By: Thérèse Bermpohl
Director, Office for Family Life
Along with Bishop Loverde and two colleagues, I attended a conference this past April that highlighted the horrors of pornography. It was sponsored in part by the Religious Alliance Against Pornography (RAAP) and was entitled “Convergence: Uniting Leaders to Combat Sexual Exploitation in the Mobile Age.”
Unfortunately, we will be hearing more about this issue in the years to come because it’s not only destroying the lives of men and women, it is reaching into the heart of the family and snatching the innocence away from our children.
Children can be attacked at home via the internet, at school, at a friend’s house, on the playground, or even on the school bus. My sister is an elementary school principal and she is appalled by the amount of inappropriate images that make it to her office on an almost-weekly basis. On multiple occasions, I’ve heard her tell her grown daughter, mother of three, “Please don’t let my grandchildren ever ride a bus to school. You wouldn’t believe the conversations and actions that take place on the school bus.”
Our children are so vulnerable; they don’t go looking for pornography, it comes to them. On average, the first “hit” comes by about age 8. Tragically, pornography is forming our children with a completely distorted view of human sexuality. The daunting task for parents to restore a proper understanding of sexuality becomes monumental.
But, of course, children are not the only ones at risk, and while the secular world clings to its mantra that, “a little pornography never hurt anyone,” the truth is that pornography hurts all involved – children and adults alike! The more widespread the use of pornography becomes, the more the supply must increase to fill the twisted desires of its users. The enormity of the problem is staggering. It’s hard to know where to begin to combat this type of evil that enslaves both the user and the used.
I spent the two weeks after the conference pondering the demand for pornography, prostituted children and sex trafficking, deeply affected by the inhumanity of it all. It wasn’t until the Easter Vigil during the Exsultet, that the fog began to lift and I was reminded that even the ugliest of sin can be washed away through the saving power of Jesus Christ:
“This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin
and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace…
and grow together in holiness.
The power of this holy night
dispels all evil, washes guilt away,
restores lost innocence…”
We have lost our innocence through sin and perversion of all kinds, but the Good News is we have been restored in Jesus Christ. We no longer have to suffer, but can rather avail ourselves of His grace that frees us from the chains of all addictions. We have been given the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist to open the doors to healing. Also, there are practical supports such as psychologists, counselors, support groups and on-line services that can help rid the suffering of every kind of disfiguring addiction.
As for our children: Until we change the hearts of the adults, our children will always be at risk, but we can minimize those risks by researching the issue and staying informed. Parents, get the facts. Learn about every single electronic gadget (from cell phones to the Xbox) you hand to your children and their capability to access pornographic material. Research internet filters that will bar this material from being available in your home.
Pornography has become a widespread disease in our culture, but you can start to eliminate it by finding practical tips to protect yourself and your family.
Check out these sites for more information:
For child protection visit: http://www.covenanteyes.com/