Fr. William Dillard is the Director of Spiritual Formation at Mount Angel Seminary. He presents an overview of the pornography issue, with some helpful pastoral ministry recommendations for clergy, in his article entitled, The Pornography Epidemic.
Fr. Dillard begins by sharing some shocking statistics:
Ninety-three percent of boys and 62% of girls will be exposed to pornography on the internet by their adolescence. Sixty-four percent of young people (age 13–24) seek out pornography weekly or more often.
He shares some of the common “cycles of behavior” found in the stories of those struggling with pornography use:
- The first is usually something that triggers the behavior; this might include things like hunger, anger, loneliness, tiredness, depression, boredom, stress, and anxiety.
- Thinking about pornography; next, the person actually accesses the pornography and uses it as a sexual outlet (accompanied by masturbation).
- Lastly, the person often experiences feelings of guilt or remorse after the experience. The guilty or remorseful feelings often lead to a sense of defeat or failure, and so the cycle begins again.
Abortion can be one such trigger that leads men to intensify their relationship with pornography. The cycle of behaviors associated with porn use can re-direct, and also re-enact painful feelings associated with abortion.
Men who have been part of abortion decisions are often left with some sense of shame or guilt for their role in the death of their child. Even if a man experiences an initial sense of relief after the procedure, there remains a spiritual and emotional wound to his manhood, and fatherhood.
John was part of an abortion when he was in college:
“I didn’t really understand this until after I went through a healing program, but I was very confused and hurt from my role in that abortion. After the abortion, my pornography viewing increased as a way to deal with anxiety and depression when it would surface.
It became a vicious cycle; I had these painful emotions, I would turn to pornography and masturbation to relieve my pain and loneliness…but after I would feel much worse and vow to stop.
But I wasn’t able to stop until I gathered with others who had experienced abortion, and we could tell our stories and work through the memories and emotions of all that.
I was definitely abusing pornography like a drug. Since my abortion healing program, I have been participating in an online group that has been helping me stay chaste and avoid slipping back into porn use.”
On a deeper level, episodes of pornography viewing can serve to sexualize feelings of anger, and beneath this anger, a deep-seated grief for the son or daughter lost to abortion. As John’s testimony reveals, the heart of this wound is a loss that cries out to be reconciled and healed.
Resources for Recovery
Fr. Dillard shares some sound recommendations at the close of his article to help priests and deacons share a message of hope and healing with those struggling with pornography use. Read Fr. Dillard’s full article here.
Here’s some additional resources to explore:
- Strive is a 21-day porn detox for men, helping them begin the journey to freedom through daily videos and challenges created by Matt Fradd
- Help for Men and Women Struggling with Pornography Use – For Your Marriage
- Sexual Addiction Recovery | RECLAIM SEXUAL HEALTH | United States
- For Healing after Abortion:
The Men and Abortion Network (Information & Resources for healing – Referral for Mentors/Counselors)
A father shares this moving song of faith, hope and love to honor his son Jacob lost to abortion. Music and lyrics by T.R. Glass: