Society and sexual addictions

I distinctly remember in the Rome train station searching the huge departure board to find the platform our train was leaving from in T minus 12 seconds. While I was not able to find our train, my eyes were caught by the gigantic lingerie ad that was directly next to the departure information. Drop dead gorgeous male and female models showcasing skin and g-strings. Exactly what I want to see when I’m looking for my train schedule. As my grandmother would say, for shame!

I have been taught from a young age that porn, soft or hard, is not appropriate to entertain—that the body is more than just the sum of its parts and that sex was good—in the proper context. So when my eyes took in that image, I looked away. But many didn’t. And can I blame them? I’m sorry to say that I couldn’t—not because I want to blame others for ogling practically naked bodies, but rather because it was sad to think that nobody had ever explained to my fellow travellers just how harmful pornography—indeed unfettered sexual indulgence—can really be.

In actual fact, our society (our schools, sexual health councillors, etc.) has taught us the opposite. It tells our children—starting practically in infancy—that anything you can imagine in the realm of the sexual is fantastically healthy. All kinds of sex, anytime and with anyone; masturbation, strippers and pornography, S&M, whatever—all of that is wonderful and important for every child and teenager to experiment with and/or experience. It’s not only important, but it would be considered abnormal if a kid decided not to engage in them.

Boys especially (because they’re particularly alert to the sexual) are told to indulge. Obsess. Look. Feel all the feelings but don’t act on them. Look, but don’t touch. Because all that is healthy and good … until all of a sudden unfettered looking becomes touching and it’s not healthy and good anymore. Somewhere in there society forgot to mention “the line”—the delineation between “healthy” and “utterly deviant” which lands a dude into the DSM faster than he can say “whoopsy daisies.” They didn’t talk about “the line” in health class because nobody really knows exactly where it is anymore. Doctors and psychiatrists know when a guy has crossed over it—but they care nothing for him when he’s approaching it. In fact, they often encourage him to feed his fantasies.

That’s why Playboy’s Hugh Hefner, who is well into his 70s, can marry a young and beautiful 20-something, have several 20-year-old girlfriends on the side, and guys the world over are cyber-high fiving him. But the man who jumps into the sack with a gal a few years younger than 20 is a bloody pervert. If you ask me, Hefner’s just as pervy. He’s just figured out how to get society to accept his brand of deviance.

But I imagine the Hef’s’ vices will get him in the end. Because the nature of the sexually dysfunctional is exceptionally addictive—the little you willingly engage in usually leads to wanting more and more, and that more gets very boring very quickly. So more dysfunction and depravity is needed to get the same “high” and before a guy knows it he’s pole-vaulted over that imaginary line of “respectable sexual fantasies” and is into the ultimate of depravities, places I’m sure he never ever wanted to go. And that’s how you get that guy in Tweed, Ontario a few years back who started out with porn, progressed to breaking into a neighbour’s home to steal women’s panties, and ended up stalking and murdering. This type of (usually rapid) escalation has been documented over and over again, as murderers and serial rapists have openly confessed to every sort of sexual addiction.

Yet our culture says it’s the individuals that are flawed, not the system. (Okay, the individuals are definitely flawed, but so is the system!). The same system that taught a boy how to masturbate is now throwing him to the wolves and taking no responsibility for the role it played in his addictions. In fact, the powers that be have changed exactly nothing about that system, but have rather augmented their sex “education” programs so that younger and younger children can learn about every kind of sexual perversion. Lest I be misunderstood, let me be crystal clear. I am NOT defending rapists and murderers here—saying they’re victims of circumstances beyond their control and advocating for leniency. Heck no. These adults have made choices, REALLY bad ones, and they are (hopefully) ensconced within the consequences of their actions. What I am saying is that our society, wittingly or not, helps kids along the road to sexual depravity by “selling” sex the way it does. Sure, not every kid is going to be a serial rapist just because he knows how to masturbate, but would you like your son to be the one who “fell through the cracks”?

I wouldn’t. Which is why I’m so grateful to the Church for it’s teachings in the sexual sphere. Helpful words for a parent to know, aside from the word no: Chastity. Continence. Abstinence. Self-control. Charity. Love. Start early and talk to your kids. Train your children in the truth about their own bodies starting when they’re little. Help them discover their identity as a child of God as early as you can. I know; easier said than done, but it’s possible. Sex is beautiful and sacred, enjoyable and freeing in the proper context, which is within marriage. If you’re struggling with sexual addictions at this moment, there is hope. Many have waded out of that quagmire—but not without help. The Sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist, counselling, and mentoring are available. The Church has so much to offer so get the help you need! I say, buck the system. Be pure yourself and encourage your kids to be pure as well. If we aren’t, and don’t work hard in practicing purity of heart and mind, we’re goners and we open the door to every kind of vice and depravity.

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