Poisoning the well

You may have noticed in the papers last Tuesday the disturbing reports on the exposure of young children to pornography. We are told that one in ten of 12 to 13 year-old children have made, or been part of, a sexually explicit video, that 9% of children of this age group are worried that they are addicted to porn, and that around 18% have been shocked or upset by porn images.

While I have in mind eventually writing a full column on this subject for the Catholic Herald I thought it prudent to get a view from the community of this blog. Confining myself to as modest language as I can muster, typical modern porn shows a series of scenes in which pretty well every form of possible sexual contact, heterosexual and homosexual, is repetitively filmed – between couples or groups. There is no tenderness, merely the exploration of real or simulated sensation in the most extreme form which the director’s ingenuity can muster. But I am not concerned here with the whole topic of porn but with the possible long term effects on the children who view it.

At the age of 12 or 13 my mother had long before given me basic facts of life but I was then only at the airbrushed Lilliput nude stage – although pubertal fantasy life was just around the corner. Had I been faced by modern pornography I would simply have been astounded, and probably initially disgusted – and yet I strongly suspect I would have kept the images in my mind. Perhaps, with familiarity, I would have built up the idea that married sex was routinely conducted along those lines. And that would have been a great danger. If this were my only experience, I would have assumed that marriage was simply a lifetime of extremely tempting romps.

In fact, as the long term married know, the attraction of romps is strictly finite. Romps on their own quickly exhaust their possibilities and may eventually only be revived by romps with another person – and yet another person. It is only when sexual expression is motivated by love, affection and commitment that passionate sexual attraction to another can be maintained indefinitely. I fear that the new generation is going to grow up with assumptions about sexuality through which they may damage their lives.

The young who report that they have been shocked or upset by pornography are in a sad case. We all know that intimate sexuality is always shadowed by the possibility of disgust. What a terrible introduction it must be to start with such a mental picture! No doubt some get over this with time and experience but I wonder if there are those who carry the elements of their early reactions throughout life. It could be a high price to pay for yielding to a friend’s request to share the viewing.

Are there remedies available? I am told that the peer pressure to join in the use of pornography are considerable. Social media provide easy ways in which a sexual subculture can flourish well below the parental sightline. In even the strictest of households there is no certain way of protecting the young.

In the absence of such protection how do we prepare the children? At what age must we start? How well is the school going to help us? Remember that we are considering not just the biology of sexuality and conception – which is by comparison easy — but the emotions of sexuality. Yet those emotions are meaningless before they have been experienced and truly difficult to discuss when they are already present.

I am looking for answers here, or concrete suggestions. We are not going to change society, or indeed human nature, we must work with what we’ve got. And if we cannot find answers, are there ways at least in which we can mitigate the damage to the young, and give them their best chance of good sexual lives? The alternative is not attractive – either for them or for society.

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Bio-ethics, Moral judgment, Quentin queries and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

74 Responses to Poisoning the well

  1. milliganp says:

    I’ve been involved in marriage preparation and have 5 children and 5 (hopefully soon to be 6) grandchildren so there is strong evidence that people get over, in some way, the effects of pornography. However, from conversations, it does seem that, in the modern dating scene sexual expectations are far greater than would seem wise (and way beyond any handbook of Christian sexual morality). It has worried me in my own children that there is a concern for the place of tenderness in relationships, for the mutual exploration without preconceived expectations.
    I’ve said before that the modern pattern is that people fall in love with someone with whom they are having sex rather than having sex with someone with whom they have fallen in love.
    Sex is now an object, consumed like food or entertainment.
    Returning to the principal theme of the blog we need to be aware of what chidren are getting to see and hear which impacts their understanding and expectations. Given that the world of pornography is so explicit this means we too need to speak explicitly – and that is very hard to do without seeming prurient. In law, silence is deemed to indicate assent, so we really don’t have the option of doing nothing.

    • St.Joseph says:

      milliganp
      Boys as far as I know looked at naked women in magazines, the things Mary Whitehouse spoke about.and was critized for
      It has now developed to girls looking at naked men in magazines.
      Those young people did not have a upbringing to tell them otherwise, just think that boys will be boys.
      Girls would not have thought of that many years ago.
      Why do they do it now and dress the way they do, onlyto be attractive to the opposite sex..
      I noticed many years ago, girls who came from unhappy homes were looking for love, only to be abused by their boyfriends, then when pregnant were left ‘holding the baby’
      or to have an abortion.I have been associated to that world in the early 70s and early 80s, whilst running a public house and guest house.
      My children learnt a lot from that experience, it did them good to experience it!!
      They knew what to expect by going down the wrong road.
      Like a lot of young people who will know better!.

  2. Alasdair says:

    As well as the uncontrolled, or uncontrollable access to poisonous material on the internet, the threshhold of what is available in the mainstream, traditional media has moved. The success of a recent cinema offering is both revealing and disconcerting.
    To quote Wikipedia (with apologies):

    Fifty Shades of Grey is a 2015 American “erotic romance” film based on the novel of the same name by E L James. It stars Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele, a college graduate who begins a sadomasochistic relationship with young business magnate Christian Grey, Jamie Dornan.
    The film premiered at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival on February 11, 2015, and had a wide theatrical release on February 13, 2015. It was an immediate box-office success, breaking numerous box office records and earning over $563 million worldwide. It is currently the highest-grossing film of 2015.
    The American Family Association called for theaters not to show the film:

    “The irony is not lost that the film’s main character is named, ‘Christian,’ while this film presents anything but a ‘Christian’ view of intimacy. The idea that anyone would think this film is in any way appropriate demonstrates an incredibly unhealthy view of relationships and sexuality. A more apt title for the movie would be ‘Fifty Shades of Evil.’ Without question, this film will have a corrosive effect on cultural views of what normative sexuality ought to be. Healthy relationships seek to safeguard the emotional and physical well-being of another; this film promotes inflicting emotional, physical and psychological harm on another for the sole purpose of self-serving sexual gratification. It is the epitome of elevating abuse, and we call on all theaters to reject promoting such abuse on their screens.”

