Is pornography cheating?

Is pornography cheating?

Yes.

Oh, sorry…I guess I need to write more. Well, I guess I can explain it a little better.

Girls can usually see this issue for what it is. We guys, on the other hand, rationalize, make excuses, or are just simply too addicted to our lust to admit what is staring at us from the computer screen.

Pornography is cheating on your family, cheating on your spouse, and ultimately cheating on yourself.

I really believe that pornography is the “silent killer” of our generation, stripping men (and a growing population of women) of their vitality and potency to become the men they’re called to be. We are all the “walking wounded,” having been exposed to pornography in one way or another. Some men and women have been mildly rocked by their encounters to porn, while other marriages and faith communities have been completely torn apart by just one individual’s addiction.

Pornography is inherently shameful because we know—deep down—that something extremely personal has become entertainment. We men don’t hide or check our surroundings when we try to sneak a peak of Home & Garden in the magazine rack at the store, or clear our online browsing history because we spent too much time looking at websites of fishing equipment. We aren’t proud of viewing pornography for a reason. The computer screen becomes a mirror that reveals to us our failure to be faithful—faithful as husbands to our wives, faithful in preparing ourselves to be a gift to our future wives, faithful to our call to be men of sacrifice as Christ was in embracing the Cross.

And we’ve all heard the excuses:

Nobody gets hurt.” Very few men truly believe in the “nobody gets hurt” excuse of pornography. Many men want to believe this, but deep down they know otherwise.
Just ask any sister/girlfriend/spouse.

“It’s healthy for me!” Pornography re-wires the pleasure sensors of your brain and has been proven to be as addictive as heroin.

She isn’t a real person.” Yes, she is.

It’s not that pornography shows too much of a person, but that it truly shows too little, and we men, who are called to be protectors of the dignity of the women in our lives, forego our mission for fleeting moments of pleasure. Shame and self-centeredness inevitably follows the repetition of viewing pornography, and—for a rapidly growing population of youth—addiction and acting out what has been viewed on screen.

We’re living in a warped time period where viewing pornography is aggressively marketed as something “healthy” and should even be viewed with your significant other to “spice” things up, as several mens’ magazines are continually promoting (and I’m getting tired of reading). Douglas Wilson said that authentic masculinity is about “sacrificial responsibility,” but pornography robs men of both sacrifice and responsibility. How truly backwards it is that “adult” stores cater to men who refuse to grow up. It took a generation of people understanding how secondhand smoke could be just as harmful as those smoking cigarettes—I wonder at times how many lives have to be wrecked by “secondhand” porn before we wake up as a nation.

I saw my first Playboy magazine when I was about ten, playing hide-and-seek in my uncle’s closet. Waiting for my brother and cousin to find me, the magazine caught my eye. I didn’t open it (somehow I knew this wasn’t a normal periodical), but the way this cover model looked both enticed and instilled a certain fear in me. She seemed angry, and yet alluring (I do remember thinking it was strange that her clothing was falling off). It wasn’t until college, though, and all the “freedoms” that college life offers, that the bell sounded and my personal boxing match with pornography really began. Thankfully, I met some good guys through the campus ministry and we began to hold each other accountable. Deeper purification happened during my time in seminary, and I’m graced to say that I haven’t looked at the stuff in a long time and was purified in many ways before pursuing Jackie.

But the battle isn’t over.

I have to recognize my humanness and be vigilant. There’s a spiritual battlefield happening around me (and a selfishness in my own heart still) with an enemy wanting to tear me down, especially in this time of engagement and preparation for marriage. I’m thankful that the Lord rooted this out of me; I would never want to bring this evil into my marriage. But I also understand the struggle and the humility I’ve learned in passing through what will likely be the major battle of our generation, and the battle our sons and daughters will all have to face. There’s a wealth of articles and information online regarding the evils of pornography and how to overcome its snares, but I want to offer three tips that have worked for me.

1). Get over yourself.

