I like this blog called The Catholic Gentleman. I saw a post this morning about pornography--and in reading the comments someone with the user name "gay catholic" had made a couple of comments and asked some questions. Here is the gist of it:
Who am I giving up for pornography? IE: Who is in my life? Pleas? Who is pleading with me? Geez, how I wish I had someone to plea with me… but I have no one. Who will I completely and utterly destroy with pornography? Marriage? Yeah right.
Sorry, but I’ve been trying for years to stop my addiction, and its advice like this rehashed over and over again. All the hetero people can nod your heads at stuff like this… who’s writing articles for me and my addiction?
People had some responses but they seemed to be aimed at helping him not be gay. I thought I would try to respond to his questions in the comments. I got a little carried away and it seemed like maybe a good blog post in the middle of my Highway to Hell series on Virtue and Vice since it all seems related, at least to me. So, following is my response:
This is a response to gay catholic. I will first say that the following is probably presumptuous since I don’t know you and am making a lot of assumptions, but you have posted a couple of times asking some specific questions and I think they deserve answers. These answers will be somewhat circular in that they build on each other. It may be useful to think of it as a jig saw puzzle that becomes clearer as the pieces start to fill in.
The first thing I would like to say is that in your case the person porn is hurting is yourself.
The second thing I would like to say is that identifying as gay puts an emphasis on sexual preference over any emphasis on who you actually are. This miss-identification is a trap, all the worse because people don’t recognize the trap, or have become dependent on the trap.
The third thing I would like to say is that porn is the giving in to the vice of lust, and that one combats the vice of lust (one of the seven deadly sins) with the virtue of Chastity, which is simply the proper use of our bodies.
The consequences of the first three things is that no authentic relationships can be established with folks of either gender. Here are the reasons why:
Identifying as gay first and foremost is a trap because it prevents one from identifying as a child of God, which is what we all are, and is the essential identity of all human beings. Denial or suppression of this fact is the first barrier to relationships. Secondly, identifying as gay puts an emphasis on sex over any other aspect of relationship, because, and correct me if I am wrong, the whole point of same sex attraction is the desire to have sex with a person of the same sex. That this is unproductive (no pun intended) is demonstrated by the fact that sex-obsessed heterosexual relationships are dysfunctional as well, not the least of which is they often are also non-productive (I guess pun intended this time). Part of the reason is that it interferes with authentic friendship (a type of love) and replaces love with lust. Love is other focused, lust is self-focused. In this context, the opposite of Love is not Hate. The opposite of Love is Use. There are no functioning healthy relationships based on use.
Our sex-obsessed culture has placed orgasm above all other aspects of relationship between persons. At a certain level, sexual love is constantly in danger of turning into bouts of mutual masturbation, even when using someone else’s body to achieve the orgasm, in that the two people needn’t be spiritually and emotionally present to each other in any real sense, and means that the co-participant is largely irrelevant or even dispensable. You can see it in the “hook-up” culture and see it on virtually every TV show. Once two people become friends, within a short time, sex is all but inevitable because what else are you supposed to do? Nothing else matters if you are simply focused on self and the next rush. But authentic, deep, intimate relationships are possible with another of either sex without succumbing to the pressure to “take it to the next level.” But we frequently see the aftermath on tv as well. Once the sexual tension is gone, i.e., when the hookup happens, either the show is over, or they have to get sexually attracted to someone else. There is no resolution.
We have been lied to and bought into the lie that “having sex” is the only thing that matters. This is a consequence, in my mind, of marketing – the urge for physical intimacy is strong and innate, and consequently is a powerful motivator — to buy things. Our market driven economy basically says “if you don’t buy this, you are a loser.” And one of the chief ways of being a loser is not having ready access to hot bodies willing to be used to our satisfaction.
This is a monstrous lie. Recognizing that this is a lie is the first step. Trying to retrain our brains to recognize “what is truth” is the next step. As noted above, the primary truth is that we are all children of God. This imparts an inherent dignity to all humans which is simply inconsistent with pornography and the habits of self-interest and use of others, whether directly through essentially mutual masturbation with someone else that just happens to be there, or solo via an industry that uses people to make money.
And so, this is why I say the person you are hurting with your porn use is yourself. I suggest that it is preventing you from having authentic, intimate, fulfilling relationships with anyone else, regardless of gender, regardless of gender preference. I would guess that the idea that you could have a fulfilling relationship that did not involve “catching a nut” seems ridiculous. But I submit that any relationship between any two people, whether of same gender, married, dating, etc., that revolves around the orgasm is fundamentally not an actual relationship.
Whether or not I am right you will not know without first walking away from porn. Identifying as a child of God, and letting that govern your interactions with others instead of those interactions being governed by being gay is the second step. Thinking through the difference between love of another being meaning wanting what is best for them vs. lust for another which is wanting an ephemeral pleasure solely on your terms, is something that all of us need to workout, including me, including you.
We are children of God. There is an inherent dignity in all of us made manifest by the fact that God became man. A deep understanding and appreciation of this yields a deep and lasting internal peace, and rightly orders our relationships with others. Sadly this is not a quick fix. I guess that’s why God created time. And people to interact with in healthy ways that help us to be who God created us to be.