Christianity and sexuality

Me and Porn II: For Your Hope

"Because the Church tells me to" is a pretty unsatisfactory answer...

As usual, I hopped down into the leather seat, while she sat on the couch opposite me. My backpack laid against the chair on the floor while she flipped to a clean page on her yellow notepad. A window behind me keeps the room bright at 3pm, and we go through the usual, “How are you doing?”

We talk about pornography and masturbation. She believes that masturbation can be a coping mechanism, as long as it’s not the only one. I tell her I don’t want it to be one of mine, and she knows it comes from my views as a Catholic. There have been a few conversations about it, and she asks again, “So I know that the Church says not to do it, but what do you think about it?”

The first time she asked me that, I shifted in my chair as a little knot tightened in my chest. I took on a softer tone, typical for my non-aggressive defensiveness. The Church doesn’t want me to do it, so isn’t that enough of an explanation? Let’s just go with that, and move on…

“I know the Church says that, but why do you not want to do it?” I used to think it was a condescending question, a question that tried to distinguish me from my faith in a way that made me seem not so serious about it. I used to think that people asked that question when they thought that the Church’s teaching wouldn’t hold up when confronted with a real human life. I used to think that people asked that question when they thought you didn’t really believe, but were just parroting something you didn’t actually understand.

That’s exactly what I did every time I dismissed the question, every time I didn’t want to engage, respond, reflect. I didn’t realize it at the time, and I’m only slowly beginning to see it now.

1 Peter 15 says to “always be ready to give an account for your hope.” Not “an account for hope,” but “an account for your hope.” It was the same question my counselor was asking me.

The defensiveness, and the constant references to Catechism paragraphs and the magisterium, revealed how much the hope was not mine. One’s own hope gives an answer from one’s very self. A faith interiorized is a faith that becomes so personal that the reason comes from a life distilled within, rather than a few paragraphs read from without. “I do this because the Church says” is often synonymous with “I don’t really want to do this, but I do it because they tell me to.”

But what hope could one attest to, other than one’s own hope? If I cannot attest to my hope, I can attest to none.

My “homework” from that counseling session was to consider why I want to do this. It was actually a request to consider whether I will let my faith be interiorized, whether I can give reasons that come from my very self infused with faith, whether I am willing to give an account of my own hope.

If I responded, “Because sexuality is ordered towards marital union between man and woman,” I’d be giving some canned response that has little to do with unmarried me. What the hell does that have to do with me? The more it looks like the Catechism, the less likely it is to come from me. I think that the beginnings of real answers sound something more like:

-Because I want my sexuality to be used as a gift, rather than for self indulgence.

-Because the pornography industry is a sad place, and I don’t want to encourage it.

-Because I could use my erotic energies for creative activities instead.

-Because I don’t want my fickle desires to dictate what I do.

-Because I long for love in my deepest being.

-Because at 11:47 on Saturday morning, my time is better spent writing.

7 comments on “Me and Porn II: For Your Hope

  1. Pingback: Killing me softly – West 14

  2. Here is another GREAT reason to avoid porn and masturbation… Because it can become an addiction — one every bit as strong as a drug addiction. If that happens to you, you will truly understand what it means to be a “slave to sin.” Believe me, you do NOT want to be in that position. God bless.

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  3. Wow, again thank you so much for this publish.

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  4. Well Chris, why not just cut out the porn? I think linking porn and masturbation is misguided. I mean do we link sex with seeking services of a sex worker? Not exactly. Of all your reasons, the one about longing for love is the only one I would keep.

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  5. Yes, creating your own reasons is so important. See Ruth Chang, philosopher of Hard Choices.

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  6. Finally, you could state, “I prefer to have wet dreams”, what happens when you do not masturbate, apparently.

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  7. Pingback: The Victim III: The Gay Christian Victim – A Blog by Chris Damian

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