The temptation to view pornography usually finds us in moments of inactivity, boredom, or indulgence, and it breeds a cycle of self-centeredness and self-pity that just leads to further porn viewing. Breaking the cycle usually means getting over yourself and going outside of yourself. Serve the poor. Be generous towards your family or your co-workers. It’s not enough to say “no” to pornography—we have to channel that energy towards something positive, and eventually, when moments of temptation stir up again, we can recognize the destructive force that pornography is and can make a more life-giving choice.

2). Accountability.

“As iron sharpens iron, so man sharpens his fellow man” (Proverbs 27:17) and we men cannot be lone rangers on this Christian journey and expect to rise to each challenge. We need community. We need brotherhood.

The seminary really hammered this point home to me, and to this day one of my seminarian brothers monitors my online activity through an accountability website (www.covenanteyes.com). Basically, he gets a report every week of what I look at, and it’s enough to keep me on the straight and narrow (and he calls me out, even when I’ve happened upon belly-baring pictures of Shakira). Even just having a guy you trust to whom you can say, “Hey man, it’s been a rough week,” and knowing he won’t judge but will support you, makes all the difference. We guys know that looking at porn is shameful, but by bringing it into the light we cancel so much of its power over us. And if we need some stronger remedy, we have to be humble enough to seek professional help.

3). Prayer.

St. John of the Cross asserted that the desires of our fallen nature are so strong that we need a love that’s stronger still to conquer them—the love of the Bridegroom, the love of Jesus Christ. We’re called to real love, not quick fixes or counterfeits. Satan delights when we turn our gaze from God and try to quench that “ache” or “longing” without Him. Asking God for help is step #1. We can’t “muscle” through temptation with our own strength—not for long, anyway.

Pray for the healing of those involved in the porn industry, especially all the women addicted to drugs, alcohol, and whatever else may be numbing their senses or imprisoning their hearts. Nothing sobers you up like realizing that the woman in front of you is someone else’s daughter.

Doing a daily rosary really turned my prayer life around as well. If any woman could lay the smack down and rightly order our desires, and teach us how channel them into the life-giving force that it was made to be, it’s Mary. Meditating on her tender femininity is a great antidote for the poison that pornography pushes into our veins. Mary will lead you in purity and lead you to her Son, and kick your butt in the process.

I’ll also go to confession as often as I need it (which is often; my spiritual director once slyly commented as I approached, “Back so soon?”). No matter how long or how deep the snares of lust have entrapped us, Christ can and does make all things new. We just need the humility to know that, despite the mistakes we’ve made, He is still calling us to redemption.

We have been created for real love and for real greatness. We have been made for both sacrifice and responsibility.

Let’s stop cheating ourselves.

(Used with permission from http://www.jackiefrancois.com)

_____________________

photoBobby Angel hails from St. Petersburg, FL, and is now a campus minister and theology teacher at an all-boys Catholic high school in Anaheim, CA. In August 2013, he married Jackie Francois and the two have been sharing the Good News together through blogs, talks, and webcasts. They enjoy living by the beach, eating good food, swing dancing, game nights with friends, and being married. Their blog can be found at: www.jackieandbobby.com

22 Comments

  1. Once the guilt driven in by organized religion is taken away then there is no deep down inside we know its wrong. My personal experience is that when my wife and I have discussed these things that it is okay. You see, not every woman wants to be used as the ends of a mans sexual drive as often as the man would like. Pornography actually has saved my marriage because I can control these lusts and do away with them by masturbating.

    My life used to be consumed by the secrecy, and the guilt, driven in by pastors and clergy time and time again concerning this “evil”. The true evil is the sadomasochistic control which others try to push down our throats declaring these things as something to be ashamed of. I used to get depressed over my so-called addiction to pornography, and really struggle with it, and each time I gave in it was me taking another step down towards depression.

    Now that my wife and I talk about these things and have come to an understanding we have so much more fun together. When it leads to sex it is when she is ready for it and desires it; me, I’m always ready for it. This has led to our marriage being saved, it was always a struggle before because I desired much more sex than she wanted. It turns out she is perfectly fine with me masturbating, and it allows me to focus on work more rather than struggling to stay focused with unused libido.

