Lost on Planet XXX: How the early Church can solve the modern crisis of internet pornography by Jay Lampert is a rather interesting take on overcoming porn addiction.
Like many books of this type, there is the element of the personal story and his own struggles. He partly tells of his journey for Protestantism to the Catholic Church. One part involves advising a Protestant friend regarding this. He partially realizes that he doesn’t have all the tools necessary to inform him and glosses over his then-current struggle.
Often his advice is rooted in Christian discipleship and accountability. That often it is the case that that overcoming the viewing of porn is not easily set aside. That like any vice, it is only overcome with virtue. Still more that also this is not quickly done alone and takes help from others along the way.
It seems to me that the subtitle of the book is not as fully explored as what I expected. It is referenced but was not a dominant theme of the book as far as I could tell. Or more likely this rooted in his exploration into the subject. There is a lot of good advice here and given in the context of trying to live a life of holiness in the context of the Church.
I haven’t read any other books on the subject, although I have heard the topic discusses on Catholic radio and blogs. The author’s approach seemed to me to be a bit different, but a difference that I think might be helpful to others.
The rest of this review might be labeled as TMI (Too Much Information) as I partly address my overcoming this problem.
One thing that struck me was the emphasis regarding porn and not necessarily the effects of a sexual fantasy life. Masturbation is not referenced in this book or the Church’s teaching regarding this. Porn can make the problem much worse, but you can still have a significant problem even if you manage to avoid porn.
My own story is that at a young age dirty jokes as told by my father got me thinking about sex early on. He also had a Playboy subscription, and I was indeed not discouraged from reading it. He considered masturbation perfectly acceptable and not something that you should be ashamed of. It is always hard to tell the extent of influence of the environment and what your proclivities might have lead to. Still, I know my attitude towards porn and masturbation was an evil influence on my life that led to an untold number of problems. I can hardly think of a worse impact on my life.
The casual acceptance of masturbation and that it is mostly a topic to be laughed about is a severe tragedy. An issue never brought up with any seriousness.
2352 By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. “Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.”138 “The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of “the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved.”139
To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action; one must take into account the affective immaturity, a force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.
I struggled with this most of my life. God had mercy on me. On my way into the Church before I became Catholic, I happened to be reading John A. Hardon, S.J.’s “The Catholic Catechism”. When I came to the part on masturbation, I was struck by it. I just knew that this was true. Looking back at this, I consider it a miracle of grace. That not only was I entirely open to what I thought of as truth I did not want to be true, but that I fully accepted this truth. Even more amazing that since reading that passage I was never tempted to masturbate again. Like I said I consider this a supernatural grace. I am not someone with some hardened-will who can achieve what I will. I was weak and without God’s intervention would quickly have fallen into this sin again and again. I don’t think I could ever have achieved this on my own merits.
Not that I am cured of the objectification of women. I still struggle with this, especially now as a widower. I usually find that when my mind wanders this way, that I do not approve of it or let it manifest as lust. I realize that it is a temptation and that God’s grace help’s me to overcome it.