Theology of the Body Congress: My experience part 5
TOB and PORNOGRAPHY:
Bill Donaghy, Fr Sean Kilcawley, Dr Peter Kleponis
“When Beauty is Broken; The Twisted Lie of Porn and the Truth that can Set you Free”
When we seek answers to so many moral dilemmas and questions, true T.O.B’ers do what St John Paul did with his catechesis – we go ‘back to the beginning’ and in Genesis we find that in ALL of God’s creation, “In the Beginning it was Good”
Adam’s response on encountering Eve for the first time, “Bone of my Bone…” denotes a deep yearning for intimacy, connection and an attraction for what is Beautiful. This was present from the beginning, our creation as Male and Female.
Purity existed and was the glory of the human body before God.
Then sin entered the picture and this pure desire for intimacy is replaced by the selfish desire to possess and lust. Beauty is now seen as something that excites, gratifies and feeds one’s selfish desire for immediate gratification.
Enter Pornography – the scourge of the 21st Century.
Dr Kleponis, a Licensed clinical therapist specializing in Pornography addiction recovery, described Pornography as an “Opportunity Induced Addiction”: This is explained by UK Psychotherapist Paula Hall: Because sexual stimuli (such as pornography) is so widely available and accessible through technology today, addiction to these stimuli is caused primarily from mere exposure and not as some underlying result of possible attachment issues with abusive, absent, neglectful or impaired parenting.
The modern allure of pornography is driven by what Dr Klaponis calls the 5A- engine
Pornography is :
Affordable; Acceptable; Anonymous; Accessible; Aggressive
Pornography has become the easy drug of choice
Children as young as 8 years old are being exposed to pornographic images due to the easy access to it. This early exposure can be traumatic as the immature brain cannot process these images but they become imprinted on brain.
The 1960’s sexual revolution set us on an unprecedented path of sexual confusion and miscellany. We only have to look back on sexual mores of the last 60/70 years and we realise the ideal Frog in the pot syndrome:
1940 – pics of bathing suits became accepted by culture
1950’s – publication of Playboy magazine
1960’s – Sexual Revolution – encouragement of sexual ‘freedom’
1970’s – TV : piped into homes
1980’s – VCR, videos – backroom porn
1990’s – Internet
2000’s – cell phones – portable, taken everywhere
2010’s – Interactive – chat rooms etc
Fr Sean explained that man’s identity is Trinity.
Our filial identity with Adam in Genesis was placed in doubt by Satan and the rest as we know, is history. Sin in our modern world has become a no-go-discussion area. We have lost the truth of the meaning of sexuality and the dignity of and respect for the other. Never before has the church had to face such moral dilemmas within and outside of the person. Confessionals are regarded as a place of safety and addicts are encouraged to visit this sacrament, where they are guided in confidentiality and compassion.
Fr Sean, very involved in ministering to the sexually addicted in his diocese, then gave some tips to the priests present on how he attends to the addict as he believes in moving from the confessional to his office and if necessary to group therapy. He determines this action by asking the following questions (specific to sexual addiction) to the penitent:
- How often do you fall?
- At what age did it start?
- Have you talked to anyone about it?
- Do you want to stop?
I had mixed feelings hearing not one, but a few priests and other (mainly) men sharing their past difficulties with sexual addiction – particularly pornography. It highlighted to me that nobody is immune from this destructive virus that permeates our society through various and diverse media and devices. The talk encouraged me as I heard of many organisations and ministries who are doing all they can to assist those who are involved in this battle.
- One of the resources on display was UNFILTERED by Covenant Eyes (an internet accountability and filtering site) (
About Marie-Anne te Brake
Happily married to Christo for 36yrs, mother of 4, grandmother of 5, almost 6. Enthusiastic Catholic, Lay Counselor, Sexuality Educator, Theology of the Body enthusiast and Chairperson of Foundation for the Person and the Family