    In the end we both couldn’t be happier, she gets a husband who adores her, is around her all the time, snuggles with her every night, and isn’t just trying to get into her pants. I no longer struggle with looking at other co-workers, trying to hide my pornography, being upset with myself over this thing which shouldn’t even be a problem. I firmly believe that if we just let go of the guilt created by outsiders which seek to control us that we will find that the very thing they teach binds us can be the key to our liberation.

    By Oh Yong Hao | 3 years ago Reply
    • After refuting the unnecessary comment about organized religion i want to answer your post.

      As one man to another, for me porn has always been what St Paul says “a thorn in the flesh”, i guess it started for me when i was 12 and it ended up being the only thing i would think about, I watched movies, Read magazines you name it. I met my wife online and married her a year later. I guess i expected her to be the adventurous woman and try all one time that porn mislead you to believe. I guess not, Porn is not real life, porn is a perverted fantasy that has nothing to do with life. I did not treat my wife like she deserved and when she did not respond like my hormonal peanut brain expected i selfishly grew bitter towards her until i found myself not loving her any longer, all because of selfish perverted expectations brought on by porn. I had started talking to someone else and almost left my wife. I never cheated on her, never kissed or hugged anyone else. But the day i told her, part of her died, i know that. Of course I had to come clean with everything. At that time i really didn’t watch or read porn very often, but there was still the expectations. I had to stop because it was ruining my marriage. I think people in this day is over-sexual. Everything has to have a sexual bent. We are still married, i have learned to love her as she deserves to be loved. My role in the marriage is as it should be, to be her husband, her best friend, her lover, whatever she ask of me. She is the only person i look at with lust in my eyes, the only person I desire. I don’t need a artificial perverted sex show to keep my interested in my wife and I do my best to keep her flame lit. Don’t get me wrong. Sex after 17 years of marriage will never be like when you are first married, sometimes it can be days in between, sometimes weeks or months, it all depends on the situation on whats going on. But 17 years of marriage makes you comfortable with the one person that loves you for you and desires you for you and that is the only thing that matters and nothing else is needed. Everyone is different. For me porn is destructive and leads people astray, away from what God has planned for the husband and wife.

      By bayoudude | 3 years ago Reply
  2. WOW!!! this is so enlightening and encouraging. I just kept smiling at myself and nodding with each paragraph I read.

    By Ebuka | 3 years ago Reply
  3. Thanks for your courageous words which will give hope to so many struggling with this sin. As Christ said: “you without sin cast the first stone”. We all sin in one way or another but Jesus wants to set us free. We need people like you to speak the truth in a world which seems to have loss its sense of right and wrong. A friend of mine (and her five children) are suffering greatly due to pornography. Her husband developed a pornography addiction which led to other women and ultimately abandoning his stunning wife and beautiful children. I believe your ministry will help those struggling and ultimately save marriages. Keep up the good work!

    By Jennifer | 3 years ago Reply
  4. Thanks four your words. I’m a teenager and a few years ago I was addicted to porn and masturbation, prayer helped me a lot, He gave the faith I needed to believe I can be forgiven for all my sins. I’ve been more than a year since I watched for the last time and thanks to Him I can say I don’t need porn or masturbation anymore. I think it’s awesome that there are people like you writing this kind of articles to help people. I hope other teenagers can read this and know that Jesus can save them. Blessings

    By Renato | 3 years ago Reply
  5. Thank you so much for your testimonial. I pray it touches many hearts. St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!

    By susannehouston | 3 years ago Reply
  6. Best story I have read for a long time,when I was young ,family was everything ,there was sin,always was,but so many children are home alone,because parents work,and got so much time for them self,and already fall in that trap.where there are families who pray the rosary faithfully ,they seem to fare better.But danger,and Satan are so strong..Keep going with your good work,hopefully some people who read your article ,will make the first step,are able to turn their lives aroundGod bless..

    By wilhelmina vredenburg | 3 years ago Reply
  7. No faithful Catholic will deny that pornography is intrinsically evil or mortally sinful.

