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Single Living

They say I’m picky. But sometimes I really don’t see any other way.

Case in point. I have a friend who has a membership to a very popular dating web site. She gave me her password and encouraged me to check it out. They say “It’s okay to look,” so I did.

Can’t say that I liked what I saw.

The site can run searches by religion, so I narrowed mine to Catholic men. Within the results, I found a section in each profile called “turn-ons.” It’s set up as a multiple-choice field, so members can choose from a list of things that apparently somehow turn them on. I’m assuming that the term “turn on” was used in the broadest possible sense, because there were all kinds of innocuous options like “sunsets’ and “taking walks in the rain.”

But there were also some options that were much more specific.

Can I tell you how disappointing it was to me that a vast, vast majority of these self-identified “Catholic” men chose “erotica” as a “turn-on”?

So I figured maybe I was missing something. Maybe “erotica” has a meaning I don’t know about. Maybe it’s not what I think it is. So, I went to an online dictionary and looked up the term. (I don’t even want to think about the “cookies” that probably showed up on my computer afterward.) Here’s what I found:

American Heritage Dictionary: Literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire.

Word.com: creative activity (writing or pictures or films etc.) of no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire

But the “Online Dictionary of Computing” summed it up best. It gave a one word definition: pornography.

Yup. That’s what I thought it was.

How incredibly sad is this? Not only are a good 90% of the “Catholic” men on the world’s most popular dating site using porn, but they’re so unashamed of it that they actually announce it to all of the random women who view their profiles.

And people ask me why I’m not married.

Seriously, this so doesn’t work for me. I know porn has gone mainstream. It’s not hidden in plain paper wrappers behind the drug store counter any more. It’s right out there in front of the magazine racks. It’s a mere click away, bookmarked on internet browsers.

But apparently I haven’t gone mainstream. Pornography and I don’t get along.

I get that, as a female, I can’t fully understand male sexual nature. I get that guys are more visually oriented than we are. I don’t get the appeal of porn, nor do I fully understand the battle men fight to resist temptation in a culture where sexual images are everywhere.

But I know a little about the impact pornography has on the brain, and thus on relationships. And I know enough to know that I don’t want porn, or a brain that’s been unduly influenced by porn, anywhere near my relationships.

God created us in such a way that sexual images tend to “burn” onto our brains. And that was really very nice of Him. After all, the sexual images that are supposed to be in our brains are those of our spouses – on the wedding night and beyond. Those are good images to burn on the brain. They help the marriage.

But when other images are burned onto the brain, it isn’t so helpful. First of all, it creates unrealistic expectations. It’s difficult enough for women to measure up to society’s standard of beauty without having to compete with airbrushed porn stars. Nobody looks like those women. Those women don’t look like those women. It’s the miracle of Photoshop. And when a man has filled his brain with these fantasy illusions of womanhood, an ordinary woman is going to seem disappointing by comparison.

But far worse is the attitude that porn creates. God created human sexual union to be an act of unselfish, self-donating love between two persons. Porn is not unselfish, nor is it self-donating. Nor is it about two persons. It’s about one person using a soul-less image to obtain personal sexual gratification. It’s not about loving, it’s about using. And it engenders a selfish, using mentality around human sexuality. Women aren’t persons created in the image and likeness of God with their own dignity and desires and needs. They are “things” to be used, simply means to sexual satisfaction.

I’ve actually heard men say that they’d stop using porn when they got married. They were doing the “right” thing and saving sex for marriage, so they figured once they were married and could have sex with their wives, they wouldn’t “need” the porn any more.

That doesn’t work so well.

Human sexuality is easily “conditioned.” When somebody becomes accustomed to being “turned on” in a certain way, over time they tend to need that particular stimulus. In other words, once a guy becomes conditioned to being turned on in the context of the using, impersonal, degrading sexuality that animates pornography, he loses the ability to respond to real, normal, loving, self-donating sexual expression. He has conditioned himself to associate sexual stimulation with using. And that can wreak havoc on a marriage. Wives feel used – because they are being used. They often blame themselves, even though they’re not to blame. I once read that asking a man addicted to porn to find sexual satisfaction in healthy marital sex is like asking an alcoholic to find satisfaction in drinking more water. They’re just two completely different substances.

If you don’t believe me, look at the letters I’ve received from wives throughout the years. As their husbands’ interest in porn grows, their interest in their wives fades. They don’t feel loved. They’re devastated.

