Many men underestimate the impact of their attachment to pornography. I’m not trying to villainize anyone, for I know first-hand the power that pornography can have over one’s life. In fact, most of the men that I know are repulsed by the idea of pornography and are disgusted with themselves for falling to it.
But it has contributed to a deeper problem.
Pornography Use as a Symptom
Often, men have become exposed to pornography early in life. Their use of it predates their relationship with their wife/girlfriend, and is therefore not because of their wife/girlfriend. The shame and guilt that follows does not help men become healthy, strong, and virtuous. Rather, they point a man towards continued escapism. After all, who wants to look in the mirror and not like who they see? Or see that they are a failure? As such, pornography can be seen as a form of self-medication. It just happens to be a medication that kills the soul and relationships.
Understanding the roots of some people’s desire to escape into pornography does not excuse anyone from their choices to self-medicate in this way. Likewise, it’s not to undermine the feelings of betrayal experienced by women when their husband/boyfriend falls to that temptation. Those feelings need to be acknowledged. However, a deeper understanding of the roots might help women become less inclined to believe the lie that it is because they are not good enough, or are undesirable – even if a man were to say something as horrible as that. For women who do struggle with feelings of betrayal on account of their boyfriend’s/husband’s pornography use, please check out Bloom.
A Dearth in Society
In the meantime, the pornography epidemic has created a dearth of good, holy men, who would be suitable for holy marriage. And this means there will be greater proportion of virtuous women who, in upholding a reasonable standard of holiness (while not expecting anyone to be perfect), aren’t finding a suitable man to marry.
Choosing to remain in the single state, “in waiting” for future holy marriage (not implying a “vocation to the single life”) may be the way to greater joy. The alternative would be to succumb to the desires of the flesh (and or season of life) oneself and engage with a man who seeks the passions of the flesh above holiness. To enter into a relationship like this, however, would inhibit the possibility of a couple ever being able to enter first and foremost into the passions of the spirit, anchored on God, while modeling Trinitarian spousal love by way of fully and joyfully giving themselves to one another in accordance to God’s authorship – without anyone feeling used or objectified, without any anxieties about inadequacy, and without any fear of being rejected.
Why would anyone settle for a love less than that?
The Greatest Desire
The more that marriage to a spouse is idolized, however, the greater the despair among those who desire marriage but who never enter marriage. The more that holiness is elevated to be one’s primary pursuit, the less of a sting will foregone marriage be, for the lack of a marriage will not as much be seen as a failure to fulfill one’s purpose in life. That is, those pursuing holiness above marriage are in a better position to weather the true and justified storm of emotions that may arise on account of never having that deep desire for marriage ever being fulfilled.
This is not to say that foregone marriage shouldn’t be grieved, but rather simply that a holy marriage should be the after-effect of first seeking God and holy relationships overall.
Given the reality that there are far fewer men who are available for holy marriage than before, it behooves us all more than ever to point women and men towards the primary goal of holiness above marriage, such that when hopes and dreams of marriage remain unfulfilled, there will be fewer people who enter into darkness and despair.
If we shifted our focus in this way, we could instead use our lives to continuously proclaim the goodness of the Lord, while evangelizing to the world in the most profound of ways, which includes the patient endurance of real suffering, however, with peace and joy in our hearts.
Hudson Byblow is a Catholic speaker, author, and consultant who lives in the Midwest where he has a career in education. He has presented at National and International conferences in the United States and Canada and also presents to clergy, schools, and parishes. Additionally, Hudson serves as a consultant to various Catholic agencies, speakers, and educators. His website is www.hudsonbyblow.com and he can be booked by emailing email@example.com.