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Why Struggling With Porn Is A Good Thing

Whenever I’m interviewed on the topic of pornography, my interviewer usually begins by reminding the audience of what a ginormous problem pornography is. He then lists some (questionable) statistics on the size of the industry; recounts how this many men and that many women are addicted to it, and essentially, how the entire culture is going to hell in a hand basket.

Now all of this, I think, is true (My friend, Patrick Coffin, often asks, “Where are we going and why are we in this basket?”), but It’s also true that our Lord Jesus Christ has said, “take courage; I have conquered the world!” (Jn. 16:33).

As we battle the culture of death, we cannot forget this.

STRUGGLING WITH PORN CAN = GROWTH IN HOLINESS

In today’s post, I’d like to remind us (or perhaps inform you) that despite how discouraging things may seem, struggling with pornography can be a beautiful and productive means of becoming holy, of becoming a saint.

DEFINING ‘STRUGGLE’

Many Christians I encounter, seem to think that the word “struggle” is synonymous with “give into.” We hear people say, “I’ve been struggling with porn,” and we assume they mean “I’ve been giving into porn,” and that’s what they do mean. But struggle doesn’t mean “give into,” in fact, it means the opposite; it means “to contend with an adversary or opposing force.”

Since this is the definition of struggle, if you are tempted to view pornography, I hope you won’t take offense when I say, I hope you struggle with porn! Obviously, we should not seek it out in order to struggle against it, but when a person experiences such temptations, he or she can actually gain merit by resisting them.

GROWTH IN VIRTUE

When we struggle, when we “contend with an adversary or opposing force,” we grow stronger. This is true with our struggle with pornography. When we struggle with pornography we grow in virtue. But it’s not just the virtue of purity we grow in, but many others besides. Let’s look at five in no particular order:

1. PATIENCE

Though pornography offers a quick fix to our momentary affliction or pain, by struggling with it, we grow in the virtue of patience; we learn to endure hardship manfully.

2. SELF-MASTERY

The man who struggles with pornography gains mastery over himself. As the Catechism puts it, “Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.”

3. HUMILITY

Struggling with pornography is a constant reminder of how weak, and of how in need of him, we are. St. Paul spoke about having a “thorn in the flesh,” though it’s unclear what this thorn represented, he tells us that it was to keep him humble: “To keep me from being too elated a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated” (2 Cor. 12:7).

4. COURAGE

Courage does not mean that one is not afraid (if one were not afraid, courage would not be required), rather it means choosing to do what is right in spite of fear, or pain, or uncertainty. And indeed, standing up against one’s own fallen desires, when (what feels like) the entire world is telling you to give in, takes courage!

5. TEMPERANCE:

“Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods.”
If a man or woman is struggling with pornography, then he is certainly growing in this virtue. And if he can learn to say no to sexual sin, then he’ll certainly become stronger in saying no to less tempting pleasures, legitimate or not. “[Temperence] ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable.”

So there you have it. Struggling against pornography can be a beautiful and effective means of growing in sanctity.

I know how easy it is to get depressed when we consider how quickly our culture appears to be sliding into utter decay, but we need to remember that Scripture promises that “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20). We need to recognize and remind each other that we have here not just a struggle, but an opportunity to tap into a massive outpouring of God’s grace.

Think about it. Every person, every Christian, every saint who lived before the internet lacked one opportunity that we have: to choose Christ by rejecting, day after day, this uniquely modern and anonymous sin of porn.

So struggle on brothers and sisters, and remind yourselves often of our Blessed Lord’s words: “take courage; I have conquered the world!” (Jn. 16:33).

_______________________________

m-fraddMatt Fradd is the author of the new book Delivered: True Stories of Men and Women who Turned from Porn to Purity

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