I’m looking for a man who respects me. I’m looking for a man who respects women. And porn does not engender respect for women. These women are created in the image and likeness of God. They’re somebody’s daughters, somebody’s sisters. To (literally) view them as mere instruments of sexual satisfaction is not respectful to them, nor is it respectful to the God who created them, nor is it respectful to me as a woman.

Second, I want chastity in a dating relationship. I want a man who can look at me and say “Look, I’d love to do this. But because it’s not what’s best for you or for us, we’re not going to.” That requires a lot of self-control. That self-control starts in the brain. And a brain filled with pornographic sexual images is going to have an infinitely more difficult time controlling itself.

So yeah, it makes me very, very sad that so many men who self-identify as Catholic also proudly identify themselves as consumers of pornography. I can’t relate to that. I don’t understand it.

And I don’t want any part of it.

 

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24 Comments

  1. Hilda-258177 December 7, 2007

    Yes, I am curious too about the 90% of Catholic men who are into pornography. That is very disheartening to me as a Catholic woman, if the percentage is truly that high.

  2. Guest-2645 December 8, 2007

    On the search I ran, using "Catholic" as a criterion, roughly 90% of the men listed erotica as a "turn-on." The figure wasn't intended to be a global statistic. Just the result of one search. MBB

  3. MaryKathryn-177850 December 9, 2007

    I see Porn addiction as it is-another addiction. Addictions come in all shapes and sizes; they are a way to stay in denial about problems or anything concerning a person's life–especially those uncomfortable issues that no one wants to see or admit.
    The active addict is sick; the same as any other type of addict. Active addictions wreck marriages, friendships, business opportunities, families, and, worst of all, personal relationships with God. In fact, the addiction becomes a god. It's the first thing thought of in the morning, and the last thing thought of at night. It "OWNS" the addict.
    It's not an excuse for the behavior and the havoc that the behavior causes; it is the reason.
    Only through first admitting to the problem and the lack of control over it, then getting help-therapist, psychiatrist, spiritual guide, etc., and finding support -usually a group- is an addict ready to recover. Many times addictions are caused by depression or some other brain disfunction, but therapy with a well-informed therapist and a spiritual guide are a must to get at the roots of the disease.
    Addicts are full of shame. Who would choose to be an addict if there were some known other way to deal with problems? I doubt these people chose to be addicts.
    For the people living with or around the addict: take care of yourself. Get out of there if that is best. Although it is easy to confuse the addict with the disease, an addict is in terrible pain. An addict needs help, but no one deserves to live with or around addiction.
    Addictions are a mental, physical and spiritual disease. They are a vicious cycle of self-destructive behavior. They become a family disease affecting everyone in striking distance. However, rather than our judgment and condemnation, the addict should be prayed for. It's not an easy lot being addicted to anything. It is even harder to find the way out to Truth and recovery.
    This is just another view. Everything that you have said Mary Beth, is true. I just wanted to go a bit deeper.

  4. Vincent-152774 December 9, 2007

    Very insightful and courageous article to write. But one that needed to be written. I hope a lot of men on this site read the article and take note of what Mary Beth has said.

  5. Keith-14356 December 17, 2007

    Mary Beth, thank for the article. Atlhough, your article if focused on males, it is equally an issue for women as well.
    As a Catholic, I find this issue as also a reflection on the uninhibited materialism that pervades our society. The culture of "I" and self-satisfaction. As a community, we need to focus on what is truly essential — love of Christ, family, and our neighbors — to glorify God.
    Our struggle with sexuality is an on-going challenge. But prayers and the bonding of fellow Catholics, does help.

  6. Tony-91219 December 19, 2007

    On that same website you will probably also find that more than half of the ladies listed erotica as a turn on – I would bet that the majority of men on that website do not automtically equate erotica to porn.

  7. Tony-91219 December 19, 2007

    So, you cannot make a statement that 90% of the guys are into porn – I totally agree that porn is not a good thing, but makeing erotica equal to porn is not accurate – some art is considered erotica; but that is very different that the DVDs you can get at the local XXX store! LOL I would go further and say that even the Victoria's Secret (and that industry) catalog could be considered erotica.

  8. Eric-97921 December 20, 2007

    Who the heck, though, puts on their singles profile something indicating "erotica." And of what relevance do the genders have–that's not the subject matter here. I think you have to be careful of your thoughts even when looking at photos on "social utility" websites.