    • St.Joseph says:

      Perhaps it is a bit late now to start cleaning up the mess.
      Mary Whitehouse did not have much co-operation when she worked tirelesly to clean society up.
      Prostitution is now a ‘job’ they pay tax. And accepted now as not a form of indecencey but a necessity.Instead of it made ilegal even on private premises.
      At least the Sun paper showed respect for the female body by taking off page 3 even if females have none for themselves.
      Is the word chastity and purity understood nowadays.?
      Women are only pleasing men and letting themselves down..
      These are future mothers.!!

      This is one of Our Blessed Mothers ‘Sorrows’

      • milliganp says:

        In my opinion Mary Whitehouse did immeasurable harm. She polarised the Catholic community by branding any and every form of liberalism or reform in sexual ethics as evil. By her vocal intransigence she denied a voice to a more moderate, considered approach to the massive societal change that occurred from the 60’s to the 80’s.
        One could say the same of Daphne Mcleod and religious education. When a single voice becomes a siren voice shipwrecks ensue.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Milligan Jesus was crucified on Good Friday for having a lone voice!

    • Martha says:

      The appetite for such material seems insatiable, and the popularity of this novel and film is very disturbing. It seems to have caught the public imagination in a most unhealthy way so that jokes about 50 Shades of everything abound and trivialise the evil it is spreading.

      What to do about it? “Weep for yourselves and for your children.”

      Proposals to curb access to pornography by under age young people are a step in the right direction, but only a small step. Some will slip through the net, most will view it as a challenge. In any case, this stuff should not be made in the first place. and should not be viewed by anyone.

  3. Geordie says:

    Milliganp
    I think Mary Whitehouse was an Anglican; so why would she have polarised the Catholic community? Can you be more specific about the harm she did?

    As for Quentin’s request to offer concrete suggestions, I heard on the radio yesterday about an group with the initials PIP. They are endeavouring to help young footballers who are exposed to possible rape charges due to their huge wealth and lack of experience. Perhaps PIP may provide helpful suggestions which may be applied to younger people.

  4. Vincent says:

    Mary Whitehouse was pursuing a programme of public decency rather than the direct question of how to protect children. Unfortunately, but inevitably, her plans were spiked by scorn. At least we learned that negative exhortations, however justified, are not effective. Similarly, orthodox Catholic teaching is most readily seen as what you can’t do rather than what you can do. I get the impression that Catholic reaching about sexuality — as it might be given in school — makes very little impression.

    I think that parents may have a better chance but it’s no easy task. The answer does not seem to lie in suddenly sitting a child down and giving a lecture. It has to be a continuous process from the child’s earliest curiosity about new life. In that way they realize that the topic is a natural one to understand and discuss. I don;t say that that solves the problem, but, without that, I don’t think one is at first base.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Vincent
      Catholic teaching you say is seen as what we can’t do instead of what we can.
      Why were they taught how to put a condom on a banana.?

      • Vincent says:

        Ah, St Joseph, I see you’re not a member of the Banana Protection Society. But tell me, as a family woman, how did you handle the sexual education of your young — or even your young’s young?

      • St.Joseph says:

        Vincent,
        Actually,I.didn’t.
        I told them as late teenagers although they already knew,I was studying it.
        My daughter was a student for my teachers training exam.
        My young’s young knew all about it as a NFP family,and helped in my passion of spreading the news
        Especially as I ran a clinic in my house, and writing to the newspapers, battling with parishs and Bishops..etc.
        We are a NFP and pro-life family.Even when my non-catholic husband before he converted. helped with both. .

  5. St.Joseph says:

    PS.
    I had a lot of help from the Lord and His Blessed Mother,otherwise I would not have carried on.
    I got a lot of abuse from catholics!!
    I am pleased to see,hardly a day goes by without some good news about NFP/ (Fertility Awareness.

  6. Brendan says:

    Next Sunday ( 1st of Easter ) is divine Mercy Sunday – inaugurated by Saint John Paul ii . Pope Francis is proclaiming a Jubilee Year ( from December 8th ) – A Year of Mercy. The only way to counteract the sexual exploitation of sinful human nature – starting with the young who are rapidly losing their childhood innocence because of it – which has seriously corrupted modern Western Culture ; is by prayer and return ( where applicable ) to frequent use of the the Sacrament of Reconciliation .
    For example ,the parish I belong to now , is having record numbers at the Holy Week Services. The door of the Confessional can be heard opening and closing after Mass / Services commence , for a good while – and I haven’t heard that sound for many a long year !

  7. Brendan says:

    Pasg Hapus – Happy Easter !

  8. Quentin says:

    I have read through the comments so far on this important subject, and I have the impression that no one of us really has an answer which would realistically be effective. So I grab at the scrag end which Vincent gives us, and I ask why parents are so reluctant to prepare their own children for their sexual lives. I know this to be so because when I was preparing engaged couples for marriage I would ask them the first source of their sexual knowledge. In nearly all cases the answer was: from the playground.

