had a girlfriend I really wanted to love. I did not care. The beast needed to feed. Like all the other times, the burn was bad and the shame was back worse than ever. My anxiety level was sky high, from both the fear of getting caught and that I had turned my back on God.

Still programmed

Looking back on that incident, I realized what happened. Although a great deal of my heart had tasted real love and I was seeking out pornography less and less, my brain was still enslaved to the images. My neural pathways were still programmed to respond in a lustful way to these images and had incredible power over me. Although my heart was open to the light, I was still blind and in need of having my brain rewired.

Through my discussions with my spiritual director on the campus of Franciscan University, I revealed I had a deep sadness that I could physically feel on the left side of my face. I had this for years and had no explanation for it. He recommended Theophostic Prayer Ministry (TPM). In TPM, a person enters into intensive prayer, recognizing his emotions are like smoke leading to the fire of what is occurring in his heart. Because I was so disconnected from my emotions, I found this process very difficult. However, I did receive some relief and light shone in my darkness. What was revealed was that the pain I was experiencing was directly connected to misusing my sexuality for so many years. Layers of shame had been bottled up inside of me and I had been prevented from experiencing my emotions in the way that God had intended.

Neurologically, this makes sense, for all misuse of our sexuality is traumatic. Because trauma especially affects our emotional processing, if someone continually abuses his sexuality, eventually he will essentially stop processing his emotions. All that remains is emotional numbness.

Yep. This is about how I felt.

Yep. This is about how I felt.

I came to discover that underneath all my shame was a raging volcano of anger that was beginning to boil over. My suppressed emotions had been covered over by my shame for so long that in 2007, when at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Studies in Washington, D.C., something happened that deeply frightened me. One classmate said something I did not like and I vividly felt as though I was going to transform into a Hulk-like creature, toss desks out of the way, and strangle him. I did not know how long I would be able to keep a lid on this molten lava. I knew I needed assistance, but because nothing had really worked to heal my shame and anger in the past, I felt helpless.

To be concluded…

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 A pet name I was gaining around campus because of the many Theology of the Body talks I gave on campus.

Out of Darkness – Part 7

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!

Light breaking through darkness

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.

Waterfall

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 Abba1 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.


Freedom

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

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.

1  The Greek word used for such an intimate description of God is “Abba,” which can be translated as “Daddy.”

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. 

Do you have Porn Spirit?

Myley Cirus

By Steve Pokorny

Recently I was having a conversation with one of my friends and he shared that he wanted to be poor in spirit. However, that’s not the way it came out. He mumbled, saying, “I want Porn Spirit.”

Obviously, that’s not what he meant to say. But it’s a curious phrase, and I believe it accurately sums up the state of our culture. What do I mean?

Porn Spirit is what permeates our world today. We see Porn Spirit in the constant ways women (and an increasing number of men) are portrayed in movies, television shows, supermarket checkout lanes, billboards, and on the net. Porn Spirit is what inspires people to lust and makes us think using people—usually in an eroticized way—is normal. It takes what’s designed to be a beautiful foretaste of the infinite and reduces that great burning desire into something inherently ugly. If you live in the Western world, you’ve been influenced by Porn Spirit and it’s really easy to become possessed.

Billy Ray's Daughter

Billy Ray’s Daughter

To illustrate my point, story #1: On the elevator ride up to to work, another friend we’ll call Xavier was riding with 4 other people who were intently looking at their smartphones. One woman was raving about Miley Cirus’ “Wreckingball” video. Others exclaimed, “Oh, I need to see it!” The woman who was carrying on turned to Xavier and asked excitedly, “Have you seen it?” Tobin’s response, “Oh, no thanks. I don’t watch child porn.”

Ding ding ding. Game on.

As you can imagine, this didn’t sit well with the woman. She defensively said, “It’s not child porn!” The others chimed in likewise. Xavier retorted, “If that was my daughter in that video, I would put a serious beating on those who allowed her to appear in the video.” Nothing more that was said after that.

Story #2: I help out at a local parish for Life Teen on Sunday night, and recently I was sitting next to a youth we’ll call Andy. During the teaching time, he pulled out his phone to look something up online. As he began that process, I glanced over and noticed that Andy’s wallpaper was some bikini-not-so-clad woman posing seductively.

Afterward, I pulled Andy aside privately and asked him to show me his phone. As the screen came on, he tried to quickly move to his browser window. “What was that?” I asked him. “Uh…nothing.” He obviously felt uncomfortable, yet I knew I needed to press the issue. When I asked why he had that image, he made some lame excuse like he was honoring (honoring!?!) her. When I mentioned it’s images like that which inspire the sex trade [LINK], he was shocked—actually, he had no clue slavery like this exists today, let alone any slavery (ah, to be young and naive again….).

Don’t get me wrong: Andy’s a good looking kid—an athlete in fact—who had just the previous week tried fasting for the first time. I was proud of him for taking on such a challenge.

Thus I put our discussion in terms of another challenge: Find another image. Heck, there are millions upon millions of beautiful images, yet the one on his phone is anything but beautiful. If you have to have a woman for your wallpaper, find one who’s depicted wearing clothes. Not because the body is bad, but because the way she’s dressed and posing is actually distorting her true beauty.

Then I got him to really think: I told him to take a good look at her and answer me, “What’s she saying with her body? Is she trying to reveal who she is as a person or instead is she saying, ‘Seduce me?’” After some hemming and hawing, Andy agreed maybe his phone could use a wallpaper lift.

Both above situations illustrate just what’s so wrong in our culture. We’re so submerged in porn that many of us don’t know what porn is anymore. We’ve been blinded by our lusts and think this is normal.

Let me be very clear: The problem isn’t porn, per se – even though porn is intrinsically a problem. Pornography is merely a symptom of a much larger problem. The problem is that as a culture we’ve accepted the chains of lust. We’ve accepted that “this is just how men see women” and “this is just how we’re designed to react to sexual stimulus.” It’s not even that we’ve normalized porn. We’ve normalized lust. The only reason porn sells is because we’ve already made a deep peace with lust.

Love lust

If you can’t tell the difference clearly between love and lust, it’s a sure sign you’ve been infested by Porn Spirit.

But porn isn’t normal. It’s so far removed from living out a healthy expression of our sexuality, but far too many people are blind to get this. In fact, they’re clueless, and have no clue why their relationships are all screwed up and they aren’t finding what will really make them happy. They’re blind to the fact that we were never intended to use, abuse, and then discard others.

Think about it: if porn were normal, we shouldn’t feel as if it’s something we should hide. Yes, there are some pornographers who like to revel in their “work,” but for a vast majority of people (even the porn stars themselves), porn is the dirty, little secret that they would DIE! if anyone found out. I know this to be true for all my years of being held captive by these chains.

The point is: our vision is all screwed up. Just as a demon hates God’s children and wants to see them suffer, Porn Spirit is destroying the lives of others. This Spirit is what influences the anti-culture in which we find ourselves, for anytime lust is normalized, then somebody’s going to get hurt…or worse. We’re in serious need of an exorcism, to have Porn Spirit cast out from our lives, and to learn how to see others in a truly human way.

Diagnosing the disease, getting to the root, and providing some substantial answers is going to take some work. That’s why the mission and project of Redeemed Vision exists. It’s going to take some serious diagnosing, but with an injection of grace, we can begin to experience profound healing.

Thanks for reading. I’m glad you’re here. Until next time.

What ways do you see Porn Spirit at work?  Leave your thoughts in the box below.

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.