Parenting the Porn Generation




For the past several years I have worked with those affected by pornography.

Allow me, then, from my experience, to offer three strategies that you as a parent can implement in parenting the porn generation.

1. Affirm the goodness of their sexuality.

Sometimes Catholic parents, especially when they themselves were brought up with a standard of chastity that focused on a list of sins and temptations to be avoided, may feel unprepared to provide their kids with an affirmative view of sex and the body.

But raising them to value their sexuality as something good and holy is essential to protecting them from exposure to porn and to inculcating in them a positive desire for purity generally.

They will be trained to see clearly the great difference between the lies of porn and unchastity and the great truths of God’s plan for human sexuality.

It is also useful when it comes to teaching modesty and self-control, even at a young age. It is precisely because your child’s body is good and wonderful that he is not to treat it like a toy; it is precisely because your child’s body is sacred that she should veil what demands the reverence.

Even when our children are very young, my wife and I make it a priority to affirm their sexuality daily—teaching them that God created them male or female so that they can become a gift in self-donating love.

Each night before bed I lay my hands on them and offer this prayer:

Dear heavenly Father, I thank you that you have created [name] to be a strong boy/ beautiful girl. I ask that he/she would grow up to be a strong man/beautiful and strong woman to give his/her life away as a priest or a husband/nun or a wife. 

2. Be a parent, not a buddy.

I know that you know this—or that you think you know this, but it bears repeating. Your child needs you to parent him. And a large part of parenting means saying no. In fact, if your child hasn’t gotten angry at you over the past week because you would not let him have his way, you’re probably not doing a very good job parenting him.

In the sphere of chastity, saying no is the flip side of affirming your children’s sexuality. It doesn’t mean to shelter kids from every possible bad influence in the world; rather, it’s about exercising prudent vigilance.

There never was a teenager who couldn’t survive without a smart phone, but there are countless thousands whose Internet-connected phones become personal porn terminals. Laptops behind locked bedroom doors might help a little with homework, but they’re also inviters of temptation. Your child was invited to a sleepover: Do you know what kind of supervision the host family exercises over the computer or cable box? If you’re not prepared to say no, you might find all your vigilance undone by another family’s carelessness.

3. Use filters and accountability software.

We have talked first about giving kids a foundation that affirms God’s gift of their bodies, then about circumstances in which we must be prepared to say no in order to protect that gift.

As a supplement to rather than a replacement for our work of forming and parenting our kids, Internet filters and other content-blocking tools can be useful, especially when your children are young. As they grow older, however, it’s important that you not simply block them but continue to teach them.

This is how accountability software differs from filtering. Instead of blocking websites, it monitors all the sites that your child visits and then sends a report to an accountability partner (you). This changes the mentality of the child surfing the Internet. Rather than him wondering how he could get around a filter to visit some forbidden-fruit website, he will know that he could visit the website but that he will have to answer for it.

When you think about it, isn’t this how the heavenly Father acts toward us? He could “block” us from turning our backs on him and from the pain our sins bring, but he does not. Rather he teaches us right from wrong, and implores us to do what’s right (while giving us the grace necessary to do it). He does not censor our every thought and action because he desires us to grow up to be responsible moral agents: sons and daughters who freely choose what is good. We parents ought to follow his example.

In my opinion, the best accountability software can be found at  www.covenanteyes.org.

We as parents have a grave responsibility to protect the purity of our children.

We will be answerable to almighty God if we fail to protect and guide them, particularly in the face of the unprecedented evils that porn poses to their minds, hearts, and souls. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,” Jesus said, “it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6). As Peter Kreeft once noted, there are no Styrofoam millstones.

By Matt Fradd





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17 comments

  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    1. I was raised Catholic, and there was no question in my mind that sex was bad – none whatsoever. The Church’s manic obsession over sex is impossible to miss as a child. All the little pieces tell you that it’s bad, after all, that’s how (the mythical) original sin is passed along. Sex is so bad that they had to make sure Jesus was born of a virgin (even though Isaiah only calls for a “young woman” and not a virgin), and then when they found out that women contribute to the genome, they had to make Mary immaculately conceived so that the nasty sex her parents engaged in didn’t pass along original sin such that she would pass it to Jesus. (Raising the question of why – if Yahweh was able to let Mary be born without original sin – why couldn’t he do that for all of us without a convoluted human blood sacrifice?).
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    The interesting thing is that studies indicate that the most conservative Christians watch the most porn. If you want to make sure people do something – tell them they can’t do it! (Benjamin Edelman – Harvard Business School – New Scientist). So much for the “porn-again Christians!
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    The author squeezes in the mandatory Catholic warning about masturbation – “he is not to treat it like a toy” when it is a natural and healthy function if not abused. Otherwise you stand a good chance of ending up like my devout Catholic father who has bad prostate problems. There’s an old saying that when asked, 98% of men will admit they masturbate and the other 2% lie. It’s a natural, normal, human function, and the only reason the Church deems it to be bad is so they can fill you with shame and guilt and fear, so that you can be controlled. It’s personal and private, and none of their business, but they are disordered men who make it their business, so they can make you feel bad, so you will keep going to confession, keep kneeling in the pews, keep putting money in the coffers, and keep pumping out little Catholics who will continue the plague of guilt, shame and fear that the RCC thrives on.