    Do parents really think that the playground is a source of reliable information and good sexual values? I cannot believe that. But somehow most parents would rather avoid this vital job than protect their children in this important matter. (And are then scandalised to learn that young teenagers are often exposed to pornography of a kind that was almost unknown in their youth, and that a number are disgusted and upset by it, and some may even become addicts. I suggest that it is these parents who should feel ashamed — not their children.)

    Why is this so?

    • St.Joseph says:

      Quentin.
      I know my husband spoke to my son, however I was not included in that! Nor did I want to be.
      They knew the teachings of the church and sexual intercourse before marriage was not an issue, the relationship between hiusband and wife in marriage ,so there was no need to go into any more detail on my account.
      Perhaps if parents taught their children about the ‘biology’ of pregnancies,. and not make it as a ‘sex’ information perhaps more respect would be shown to the human relationship that the Lord planned in the beginning. ‘Go ,multiply and fill all the earth!.
      Sex lessons as it is called in schools,only open the mind to the knowledge in brings forward which encourages the hormones to be activated, and also brings on early menstruation in females.

    • Nektarios says:

      Quentin
      I agree with you.
      Here is a starting point for us.
      You cannot begin to solve the problems of mankind until you know the truth about man. How futile it is to attempt to do so apart from that. You must start with the character, the nature, the being of man. Instead of starting with international conferences and talk about contemporary events, we need to go much further back and ask, what sort of a creature is man? Obviously all our conclusions and all our proposals are going to be governed by the answer to that question. If man is really an essentially good creature who only needs a little more instruction and knowledge and information, obviously the treatment is going to be comparatively simple. But if what the apostle Paul says about man as he is by nature and without Christ is true, then equally obviously, treatment along such lines is going to be entirely hopeless, and to attempt it is a sheer waste of time. We must start with this doctrine. What is true of man in sin?
      Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones

      • St.Joseph says:

        Nektarios.
        Are you saying that if one is not a Christian and without Christ, they will fall easily into porn.
        One does not have to be a Christian to have good morals.
        Maybe I read you wronly!

      • Nektarios says:

        St Joseph
        I do not isolate the likes of pornography from other activities we could rightly deem
        dangerous and sinful and threatens the fabric of social cohesion.
        Christians as you well know are not exempt from Porn, it is everywhere.
        I am not saying if people are not Christians they will more easily fall into porn. Nor am I saying a person who is not a Christian does not have good morals.
        What I am saying, to find ones way through the mire of this life we need to make sense of who and what we are otherwise we cannot act.
        At a horizontal or linear level we cannot make head or tail of ourselves. this makes this world a very dangerous place and man reacts accordingly.
        Quentin wishes to go directly to the practical. But, the practical has no meaning without
        first coming to the biblical doctrine of what man is in his fallen sinful nature and dealing with it.
        Society has deteriorated in my own lifetime and demonstrates that man does not understand himself or his fallen sinful nature. Until he does he is not only subject to
        the vagaries of this life, sin, and all the sorrows, fears, trials and difficulties it throws up, he also has no answer to any of it and is presently lost.

      • overload says:

        Nektarios — trying to address the problems of mankind with human effort…

        This problem which faces our society, it also faces the Church, and we see pope Francis—running around mostly on his own—not only trying to clear up problems within the RCC but also on the world stage (but not apparently between different Christian churches—perhaps this is/seems to be more complicate than the world stage?). And so in the RCC he is in a “psychitzophrenic situation” trying to reconcile—or find a middle way between—two heretical extremes. And now I hear he is tired and considering an early retirement. Not surprising, he is not superman!

        A Bible passage that struck me recently, from Galatians 4, discusses Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael is the fruit of human effort, when the proper son of the promise seems unattainable. Isaac is God’s response: ok you’ve tried it your way, now let me show you my way—and He fulfilled the promise beyond hope. But this now left Abraham with two contrary sons, which meant persecution for his legitimate son (the son of the free woman). So the son of the slave women had to be got rid of. Note God still had a place for Ishmael, but it became confusion to not distinguish between the two sons—one illegitimate and of human effort, one legitimate and of God’s promise (“the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son”)—and so this meant that a definitive line had to be drawn.

      • overload says:

        To add to my previous comment…
        There is not just a confusion between Ishmael and Isaac, but also Hagar and Sarah.
        “the present city of Jerusalem.. is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.” Galatians 4:25
        Now interchanging “Jerusalem” with “Catholic Church”; do we know the difference between the slave woman and the free woman?

  9. Martha says:

    I think the answer is for parents to be taught how to go about this vital task.

    The context of a loving home and family life, and the example of loving and affectionate parents comes first, but the task of describing the intimate side of their relationship is very difficult for most people, particularly if they did not have that experience from their own parents. They/we can be very inhibited by not readily knowing what words to use, and by the knowledge that what we want to pass on to our children and grandchildren in this area is so very much at odds with the messages they are getting from nearly every other source.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Martha, when I reached the age of menstruation at 13 I think, my grandmother said to me
      ‘Dont let any one touch you in your private parts and always keep your hand on you ha’penny,skirt below the knee and legs crossed when sitting.and well covered on the top’
      I did not tell my daughter that, I think she had enough modesty to know!
      .
      .

