The Greatest Secret to Beating Pornography and Masturbation

The Greatest Secret to Beating Pornography and Masturbation

It took me some thought to realize the greatest secret to winning this battle.

Eight months ago, I wrote about seven steps to beat pornography and masturbation. Over the months since then, I’ve realized I missed the most important one. Unless you take this step, winning the battle of purity might only be temporary, and will definitely be a matter of forcing your will. This secret works in tandem with practical means I outlined in my previous blog. (I wanted to call it the eighth step – like Stephen Covey wrote The 8th Habit after writing the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – however, I didn’t think as many people remember my blog as remember Covey’s book.)

So, what is it?

I know this is going to sound dumb at first, but it is to understand the virtue of chastity. This is a change of mindset that should accompany practical work to conquer our temptations.

Most people I’ve met would define chastity either as a line you shouldn’t cross or as abstaining from sexual relations. Overall, the most common definition out there is something along the lines of “no sex with anyone other than your spouse.” With this definition, people are confused when the Church uses phrases like “marital chastity.” Chastity is a virtue, so it must be defined positively – by what you do – and not negatively – by what you don’t do. Virtues are always positive. For example, even though honesty implies that you shouldn’t lie, the virtue of honesty is defined by truth, not lies. Chastity is defined by respect for the body: both your own and others’. This respect begins from the great dignity God bestowed on all human beings.

Pornography (or sexual fantasies accompanying masturbation) turns people into mere objects of our sexual desire. I need to visualize the great love God had in creating that person. If I am visualizing them as a child of God, I can’t visualize them as a sexual object at the same time.

So, let’s go to the catechism’s definition of virtue (2337):

Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman. The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift.

The Greatest Secret to Beating Pornography and Masturbation

You too can win this battle.

This definition draws heavily from John Paul II’s Theology of the Body with its emphasis on the human person as a “GIFT.” We express the spiritual reality that we are a gift to others in our bodies. Love is always expressed in a gift, a gift to another. The gift is not exclusively sexual – as charitable friendliness and external gifts are part of the GIFT – but since our bodies are stamped sexually by God, sexuality is an important part of the gift.

A gift is something we give, yet pornography is always taking and never giving. Whenever we objectify someone, as pornography always does, we take away from who someone is but reduce them to that object. It is this taking and objectification which define pornography: the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition is far more pornographic than the most graphic gynecology textbook. Why do I say that? Because one is about making women into sexual objects, while the other is helping doctors and the vocation to cure complete people, not objects.

Masturbation might seem like it is a gift to oneself. It seems appropriate that someone can say after a long days work, “I’m giving myself a cup of Starbucks for that hard work.” However, there is a distinction between auto eroticism and external gifts to oneself. To understand this, we have to realize that our sexuality is a gift to us from God (even for us religious and priests but I’ll leave that theme for another day). If God created me as gift to another and I still like this gift for myself, I’m stealing a gift that God has destined for another. Even though my sexuality is mine and your sexuality is yours, they are ultimately gifts from God and we are only to dispose of them in the manner for which they were given. If I masturbate, I steal God’s gift for someone else.

Hopefully this brief explanation of the virtue of chastity and its application to masturbation and pornography has helped you. If you want to overcome these vices in your own life, or in the life of the one you love, changing the mentality to a positive view of chastity is a big step. When we view chastity positively, it isn’t a bunch of little “No’s” but one big “Yes!”

Fr Matthew P. Schneider, LC

Teens need to experience Christ. I am a Catholic religious priest with the Legion of Christ who tries to help them do that. Part of doing that is running this blog. Currently I’m stationed in the DC Metro area preparing material for RCSpirituality.org (Regnum Christi Spirituality Center), studying an advanced Theology degree, and helping youth ministry freelance. If you need help with your youth ministry, such as retreats, talks, programs, volunteer training or consultation, contact me via Twitter or Facebook. You can buy my book Spiritually Mentoring Teenage Boys in paperback or on Kindle.



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