The hidden Secrets of Pornography

I have multiple friends whose marriages have been ruined because of sexual addiction.

While heartbreaking for them, their spouses, and their children, it is no surprise that lust is wreaking such havoc on marriages and families. The number of men who admit to regularly lusting after women via pornography is staggeringly high, and it is likely that the actual numbers are even higher.

Catholic men are not immune

Ideally, Catholic men would be immune to this vice, but the reality is that they, too, are viewing pornography and masturbating in high numbers. In spite of this fact, men are afraid to talk about it, and it is rarely discussed.

Recently, at a Catholic men’s group I am in, a Catholic priest on the video program we are going through talked about lust and pornography. An uncomfortable stillness descended over the room of Catholic guys. After the talk was done, each table had discussion questions to go over about lust and pornography, yet at my table (and most others), the main topic was avoided and tangential subjects were instead focused on.

The shame runs deep. I get it. I’ve been there, addicted to lust and looking at pornography every single day. We don’t want to talk about it, yet it is an elephant in the room, a “widely known secret” that we studiously don’t want to discuss.

Out of the dark

In John’s Gospel, after speaking with Nicodemus and declaring that God so loved the world, Jesus said:

The light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God (John 3:19-20).

Pornography and lust are evil. Men learn to use women as objects for their own sexual gratification, committing adultery in their hearts. The Church teaches us the opposite: people are meant to be loved, and our sexuality is for us to give ourselves as a gift to our spouses.

We must expose pornography and sexual addiction for what they are and shine the light of truth upon them for every man. Don’t let them hide in plain sight and gain power from the secrecy surrounding them.

The bishops speak

The United States bishops recently released a pastoral letter responding to the plague of pornography and lust in our culture. Called Create in Me a Clean Heart, the letter is a good introduction to the problem, the Church’s liberating teachings about sexuality, and what men and women can do to grow in chastity and break free from the slavery of this sin.

They highlight Pope St. John Paul II’s landmark work on the theology of the body, a masterful piece of writing that has been made more accessible over the past fifteen years by an excellent translation as well as through practical books by popular Catholic authors on the subject (Matt Fradd’s Delivered is a great example).

This letter from our bishops is a good start, but we need much more. We need Catholic men everywhere to confront this vice directly. We need Catholic men to start groups at their parishes that provide a place for them to discuss this embarrassing subject and support and encourage one another in their struggles with it. We need more men to speak about it and more conferences and talks to provide resources to help men grow in chastity.

Vistory is possible

By availing myself of the arsenal of weapons that the Church gives us, I have been able to conquer this vice and grow in the virtue of purity. I make no brag about that; it was God’s grace alone that did it.

But that is the good news: you can overcome this evil in your life with the help of God’s grace. The fullness of the means of salvation are found in the Catholic Church, which means you have access to the strongest antidotes to the venom of lust.

Many men have written me over the years asking for help, so I recently created a short, powerful video course to help Catholic men gain the victory over pornography addiction. I synthesized all the best strategies, tools, and ideas that I learned over the past fifteen years and distilled them into the course.

What I learned from my own struggle, and the battles of many Catholic men, is that no one tactic or way works for every man. Instead, different tools and strategies are most effective for each person, so trying out several ones and finding out which help you most is essential.

Of course, some “weapons,” like confession and Holy Mass, are indispensable for every Catholic man in his battle against lust. But in addition to those sacraments, a myriad of other resources are available to aid men in purity.

I cannot describe the greatness of joy from being freed from the slavery of lustful sins. It has been a great gift not only for myself but also for my wife and family, and it is a gift that I want every Catholic man to receive.

The Son can set you free, and you will be free indeed. Be not afraid to get the resources and help you need to defeat this vice, and remember that God has given us the Holy Spirit, a “spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline” (2 Tim. 1:7).

Written By Devin Rose



  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    Come on, the Church loves pornography. Men jerk off, then they have to go to confession before they get run over by a bus, then they do it again, and again, and the church has a regular attendee who puts money in the offering bowl week after week. It doesn’t get any better than that.

    Education is the best solution if pornography is a problem – and it can be of course. Humans can get addicted to a lot of things. Recent scientific research indicates that people who watch porn a lot have shrinkage in a part of their brain. That’s going to get the attention of a lot more men, I think, than some self-righteous religiosity.

    1. Richard Reply

      So stop masturbating dude, and dont forget to wash your hand.

    2. Ed of ct. Reply

      Are you serious to say the least. Few in the church go to confession. I am quite sure the Last thing they in the church worry about is a troubled soul with jaded opinion of the church like yourself.. Porno ruin sensability of men to have a moral and normal life with women and endangers your soul.

  2. victormusara Reply

    Patrick, it seems to me that you always have a case against the Catholic Church and other sects of Christianity. If not God who do you Love? Science?

    I am surprised by your ignorance, Patrick, since I have come to realise that you read and comment on these articles more than most Catholics.

    Do you not know, that Faith is a gift whose mystery far surpasses our conception? Love, Patience, Humility, Mercy-they are all gifts. This article is just telling us to ask God of those gifts. I know that explaining such to you is just futile, and can make you insult me-as has been the case for many Catholics who have tried to explain to you-but I just want to take my chances.

    People like you try to apply the principle of reversibility (of light) on the Bible and Science. Your folly! You try to use Science to explain the Bible / to prove it wrong, which is wrong, and in this case reversibility. The Word of God is greater than Science, yet you try to equate them on the same scale. Try to traverse through the Bible then to Science, the harmony will surprise you. Lest you ignore the fact that impressive architecture, metallurgy, art etc are all described / acknowleged in the Bible. It might surprise you when History proves to you that Luke was a physician. That Joseph was a carpenter. And that Geology is summarised in Ecclesiastes…that Sir Isaac Newton, Blaise Pascal, Rene Descartes, Leonardo da Vinci…were all Christians.