      • Martha says:

        St. Joseph, how would you tell a girl today to keep her skirts below the knee? She would think you were sending her off to live with the Amish. Our daughter still resents that I was unhappy for her to go out with a friend in a rather skimpy outfit, and tried to talk about it with her friend’s mother, who it turned out was strongly of the opinion that this did not send out any message of availability, and that men are entirely responsible for any effect it has. End of a budding friendship, for me.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Martha
        The same thing happened to my grandaughter when she was 11, when the girl called for her.
        My son sent her back home to her mother!!.
        It is in the hands of the parents
        At one of my grandaughters !st Holy Communiom, the mothers were dressed as if going to a night club!
        However nowadays children rule the roost-and who buys the clothes?
        It is not only porn that children see especially on TV.
        People say to me ‘What about the naked statues in Rome!
        Maybe someone will tell me the difference in Art when it comes to being naked.
        Adam and Eve were innocent until they realised they were naked. I cant work that one out somehow..
        It must be in the eyes of the beholder. and the temptation of the Devil.

      • Quentin says:

        We are not talking about short skirts of Roman sculptures here, we are talking about what I described as “typical modern porn shows a series of scenes in which pretty well every form of possible sexual contact, heterosexual and homosexual, is repetitively filmed – between couples or groups. There is no tenderness, merely the exploration of real or simulated sensation in the most extreme form which the director’s ingenuity can muster.”

        This is the kind of thing young boys and girls are exposed to (not always willingly). They will be seeing it on their computers and, if parents are bothered enough to control that at home, they will see it on their mobiles, their telephones, or be shown it on a telephone. Whatever may been the right way to guide the young before the digital/social media age it certainly isn’t now.

        It is a very serious issue. and neither parents nor schools can escape their responsibilities.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Quentin.
        If it is like that then why does the law not step in and make it a serious offence and shut it down.

  10. St.Joseph says:

    Quentin.
    You also say ‘It is a very serioius issue and neither parents nor schools can escape their responsibilities.’
    Isnt that what Martha and myself were saying about teaching our children common decency! It begins in the home..
    Then they will not watch that stuff, like yourself they will be disgusted.
    ..

    • Martha says:

      Children will be very tempted though. They can’t live in a ghetto. We have to find some way of helping them to be different, to defy the prevailing culture, to cope with the inevitable bullying they will endure if they persevere. It needs to be a concerted and united policy from all parts of the church, diocese, parish, school, advising and supporting parents and teachers, and giving young people positive messages and activities. We all need to realise more than ever that following Christ means making difficult choices, not just living in much the same way as those who do not yet know Him.
      It is heart breaking to look at young, innocent children, and to know how unprepared many of them will be for what will soon be facing them

      • St.Joseph says:

        Martha
        I wonder how we are going to reach those children who are not fortunate to go to catholic schools.
        We do have to protect those who do not have the opportunity to be taught to be responsible.
        That is why the law should intervene
        I think it is larger picture in society for the saving of souls.and our duty as christians. to defend the young. and to stand up for common decency.
        I am not saying we ought to cover our faces up and wear black.

  11. Brendan says:

    As I mentioned earlier on, the West has become so obsessed with the present and in flitting from one sensation to another – because of the ubiquitous nature of the information highway – it is impossible to command the attention of the young ( which is where one must start in all this ) because of so many diversions and distractions in their lives. As social creatures , the default position – because society at large has not the will, resources and is ham-strung by conflicting interests and polarised lobby groups ; all in the name of ‘ liberty ‘ and ‘ progress ‘ – has always and will always be the ‘ parish group / community ‘. To leave such things as the distinction between sexual perversion ( pornography ) and the right time and use for the gift of the sexual act to society at large ( including all parents / guardians ) – now so heavily compromised and corrupted by non- Christian values – is a serious delusion. Frankly, the barn door is closed ; the horse has bolted a long time ago !
    Apart from nationally; an immediate call of a return to prayer by our Bishops to show intent and the seriousness of the situation , a sign to our young people that adults mean business over this issue ; we must fight fire with fire !
    Our parish halls or other church property should be given over to form Parish Cinema Clubs on a regular basis to show appropriate films to counteract not only the ubiquitous nature of our sex – obsessed society but the forces of an anti- Christian, egoistical relativism that is now a pernicious feature of everyday life in Britain. Because we have a belief in the basic goodness of human nature; inward good will attract the outside, ‘ a quo ‘ the Spirit of God witnesses.
    Evangelism, must start within ourselves first ; radical action demands radical thinking !

    • Nektarios says:

      Brendan
      I generally agree with your posting above, but man since the fall no longer has a basic goodness, but a sinful nature to which he is so often prey to, which history shows all too clearly. Porn is nothing new,only the means of conveying it.
      The Christian life, or life in Christ is not a patch up of our old nature, but an entirely new nature that sins not.
      This is why I was pointing out to Quentin, without this new nature in man, he is not only at a loss as to how to deal with it, but even understand it.

  12. Quentin says:

    The recent suggestions on this question do not seem to get us very far.

    Let’s have a law against it. Sadly, won’t work. Many of the sites concerned are not subject to our laws, and whatever steps can be taken to make them difficult to see can be circumvented quite easily by today’s young. In addition, the dependence of many adults on porn would cause a riot if such prohibitions could ever be made effective. Not an option.

    Catholic schools? Ho! Ho! I encountered my first real porn in the 1940s in one of our best, and most expensive, The book concerned went around like wildfire. Does anyone know what Catholic schools are doing about porn, and is it effective? Given the general reaction of the young to Catholic orthodoxy on sexual matters, I am not optimistic.

