Although often attributed to John Paul II, there’s no concrete proof of who actually said the phrase: “The issue of pornography is not that it shows too much, but that it shows too little.” Whoever said it, I can think of no better explanation for the Church’s teaching on sexuality. The images strewn about on the web and in smut magazines across the country are not displaying human beings, but only the parts of them we wish to use and objectify (and then discard). Their producers are not interested in the models, their personalities, their past wounds or future dreams – porn shows none of these things. It is a satanic mockery of the marital act, the Lord’s most perfect foreshadowing to the holy banquet of heaven.
Most if not all of us have been harmed by the destructive power of pornography. I, like many people, have struggled for much of my life to rid myself of it. As a young man, I received mixed messages on its morality. Now, looking back, it’s hard to deny its horrible effects on the development of my spirituality and psyche, how I view women and myself, and even my big picture of Christianity as a whole. It was a long, slow fight to be rid of it, for which I thank my Lord and Savior and the people who supported me along the way.
I’m not writing this article to argue that pornography and masturbation are disfiguring and harmful. If that’s not obvious to you, go read a different article. I’m writing for those who know that pornography is wrong, but are struggling to rid it from their lives. I want to share with you several resources that have helped me see God’s creation as he intended, and to find freedom.
Steve Pokorny of San Antonio, Texas is a graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville and the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family. Steve offers personal coaching to help individuals get free of the pornography habit. Freedom Coaching was a game changer for me. Instead of just being given a few prayers and a porn blocker for my phone, Steve dug up the root causes of my addiction/compulsion and worked with me to achieve a redeemed vision of human sexuality. It was a period of several months of recollecting and analyzing my past, changing my daily routines at home and work, and deepening my relationship and devotion to both Jesus and my wife: a complete, all-encompassing approach to the problem. This course changed my life; I still use the tools Steve taught me every day.
This option was not free, but I found the price very fair. Check it out at https://freedom-coaching.net
I left a stack of copies of Steve’s book, Redeemed Vision, at the St. Irenaeus Center – feel free to stop by and pick one up!
Many years ago, Jason Evert came to speak at my parish. I went into his talk with no interest in following any sort of chastity plan; I left wholeheartedly committed to saving myself for marriage.
Jason teamed up with Matt Fradd to write Forged, a 33-day journey designed to be taken with an accountability partner. Together, you read the day’s outline, take a new “action,” and watch a short video reflection by speakers like Christopher West, Mother Miriam, Fr. John Johnson, Fr. Mike Schmitz, and Jay Stringer.
Forged was an amazing experience. Matt and Jason present a simple strategy for gaining sexual purity, and stock their readers’ arsenals with weapons to stay clean for the long haul. A major focus is finding beauty all around you and abandoning the counterfeit.
One of greatest strengths of Forged is that it isn’t purely negative in its approach. It isn’t only about getting something out of your life – it is centered on building up men to lead their families in holiness. I even had a friend remark that this book would be beneficial to those not struggling with porn, because it so enriched his prayer life.
It’s worth mentioning too that the sessions in Forged are designed to be revisited later, to reevaluate where you stand on specific goals and reflections. Purity is a constant journey, and you want to keep growing in all these areas. My accountability group plans on repeating this program every year before Lent to continue strengthening ourselves.
Shop here to get started: https://shop.chastity.com/products/forged
I left a stack of these at the Center too – feel free to stop by and pick one up!
For more from Jason and Crystallina Evert, check out: https://chastity.com/
Matt Fradd has been speaking and writing on the subject of pornography and masturbation for years. He typically approaches the issue from a Catholic perspective, but has also had great success with secular audiences.
His STRIVE-21 program is structured like Forged, with a short daily video reflection, an article, and an action/routine to be completed that day. It can easily be fit into your morning before work, and can change your outlook and routines forever. Matt challenges you to make your prayer life a priority in your life, to make you into a stronger man for the sake of your family.
My favorite part of STRIVE-21 is the message boards. You are encouraged after each assignment to comment on the message boards and interact with the community (which at the moment is over 28,000 men!). You have access to this feature forever, so you can always come back for more discussion and support as time goes on.
Another nice perk is that this program was bought by Covenant Eyes, and so includes many of their resources. (For instance, STRIVE-21 includes a free trial period of Covenant Eyes’ monitoring software.)
STRIVE-21 is now available for free through Covenant Eyes at: https://www.strive21.com/
Also, check out Matt Fradd’s website and YouTube channel (Pints With Aquinas) for more fantastic content: https://pintswithaquinas.com/
Angelic Warfare Confraternity
This is neither a book nor a program, but is definitely worth a mention.
The Angelic Warfare Confraternity is a third order of the Dominicans, focused specifically on fighting sins against purity. This worldwide brotherhood of Christians praying for me was a huge factor in my healing.
You join the Confraternity by being enrolled by an eligible priest; membership entails saying the required prayers daily in union with the community. My pastor, Fr. Nathan Davis, periodically will host inductions into the Confraternity. You can contact him through St. Alban’s Catholic Church.
To learn more, see https://www.angelicwarfareconfraternity.org/
These are some tools that worked for me – your mileage may vary. But if you get nothing else from this article, know that you are not alone. Help is out there, and healing is possible. I was able to get clean from porn by the grace of God. By his grace, it is possible for you to gain freedom too.
And don’t forget, you can’t fight this fight without an accountability partner! I cannot emphasize how important this aspect of the journey is: find one. If you don’t know anyone you can partner up with, reach out to our community at St. Irenaeus and we’ll get you in harness.
If you want to discuss this further, shoot me an email: bob.appleby88 [at] gmail.com. You are in my prayers daily.