    What business do a bunch of virgin, celibate men who have voluntarily chosen to remove themselves from the gene pool have telling the rest of us that sex is bad? The bible says nothing about masturbation, contraception or pornography. It provides Yahweh’s own personal, but rrather primitive, recipe for abortion. Why do we listen to these disordered men?
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    2. Of course raising children means saying “no” from time to time. Illustrating to them that you don’t trust them and making it clear to them by your actions, that they can’t be trusted is not a good way to develop the traits of trust and self-discipline. If you want to chase your kids away, this is a good approach. It worked for one of my parents…
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    3. I’d rather my child loved me enough, and trusted me enough to be reasonably honest with me. Of course unlike the RCC, I wouldn’t have a hissy fit if I found my kid watching porn, unless it was to excess, but it’s mostly the kids who don’t have a trusting relationship with their parents who seem to have the most porn problems, if indeed there is any problem – much depends on the child’s age and maturity, and what they are watching. I never spied on my child, having despised what my mother did. She would have used such software, and in so doing, probably driven me and my siblings even further away than she did.
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    Organizational psychologist Darrel Ray, Ed.D. (psychologist for 30 years and author of The God Virus as well as two books on psychology) and Amanda Brown (undergraduate at Kansas University, focused on sexuality and sex therapy) conducted a sex survey of over 14,500 people — atheists, agnostics, and other people in the secular community. The survey was looking at religion, atheism, and sex: how religion affects sex, how leaving religion affects sex, whether lifelong atheists feel differently about sex than people who have recently deconverted, and so on. The gist of the report was that leaving religion improves people’s sex lives. A lot! And that I can personally vouch for!

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  2. Just a Guy Reply

    1. Original sin is not sexual in nature. The Church places sex in higher regard than almost anyone else! It is recognized as a complete sharing of the entire self, not just the physical interaction. It is so highly regarded that it is deemed appropriate only in the sacramental context of a marriage. To treat it as anything less is just (I’ll say it) wrong.

    Not treating your body as a toy doesn’t pertain only to masturbation. Your body and your soul together are you as a person, and each and every person is worthy of respect. It’s also not right to display your body in such a way as to make others desire you sexually; it’s also not right to abuse your own body or someone else’s for your own pleasure (thinking of a bully or wfe/child abuser). How many times have you masturbated without thinking of someone else? Were you thinking of how great that person is, or what that person can do for you with no regard for them at all (the whole idea behind porn)? Many many studies have shown that repeatedly viewing porn reduces one’s consideration of other people just that way. The SELF-indulgence of masturbation and porn is the exact opposite of what the Church values about sex!

    What right do celibate men have to teach the rest of us about sex (not that it’s bad)? Does your personal trainer have to be fat to get you into shape? Does your therapist have to be disturbed? Would you only take your doctor’s advice about your cholesterol if his veins were full of Crisco? Those celibate men and women have chosen to fully give their lives to Christ, to the extent that it would be no less disrespectful to the One they love for them to have sex, even married, with someone else than for you to have sex with someone other than your wife.

    2. Telling your kids “no” is absolutely the role of a parent! So is telling them “yes.” “Yes” sex is amazing and natural and part of you being a full person. “No,” it is not to be treated so lightly that you do it just to get your jollies. “Yes” it is good for you to develop socially to interact with people. “No, ” it is wrong to use charm or wit to manipulate others selfishly for your own gain and not theirs. If you raise your child with respect for them as a person to respect others, they will love you back. I’m very sorry your own parents impacted your thinking the way they did. It was wrong of them. Now you have to grow up and use your intellect to see beyond the biases they’ve ingrained in you.

    3. The accountability software the article mentions is not about “catching” your child (or boyfriend or husband) watching porn, but to encourage conversations like the one you and I would have on the matter over a few beers. You despised what your mother did; making you feel like you were being”bad” is wrong. But advising your kids if t hey are doing something detrimental to their spiritual health is a parent’s job.

    People who left religion have “better” sex lives? Better how? More frequent, more partners, more adventurous, more carefree (even in monogamy)? The more one understands the true nature of sex, and treat it like the uniquely human, God-given, multi-dimensional experience it is, and acts accordingly, sex and your sexuality as an aspect of your person is much more satisfying.

    In my personal experience, learning from more spiritually mature people and sharing that knowledge and experience as it regards all aspects of life, including sex, integrity, how you treat other people, making life better overall only happens through “religion.”