    I am chided for being practical without having first come to terms with the biblical doctrine on Original Sin. But when a man is falling out of a window, a discussion on the law of gravity comes second to stretching out the blanket which might save him. Our children or grandchildren are in the midst of it now, today.

    • Nektarios says:

      Quentin
      There is no argument about being practical, as long as the `stretching out of the blanket’ as you put it is effective. I fail to see in this case, how it till be totally or even partially effective.
      If one is in a habit, I am told that total abstinence from drink, drugs, porn for six weeks can be effective, but there is no guarantee that the same old habits will not return.
      Lastly, I am not simply talking about Original sin, but the assertion that until we understand ourselves and our fellow man relative to this, we are not going to make progress in this appalling topic under discussion.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Quentin.
      If the public decency Act does not cover this and of course it wont as those who look at porn are doing so with their own free will.
      The only answer I can think of is ‘The third coming of. Christ’ and that will have to be from the ‘clouds so all can see’. Or parents take the technology from their children!!
      Nektarios makes a good point, however it is over 2000 years since the last. when He was born and then resurrected.
      Maybe that will be the end of the world.
      .

    • milliganp says:

      Quentin, thank you for some sanity. It’s very easy for people to point out what is wrong and that “it should be banned” or that we should just assert moral teaching without an accepted framework.
      One of the challenges we face is that certain aspects of relationship education don’t work until the recipients have the maturity to understand. At 14 a child can respond to peer pressure and an immature personal sexual drive, but they aren’t ready to understand adult relationships and a ‘grown up’ view of sex.
      It might therefore only be possible for us to do damage limitation unless and until society decides that pornography is unhealthy, even for adults.
      Schools have a near impossible task. Any head brave enough to try and admit and address the problem by mature and open conversations with pupils would inevitably find themselves criticised by the moral right for being too liberal. It would also run the risk of over-exposing those children not caught up in the sexual culture – do we forsake all childhood innocence for the sake of a problem that does not affect all?

      • St.Joseph says:

        It would be better and more beneficial if RE were taught in our schools.And how to live the faith with chastity and purity, as I have said before!! If family planning needs to be taught, teach it the churches way, the way God made us in the beginning.Through Gods love within the Sacrament of marriage.
        If anyone can see a better way, say it! Sex education with mixed pupils.
        What did that teach our young people?
        I have been saying this for years, and not alone, but with people like Daphne Mcleod, who had the souls of our young people in mind.
        When we only received criticism
        Maybe it is a little late now to back track trying to mend past mistakes.
        Is it only lately that pornography is considered dangerous..
        But no doubt we will be accused of making matters worse as always.
        Milliganp I do see the sense in your comment.

        .

      • Quentin says:

        St Joseph, no doubts at all that Daphne McLeod and others have the good of the children in the forefront of their minds. The problem does not lie with intentions but with methods. Teenage children are at a stage in life where nature is requiring them to form adult values. That means that they are inclined to reject orders from above — and so they do. This is why open discussion, consideration of advantages and disadvantages and all the other processes needed for the mind to form must be applied. Naturally teachers/parents must give witness to the Church’s values and their own. The children may not agree at that point. but we may hope that they are now better equipped to make good decisions.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Quentin.
        What is it that you are actually saying here.
        Is it that Daphne McLeod and other especially of Pro Ecclesia et Pontificate who included my late husband and both my children and is also my late husbands Godmother.
        had the wrong methods, of teaching the faith to others..Daphne’s book What every child should know about the faith was well circulated, not only by myself but others too, The Association of Catholic Women who were doing good work defending the faith against those who also wanted to see a liberal Church
        We were dealing at the time with the faith being destroyed by the reformers like Matthew Fox giving talks in catholic schools ,his side kick Fr Venker also giving homilies in churches, Their new age philisophy out to destroy the church and Her teachings.
        Archbishop Weakland being invited to speak to the priests conference in Birmingham .
        With all their modernistic thinking.
        Catholic Womens Ordination meeting held in a Cathedral,.
        When a priest was giving a talk in a Convent part of a primary catholic school, about the faith, he was asked by a Nun ‘what had th sacrifice of the Mass got to do with it.
        Quentin if you believe that we ought to have used a different method to defend our catholic faith that martyrs gave their lives for then do tell me I would dearly like to know your thoughts
        However I have no doubts that I have wastet my time over the years.
        And hopefully my husband has eared his salvatiuon…

      • Quentin says:

        St Joseph, the problem lies not in what we teach (all set out in the Catechism) but how we teach it. Experience has shown that simply teaching the ‘regulations’ has very little impact. Consequently methods have been developed which are based on questions, discussion and guidance — suited to the recipients. You may well say that this hasn’t worked either, but those who champion such methods claim that their students have done some real thinking about the moral life, and are in a better position to form their consciences. At the very least they will know that the Church’s teaching is not arbitrary but relates to the real world.

      • overload says:

        Quentin, “the problem lies [1] not in what we teach (all set out in the Catechism) but [2] how we teach it.”
        I think I agree that [2] is the biggest problem, however I do no not discount the possibility that [1] may also be a very serious problem.

      • overload says:

        Quentin, “the problem lies [1] not in what we teach (all set out in the Catechism) but [2] how we teach it.”
        I think I would say that [1] is the fundamental problem, however I do no not discount that [2] is also a very serious problem.

  13. John Nolan says:

    In 1965 when I was in the third form we were returning from CCF camp by train and someone produced a copy of ‘Fanny Hill’ (which had recently been banned and all unsold copies seized and destroyed). We boys were poring over it when the English master caught us, seized the offending paperback and hurled it out of the carriage window onto the Settle and Carlisle line. I also remember the journey as being the last time I was steam-hauled on British Railways.

