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What to do when you can’t “unsee” pornography


Aslysun | Shutterstock

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 03/01/18

Here's one simple way to resolve the regret that follows seeing harmful images.

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With the porn industry racking up untold billions across the globe, more and more people are struggling with the effects of porn on their souls, lives, and relationships.

During his first Lenten homily on February 23, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher of the pontifical household, took a few moments to speak of the issue of “images” in his reflection on being “in, but not of, the world.”

“Today there is a new arena in which it is especially necessary not to conform ourselves to this world: images,” he said.

He added that Scripture says no food is in itself unclean “but many images are.”

“They have become one of the favorite vehicles through which the world spread its anti-gospel,” Father Cantalamessa lamented.

“Among the things that come from the world and not from the Father, St. John significantly adds, along with the lust of the flesh and the pride of life, ‘the lust of the eyes,'” the priest pointed out. “[…] Let us recall how King David fell … What happened to him as he looked down on the terrace of the house next door often happens today in opening up certain sites on the internet.”


Read more:
What I told my 7-year-old when he asked what porn was

What to do

However, the preacher of the pontifical household had a very simple recommendation for what to do if we find ourselves guilty of purposely seeking out unclean images (or inadvertently falling victim to their widespread presence).

“If sometimes we are feeling troubled by impure images, either because of our own imprudence or because of the intrusiveness of the world that forcefully thrusts its images before our eyes, let us imitate what the Israelites did in the desert when they were bitten by snakes,” he recommended. “Instead of wasting time on fruitless regrets or trying to find excuses in our loneliness and the incomprehension of others, let us look at a crucifix and go before the Holy One.

“‘As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life’ (Jn 3: 14-15). May the remedy enter where the poison entered, that is, our eyes.”

Read the whole homily here.

Nevertheless, doctors and psychologists are increasingly aware that pornography is an addiction. So spiritual remedies might not be enough to help users stop. To understand more about pornography as an addiction, see our interview with Dr. Peter Kleponis here.


Read more:
Pope: What’s new and different about Christianity? Our God of mercy who takes no revenge

Read more:
7 Tips for a good confession, from a saint and spiritual guide

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