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      Sorry JaG, but I can’t agree. The Church went out of its way to make Mary a virgin so that through sex she did not pass on original sin. Sex is how original sin is passed on. The inference that it is bad is crystal clear, because original sin (which cannot be supported by evolution/DNA) is supposed to be bad. You have to be blind not to see the connection. Then it turned out later that women didn’t just carry the male “seed,” but contributed to half of the newborn’s genetics, so that meant Mary had original sin after all, because her parents had sex and passed it on to her. To get over this, the Church, in 1854 decided Mary had somehow been born without original sin. This raises the question of why Yahweh could relieve her of original sin without all the rigmarole he had to go through for the rest of us. It tells us that He could have removed original sin (if it were a real thing), for all of us, just as He supposedly did for Mary, but instead went through a Rube Goldberg design of impregnating a young woman (the original word in Isaiah, was not “virgin”) with Himself, in order to be born as Himself, so He could sacrifice Himself to Himself, in order to relived us of a condition He placed on us in the first place, and which He demonstrated was unnecessary as He supposedly relieved Mary of this very same condition without all the rigamarole. If a single person came up with this story, he’d be declared insane, but if a billion people do it, they call it religion.
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      No, I don’t take health advice from people who are unhealthy. I would not sign up with a fat trainer, and your comment about the therapist makes no sense. If my therapist was disturbed, I certainly wouldn’t keep seeing him/her. Besides, those celibate, virgin men dressed in robes weren’t always that way. The primary reason it seems, that the RCC instituted celibacy (Paul mentions Apostles with wives), was to make sure priests didn’t leave any of their possessions to anyone but the Church when they died – check the history books.. At some deep level, the RCC clergy know they are disordered, else why did they voluntarily choose to remove themselves from the gene pool? The only thing I can recall in the natural world that does this is male lions who live together because they can’t get mates – and they don’t pass on their genes either. But I am pleased that they have made this decision not to spread their disorder into the rest of the gene pool).
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      You have a lot of Yes’s and No’s, but why should I listen to you? Are you Yahweh in human form? Who gave you the power to dictate what is right and wrong? Yahweh is described in the OT as a genocidal, slavery condoning, sexist, racist, homophobic, violent, vengeful, wrathful being – all things we try to teach our children not to be. That’s the last place we should get our morals – and we don’t; otherwise, I’d have multiple wives and several slaves and would kill anyone who didn’t worship the right god. You have my parents wrong, and you have no business suggesting that they did something wrong when you know nothing at all about them or me! THAT is wrong, and you should be ashamed for being so judgemental and for jumping to conclusions without any evidence whatsoever to support your assertions. I rejected their teaching because they gave me a good education and I ended up with critical thinking skills, and they are not particularly pleased that I threw off, with great effort, my childhood indoctrination – that childhood psychological abuse which one day will be a criminal act when we are finally civilized.
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      The psychology articles on the subject that I’ve read says atheists and agnostics simply enjoy sex more because we don’t associate it with something bad – original sin, for example. Life is so much more joyful without all the guilt, shame and fear shoved down our throats by the RCC from the time we are children. I am a far more joyful person than I was growing up Catholic. If I could redo my life, Catholicism would play absolutely no role, and if I can help prevent any other child from having to go through the angst and misery of being a Catholic that I did – well that would give my life all the meaning it needs.

      1. Just a Guy Reply

        Mary’s virginity and her Immaculate Conception are two distinct issues.

        —The Church has taught that Mary was always a virgin from its earliest days before the New Testament was even written. Jesus was born of a virgin because he is fathered by God, not another human. Jesus therefore had both a human nature and a divine nature.

        — Mary was preserved from original sin for her entire life- which began at her conception, which was the natural result of her parents sexual union. This is what the Pope *clarified* in 1854. Her purity was known from the earliest days of the church. St. Ephrem (c. 306-73) addressed Christ and Mary with the words “You and Your mother are the only ones who are totally beautiful in every way. For in You, O Lord, there is no stain, and in Your mother no stain.” The Immaculate Conception – of Mary – is all about Jesus. It was because he was to take on his human nature in her womb that God deigned her to be free of all sin and therefore “full of grace” (Lk 1:28). Her purity was not necessary, but it was fitting that God graced her with it. All of us are not so preserved because we are not going to give birth to Jesus.

        As for the translation of Isaiah. …
        The Hebrew word translated as virgin, almah, can also be translated as “young woman” but as Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon notes “there is no instance where it can be proved that almah designates a young woman who is *not* a virgin.” So your translation argument carries no weight. Furthermore , additional evidence that the correct translation is “virgin” is supplied by the Septuagint version of the Bible, a Greek translation of the Old Testament made several centuries before Christ. It was translated by Jewish scholars for use by Greek-speaking Jews, mainly in Alexandria.

        The Septuagint translates the Hebrew almah into Greek as parthenos. This Greek term has the precise meaning of “virgin.” So several centuries before the birth of Christ, before there was any reason to change anything as you allege,, the meaning of Isaiah 7:14 was clear: almah = parthenos = virgin.

        As for those analogies, a trainer doesn’t have to be fat to give you advice about being fat; a therapist need not be depressed to help you not be depressed; a doctor doesn’t have to have a condition to advise you about it. In every case, the fact that they’ve dedicated a significant portion of their lives to study those conditions is what qualifies them to advise you, not that they have it. In the exact same way, men -and women- who have devoted their entire lives to God are uniquely qualified to advise us on God’s role in our lives including the sexual aspect. So your assertion that celibate men -and women- have nothing to teach about sex has no merit at all.

        You’re absolutely right I have a lot of yesses and nos in the context of raising my child (don’t forget the context of your remark). I also have a boatload of “maybe” and the lion’s share of “I have no idea.” I don’t “dictate” what’s right and wrong. I try to *learn* what’s right and wrong from people who are smarter than me, and as I figure stuff out, I share it with those I love. By the way, that’s the church’s approach too: The church does not decide right and wrong; you’re 100%correct that’s God’s privelege alone to establish that natural law. And God himself, in Jesus, gave His apostles particularly Peter the *authority* to teach those principles to the world. And in an unbroken line that authority has passed through the only church Jesus established. So you’ll have to excuse me if I give the church’s explanation of what is right or wrong a little more weight than my or any single person’s opinion.