    It is laughable now that this quaint 18th century sexual romp (its author, John Cleland, was given a government pension – according to Dr Johnson to dissuade him from writing a sequel) should have been deemed to have the power to deprave and corrupt. In those days the most explicit photographs we saw were in H&E and Amateur Photographer. In retrospect I’m glad we were not exposed to the HD porn now freely available in enormous quantities at the click of a mouse. It must be psychologically damaging to children, large numbers of whom regularly watch it.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Nolan.
      My mothers cousin who was a Christian Brother in a Monastery, and looked after the poor in the USA..When he came to visit her in the 60s, she met him at Heathrow.
      The first words she said to him were’ Where is your collar and why are you reading that muck.’
      It was Lady Chatterley’s Lover!
      She died not many years after, that in the.early Seventies. .

  14. Alan says:

    It might go against the grain for many but, as a purely practical move where no other seems forthcoming, wouldn’t a more comprehensive and earlier sex education for children (including information about relationships and respect) provide a better foundation for what they would inevitably be confronted with? I don’t know if youngsters who receive such an education are as shocked or traumatised by pornography, perhaps they aren’t even as curious or obsessed as a result. Hard to find out without doing an internet search that seriously risks authorities knocking at the door!

    • Quentin says:

      There is a danger here, Alan, of confusing the question by bringing commonsense to bear. Yes, I wouldn’t suggest that “a more comprehensive and earlier sex education for children” will solve the problems, but it will have given more accurate knowledge accompanied by a presentation of parental values. I would expect this to mitigate the harm, even if it doesn’t remove it.

  15. Brendan says:

    Having no knowledge or experience in this area ; just how do our Catholic Schools address ( if at all ) the subject of pornography in their classrooms ?

    • Brendan says:

      I asked a question – at 7.45pm. yesterday – for the reason Quentin gave ; it is not safe to ‘ ‘google’ anything to do with ‘ pornography ‘ and open such sites.
      For this reason I go back to a suggestion about ‘ Parish Film Clubs ‘ or in light of the comments on this blog ‘ Catholic School Film Clubs ‘ ; where discussion following such Catholic/ Christian ( moral /ethical material ) showings , is out in the open and properly supervised and directed . With young people today viewing things safely seems to be at a premium and an immature response can be offset by its serious nature and sensitive handling by Church appointees. Maybe EWTN or its British distributor St. Paul Communications has some modern relevant ‘ Catholic ‘ material , that would hold the attention of and fire young minds into the right use of the gift of their sexuality ?
      When I look around today; I see that the Catholic Parish is one of the few structures that is free from political control by capricious interference left in this country. There is now no other place safer that I know of to mold future young minds – sadly, even in the home !

      Brendan, have inserted this for you. The original had an incorrect email address.

  16. Martha says:

    This BBC News article today, entitled, How far can a government go in policing porn on the internet? might be of interest, especially some of the 300 plus comments.
    (I personally do not like the use of the term ‘porn’ rather than pornography, to my mind it attempts to normalise a very evil subject)

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-32202649

  17. Quentin says:

    Incidentally, if you want to get an idea of the prevalence of teenage pornography, try googling ‘prevalence of pornography teenagers’. You will speedily get an idea of the seriousness of the situation.

    Innocently, attempting see what Catholic schools thought about handling the problem, I googled ‘catholic schools and pornography’. i did not choose to open any of the links.

    • Martha says:

      Thank you Quentin. I have just had a quick look at the second search you suggested, and below several with very graphic titles, I found links to two very positive sites, both from the States. One is the Cardinal Newman Society, the other Integrity Restored. There are others also on succeeding pages, but the technicality of including the complete addresses here is defeating me for the moment. Perhaps the Newman Society in the UK has something to offer in this field?

  18. Martha says:

    “This is why open discussion, consideration of advantages and disadvantages and all the other processes needed for the mind to form must be applied. Naturally teachers/parents must give witness to the Church’s values and their own.”

    Quentin, how would teenagers who have at some point been given clear teaching as set out in the publications of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice be excluded from such open discussion? This is certainly vital and should be available to them through well organised cooperation of diocese, parish and school while they are still in contact, and then would be more likely to stay and increase their belonging.

    • milliganp says:

      You overestimate the influence of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice. 95%+ of Catholics don’t even know it exists and those that do are largely 70+. The number of teenagers is vanishingly small. The LMS community is probably the easiest to identify since it’s membership is largely co-terminus in viewpoint and I doubt they have more than a few hundred teenage members. The faith movement and youth 2000 have a few thousand teenage followers between them but that dilutes to 1 or 2 children in each Catholic school.
      I fully accept the problem of relativism but we cant solve the problems of 2015 with a 1950’s mindset.
      It is also useful to reflect on the reality that conservative Protestant and Muslim communities are facing the same threats to their fundamental moral principals with the same level of confusion a to how to react.

      • Martha says:

        No, Milliganp, I don’t. The point I intended to make, is that sound teaching, PEEP for instance, as I was replying to St. Joseph and Quentin who had mentioned it, but from any source, does not exclude the value, the necessity, of good discussion, and opportunity for teenagers to talk openly and honestly about their issues and concerns. It is a basis from which we hope they can proceed to their own adult acceptance.

        Thank you for the link to the Westminster website. It looks very good and helpful, and perhaps needs more publicity.

