The Battle Plan

There is a silent war going on, in the hearts of millions of men and women.  The visible battlefield can be found in lots of places — on our computer screens, on TV, in magazines, in music, and on the streets.

But the real battle is taking place right inside of us, in our hearts and souls.

The battle I’m talking about is the struggle for freedom from the slavery of pornography.

Most people have a sense that the problem of pornography has gotten worse in recent years.  The proliferation of porn sites on the Internet and the “normalization” of porn as a form of entertainment are undeniable, and unavoidable.  But I expect that most people have no idea of how bad it really is:

  • The porn industry is estimated to earn almost $100 billion worldwide — that’s billion, with a b — each year.  And that’s a conservative estimate — the actual number is probably much higher.  The child porn industry itself generates about $3 billion in revenue.
  • In the United States alone, porn generates over $13 billion in revenue — more than the major broadcast networks combined.
  • There are over 244 million porn web pages hosted in the United States, and over 400 million worldwide.
  • 80% of teens report having been exposed to porn online.
  • 20% of men report viewing porn from work.
  • 40 million American adults say that they regularly visit porn sites — including an increasing number of women.
  • 10% of adults admit to having an internet porn addiction.
  • These numbers are horrifying, but they really don’t capture the human reality of this problem.  Think of the marriages that are damaged by the secret lives of men and women who are using porn (single, married, and clergy), the dehumanizing and desensitizing effect that it has on normal human relationships, the theft of innocence of the young, and the exploitation of the people depicted in porn.  The human cost is catastrophic.

    There are millions of people, primarily men like myself, who have struggled with this problem for years, and who have seen the negative effects on their lives, and who are discouraged about whether they can ever get free of it.  It weighs on our hearts and souls.

    But there is hope of liberation from this slavery.

    Last week, and again this week, the Safe Environment Office hosted a day for all the clergy in the Archdiocese, to present this problem to our priests and deacons.  The staff of the Family Life/Respect Life Office prepared outstanding materials, and a very experienced counselor, Peter Kleponis, Ph.D., gave an excellent talk about how to recover from a compulsion or addiction to porn.

    If you’re interested in the resources that were made available to the clergy that day, check out the website of the Family Life Office’s anti-porn initiative, True Freedom.  At the heart of that effort is the Battle Plan to win the struggle against porn:

  • Throw out  or delete  ALL pornographic materials.   Install computer software program that blocks all pornographic websites.
  • No late night computer use.  Don’t surf the Internet when you’re lonely, tired, bored, or upset.
  • Don’t let boredom take over.  Integrate wholesome, positive fun into your life.
  • Be accountable!  Find someone you can trust and speak with him openly and honestly about the problem you have.
  • Seek professional help.  Pray daily.
  • Receive the Sacraments as frequently as you can or need, especially the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.
  • Make the sign of the cross when impure thoughts come to mind.  Repeat a short prayer like “Jesus, I trust in You.”  “Jesus, I love You.”  “Jesus, help me.”
  • Remember that every woman is some man’s daughter.
  • Do not lose heart.  You are not alone.
  • Listen to the voice of experience.  The key thing to remember here is that I cannot do this by myself, or by my efforts alone.  I need to be a warrior, but I can only get back in the battle and win if God is with me.

    Maybe the best way to get this message is to see it.  Check out this image, which is on one of the cards we gave to the clergy, and listen to St. Paul, who struggled with his own thorn in the flesh:

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