The Perils of Pornography

How many times in the past few years have you been told when discussing hot-button issues that Church teachings only apply to Catholics? Whether it’s an exchange on Facebook or a one-on-one discussion at the office or in line at the coffee shop, I’m tired of people suggesting that we keep our “archaic and old-fashioned rules” to ourselves — or inside Vatican City and the four walls of our local parish.

You have to wonder how much more chaotic the world has to get before people see how Church teachings are universal and not just for the benefit of Catholics and other Christians but for all humanity. God is a loving Father who knows best and has the perfect plan for our lives. Whether one is religious doesn’t change natural law. All we have to do is look around our world today to get a glimpse of what happens when we don’t follow the “archaic rules” or core teachings of the Church. That’s why I’m grateful when the universal truths are spoken by people in the secular spotlight — people who may not make any direct reference to God but still sound very Catholic.

A recent example comes from actor and former NFL player Terry Crews, who is waging a one-man battle against the negative impact of pornography. Crews has been making headlines recently for his outspokenness regarding his own porn addiction, which began when he was only 12 years old. The addiction took a huge toll on his life and his marriage. He has been posting powerful short videos on his Facebook page telling his story and encouraging others to talk about their own problems with porn and, most importantly, encouraging them to seek help.

In one of the videos, even though the viewer may not realize it, his choice of words resembles what the Catechism has to say about what porn does to the user and those around him or her. “If day turns into night and you are still watching, you probably got a problem. It changes the way you think about people. People become objects, people become body parts, they become things to be used rather than people to be loved. And you start to use people. I had to change my thinking. I had to change what I believed.”

Sound familiar? Paragraph 2354 of the Catechism is very specific about the issue of objectification directly connected to pornography usage. “Pornography … 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 the participants (actors, vendors, the public) since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others.”

He first revealed his battles with porn a few years ago and began posting the videos last month. By the end of February, the recordings had resulted in more than 10,000 comments and 3 million views. Crews doesn’t go so far as to call for an end to pornography production. He also doesn’t talk about the effects of porn from a specifically religious perspective in terms of sin. But his message still speaks volumes in terms of echoing concerns raised by the Church. Pornography is bad for everyone involved.

So the next time someone begins to call the Catholic faith backward or out of touch, ask them what they think of Terry Crews’ concerns on pornography and respectfully remind them that the Church has been sounding the same alarm long before a famous former athlete took his cause to Facebook. The Church may be old, but its teachings are truthful, universal and timeless and, given the state of our culture, more important than ever before.

This column first appeared on OSV Newsweekly. To read Teresa’s latest OSV columns click here.