  19. John Candido says:

    Granted that the ubiquity of internet pornography in society is overwhelming and any thought of getting rid of it seems impossible. It makes me wonder where the internet will be in a generation or two. Rightly or wrongly, I have a tendency to view the internet as analogous to the unfettered capitalism of the 19th century. It took time before society could tame and smooth some of the rougher edges of capitalism and make it work better for all involved. After the passage of a considerable amount of time I would think and hope that a similar process could apply to the internet as well.

    I am not a physicist or an engineer and I am assuming that technological advancements as well as developments in global governance would coalesce in such a fashion that the reach of the law can have a realistic role in policing the internet for the benefit of everyone who uses it.
    The internet is a wonderful communication tool that has speeded up progress in myriad areas of culture, knowledge as well as its use in our economy. All of the benefits to our society of a future cashless society cannot exist without the internet, software, smartphones and computers.
    The worst aspects of the internet in my opinion are its potential use in making threats of violence and terrorism, cybercrimes such as identity theft and internet scams, child pornography and paedophilia, the promotion of racism and extreme politics, vandalism by those who get pleasure in propagating viruses, malware and spyware, bomb making sites, cyberbullying that thrives on anonymity, and to those that propagate ideas of dubious value or who are total frauds.

    Even Facebook has its advantages and its depressing disadvantages. Facebook tended to reflect a far too libertarian ethos in the American sense of freedom of speech. They are slowly coming to some of their senses in this regard by instituting more stringent supervision of things such as racist commentary. I personally hate Facebook and have closed my old account for a far more private and smaller one to make use of the free Messenger service between family members. I found arguing with others about politics on Facebook a jarring experience that I do not want to repeat.

  20. John Candido says:

    There may be value in thinking about the issue of pornography in a different way. What is the scientific evidence that watching pornography is harmful to adults? I don’t think that there is any ordinarily, unless one can establish a genuine link between a person with certain proclivities and criminal behaviour, for example, the rape of women and children. If it can be conclusively determined that pornography can lead some members of our community to commit crimes against women and children, this could be the basis of a rationale to restrict it for the common good.

    The next question is troubling but needs to be confronted. What is the scientific evidence that normal, healthy children who watch X-rated pornography on their mobile phones or computers are going to be psychologically harmed by it? If there is some form of psychological harm how serious is it? How long-term will this harm be? Can it be countered by parental advice, the intervention of friends, counselling or by growing up? I don’t have the answers; I am merely asking the questions.

    • Quentin says:

      John, your questions are pertinent.While there are some measured correlations (e.g., use of pornography and earlier sexual experience) they are scarcely satisfactory. It may be one of those situations that commonsense and experience need to be used. A causal sequence may well lead to damage without the possibility of a reliable study. However I will keep my eyes open, and report if I find something. Please do so too.

  21. Brendan says:

    Regarding my last post. Let’s look around us say, when travelling on a bus ( which my wife and I do more, now we’re retired ). Young teenagers ( boys and girls ) are generally – I SAY GENERALLY – self-absorbed, uncommunicative with each other in a ‘ world of their own ‘. I’ve noticed when alone on a bus , no woman or young girl will sit next to me ( a male ) if there are other options. They appear indifferent to people and the world around them. I know this view looks rather dystopian but its true , why ?
    Young people do not need ‘science ‘ they need pastoral care.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Milliganp.
      Maybe so Maybe so.
      But neverthless 70 year olds are still practicing their faith, and the Church is not .swarmed by modernism We still have a faith.
      The 70s and 80 are times that we were fighting liberalism, and just to let you know the Latin Mass is flouriahing in my area.With youn people too.
      We dont have women like Starhawk (speaking in semineries) the Witch encroaching on our beliefs or women fighting for their rights to be ordained.
      Matthew Fox has joined the Anglicans along with a lot more liberals..
      And I know all those children of parents who were involved in the work of evangelising the true faith are still practicing.
      Young people will always question their faith, it is necessary that they do like we all did, but they have to have a faith to come home to when they return to the’ One True Churc’h!
      Especially those who attended Summer Schools in my area and other places.organised by good catholic priests’ Not by those who beleive that if we change the churchs teaching, our pews will be full.
      Women are beginning to realise the advantages of Fertility Awareness., how precious their bodies are,and their souls made in the image and likeness of God
      I continue to look forward and can see a lot of good in young people today,just go to Lourdes and you will see for yourself and the World Youth Day of Prayer and the Pro Life Conferences, and the March for Life in the USA..
      Also watch EWTN and see the Vocations to the Priesthood and religious Life..
      .

    • John Candido says:

      ‘Young people do not need ‘science’ they need pastoral care.’ Brendan.

      Brendan, people with personal problems need pastoral care; it is society at large that needs the input and guidance of science.

  22. milliganp says:

    The Archdiocese of Westminster has a new resource which adresses many of the issues around sexuality – http://dowym.com/relationships/ .

  23. Nektarios says:

    I see we are having not only great difficulity looking into the whole issue of pornography on the one hand, and on the other our various feeble and ineffective attempts to deal with it.

    Believing as I do in the biblical doctrine of man in sin, we should never be surprised at what happens in the world. Are you surprised at all the murders, the thefts, the violence, the robbery, all the lying and the hatred, all the carnality, the sexuality? Does it surprise you as you look at your newspapers? It should not do so if you are a Christian. You should expect it. Man in sin of necessity behaves like that. He cannot help himself; he lives, he walks in trespasses and sins. He does it individually; he does it in groups. Therefore, there will be industrial strifes and misunderstandings and there will be wars.

