I wanted to share very briefly my thoughts about the latest #MeToo movement. I think it is time that we as a society recognize that sin is a public venture. What do I mean? Every sin, no matter how private, has a public ramification. This is why the act of reconciliation is so essential and why the Sacrament of Reconciliation is so essential. I think immediately of Matt Fradd and his many works including most recently his book ‘The Porn Myth.’ Addiction to pornography is likely the biggest taboo and the greatest purveyor of sexual predatory practices. Think for a moment in how much time a day someone spends on developing virtue and holiness; how much time do you think an addiction to the vice of porn drags from someones life? What is the longterm effect on the brain with such exposure and training? As we’ve discussed in earlier posts, the most fundamental aspect of Catholic Social Teaching is that we are all made in God’s likeness, image, and have an immutable dignity. What dignity is given by making someone an object of personal gratification? What kind of dignity does it serve to train one’s brain to perceive women in this way? As Christians we constantly train ourselves in the ways of holiness of prayer of peace of virtue; what does this add?
The real question is what is virtue? Virtue is essentially at it’s root a good habit, vice is it’s opposite. Think about all the habits you have, things that now come easily to you which were once difficult at first. This is something in our nature that cannot be changed. We form virtue or vice depending upon our daily choices and behaviors. Our most private sins effect all in a very public way. How we treat others is borne very deeply within our very thoughts as Jesus taught very firmly: anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:28). Do you understand this serious accusation? In the law the punishment for adultery is a stoning death. Just as sure as there was at one time a death penalty for Adultery, there is a death that takes place within the heart of those who partake of this vice. Luckily God intervenes with his mercy through the sacrament of Reconciliation. But if we are going to be serious about the way men are exhibiting predatory tactics towards women in our society we need to recognize and acknowledge the prevalence and the problem that pornography poses to the dignity of the feminine genius.
It is at this juncture that it must be brought up the prevalence with which my generation (millennials) has been brought up with pornography, whether by parental permission or by secret. In one sense my generation is much more aware of the struggles that women face but on the other hand my generation grew up on a steady diet of pornography. I can’t say that I’ve spoken as candidly with members of other generations but I can say this problem is certainly not close to being solved or addressed in a real way. Acknowledgement is the first step, it is key, and I hope that the public sin of pornography & masturbation, no matter how private, will be denounced for the pathway to abuse that it is. Abuse of self firstly and abuse of others mentally to the abuse of others physically.
To love the Blessed Mother, which is to be Marian, is not only to recognize her humility, her Queenly attributes, her beauty, her purity but to recognize in her the dignity and the genius that she is. In a universe in which God creates the most beautiful Angel who falls and becomes ugly due to pride; the most beautiful creature who is Mary effortlessly appeals for us all. The beauty spoken of here is more then mere appearance, but truth of being. It is no mistake that the closest creature to God is Mary, not just as mother of Jesus or spouse of the Holy Spirit. Her genius is a simple ‘yes’ to the plan of God for her life. Her genius is her ‘yes’ to allowing her son to be immolated upon the cross before her very eyes. Her genius is her 'yes' to the Holy Spirit in becoming a spiritual mother to the Church at Pentecost through her silent but warm presence. Her genius is one of tremendous joys and tremendous sorrows. None of this credit would she take though as she continually points to her Son.
The sooner men begin to step up in virtue and the practice of daily holiness the sooner that society will back away from the rocky cliff it is precariously teetering upon. It is when men and women collaborate together in dignity, making family life the fruit and the focus of a loving relationship that sons and daughters will live in peaceful contentment. This change is possible, but it depends upon us all to make a change for peace.
This post doesn’t begin to address or acknowledge in an effective way the gravity and scale of the suffering that many, many women have suffered at the hands of men who cannot respect or uphold the dignity of women. To be sure, pornography isn’t the only problem but it is a big problem that needs to be acknowledged.
NOT A PAID ADVERTIZEMENT: Please read The Porn Myth by Matt Fradd!
"In the solitude and silence of the wilderness..., for their labor in the contest, God gives his athletes the reward they desire: a peace that the world does not know and joy in the Holy Spirit."
Husband & father of four, graduate from Quincy University and currently a grad student at Franciscan University. Director of Faith Formation & Youth Ministry for All Saints Parish since January 2012.