Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Body of Christ and Pornography

My friend Dawn Eden has written a calm and dignified response to Matt McGuiness' misguided CNA article on pornography, which I have been writing about with anything but calmness and dignity for the past 36 hours.

Please read her article, and please look at the picture of Dawn as a Girl Scout that she posts, and please try and square that image with the contempt for human dignity and innocence that lies behind the bad theology that is seeking to make excuses for pornography and lust.

Dawn ends her article with a series of quotations from the Catholic Church in its official teaching capacity, quotations that I am copying and pasting here, showing a small glimpse of the unity of tradition on the nature of this sin and the means most effective for avoiding it.

Contrast this with, "If you're using a little porn, use some more and find out that you won't be much happier than you are now!" (McGuiness) and "Go ahead!  Stare at naked bodies.  You've got mature purity and the prudes surrounding you don't!" (West)


Dawn writes ...

Rather than join Father Angelo Mary Geiger and Kevin O’Brien in pointing out the flaws in your theological arguments, I will leave you with some quotations from Blessed John Paul II’s pontificate on things you won’t find in the article: the objective sinfulness of pornography, the dangers of desensitization to sin, the need to avoid occasions of sin, the grace offered to us when we encounter Christ in the Sacrament of Penance, and the necessity of growing in virtue.
Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials.
Pontifical Council for Social Communications, “Pornography and Violence in the Communications Media: A Pastoral Response“:
[One] of the clear effects of pornography is sin. Willing participation in the production or dissemination of these noxious products can only be judged a serious moral evil. Likewise, production and dissemination of these materials could not continue if there were not a market for them, so those who use such materials not only do moral harm to themselves but contribute to the continuation of a nefarious trade. …
Even so called “soft core” pornography can have a progressively desensitizing effect, gradually rendering individuals morally numb and personally insensitive to the rights and dignity of others. Exposure to pornography can also be – like exposure to narcotics – habit-forming and can lead individuals to seek increasingly “hard core” and perverse material.
Pontifical Council for the Family, “The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality“:
“Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy”. Every person knows, by experience, that chastity requires rejecting certain thoughts, words and sinful actions, as Saint Paul was careful to clarify and point out (cf. Romans 1:18; 6: 12-14; 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11; 2 Corinthians 7: 1; Galatians 5: 16-23; Ephesians 4: 17-24; 5: 3-13; Colossians 3: 5-8; 1 Thessalonians 4: 1-18; 1 Timothy 1: 8-11; 4: 12). To achieve this requires ability and an attitude of self-mastery which are signs of inner freedom, of responsibility towards oneself and others. At the same time, these signs bear witness to a faithful conscience. Such self-mastery involves both avoiding occasions which might provoke or encourage sin as well as knowing how to overcome one’s own natural instinctive impulses.
Blessed John Paul II, “Reconciliation and Penance”
From the very beginning, in fact, the church has recognized and used many and varying forms of penance. Some are liturgical or paraliturgical and include the penitential act in the Mass, services of atonement and pilgrimages; others are of an ascetical character, such as fasting. But of all such acts none is more significant, more divinely efficacious or more lofty and at the same time easily accessible as a rite than the sacrament of penance. …
But as it reflects on the function of this sacrament, the church’s consciousness discerns in it, over and above the character of judgment in the sense just mentioned, a healing of a medicinal character. And this is linked to the fact that the Gospel frequently presents Christ as healer, while his redemptive work is often called, from Christian antiquity, medicina salutis. “I wish to heal, not accuse,” St. Augustine said, referring to the exercise of the pastoral activity regarding penance.
The moral virtues are acquired by human effort. They are the fruit and seed of morally good acts; they dispose all the powers of the human being for communion with divine love.

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