by Steve Wood
How long can we ignore this 800-pound slobbering gorilla?
It is the greatest ignored crisis in the Church today. I lack a vocabulary to say how great a threat this is to the Catholic faith.
I’m talking about the mind-boggling number of Catholic children and young adults who’ve become addicted to Internet porn. Studies have found shocking facts such as these:
Four out of five teens from ages 15 to 17 regularly view Internet porn.
The average age of first exposure to Internet porn is 11.
Nine out of 10 children from ages eight to 16 have viewed porn online.
Seven out of 10 young adults from ages 18 to 34 view porn at least once a month.
One out of four young people between the ages of 16 and 20 have tried to stop watching porn but couldn’t kick the habit.
What makes the problem even worse is what porn does to the brain. Cambridge University did brain scans of men aged 19 to 34 who’d tried unsuccessfully to give up porn. The brain scans were like those of alcoholics and heroin addicts. As I’ve said before, porn doesn’t just stimulate the brain. It alters it!
Let me tell you some stories that show the consequences of this unmitigated catastrophe.
Peter (not his real name) heard the call of Jesus to become a Catholic priest. He felt privileged to attend a Catholic seminary with a reputation for strict adherence to orthodox Catholicism. Wisely, the seminary monitored all Internet use by the seminarians to keep all of them on the straight and narrow. Peter and all of the other seminarians were well aware of this.
Unfortunately, Peter had been exposed to pornography and found it quite attractive — so attractive that he’d developed a habit of viewing online porn. He knew it was wrong, but he kept returning to it. It was only a mouse click or two away, and the temptation was so strong it was just about impossible for him to resist.
Peter knew he would have to quit porn cold turkey at the seminary because every website he visited would be automatically logged. There was no way to “erase the history” — no way for a seminarian to use porn without getting caught. But so strong was Peter’s addiction that one day he went ahead and viewed online porn at the seminary. He got caught and was immediately bounced out.
The devil may still be laughing about Peter’s ruined vocation as a priest.
Orthodox Catholic colleges have the problem under control, right? Wrong!
If you think orthodox Catholic colleges and universities are safe from the porn plague, think again. As the next story will show you, porn addiction is a big problem even at the best ones.
One of the most solid, orthodox Catholic schools of higher learning in America discovered that so many young men were viewing Internet porn that the computer room had to be closed at midnight. Even so, one student’s addiction was so strong that he actually broke into a faculty office after midnight to feed his addiction!
Many addicts prefer porn to a real relationship with a woman!
Here’s one more story for you. Nineteen-year-old Paul (not his real name) became completely addicted to porn. Paul’s father was shocked and dismayed when his son confided to him that he couldn’t hold down a relationship with a girl for longer than three weeks because he prefers porn.
Who are our daughters supposed to marry if their potential marriage partners are up to their eyeballs in porn addiction and therefore unfit for marriage? No wonder marriage rates in the Catholic Church have plunged to record lows!
A porn-addicted adolescent or young man ruins his future as a successful husband and father — unless he can break free of his addiction and heal his brain. This can be done.
Here’s my question. Why is the problem of porn addiction among young Catholics virtually ignored? Who’s trying to help these young men break free? Who’s talking about the problem? Hardly anyone.
Porn addicts are today’s “lepers.” In ancient times, lepers were sent away so they were out of sight and out of mind. People didn’t want to think about them, see them, or get anywhere near them. They were considered untouchable.
Similarly, today’s porn addicts are out of sight and out of mind. We don’t see them because, in contrast to leprosy, there’s no physical sign of their problem. So it’s tempting to ignore the porn addicts and go on as if everything were fine, leaving the addicts to their own devices. But everything isn’t fine, and I can’t do that.
I felt deep in my heart that somebody should do something about the problem now.
I wrote the booklet, Young Men Breaking Free because it’s by far the number one problem in Catholic homes. I did it because teenage boys today are in a war of the ages, and porn is taking them out right and left. I did it because I want to tell teenagers, young men, and older men how they can win — how to snap the spine of porn addiction.
I need help in reaching out to young Catholic men. There are two ways Catholic parents can assist.
First, get copies of Young Men Breaking Free for your sons and for your friends’ sons.
Second, get a copy for your priest to introduce him to the booklet. Already priests have given out in Confession thousands of copies of my booklet, Breaking Free, for married men. The same thing needs to be done for young men going to Confession because of porn problems.
Thanks in advance for your timely assistance in getting Young Men Breaking Free into the right hands.
Steve Wood, President
Family Life Center International
P.S. Most of you have installed filtering software on your home’s computers. Did you know that tech- savvy teens can defeat the filter by Googling “how to beat …name of filtering software,” or “how to get passed … name of software.” It only takes them two minutes to learn how to circumvent your Internet protection. Check these devious sites yourself to see how effective your filtering software really is.