        I’m sorry if my remarks about your parents offended you. I don’t presume to know any more about them or you than what you wrote: “I never spied on my child, having despised what my mother did,”, “childhood psychological abuse” etc. I ask your forgiveness if I read incorrectly between the lines.
        I’m not judging anyone. But if the view they gave you of the Catholic church is that it’s controlling, misogynistic, makes up “stories” for some nefarious reason, and tries to keep you from having the best life you can, then -in the sense of “incorrect” – they are wrong wrong, and wrong. I am on your side. I reject that teaching too, and my not insignificant critical thinking skills lead me TO the church Jesus founded.

        Coming back to the point you made, associating sex with something bad is a relatively new (and Incidentally, non-Catholic) viewpoint that came about around the Victorian era.

        Don’t be misled by the fact that an anti-porn [not anti-sex] post was on a Catholic oriented site mislead you. Porn is harmful. Many secular researchers, from psychological, sociological, medical and other fields conclude the same. If it’s harmful, why would you not want to keep it from your kid’s – and for that matter your or your loved ones’ – lives?

        And regarding the church, keeping another child from having to go through the angst and misery of misunderstanding what it means to be a Catholic that you and far too many others did and do– well, that would give my life almost all the meaning it needs.

        (Sorry to plagiarize, but that was really well written. Great “mic drop”.)

        1. Patrick Gannon Reply

          I can’t buy your explanation that Mary was always considered to be immaculately conceived and have never heard anyone propose that before. If that was true, why did the Church not address it until after it discovered that the woman contributed genetic material to the fetus and was not just a carrier for the man’s seed as was thought for centuries? What would your St. Ephrem who lived a century after Mary know about her? I agree that the immaculate conception is about Jesus – he had to be free of the stain of SEX which is how original sin is said to be passed on. No, that argument doesn’t convince me at all. Sex and original sin are irretrievably linked together in Catholicism.
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          If Yahweh could relieve Mary of original sin without all the rigamarole, then He could have done it for everyone else, and anyone with a lick of sense would have done it when there was only Noah’s family left – except that we know that was a campfire story stolen from the Epic of Gilgamesh, and we know that there was no global flood… oh well; Yahweh missed the perfect opportunity to make things right, when everyone alive actually believed in Him. Instead He waits 1000 years (if you go with Bishop Usher) to give them the Law, so they know what is and isn’t wrong. Evidently they didn’t know that lying, cheating, stealing and killing were wrong until Moses told them so! That’s ludicrous of course.
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          As for the translation issue, when one wanted to be absolutely sure one was referring to a virgin, one used the word, “betulah” in Hebrew. Evidently the distinction wasn’t that important in Isaiah, else the author would have used a word that was not open to interpretation.
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          You’ve twisted around all the analogies. If I’m going to take advice from someone, I’m going to take it from someone who illustrates that they know what they are doing. A fat health care worker is not going to have a lot of credibility, nor is a depressed psychiatrist. I don’t care how much they have studied – if they can’t take care of themselves, they aren’t going to take care of me.
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          How are virgin, celibate men who donated their lives to your god, going to know anything at all about sex and relationships with women? No, I’m not going to take advice from a bunch of men who have recognized their disorder to such an extent that they voluntarily removed themselves from the gene pool.
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          “The church does not decide right and wrong”? That’s utter nonsense. Who decided that abortion was bad? Yahweh has His own recipe in Numbers 5. Who decided masturbation was bad? There is no biblical support for this. Who decided contraception was bad? Where is this explained in the scriptures? Where do the scriptures point to the dangers of porn? What does the bible say about oral sex? Who said you had to not eat meat on Fridays or go to Hell? Where is that in the bible? Of course the RCC decides what is right and wrong, and they send you to one of their four Hell’s if you disobey them. The RCC is the Catholic god!
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          As for Peter (Cephas) you ought to read a very detailed study of all the material we have available regarding Jesus in a book by Richard Carrier about the Historicity of Jesus. Cephas appears to have started the whole shebang and was one of the first Apostles – people who knew Jesus only through revelation – the same thing Paul claims. Paul knows nothing of Jesus. To him, Jesus was a celestial god, and it’s evident in reading his letters that he received his knowledge of Jesus the same way he says the other apostles did – through revelations, not direct human interaction. He knows nothing of the disciples, or Jesus’ family, miracles, baptism, parables – nothing. It was the gospel of Mark that first made Jesus human. Paul wrote all those letters and never used examples from Jesus’ life or ministry to answer his congregant’s questions or to use as examples. If Jesus was a real person and Paul knew it – that would be utterly bizarre; but Paul only knows Jesus from revelations and the foundation for these revelations are to be found in biblical prophecies as well as other Christian texts that didn’t make it into the bible, which pointed to a celestial god – not an early visitor.
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          As for my parents – the childhood psychological abuse was delivered by them, but it came from the RCC and they were as endowed with the “sins of the fathers” as were those who came before them. I broke that train of child abuse. They didn’t realize the psychological damage they were inflicting. Some of us as kids believed it more, and were thus more seriously affected. Some of my siblings gave it lip service and were not as affected by the Catholic psychological abuse as I was. My parents did not give me the idea that the RCC is controlling and misogynistic – I figured that out on my own, and they would disagree with me if they were inclined to discuss it.
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          I agree that almost anything in excess can be harmful, but watching a little porn is a) not sinful, and b) OK from time to time for the pleasure of the individual or couple. I did not try to keep it from my offspring in any significant way. I trusted my offspring to use good judgment, because I taught them to think and reason and not do things to excess. It was never a problem, and isn’t today, to the best of my knowledge.
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          1. Just a Guy

