The question was: "FOR MEN ONLY: How often do you view pornography online, against your better judgment?" The participants in the poll were mostly sent to my site by The Curt Jester, whose blog type implies that most of his frequent readers are faithful Catholics who strive to live the fullness of their faith. Here are the results so far:
First, I must confess my own vote, which was the very first one cast, and I see I'm in the company of 20.2% of my fellow faithful Catholic men: Frequently. I chose not to put in specific phrasing like "once a month," "twice a week," or "every day" simply because men like us know our adverbs well, and we presumably have consciences formed well enough that we know when is too much.
The Catechism, as my commenters noted, does indicate that even rarely is too much:
Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials.
And as another commenter with the curious name of amdgbvmh noted on the poll site (scroll down to the comments), when you know that an act is considered "a grave offense" and freely do it anyway, that constitutes mortal sin. A person in a state of mortal sin is in danger of losing his salvation, although only God can be that judge. We are given this clear message out of love, to help us to avoid sin, and to seek reconciliation with God who cries out for reunion with us when we distance ourselves from him.
It is an entirely charitable act to ask each of the 76.3% of you who voted anything but Never, have you confessed your sin? Have you received the peace and tranquility of absolution?
I have. Time and time again. And again. And again. Priests must get quite tired of me. And yet I still go.
In viewing my site's incoming traffic this past week, I noticed one fellow with a blog named "A Sex Addict's Recovery." This brave soul has publicly borne his burden on the information superhighway, and that is a hard thing to do. I think that he's on to something... accountability is a profound tool God has given us as we travel this narrow road together. Proverbs 27:5&6 tells us, "Better is an open rebuke than a love that remains hidden. Wounds from a friend may be accepted as well meant."
Another thing that blows me away about this poll is how it demonstrates that we Catholic men aren't afraid to admit our failings, especially if it's in a "safe" environment with a reasonable assurance of anonymity. Whether an online poll or the confessional, we know our sin and do not try to hide it from God.
But the biggest benefit to a poll like this is how much comfort I draw from it. I AM NOT ALONE. When I sin, the devil tries to compound my shame by telling me that I'm some kind of freak. And he's very good at it. "You're 32 years old, you should know better." "Geez, you just went to confession like a week ago. What's wrong with you?" "Don't tell your wife - she'll flip. Don't tell her anything." "You don't see your friends stuck in the same sinkhole."
He's a liar. Don't believe him. All his lies are based on a grain of truth which he distorts completely. Yes, I am 32 and should know better. Yes, something is wrong with me. Yes, my wife will be upset. Yes, I don't see my friends look at porn (although according to this, 75% of them do). The only shame I will accept is from the fact that I've disrupted my communion with God. Everything else, even my relationship with my wife, is secondary. Once I restore communion with God, everything else is tolerable. I must remember that he is jumping off the rooftop to embrace me as soon as he sees me turn back to him.
So take heart, my dear faithful Catholic men. You are not alone. I struggle with you. We all struggle with each other. May God bless you, and I will keep you in my prayers.