  9. Dennis-68183 January 1, 2008

    There are three forms of love in the Greek definition: Agape, Eros, and the love of friendship. Agape is the love of God; Eros is the sexual union of man and woman, and the love of friendship is the unselfish love of friendship.
    In this culture erotic love is sex for pleasure without regards for the other–its a selfish, degrading, unfulfilling sex act that is condoned and made moral by a society, media, and advertising that states that LUST is good, when it is one of the 7 Deadly Sins. The constant bombardment of sexual images on TV, in music, and the easy attainment of graphic pornography (porno=Satan, graphy=pictures, thus pornography is Satan's pictures) has made it a "part of society" that is a sold evil that manipulates the male mind into paying for stimulation that can become an uncontrollable addiction–a demonic trap to ruin the male's mind and morals.
    John Paul II wrote The Theology of the Body, and Christopher West has made it understandable in English and our American culture. He has a simple method to stopping the lustful thoughts of males when tempted to lust after females. When you see a female and the temptation to lust about having sex with her, state: "This female's sexuality is beautiful, my sexuality is beautiful, and I take this temptation and nail it to the Cross of Jesus." This can be reversed for females. When a male is tempted with homosexual temptations, he can say: "This male is not a homosexual, I am not a homosexual, and I take this homosexual temptation and nail it to the Cross of Christ. If the temptation returns again (it probably will) recite Rosaries for yourself, and ask for the intercession of St. Benedict. He has a unique intercession over evil.

  10. Tiffany-66114 January 5, 2008

    I didn't read this post, but I think I know where it leads. All I have to say is porn is kinda icky and odd… and it can also make porn watchers eventually become odd balls themselves.

  11. Tiffany-66114 January 5, 2008

    90%??? Dang. No wonder I'll no longer intentionally date only Catholic men. LOL.

  12. John-116134 January 9, 2008

    Good job for taking a stand, and writing this article Mary. You are right, and i wouldn't be surprised if 90% of catholic men view porn. I used to watch porn, and had a terrible addition to it. Through a miracle, a novena to St. Jude, patron of lost causes, i have been sober for 8 months now. A true miracle, it is so addictive. I also suffer from the aftereffects. Though i'm a virgin and saving myself for marriage, it has done its damage and i struggle to not want what i so often saw. Images are hard to get out of the brain. I wish i never watched it and recommend to all not to.

  13. Joe-265398 January 14, 2008

    I Totally agree with Mary beth's viewpoint on porn,but I think that to blame people or others isn't really going to solve the problem.I think that as a society which allows pornographic pictures to be openly displayed thru T.V.,magazines and billboards are really all to blame at a certain point.We see it every day ,sex sells,and the glamour,and rich and famous lifestyle are secretly riddled with sex,it is a closed secret.I do live in a big city and can tell you many stories of women and men cheating on thier husbands and wives.My personal opinion is that we should really go back to basics and let family be first and money,technology,be way at the bottom of our lists.I think one solution would be to stick close to nature,work with her and not to destroy it.I'm absolutely certain that fast-paced living destroys peoples sense of balance,and in turn thier conscious.

  14. Toni-158571 January 15, 2008

    I just broke off with a man I loved dearly because he is into porn. I didn't know why he was so distant. I just found out about the porn. It all makes sense now. It is very destructive to a relationship.

  15. Gene-300207 January 21, 2008

    Dear MaryBeth, Your article hits a homerun. What has our society turned into, worse yet where is it headed. Porn does not belong in a marriage. That is really sad. The porn industry is another get rich quick scam. The people involved are blood suckers, emotionless, greedy, and selfish. They could care less what negative impacts they cause on anyone or on society. Please keep up the good work, stay in health, and God Bless.

  16. Lisa-116297 February 6, 2008

    Mary Beth,
    I couldn't have said it better myself. Having already been in a horrible marriage with a husband suffering with a porn addiction, I know first hand the pain and suffering and damage it does. Are there any men out there that haven't been damaged by this now pornographic society?

  17. Greg-253158 February 7, 2008

    Amazing how once again, the woman porn star is an innocent victim of dirty filthy men! Did you take a moment to query all the women that list “erotica” as a turn-on? What does that mean? There are plenty of women that list erotica as well. And YES, women do stare and lust at men on the street, at the pool and in the mall and on the pages of advertisements displayed in all the “Women” magazines and whatnot (ever been to the store Abercrombie and Filth?). MaryBeth, please be fair. Porn visually affects both male and female, who have allowed it into their lives. Neither sex (chromosomally speaking as you voice) is immune or less affected. I agree this is a bad evil to the soul and relationships as you say, but it is just not the men at fault here. However, I think men do tend to be more open about it just as women tend to be more discrete about it. The woman Porn Star is a paid performer who eagerly engages in the despicable and is just as guilty in this evil. You may say, “if men don’t view it, then there is no market.” Agreed. And agree with me, “if women don’t produce it, then there is no market”. So, who is the guilty party? I say both, you seem to indicate just men. It is a two way street and both men and women are up to their eyeballs in fault for the existence of porn, its use and its destruction of Mankind (especially our youth). I could easily get as angered as you at the woman for allowing the pictures and films to be made, but I take the higher road. I shutter when I walk my kids pass Victoria Secretes or Abercrombie (to name just two) in the Mall. Ponder the fact that venomously advocating your right to “cast the first stone” might be one reason why a “worthy” marriage prospect is not forthcoming.