    No orthodox Catholic will deny that the damage caused by this sin extends far beyond many other sins – and far beyond things we can perceive. In fact, pornography is deeply demonic.

    However, to equate pornography with cheating is not only bad Catholic moral theology, but absolutely stupid.

    There are sins which are greater and those which are less, even within the category of mortal sins. For e.g. murder is greater than lust.

    If a person commits adultery and actually *cheats* in terms of what we all mean by the term *cheat* (that is to actually engage in sexual acts with a person other than your wife/husband or boyfriend/girlfriend) that is far worse then if the person views pornography. Note that in the latter case of the bf/gf any sexual activity is sinful since there is no marriage but the term cheating applies when that person engages in sexual activity with another person, even though they should not be engaging in any sexual activity at all.

    These type of articles only add more to the Rad Trad scandal fueling fire to their foolish view that theology of the body is gnostic or that the Church has been riddled with feminism, and indeed this stupid and erroneous idea that cheating is on the same level as cheating is a feminist philosophy, not a Catholic one. Whilst feminists may or may not support porn, they argue it is a form of cheating if a person in a relationship uses it without the wishes of the other spouse.

    As Catholics we believe porn is demonic, intrinsically evil and the cause of many problems in the world.

    However, we are not feminist, and we do not equate it to a husband or wife having an affair.

    Either define your terms and note that you mean something else by cheating then the normative and ordinary term or make sure you do more research before representing yourself as an expert in this area.

    By Clare | 3 years ago Reply
    • Clare,hat is self righteous thinking. Know your Bible rather than church doctrine.

      Matthew 5:28
      But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

      By Cynthia | 3 years ago Reply
      • Cynthia, I’m glad you are honest that you reject the Catholic Church and Her teaching and Her doctrine.

        This means you would be either a Protestant heretic, a dissident Catholic or (hopefully) simply a poorly catechized but well meaning Catholic.

        What you have done with Matt 5:28 is a perfect example of eisegesis. It’s easy to take one verse from scripture, and ignore the rest.

        For example, if we were to engage in exegesis you would note at the same time the many passages in scripture which inform us that there is a spectrum of sin with more guilt or less guilt, since which are greater and those which are less.

        Secondly, a sound exegete would not ignore the last part of what Christ is saying: “already committed adultery with her *in his heart*”.

        Emphasis on the “in his heart”. Christ is not equating this to committing adultery in person but rather informing us that lust is a sin of the flesh (emphasis) *in the heart*.

        This is perfectly reconciled in orthodox Catholic moral theology, where we can see that both adultery in person and adultery of the heart are both mortal sins (as opposed to venial) killing the life of sanctifying grace in a person, and if unrepented both will send a person to hell – but at the same time adultery in person being the greater and worse sin of the two.

        I’m assuming you are a Protestant heretic, so I would charitably draw your attention to the fact that the Bible itself was Canonized by the Catholic Church. Thus you accept the authority of the Church, even though you do not know. Without the Church you would have no idea which books even belonged in the Bible since the Bible itself does not tell us which books are part of it. It was only in the late 300s and early 400s that the Holy Spirit definitively revealed to the Holy Catholic Church what was scripture. Heretics by accepting the 27 books of the NT, must accept the authority of the Church, otherwise they have no basis to trust scripture.

        The following also definitely and irrefutably explain why to be Christian you must be Catholic:

        http://www.catholic-convert.com/wp-content/uploads/QuestionsforBibleChristians.pdf

        http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2011/03/sola-scriptura-vs-the-magisterium-what-did-jesus-teach/