            About the analogies: my point is, someone doesn’t need to have an active involvement in a situation (depression, illness, sexual activity) to learn about it and authoritatively counsel others. Your therapist DOESN’T have to be depressed to help you get over it; your doctor DOESN’T have to be dying to keep you alive; (you agree with these) a priest DOESN’T have to be sexually active to advise you on sexual matters (the same logic).

            How would someone who lived a hundred years after Mary know about her? Through the teachings and oral history of those who knew about her directly. How do you know which side fired the first shot at Fort Sumter?

            You presuppose men – and women – who have dedicated their lives to God (what you mean by “my” god is unclear) have a disorder. What sort of”disorder? ” If they “voluntarily remove themselves from the gene pool, ” how has the church existed for 2000 years? How do you know about sex and relationships with women? Priests know as much about personal relationships as anyone else, and more than most, I daresay. And who says they’re virgins before they choose celibacy? There are married men who have become priests. It’s rare, granted, but it happens.

            The historic existence of Jesus is not something I’m going to debate. The apostles learned from Jesus with whom they walked, talked, ate and fished. He revealed things to them, hence they learned by revelation. And there was this little event called Pentecost, where God in the person of the Holy Spirit established the church. Sorry, I can’t find a higher authority than that on anything.

            God decided abortion was bad. That’s why it’s “written” on the human heart (before it was litrally written in stone) that it’s bad to kill, so that, as you say, everyone knows it. Abortion ends a human life =killing = bad. The other things you mention, which leads us back to our original point that treating the intimate union of sex casually, using pornography where people are objectified, minimize the dignity of the human person.

            The church doesn’t decide what’s right and wrong in the sense of imbuing something with “rightness” or “wrongness”. The church does have the interpretive authority to say if something is right or wrong. Sex isn’t bad, and the church has never said so, whatever misdirected inferences you may make.

            You ask “where in the Bible does it say [x,y, and z]?” First, where in the Bible does it say the Bible is the only authority? The authority of the Bible comes from those who declared it to be complete – the Catholic church. Jesus did not leave behind a book. He left behind a church to which He gave His authority. Your parents’ apparent misunderstanding of the church’s teachings and your resulting impression are unfortunate.

          2. Patrick Gannon

            Still struggling with your analogies. I don’t want a depressed therapist, I don’t want a fat health care worker and I don’t want sex counsel from someone who has never had sex – and even in those rare cases where a married man becomes a priest, I would want to understand what drew him to that calling, and would have a hard time ignoring the possibility that he had sex problems in his marriage that he was unable to resolve. I have the right to choose what therapist and health care worker I want, and nobody says I’m going to Hell for doing so, but if I take a pass on your priest, then I’m destined to an age (aionion) of torment in one of the four Hell’s, Sheol, Gehenna, Hades and Tartarus.
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            How do we know who fired the first shot at Ft. Sumter? Are you kidding me!!! We have no texts whatsoever written by historians at the time of Jesus’ life. None. If Jesus existed, he was a nobody. There are no eyewitness accounts, there was nothing written till at least two decades after the supposed crucifixion – and that by a man to whom Jesus was a celestial god, and not a real person. It’s not till another couple decades before the first word is written about Mary in the first gospel of Mark, whose author only mentions her once himself, and probably two decades later before Matthew and Luke flesh out the persona of Mary by having her submit to being impregnated without consent. Ft. Sumpter on the other hand was well documented in newspapers almost immediately, and written about by innumerable historians. There were many eye witnesses whose testimony could be documented. In spite of all this, there is still some question as to who fired first. If we can’t know that for sure, and it happened 150 years ago, in much more modern times, so how can we be assured of anything at all from 2000 years ago? Even in Acts, Mary is mentioned once in the first chapter and never again. She appears not to be a real person known to Luke’s audience.
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            What I mean by “your god” is probably the Catholic god, who is different from the Methodist god or the Baptist god or the Mormon god or the Islamic god – all the gods are different based on what the organizations who define them say about them – given that none of these gods speak for themselves to the public at large.
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            What disorder? The Catholic Church uses this term repeatedly to refer to members of the LGBT community. I’ll stop using it when they do. They also use the word depraved, which of course applies to those priests who abuse children. The only animals in the natural world that I am aware of who live as priests do – celibate virgins – are male lions who cannot get mates. They are losers who are excluded from the gene pool. This of course does not imply, and was not intended to imply that the RCC will cease to exist as a result, but it is interesting that in many countries the number of applicants to priesthood continues to decline, isn’t it? Humans are all different. Some are straight, some are gay, some are transgender, and some are lifelong celibate virgins. As far as I’m concerned, if LGBTs are disordered for not being “normal” then so too are priests disordered for not being “normal.”
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            I’m not going to convince you that Jesus wasn’t historical – it simply can’t be known based on the evidence currently available to us, although the probabilities speak for themselves. However if you were honest with yourself, you would read Carrier’s book and make your own judgment based on the evidence he presents. You’ll discover that Acts is of no historical significance. I am more than willing to accept your “God in the person of the Holy Spirit” if He will present himself to all of us and confirm this, but I can’t accept a book of mythology as a legitimate source.
            .
            “God decided abortion was bad.” No He didn’t. In Numbers 5 there is a procedure for a woman who has become pregnant and is accused by her husband of infidelity, but for which he has no evidence. (If he had evidence, she would simply be stoned to death, fetus and all). In this procedure, that includes hand waving and chanting and fees to the clergy (of course), the woman is told to drink a substance consisting of dirt from the floor of the Tabernacle. This, in case you were unaware, is where the sacrifices took place because Yahweh used to absolutely love the smell of burning meat. The floor was covered in blood, guts, feces, urine and was a veritable e-coli soup that the woman was forced to drink. If she got sick and died or aborted the baby, then she was guilty and presumably stoned to death. If she survived and kept the kid, she was innocent. The husband, of course, was innocent in either case. Yahweh has His own recipe for abortion. There are other passages where we are told that ripping the babies from the wombs of women and dashing the heads against rocks is OK when they are from another tribe that does not worship the right god. We are also told that when a man injures a woman and causes her to miscarry the crime is against the man, for damaging his property. The god of the bible doesn’t consider the unborn to be human yet. I’ve read the book.
            .
            The real crime is what Yahweh does with those aborted and miscarried souls (not that I’m agreeing souls exist). He sends them to Hell if they are not baptized. The RCC has three alternatives for these souls. 1) The default position is they go to Hell. 2) You are allowed to believe they go to Limbo, a suburb of Hell, and 3) you are “allowed” to “hope” that Yahweh lets them into heaven after all. I’m not going to worship any being that would send innocents to some kind of punishment, and I have difficulty respecting those who would do so, though I will make an exception based on an individual’s fear of an evil god.
            .
            We will have to disagree on whether the RCC teaches directly or otherwise that sex is bad. I grew up Catholic, and I and many Recovering Catholics like me, know what we were taught.
            .
            Once again I must chastise you for making assumptions you know nothing about: “Your parents‘ apparent misunderstanding of the church’s teachings and your resulting impression are unfortunate.” I have told you that I came to my own conclusions myself, decades after leaving home, and mostly influenced by reading the entire bible several times. My parents faithfully implemented and enforced what the RCC told them to do. They were wrong, but they didn’t know any better, as they too were psychologically abused as children by their parents and clergy. Their mistake was focusing on my education where I learned how to think – and thinking is not compatible with religion!
            .