    Oh, what pessimism! says someone. I say, no, what realism! Face it, be prepared for it, do not expect anything better from a world like this. It is a fallen, sinful, godless, evil world, and while man remains in sin, it will be like that. And it is as much like that today as it was in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah and in the time of the flood!

    But, thank God, that is not the end of the matter. I go on to say that, the Christian is a man who, realizing that he is living in such a world, and who, having no illusions at all about it, knows that he is linked to a power that enables him not only to bear whatever may come to him in such a world but indeed to be “more than conqueror” over it all. He does not just passively bear it; he does not merely put up with it and exercise courage. That is stoicism; that is paganism.

    The Christian, being in Christ, knowing something of what the apostle calls “the exceeding greatness of [God’s] power to us-ward who believe” (Eph. 1: 19) is strengthened, is enabled to endure. His heart does not quail, he is not defeated; indeed he can rejoice in tribulations. Let the world do its worst to him, let hell be let loose, he is sustained. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5: 4). So that if things really do become impossible, the Christian has resources, he still has comforts and consolations, he still has a strength of which all others are ignorant.

    Finally, the Christian is absolutely certain and assured that whatever the world and men may do, he is safe in the hands of God. “We may boldly say,” say the Scriptures, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Heb. 13: 6). Indeed, he knows that man in his malignity may insult him, may persecute him, may ravage him, may even destroy his body, but he also knows that nothing “shall be able to separate [him] from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8: 39). He knows that whatever may happen in this world of time, he is a son of God, an heir of glory. Indeed he knows that a day is coming when even this present sinful world shall be entirely redeemed, and there shall be “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pet. 3: 13).
    (With acknowlegement to the teaching of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

  24. Nektarios says:

    Quentin
    As we are leaving this topic, I would like to leave it with a word of encouragement to us all, annd it is this: the message the apostle preached is a message to individuals. It does not say that the world can be put right if we only implement Christian teaching; it is not an appeal to people to reform themselves and to do this or that. No; it is a message that says that as the result of what God has done in Christ Jesus, his Son, our Lord and Saviour, we who were in the very warp and woof of that sinful, condemned world can be delivered out of it.
    The world is doomed, the world is going to be destroyed and punished, the devil and all his forces are going to perdition, and all who belong to that realm will suffer the same punishment. But the message of the gospel to men and women individually is that they need not be participators in that. They can be taken out of it— out of “the kingdom of darkness”— and brought out from the power of Satan and unto God. That is its message to individual men and women. The world will remain as it is, but you can be delivered out of it, you can be taken out of it.

    The natural man pins his hopes on this world and its mind, its outlook, its statesmen, its mentality, its pleasures, its joys. He lives for it, and all his hopes are centered here, his affections are here. Not so the Christian. The Christian, having been given to see that this world is doomed, that it is under the wrath of God, has fled from “the wrath to come.” He has believed the gospel, he has entered this other kingdom, and his hopes and affections are set there now, not here. The Christian is a man who, to use a scriptural phrase, knows that he is but “a stranger and a pilgrim” in this world. He is a mere sojourner; he does not any longer live for this world— he has seen through it, he sees beyond it.

  25. overload says:

    Quentin’s title for this post reminds me of an article I read on a Catholic website, ‘when boundaries are transgressed’:
    http://www.aschristintended.com/tag/st-ignatius-of-antioch/

    From the article, I relate to the image of “poisoning the well”:
    “It only takes one drop of poison to pollute a whole glass of water, and such is the danger of heresy. In other words a faith that is 99% truth and 1% error is not the true faith and is dangerous to the soul.”
    Is this really true, or Jewish hygiene mentality?
    And anyway, what about Christ’s words: “they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all”?

  26. Quentin says:

    I have just read an article from The Times of 9th April, called “My teen porn”. It is a pretty frightening account of the effects of porn addiction. You may want to read it. Normally such articles are on subscription only but a free copy of the writer’s original is available on http://yourbrainonporn.com/

    There, you will find a link to “My teen porn addiction ruined my life” – the article in question. This also mentions other relevant sites on the effects of pornography.

    While John Candido, above, was asking more general questions about the damage caused by pornography, I think that he, and others, will find the information interesting.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Quentin.
      Interesting enough there were mostly males. How would that be do you think?

      • milliganp says:

        The viewing of porn is FAR more prevalent in young men and boys than young women. It impacts on girls and young women in the expectations and comparisons it creates in the minds of the males. However, it we look at the experience in the USA among young adults the use of porn is now widely accepted. This does not auger well for our young women in the future as American mono-culture pervaded the developed world.
        As an example of the changes impacting teenage girls the star Miley Cyrus, who 2 years ago was the lead actress in a Disney program aimed at pre and early teen girls, has become an example of a highly sexualised pop idol. Her fans are still only teenagers – where she is 21, but she is testing almost every boundary of decency at a very early age and this will inevitably encourage risky behaviour in her fan base. It’s a difficult time to be the parent of teenage children.

  27. Martha says:

    There is a graphic account in today’s DM of a family’s experience with 3 boys. It rings true and is therefore useful to read
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3034480/The-children-young-ten-feed-internet-porn-addiction.html

    • St.Joseph says:

      Martha.
      Jesus said ‘if thy right eye offend thee,pluck it out, and cast it from thee,for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body shoud be cast into hell.

      Do they know not what they do, or the seriousness of their sin, .
      Who is responsible for this someone has to be.

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