        http://www.catholic.com/documents/pillar-of-fire-pillar-of-truth

        http://www.catholic.com/tracts/whats-your-authority

        http://www.catholic.com/tracts/scripture-and-tradition

        By Clare | 3 years ago Reply
        • That statement was based on the article. I too think that it is important not to isolate scripture but unfortunately it is done in both catholic churches as well as protestant. In Matthew 5 there is a very important statement by Jesus, “I have not come to abolish them (the law) but to fulfill them.” He continues to say, ” For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Apart from Christ’s work in us we are powerless to stand on our own against sin. Yes, there are sins against the body which hurt you and sin that hurts others, God hates all sin. The point is all sin needs to be confessed and when we repent, God continues His work of sanctification. We are helpless on our own. Which brings me to my next point. I can separate the person from the church they choose to worship in. Only God knows our hearts and our life as Christians is evidenced by fruit and most importantly how well we love others. I am not here to debate religion or doctrine. The New Testament is clear about the nature of saving faith. “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Romans 3:28). “A man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus . . . since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Galatians 2:16). “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:4-5). According to Scripture, salvation is by faith in Christ alone through God’s grace alone. When you put your trust in Jesus Christ He declares you righteous—not because you are, but because He gives His righteousness to you, and because He paid the penalty for your sin. Christ bears our sin and we receive His righteousness. That is the beauty of what he did for us. (2 Corinthians 5:21). This is the message and hope that we all need. Lastly, I have observed that those who have not repented from self-righteousness ( as I had to at one point in my life) struggle with the thief on the cross. He was a criminal, and yet at the very end of his life he knew and believed Jesus was, the spotless lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” We are here on this earth not to promote a church, a religion or doctrines. As Christians, followers of Jesus we are here to bring the message of the gospel “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Yes this is only a couple of verses among so many that teach the same thing. The point is that Jesus was shown to us over and over again in the Old Testament and then the whole law was fulfilled by Him in the New Testament. When he rose from the dead, he promised those who humbly receive him, the Holy Spirit who opens our hearts and our eyes to the truth. God resists the proud but always gives grace to the humble. I pray that you know the beauty of Jesus and the power of the One who said “I Am who I Am” our very breath!

          By Cynthia | 3 years ago Reply
          • Cynthia wrote: “I am not here to debate religion or doctrine.” In that case you must be here just to preach, but with no intention of listening to what is wrong with your message or of responding to criticisms of your false understandings of scripture. Here’s one small piece of advice: You probably haven’t actually overcome self-righteousness if you go around self-righteously talking about how you’ve overcome self-righteousness. (James 1:23-24 comes to mind here.)

            By David | 3 years ago
          • Says Cynthia: “When you put your trust in Jesus Christ He declares you righteous…” – so perhaps you believe that your trust is in Jesus, and you have been declared righteous.
            And yet, says Paul: “You do ill to pass judgement prematurely, before the Lord’s coming; he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness, and reveal the secrets of men’s hearts.” (1Cor4) – Now why do you suppose Paul would say a thing like that? …and in the context of reprimanding those who acted as if they already possessed all the riches of the kingdom and so could scorn those through whom they had received the faith: the apostles. It was not Jesus Christ himself who preached to them, but those who he commissioned and to whom he gave authority, and who passed on that commission and authority to others. You really shouldn’t ignore that part of the Gospel, that part of the fulfillment of the law (and the prophets!).

            By David | 3 years ago
        • Clare, I was baptized protestant, so I guess that makes me a bad person. I attend a non denominational church so I guess this makes me a bad person again. I don’t pray to saints because its not written in the bible to do so. Only Christ intercede for us. I only pray to God in Christ’s name. And what I follow is in the Bible. If the church’s bylaws conflict with the bible, the bible always take precedence. You have no right to accuse anyone of heresy just because they are not “Catholic”, like that would mean anything. We are all followers of Jesus Christ. I don’t consider myself a protestant. I consider myself a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. I don’t belong in a box with a label and neither does God.

          By bayoudude | 3 years ago Reply
        • Relax, adultry is cheating. Looking lustfully at a woman is adultry. Pornography is looking lustfully at women (or what have you). I know that you aremt saying that one verse is incorrect, but that we believe there are things worse. Yes, there are spectrums, just like hitting someone out of anger violates “thou shalt not kill”, even though all they got was a bruised face. Just relax… none of you are heritics this time around.. dont pick a fiht when we are already in agreement…

          By H.N. | 3 years ago Reply
    • That was beautiful, Clare. There are far too many sentimentality-based condemnations of porn-use which fail to draw the kinds of obvious distinctions which you mention. However, I don’t think your criticism is entirely fair. I think the author gave fair indication that he wasn’t using the term ‘cheat’ in the narrow sense (‘having an affair’) which we would have expected from his title. He wrote:

      “Pornography is cheating on your family, cheating on your spouse, and ultimately cheating on yourself.”