          3. Just a Guy

            Mr. Gannon, I want to let you know I appreciate you taking all the time to repeatedly explain your point of view. I will give Mr. Carriers book an open- minded read; in return, I ask that you check out the website catholic.com and search for the terms “original sin, concubisense” and terms related to all the objections you have raised in our conversation.

            One thing I do ask you to consider when thinking about the clergy, however, is that unlike animals people are gifted with a higher sense of reasoning and enough self-control to decide whether to follow their sexual urges or not. Electing not to do so outside of marriage is no more a disorder for a priest or a nun – or for anyone living in chastity – than it is for a 15-year-old boy to refrain from jumping on the hottie next door while she’s sunbathing.

            As a nod to the person who took the time to write the article from which our conversation was launched, I would like to leave you with these two points on which I’m sure the majority of people would agree: 1) sex is not bad. On the contrary, it is an important and beautiful part of The human experience. 2) Pornography conveys an objectified view of sex, to which children should not be exposed without their parents knowledge.

            As for all the rest, sir, I leave you and your highly educated intellect to find authoritative sources that lead you to the truth to which you obviously aspire. I do respect that, and sincerely wish you the best. Thank you for your consideration of other points of view.

          4. Patrick Gannon

            ‘Just a Guy,’ I enjoyed the civil discussion. It isn’t always like that! Trust me, I know Catholic(dot)com, and where to find the catechism. If you have not read the entire bible, I would encourage you to do so. (Sometimes if I post a link here the post doesn’t display, hence the “dot”).
            .
            As mentioned, I’ll stop referring to priests as “disordered” when they stop referring to LGBTs in that way. We are all human beings, and we’re all different in many ways. To arbitrarily select one characteristic – sex – upon which to discriminate, based on Bronze Age texts is to deny all the progress we’ve made in overcoming the other Bronze Age discriminations of slavery, sexism and racism – well, the Church is still working one these, but the rest of us have progressed. Slowly, we’ve overcome those ancient evils, and the Church – not just the RCC – is holding on as hard as they can to that one last scapegoat… but we’re evolving, and it seems the sex-associated prejudices as well, will be overcome. Rules that made sense to a primitive people without our technology, do not make sense today. We are like algae growing on a pond to which fertilizer runoff has been added. We’re exploding, like algae – and like them, we will eat up all the nutrients, poison our environment and die off en masse, if we don’t get over these Bronze Age roadblocks to our survival.
            .
            I know the article is ostensibly about porn, but it’s really about the RCC’s attitudes to sex. I went to Sunday school. I had nuns for a while (and I don’t have warts on my hands and I didn’t go blind!). I know the RCC’s stance on sex. When you’re a kid, things are simple and it was plain and simple that sex was bad, and once that’s in you, it’s hard to overcome and surely contributes to a lot of unhappy marriages. Look at the way you worded your sentence – “that unlike animals people are gifted with a higher sense of reasoning and enough self-control to decide whether to follow their sexual urges or not.” That comes across as though sexual urges are something bad that need to be controlled. If we had not evolved those urges we would have gone extinct. A couple hundred thousand years ago, most babies and many women died in childbirth, a condition that did not change until just recently. That sex drive kept us going; it kept us producing the next generation. Without it, chances are good, we’d have died out. Evolution favored those with strong sex drives. Then we learned about something Jesus did not know about – germs. We learned modern health care and birth rates skyrocketed. When I was born there were 2.5 billion people on this planet and now there are over 7 billion. It took 200,000 years more or less to get to 2.5 billion and only 60 to nearly triple. Fortunately we evolved other traits and survival advantages as well, and as a result, we have the technology to overcome what was once an evolutionary advantage, but your Church denies these tools and insists on pushing us to our extinction. I can’t imagine that God, if such exists, would really approve of that.
            .
            I completely agree that sex is not bad – I would disagree that the RCC means it when they say it, since they work so hard to make it so from an early age. I would also agree that kids shouldn’t be exposed to porn (depends on how you define that), without the parent’s knowledge. I would also point out that any lessons about “trust” between a parent and child are put to the test when you spy on them, and the very idea that you need to spy on them, tells them plain and simple that sex is bad.
            .
            Enjoyed the chat… Thanks for not telling me I’m going to Hell!

          5. Just a Guy

            Seeking truth and endeavoring to live a good life, i wouldn’t think hell would be on your postmortal gps. But if I may share one last point, don’t forget the biblical evidence of Mary’s sinlessness:

            John 8:2-7 1/2—
            The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. … “Let the one among you who is without sin cast the first stone. ” A large stone flew from the back of the crowd, striking the woman and dropping her to the ground. Jesus called out, “Do you mind, Mom? I’m trying to make a point here! “

