You might say he is its biggest fan.
Each year in my Christianity and Mass Media class at Benedictine College, we cover pornography — the 21st-century mass media juggernaut.
And each year the pornography problem grows worse. The latest: The two most popular online video streaming services are featuring pornography-friendly marquee programs — a documentary and a biopic.
I haven’t (and won’t) watch either one, but speaking to exorcists recently (after writing about them before) has made me realize something about this phenomenon: Satan is pornography’s biggest fan.
First, Satan loves pornography because he hates freedom.
When we renew our baptismal promises the Church asks: “Do you reject Satan, so as to live in the freedom of God’s children?”
To use pornography is to say: “I do not.” Pornography militates against freedom. The science of it is well known: The human brain, when aroused by erotic images, dumps chemicals into the bloodstream that push the throttle of the viewer to full-speed “give me more” mode. Idle online curiosity quickly becomes addictive obsession.
Dabbling with pornography is like opening the window of a pressurized airplane at a high altitude. It pulls you in and spits you out.
The same thing happens to women involved in the pornography industry. Women seeking modeling careers, or a brief injection of cash in tough times, quickly find themselves in the clutches of a degrading industry, with images of themselves that they regret circulating forever online.
A recent pornography scam is not unlike what happens anyway to “legitimate” pornographic actresses: Lured by money, they find themselves in the clutches of men who only want to use them.
Which is a second reason Satan loves pornography: It is the ultimate structure of sin.
When we lie, or cheat, or steal, we commit a sin that implicates each of us, alone. When we involve others in our sin, that’s worse. But what about a sin that helps create, perpetuate and supercharge international syndicates of sin?
Using pornography churns a vortex of sin that Satan uses to drag whole groups of people — performers, programmers, sellers, and unsuspecting bystanders — down to his lair.
Third: Satan loves disfiguring the image of God.
Satan’s ultimate target isn’t us: It’s God. He can’t touch God — but since we are made in the image and likeness of God, we are the next best thing.
If we understood how immense our souls are, and how beautifully they mirror the Trinity, we would shudder with the responsibility. Satan understands, and he lunges at every opportunity to shatter that image. In fact:
Fourth: The demons love to make human beings look like animals.
In Chapter 12 of Revelation, it is the vision of a woman — a flesh and blood human being — clothed with the sun and crowned with stars which infuriates the disobedient angels.
Demons, creatures of pure spirit, cannot abide a material creature being made higher than them. The very thought disgusts them. So they delight in showing just how disgusting these human creatures really are.
An exorcist described to me how victims of possession will often imitate animals — grunting or arching their backs. Demons don’t possess more people because we save them the trouble. We choose to imitate animals on our own.
Fifth, the devil loves to destroy the innocence of children.
When the apostles argue who is the greatest in the 18th Chapter of Matthew, Jesus places a child in their midst. Then, a few verses later, he adds that anyone who causes a child to sin would be better off thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck.
The demons have already chosen the millstone. Now they want to cause as many children to sin as possible.
Along with abortion, history will condemn our times most, I think, for our refusal to protect children from pornography. Even a notorious male pornographic actor is disgusted at how children experience pornography.
The reason for our failure here is obvious: Adults want easy, anonymous access to pornography. We care more about protecting that access than we do about protecting our kids.
Demons are like predatory insects.
They single-mindedly care about one thing: Boring into your soul and turning you against God. Using pornography is like breaking open their hive right there on your desktop.
By Tom Hoopes
Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, and author of the book What Pope Francis Really Said.