      Now obviously you can’t ‘cheat on yourself’ (in the sense of have an affair behind your own back), so the author clearly enough indicates that he is using ‘cheating on’ in a broader, metaphorical sense.

      What I would primarily object to is this assertion: “Girls can usually see this issue for what it is.” If he just means that girls are more likely to react to porn-use with repulsion and condemnation, that’s true; but “seeing the issue for what it is” actually requires a good deal more insight than what is required for that kind of primarily merely visceral reaction.

      By David | 3 years ago Reply
  8. It was a good article up to this point…not very biblical.. “Doing a daily rosary really turned my prayer life around as well. If any woman could lay the smack down and rightly order our desires, and teach us how channel them into the life-giving force that it was made to be, it’s Mary. Meditating on her tender femininity is a great antidote for the poison that pornography pushes into our veins. Mary will lead you in purity and lead you to her Son, and kick your butt in the process.”

    Mary has no power to lead you to her son but God’s Spirit does. God does not want us to be moral but to live in the power of Jesus and by his grace.

    By Cynthia | 3 years ago Reply
    • is not Mary the one who always points to Jesus? At the visitation, when she is praised, she points to the Lord: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
      my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior
      for He has looked upon His handmaid in her lowliness…” (Luke 1, 46-48)

      at the wedding feast at Cana, telling the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” (John 2, 5)

      who is the only Apostle to make it to the foot of the cross? John, him who stood by Mary’s side (John 19, 26)

      “And Mary set out in haste, to the hillcountry of Juda”(Luke 1,39) to give Jesus to her cousin

      you are right–it is the Spirit of God which leads to Jesus. was not Mary the one whom “the Holy Spirit shall come upon”(Luke 1, 35)?
      was she not present at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost(Acts 1, 14)?

      It was through Mary that Jesus chose to come into the world. It is still through His blessed mother that Christ comes to us today.

      By V. Giorgio | 3 years ago Reply
  9. Thank you for sharing your story. It has inspired me and I am going to share it with others because I believe this is important information for people to know. Men are supposed to be supporters of a family but if they are selfish than they can’t be. Please keep up the good work in sharing your story and inspiration with others. May God bless you!

    By Chrissy Uzar | 3 years ago Reply
  10. If looking at pornography was not the same as cheating, and therefore a girl should not be upset about it, then it would be ok to stare at a waitress or every girl in a bikini at the beach. I don’t think that girls will be waiting in line for this type of guy.

    So if it’s not ok to stare at other girls (who are not naked and performing some sort of sexual activity) in front of your girlfriend, why would it be ok to stare at girls who are naked and performing sexual activity?

    By Callum | 3 years ago Reply
    • If you are with your girlfriend or with your wife, divert your eyes. Learn to never look straight at someone or rest your eyes on someone other than your girlfriend or wife.

      By bayoudude | 3 years ago Reply
  11. From on my knees, and from my heart thank you for this brave article. My 26 year marriage has been absolutly shredded by pornography. My husband and has run up huge bills on phone sex, ten grand in token driven cam rooms for all the years we’ve been married. Our marriage is now pretty much destroyed and he blames it all on me. He loved trolling on friend finders, face book, many other sites always saying it’s not real well it was and is to me. Hundreds of texts to old girlfriends, thousands of emails. Hundreds of really explicit pictures and videos coming in and going out. He thinks I should be ok with it. I ended up having one affair two years ago out of utter saddness, an lonelyness and I am completely in love with him, my husband says this is what has ruined our marriage. Not what he did. Anyway thank you for this.

    By Gem Sky | 3 years ago Reply

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