  18. Diana-136234 February 17, 2008

    Dear marybeth, thank you for such a great insightful article. it's good to know i'm not alone in this. i was engaged to a man that to this day, i think has trouble with his sexuality. i didn't realize how much until i got on his computer and saw men dressed up in loungerie. i think God is very sad in what is happening to the world today. so many people are into instant gratification. i do think there are people like you and me that continue to pray and hope to find someone with strong morals.i think they are out there but few and far between. thank you for all you do and it makes me realize that i people like you are not afraid to speak out for the truth. thank you for letting me share.

  19. Evelyn-307050 February 20, 2008

    I totally agree! It is very nice article you have written. I called porn as extra physical exposures impact that will driven men into committing something which is called crossing to the line of temptations that sometimes it creates crimes (rape) and heartbreak.

  20. Julia-163268 February 26, 2008

    'Self-identified' Catholic men is the key. I dated on that site, and others and found that the vast majority of the men who checked the "Catholic" box thought of it only as a cultural descriptor and not any kind of actually meaningful designation of their religious commitments. It got pretty obvious to me when the "Catholic" also checked off "never" under 'how often do you attend religious services?"

  21. Jon-70340 March 5, 2008

    ya, in a perfect world… so us evil ones who struggle with porn are hypocrites if we also call ouselves catholic your saying?? BS! Your all complaining about guys who check off "never" attend services or who look at porn, or whatever else, What about all the "divorced" women on this site, WHY is that even a catagory????? Shouldn't it be "annulled" instead??? thanks for judging us; must be nice to be perfect like all of you.

  22. Ginniw-228401 March 28, 2008

    Thank you Mary Beth for writing such an insightful article! I found some porn on my husband-to-be's computer, that is why he is still my husband-to-be and will probably never become my husband!

  23. John-311053 November 8, 2008

    James, I think you missed something that Mary Beth said. She didn't say that erotica was simply a 'turn-on'. That would make that multiple choice answer redundant, as that was the question. Erotica, as I understand Mary Beth to be saying, is literature, movies, etc. designed for no other purpose than to stimulate men sexually. The problem with it is that it is essentially unrelated to marriage, while such stimulation is designed by God for marriage alone:
    Yes, sexuality plays an important aspect to dating – absolutely – but all that is proper to marriage must remain in marriage, and all that leads up to marriage MUST not be taken outside of the context of (the potential for) marriage for the same reason. After all, God made marriage between one man and one women. What follows from this is that all the acts proper to marriage must be between one man and one woman, and erotica certainly is not between one man and one woman by is very nature.
    As a Catholic male, I understand very well what Mary Beth was saying, and how fitting it is. Pornography literally is addicting to men, and as such is prone to all the trials, denials and excuses etc. that go along with every addiction (please don't take this to mean I think you are addicted to erotica – I don't mean that at all). I appreciate your response, but I think that it stems from a misreading of the article. If that's the case, I probably wrote more than I needed to :). Also, I'm really not trying to offend either, but I think it would be an excellent gesture if you re-read the article and apologized for a simple misreading.
    God bless,
    Sincerely,
    John

  24. Diane-931980 February 9, 2014

    Fantastic article Mary Beth!….this needs to be out in the mainstream media; people in general have no clue. Pornography addiction, stemming from depression was a large factor in wrecking my marriage. And I’ve read people commenting on this post about how it’s used by women as well as men. Who cares??? It’s poison, it does not belong in marriage! I felt insulted and betrayed when I caught my ex-husband viewing it; there’s no difference between that and cheating as far as I’m concerned. When these images are in one’s head(male or female), they are an addiction which over time cause the brain to need more and more of this stimulation, which leads to viewing nastier and nastier stuff. There have been plenty of studies that back this up….including the fact that men ARE more visually stimulated by it, and therefore more susceptible to the addiction. This fact is not an attempt to blame; It’s just how it is. The point is getting rid of it…not WHO has the problem with it. If a healthy sexual relationship in a marriage is the goal, it will NEVER be achieved with porn in the picture. I have NO interest in any man who views it………The End.

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