Friday, March 23, 2007

Archbiship Chaput: We need to stop pornography, now

Archbishop Chaput weighs in on General Pace's comments and on the deeper problem, pornography.

Archbishop's column

A friend recently quipped to me that if Americans were as good at the “war on terror” as we are in our “war on common sense,” the world would be a much safer place. He was talking about our country’s increasingly confused attitudes toward sex.
Last week offered a good example. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, said that “I believe that homosexual acts between individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts. I do not believe the United States is well-served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way.”

Note that Pace did not say that, “homosexual persons are evil.” He said that homosexual acts are wrong. And of course he’s right. We might question the general’s choice to comment in the context he did, but not his content. He simply stated the Western moral tradition. We should respect his courage for saying it. Every human being has an inalienable dignity as an image of God. But as part of that dignity, we also have free will, and our choices — our behaviors — create wholeness or havoc around us, depending on their moral content.

Our sexual behavior is never merely a “private” matter. Human sexuality is deeply linked to issues of identity, fertility and new life. Our sexual behavior always has social implications because it directly or indirectly impacts others. Therefore it helps shape the wider culture. This is not a uniquely Christian point of view. Most Americans clearly agree with Gen. Pace. The only thing strange about his remarks was the theatrical wave of shock they generated from critics. In fact, with the good exception of Sen. Sam Brownback and some others, many members of Congress scrambled to criticize Gen. Pace — despite the moral beliefs of the people who elected them.
That is because General Pace dared to smash the golden calf. None of the politicians were going to "face" the wrath of idolaters in the next elections. Even if it was as minor as not setting themselves apart from this "hate crime".
Pornography is never “innocent entertainment,” no matter how private it might seem. It turns human beings into objects. It coarsens our appetites. It darkens our ability to see real human beauty. It creates impossible expectations about sexual intimacy. It kills enduring romance and friendship between the sexes. And ultimately it’s a lie and a cheat. Pornography is a cheap, quick, empty copy of the real thing — the real joy of sexual intimacy shared by a man and woman who have joined their lives in a loving marriage.
Show me a man that hasn't tasted the sting of this coarsening, this destruction of purity; and I will show you am man that is very happy in his vocation. Sin can be forgiven. Confession is paramount, counseling is important and honesty with self and others is critical; but even then, the stain of temptation will remain.
In recent months, two Catholic bishops have begun some extraordinary work against pornography in their Midwest dioceses: Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., and Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kan.

Bishop Finn’s excellent pastoral letter, “Blessed Are the Pure in Heart: The Dignity of the Human Person and the Dangers of Pornography,” has a wealth of good information about the scope of pornography, the damage it does and many practical tips to fighting it in our homes. Archbishop Naumann’s anti-pornography initiative, “As for Me and My House, We Will Serve the Lord,” includes a DVD and workbook with valuable resources for fighting pornography, teaching chastity and wholesome sexuality, and helping others who have been hurt by pornography addiction.

We can’t do much to fix the sexual confusion at the top of our society, beyond writing to our elected officials and demanding candidates who will advance our convictions when the time comes to vote. But we can do a lot about the poison in our homes and local communities. Pornography is poison. It should be controlled like any other toxic waste. And don’t be fooled. This isn’t “censorship.” It’s a matter of public health and common sense.
via the Curt Jester

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