Writes Fr Michael Shields:
The scourge of pornography appeared in force in Russia during the mid-1990s, when after the fall of the Soviet Union everything seemed permissible.
Pornography came to Magadan like a cold wind, blowing through the city and leaving behind openly pornographic magazines and videos strewn across new stands and book stores. It arrived all at once.
If you had a computer, unwanted invitations and pictures began popping up out of nowhere. I remember once sitting on an airplane, wearing my religious habit. I was situated between two men who both had purchased pornographic magazines for the flight. I decided to pull out my Bible and begin reading it. The men slowly closed the magazines and put them away.
I’m sure Russia had pornography during the communist repression but the new freedoms brought a new destruction upon human dignity.
In the last few years I have helped many men work through their addiction to pornography. I know one priest who started hearing so many confessions he decided to order a special book to help men with this addiction. He still reorders the book regularly.
I heard a heart-sickening story of a man addicted to surfing pornography websites at night thinking he could not be traced. But his young son, more computer savvy then he, found the sites and he himself began the deep descent into this sickness, thanks to his father.
If statistics are correct much violence against women can be attributed to the use of pornography. This is a war against women that we could all fight together — a war to reclaim the dignity and beauty of womanhood. We could stand against reducing women to sex objects — bodies without personhood.
I find it strange that most feminists and most in society ignore the problem of pornography.
I recently read an article about cigarette smoking and how in the beginning we were ignorant of its health impact. We just tolerated the smoke. Then slowly society changed as people learned that cigarettes can cause cancer. Movements began to ban cigarette smoking in public places. Signs warning of the dangers of smoking appeared on packages and billboards. Laws were enacted to limit how cigarettes were advertised and who could legally buy them. Over time, a smoking culture changed into a non-smoking culture.
We are in a similar time right now — tolerating a very terrible cancer that is eating away at our society and destroying homes, marriages and souls. We are just now sensing its effects but still have not seen the full devastation. You might say that the “second hand smoke” is in the air and our kids are breathing it and they are becoming sick. Now we need to label this scourge for what it is — a cancer that attacks your health even if you are not directly involved.
I especially want to reach out to men in this article and ask them to seek help if this is a problem. There is a way to freedom. The Scriptures give us help. Also prayer and a daily rosary for purity is a great benefit. The first step is to admit one’s weakness against pornography. For many men it is a very real addiction.
Examine your conscience and see if this is a problem.
I hope someday that we will have people speak out like ex-smokers on the struggle to free oneself from pornography.
Those of us who are not addicted may wonder why this is such a big deal.
It was the same way a few years ago with smoking. What’s the big deal? The big deal is a cancer in our society that is now eating away at lives and families. Let’s all place a warning sign on our computer, for our sake and the sake of our children.