  3. Pam Reply

    The controversy surrounds the translation of Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel.” This Old Testament prophecy is quoted in the gospel of Matthew (Mt 1:23) and specifically applied to the virginal conception of Christ.

    Christians have always cherished this prophecy of Isaiah and its miraculous fulfillment in the virgin birth of Jesus the Messiah. Likewise, non-believers have attacked this prophecy in an attempt to discredit Christ and his Church; the attack is a weak one that is easily refuted.

    The Hebrew word translated as virgin, almah, can also be translated as “young woman” but as Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon notes “there is no instance where it can be proved that almah designates a young woman who is not a virgin.”

    Additional evidence that the correct translation is “virgin” is supplied by the Septuagint version of the Bible, a Greek translation of the Old Testament made several centuries before Christ. It was translated by Jewish scholars for use by Greek-speaking Jews, mainly in Alexandria.

    The Septuagint translates the Hebrew almah into Greek as parthenos. This Greek term has the precise meaning of “virgin.” So several centuries before the birth of Christ, before there was any reason to attack his Church, the meaning of Isaiah 7:14 was clear: almah = parthenos = virgin.

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      Pam, that’s a cut/paste response that I see all the time. Nobody ever includes the rest of it. The rest of it is that the Hebrew word “Betulah” means virgin in every sense of the word, and if the prophet had truly wanted to ensure that readers understood the prophecy to apply to an actual virgin, he surely would have used that word. Or, perhaps he just wasn’t “inspired” enough to make his prophecy clear….
      .
      I don’t think it matters as we are coming to understand that it’s highly unlikely that there was a historical Jesus, and far more likely that he was a cosmic god, a mythological character similar in many ways to pagan gods, but this one was a Jewish demi-god. There is no historical evidence that Jesus existed as a man, rather than as a cosmic god. It was an apocalyptic time. Jeremiah had a failed prophecy that Daniel (which many scholars consider to be forged), attempted to fix, and the math took many Jews to around 30 CE. (Note that Daniel also failed as we’re all still here). The prophecies were all lined up and ready to go, and other pagan gods were born under unusual circumstances including virgin births, so this would not have been all that unusual. There were a number of “mystery religions” and Christianity appears to have been one of them, all based on a cosmic god who would fight Satan in outer space (the firmament) and in some way save all of mankind from its sins.
      .
      There’s no reliable historical information about Jesus – nothing that survives that wasn’t written by Christians, who clearly had a bias. There were a number of historians at the time and we have many of their writings left, but Jesus, if he existed was a total nobody. Nobody wrote a word about him that survived. Even Clement, speaking long afterwards, seems to speak of a cosmic Jesus and knows nothing of Jesus the man; but the real problem is Paul. Paul was the first to write about Jesus, and did so about 2 decades after his supposed crucifixion, but Paul does not know a physical Jesus. His only knowledge of Jesus, like that of the other apostles, including Cephas/Peter who likely began the movement, was through revelation. Paul knows nothing of Jesus’ birth, baptism, disciples, ministry, miracles, or even the crucifixion and resurrection, other than that they happened at least symbolically. Paul never uses an example from Jesus’ life, his miracles, his parables to help solve the problems he addresses for his congregants. That’s simply astounding. Nobody ever asked him a question about Jesus’ teachings? Nobody ever had a situation in which Paul could have said, “Jesus’ parable of the blah, blah, blah tells us…” or “Jesus solved this problem as follows,” or “Jesus’ birth to a virgin represents…” There is NOTHING like that, and it’s way too unusual for writers referencing historical people, not to take notice. It doesn’t make any sense – unless Jesus wasn’t historical; then it makes perfect sense. We have nothing in writing prior to Paul, and nothing afterwards (except perhaps Hebrews whose dating is contested – and which also presents a cosmic Jesus), until the author of Mark, probably around 70 CE. It is only at that time that we get the very first material that refers to Jesus as a physical human being. This is 40 years after his supposed crucifixion. The author of Mark it seems, invented a human Jesus, and the others copied and embellished.
      .
      I encourage anyone with the courage to challenge their beliefs, to spend some time with Richard Carrier’s “Historicity of Jesus” book. He goes through all the available evidence, and assigns probabilities of mythicism or historicity using Bayesian analysis, and he always gives historicity the benefit of the doubt, providing higher probabilities than most anyone else would – and yet in the final analysis, the probabilities are far higher that Jesus was a mythological demigod, than a historical person The evidence is there. You can assign your own probabilities as you go through it with him, but in the end, there’s no real support for an historical Jesus. Carrier (like myself) assumed that Jesus was a real person, just not a god, but he was forced to conclude – after ridiculing others who claimed Jesus didn’t actually exist – that they were probably right, though not always for the reasons they put forth. Challenge yourself, if you dare to seek truth.

