Much has been said regarding the celebrity nude photo leak involving Jennifer Lawrence, among others. Lawrence partly explained having such photos at all by saying her long-distance boyfriend would either look at porn or look at her.
Wrong. No one should look at pornography. Reflecting on Lawrence’s statement and reading a post by Bishop Paul S. Loverde at First Things, I mentally traveled back to good and not-so-good times.
I’ve shared parts of my reversion story here before. The elevator version: I did not go to church for most of my life, except for a brief burst of involvement around Confirmation in ninth grade. When I hit my spiritual nadir in college after a tough breakup, I found Jesus. I’d never known this kind of joy and peace before.
I didn’t struggle with pornography use, but I had to crawl through darkness to get to joy. My review of Delivered highlights at my particular hatred of pornography. I don’t use the word “hate” lightly. I only hate things, not people, and then really only pornography and bugs. I can get over everything and everyone else.
Pornography thrives in the shadowy silence of isolation, but the warm light of love and friendship can do much to help cast it out. Women certainly have a critical role in this fight and should take a stance of absolute intolerance toward pornography. (First Things post, emphasis mine)
In my search for ammunition against pornography and the ruin it brings to so many people’s lives, I encountered Bishop Loverde’s pastoral letter for the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, “Bought with a Price” (también disponible en español en forma PDF como “Comprados a gran precio”). At the time, my Catholic world wasn’t much larger than my campus ministry. Finding such wisdom in the next diocese over was a thrill! Eight years later, this incredible letter has been revised, illustrated, and reissued.
I won’t rehash much of what the Bishop Loverde writes. He takes the time to build counterarguments to some common stances in favor of pornography, and he offers St. Joseph as a particular patron for purity and protection. The personal witness of Matt Fradd (author of Delivered) highlights the rapidly-changing reality of pornography exposure and the effects of addiction. Numerous practical takeaway points and action steps highlight each section. It’s a well-written document.
What captivated my college-age self about Bishop Loverde’s letter was its final section. (It was final then; the updated version offers a study guide and practical plan for avoidance and healing.) The bishop offers a spiritual component that I had never seen before and have not seen anywhere since. He writes:
Man finds his gift of sight and therefore his vision of God distorted by the evil of pornography.
Further, he explains:
Our sight, more than just a physical ability, serves as an important means for understanding faith, heaven and salvation. Indeed, its proper end and fulfillment is the vision of God Himself.
We see pornography with our eyes. These are the same eyes that, after the Resurrection, we will use in our glorified bodies to behold the very face of God.
This goes beyond metaphorical or figurative sight to something much more tactile, human, and real. These are the literal eyes in your face. You use the same eyes to gaze upon your beloved that you would use to exploit the people featured in pornographic images. The same eyes that stir up delight in your heart watching a baby take its first steps are the eyes that seek out the stimulus of greater and more explicit perversions offered for “adult entertainment.” This is a problem. Christ paid the ultimate price to bring you the solution.
Please don’t let this roll off your back. If you struggle with pornography use, or someone you love is fighting that demon, this is your wake-up call. Read Bishop Loverde’s letter. Take 12 minutes to read Matt Fradd’s testimony. Share this post, Bishop Loverde’s post at First Things, or the letter itself to your favorite social media outlet. Take a stand against pornography.
Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God. (Matthew 5:8)