Telegraph writer, Tim Stanley has written a good post welcoming Mr Cameron's idea. It got me thinking. I am sure I am not the only Catholic who has been through a 'phase' of addiction to adult online pornography. In my case, it was a relatively short phase, fuelled mostly by loneliness and, of course, personal sinfulness. The culture of moral relativism that surrounds pornography, however, is extremely dangerous. The idea that Britain is raising a nation of children with unstable and often broken families, as well as a nation with a high percentage of porn-addicted teenagers and, in some cases, children, should be disconcerting to all of us, whether we have religious faith or not.
The anonymity and accessibility of pornography online is a ghastly temptation to anyone - but most surely especially to boys and men. Of course, for the Catholic, viewing pornography is gravely sinful and offensive to God. To the non-Catholic, viewing pornography becomes an illusory transient thrill with no immediate accepted implications in terms of placing one's soul in peril. Yet, you do not have to be a Catholic to understand the dangers so obviously attached to viewing this kind of material.
Recently, I met a garrulous young man in a pub in Hove who told me of how he had to overcome his addiction to porn for the sake of his personal life. With him having said this, I was able to say that through the Sacrament of Penance, otherwise known as Confession, I had by God's grace managed to overcome this particular vice myself, even if chastity in the single state continues to be a struggle that is taken up daily. So, a non-Catholic - a non Christian, indeed - and a Catholic were both able to agree that pornography was harmful and damaging. He described to me, much to my acknowledgement, that pornography began to replace real relationships - that it became his relationship, but one based solely on fantasy. He described too how it affected his perception of women as sexual objects of personal gratification.
The problem with a relativist culture is that when a culture is so soaked in sexual messages and is in fact hyper-sexualised, largely through media, the message on pornography becomes so mixed that finding objective truth concerning its dangers becomes more difficult. While it remains, to a degree, taboo - since you have to be a certain kind of person to discuss your porn viewing habits in public - there is widespread acceptance of it despite its most obviously negative effects being transparently and abundantly clear.
|Caught in 'the web': Addiction to pornography has trapped many|
The Church, however, is right about everything, since everything She teaches is infallibly correct concerning Faith and morals. Being right concerning the public danger posed by pornography - a public danger far more pernicious and deadly than tobacco now hidden from public sight - does not necessarily improve the Church's acceptance in society and we are promised that She will always be a sign of contradiction. Why? Because even if swathes of - particularly men - appreciate that viewing porn is problematic on a personal basis, many are yet to accept, like the alcoholic who attends his first meeting, that viewing porn is inherently damaging or problematic.
This can be seen in reaction to David Cameron's suggestion of regulating internet porn. Almost immediately, though understandably, concerns were uttered in the media that 'soft' porn may be regulated as well. Indeed, a proportion of men, a percentage of women, and young adults and even children are so attached to pornography that it could indeed be that people don't want 'their' porn to be taken away from them. This can also be seen with the distinction being made in the media between demonstrably and visibly cruel kinds of porn - like child abusive pornography or sadistic, violent porn - and 'soft' porn.
Pornography is a scourge of men - of manhood - luring men into a false image of women driven by self-satisfying desire and lust. It is a scourge of women, lured into an industry that treats them as fresh meat only for their outward beauty and accords to them little value and no moral dignity whatsoever. It is the scourge of childhood and childhood innocence, as children are brought into an adult world long before they are even prepared for it. It is a scourge of marriage, as men are lured into a fantasy realm, searching for sexual satisfaction divorced from their spouse. Thus, addiction to pornography can lead to marital breakdown and even divorce. Pornography keeps men in a state of perpetual adolescence as men are unable to develop a true appreciation for women that is deeper than surface beauty and fleeting sexual pleasure and is therefore a scourge of fatherhood, as men are brought low by their obsessions with pornography and potentially good fathers find they lack the virtue to accept the responsibility of being a good husband and a good father to children.
No Government minister, however, will consider tackling pornography because naturally he or she would be laughed at by the media, too much money is made from it and he or she would be derided by the public despite the fact that all pornography objectifies women, strips women of their dignity, makes commodities of women, encourages the enslavement of men to their passions, makes teenagers out of adults and can even destroy relationships and marriages. The fact that a high percentage of the nation's children are now addicted to internet porn paints a dramatically disastrous forecast of the nation's future.
David Cameron has said he would like the Government to act on pornography because, as he so rightly says, it 'corrodes childhood'. The reality is that the moral relativism that dominates this country is now so extensive, that even the Prime Minister cannot see that it does not just merely corrode childhood, but corrodes adults, men, women, mothers and fathers, marriages, families and, we would say, souls.
I personally find it difficult to believe that a Prime Minister who has introduced legislation that paves the way for a complete perversion of the institution of marriage is genuinely concerned for children. I find it easy to believe that Mr Cameron may desire to use the issue of pornography as a way of managing or regulating the internet more generally. I find it hard to believe that in a country in which the unborn child is routinely slaughtered in his or her mother's womb, that Mr Cameron desires to act on any issue that 'corrodes' childhood.
With all this said, however, any move that is aimed at curbing the scourge of pornography is surely to be welcomed. If only the principle that he was working from was the danger of the commodification and objectification of the human person for personal gain. If he were a man of genuine principle, working from moral principles, this would perhaps be a very different country indeed. This country desperately needs moral leadership. It needs moral leadership so badly, that a significant proportion of the country we can assume would detest the idea of pornography being removed from them even if children may be protected from it - that's how low we have sunk as a nation.
|The family: What makes us happy and brings us true joy?|
Pornography enslaves men, exploits women, even destroys marriages and lives. There is no reason why it should not be banned since it does no good. Pornography does not satisfy the human heart. It does no good to anybody or for anybody. Why should it not be banned wholesale if it corrodes not just children, but adults and exploits and makes commodities of women? Would a truly moral State working from moral principles ever permit it to be available knowing its danger to society? Sexuality is a gift from God intended for most people in marriage. What makes most people genuinely happy and contented? Their husbands, their wives and, of course, as we have seen yesterday, their children. The wisdom of the ages teaches us that apart from God, seeking happiness much outside of the family - seeking vice instead of virtue - leads only to misery.