  4. Peta Waqa Reply

    Wow……quite interesting to read through the conversational debate above by Just a Guy and Patrick Gannon….I was reminded of what a wise old Catholic used to say, “Faith is believing , not knowing”…..I don’t have to prove the immaculate conception. ..I believe!

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      Actually faith is pretending to know something you don’t know or understand. If you knew and understood it, you wouldn’t need faith or need to believe. Your brain knows that it lacks evidence for things like this, so when you tell your brain that you believe, you are lying to yourself and that must create a cognitive conflict. The brain knows that it doesn’t know, but you tell your brain you believe it anyway. I don’t see lying to ourselves as being particularly healthy.

      1. Alan Reply

        The Oxford English Dictionary (online):
        1. Complete trust or confidence in someone or something
        2. Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

        Gotquestions.com:
        Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Simply put, the biblical definition of faith is “trusting in something you cannot explicitly prove.”

        This definition of faith contains two aspects: intellectual assent and trust. Intellectual assent is believing something to be true. Trust is actually relying on the fact that the something is true. A chair is often used to help illustrate this. Intellectual assent is recognizing that a chair is a chair and agreeing that it is designed to support a person who sits on it. Trust is actually sitting in the chair.

        Patrick, somebody may very logically intellectually assent to something without “proof” as some supposedly intellectual people think of proof- observable, replicable,etc.
        You seem to be almost atheistic in your need for God, Jesus, etc. to be “proven,” and your apparent disdain for faith. Is that correct?

        1. Patrick Gannon Reply

          “Spiritual apprehension” as best I can tell, is pretending to know things you don’t know. To apprehend is to understand or grasp, but how can there be grasping or understanding of something for which there is no evidence? To say that you do understand or grasp something for which you have no evidence is simply fooling yourself. For example, for me to say that I apprehend or grasp exactly what set the Big Bang off, (nobody knows this), would be to pretend I know something I don’t know, and all the faith in the world wouldn’t make what I believe true until such time as evidence was provided to support it.
          .
          “Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Sounds really clever, but what does that mean? What is meant by “substance or assurance of things hoped for”? What is meant by “evidence or conviction of things not seen”? How does something that originates from hope actually exist? I hope I grow wings and fly around the countryside. I can hope all I want and no harm will come of it. However if I have faith that I have wings and can fly around the countryside and act on that faith – well, the results may be less than desirable. Jim Jones, David Koresh, Heaven’s Gate – all those people had faith – and it killed them dead.
          .
          I have no problem with your analogy. I only disagree with the use of the word “believe” and prefer instead to say that I “think with a high degree of probability” that a chair is designed to support the person who sits in it. I have vast amounts of evidence to confirm the very high probability for thinking this to be the case. based on all the chairs of varied design that I have encountered personally and in other media throughout my life. The evidence is pretty overwhelming that chairs exist and are designed for humans to sit on them. Based on this overwhelming evidence, thinking that I can “trust” the chair to support me is a matter of using reason, and certainly not faith. Yahweh on the other hand has absolutely no objective, empirical data to support HIs existence – none – otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about it. Therefore I think He exists with an extremely low probability, but of course I can’t know for sure and don’t claim to, but in the case of Yahweh, there’s nothing to trust.
          .
          I prefer agnostic to atheist, but I suspect you are an atheist. Do you believe that Allah selected Mohammed as his messenger? Do you believe that he flew to heaven on a winged horse? Do you believe the angel Gabriel dictated the Qur’an to him? No, you don’t believe these things? You don’t believe in a personal god? You are an atheist with respect to Allah, and Muslims believe you will burn in Hell as a result. An agnostic has the courage to admit ignorance. I don’t know if there are gods or afterlives. I doubt it, but I don’t know. It’s the only rational position to take when there is a complete and total lack of objective evidence. I just don’t see how lying to ourselves can be healthy.

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