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      I suspect that there are a lot of Catholics who are interested in challenges to Bronze and Iron Age dogma and doctrine, and are happy to see someone ask or state what they would like to say.

      Disagreeing with the RCC does not make one ignorant, but it is a given that many believers will respond with personal attacks when challenged. I’m used to it.

      I will not insult you by calling you ignorant, but will point out that the scientists you mention had little option but to be Christian or face overwhelming hostility to the point of torture and death from Church – DaVinci in particular.

      Your task, if you wish to bring me back into the fold is simple – just provide some objective, empirical evidence that your god or any other god actually exists.

  3. victormusara Reply

    Patrick, saying that the Church loves porn is ignorance.

    Can you provide emperical evidence on that da Vinci had no choice but be Catholic? I have books on those Scientists you say “had no choice” but to be Catholics. But at least writing in defence of Christianity was not an obligation right? Why then did they write articles in defence of Christianity?
    Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) was a *radical* Catholic, a Jansenist. Jansenism was a movement in the RCC Church at the time, it was bitterly opposed by the Jesuits. Blaise Pascal “argues that Christianity is reasonable because it alone understands human nature. It is deserving of our love because it promises us happiness. Reason gets us nowhere; it leads only to doubt; and doubt, if carried far enough, destroys itself. Therefore it is the part of higher reason to obey the instinct of the heart and by faith reach what the mere intellect cannot attain to. ‘The heart has its reasons which reason itself does not know'”
    Quoting from da Vinci’s biography “he several times showed to many able citizens who then ruled Florence, of a method of raising the church of S. Giovanni and putting steps under it without it falling down. He argued with so much eloquence that it was not until after his departure that they recognized the impossibility of such a feat…Leonardo then did a painting of the Last Supper for the Dominicans at S. Maria de Gazelle in Milan, endowing the heads of the Apostles with such majesty and beauty that he left that of Christ unfinished, *feeling that he could not give it that celestial divinity which it demanded*”… After a long time had passed with the painting still unfinished, “the prior incessantly importuned Leonardo to finish the work” but his “importunity [had] produced no effect, he had recourse to the duke…” “He added that there were still two heads to be done, that of Christ, which he would not look for on the earth, and felt unable to concieve the beauty of the celestial grace that must have been incarnate in the divinity. The other head was that of Judas, which also caused him thought, as he did not think he could express the face of a man who could resolve to betray his Master, the Creator of the world, after having received so many benefits.

    Since the fact that you do not believe in God, makes you possess more faith than I, I am not interested in, and cannot achieve to provide emperical evidence for you-you have to answer the call. And since Rene Descartes, the French Mathematician (and some others), who was more intelligent than I, tried his best in “The Philosophical work of Descartes” volume I and II to present to the world such emperical evidence, some centuries ago, but even now, you still disbelieve; would you believe me if I were able to render such evidence for you?

    Just for interest’s sake, can you tell me how you find it so easy to believe the works of Plato (427-347 B.C) and Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), and that they actually wrote those works, but disbelieve St. Luke’s Letters to Theophilus written some 400 or so years after Plato and Aristotle?

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      “Patrick, saying that the Church loves porn is ignorance.” No; it’s called sarcasm. I thought it was pretty obvious. I guess some people are incapable of recognizing humor – and I know that humor doesn’t always come out in writing the same as it does in person – but come on; who would think I was being serious? Now that I think about it – I said it as a joke, but now I wonder if maybe there isn’t a grain of truth to it. Porn does keep ’em coming back to confession, and that’s good for the Church after all.

      DaVinci was hounded by the Church because he was suspected of being gay. If my sense of history is correct, the Spanish Inquisition was active at the time. The Church had no problem with killing people to maintain its seat of power. At a time when Christianity and Catholicism in particular, was the only real choice (there weren’t a lot of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, HIndus, etc. in Europe at the time) and since the Church possessed much of the wealth and was therefore in a position to dole out work – they surely influenced all the arts and philosophy of the time.

      Take your passage from Blaise Pascal and substitute the word “Naziism” or “Communism.” Is the argument that reason gets us nowhere still valid?

      ” the fact that you do not believe in God, makes you possess more faith than I,” Please defend that non sequitur. How can a lack of faith translate to a greater faith? My mantra is simple. I DON’T KNOW. That is my faith. I have faith that my knowledge is limited and that there is much I don’t know and that I will never know – until such time as I either do, or fail to continue to exist.

      The difference between Plato and Aristotle and that of the NT writers, is that the former were not putting forth a theology. They were not starting a new religion. And of course we really don’t know what they wrote because we don’t have any originals for their works, either. As I understand it, there is less difference between the many fragments of early copies for the philosophers than there are in the remaining fragments for the theologians writing biblical texts.

  4. Goodson Tonga Reply

    Men’s council to discuss such serious life threatening issues with a view to enlight men on the danger of pornography and sexual addiction. catholic grouping should recruit members of different age group so that dissemination is spread faster before a lot of fox is lost

  5. victormusara Reply

    [sigh] at least you were joking. Patrick, in quoting Blaise Pascal I was just trying to show that he was Catholic not because he was forced. I was not trying to persuade you to believe his ideas; and as I said, he was a *radical*, a Jansenist who taught the Doctrine of predestination-which, in case you come across such radicals, I advise that you distance yourself from their kind as much as you can.
    By saying that you have more faith than I, I had wrongly assumed that you firmly believe that God does not exist; I am sorry. Now that you have said it is just because you do not know if he exists or does not exist, I would assume that it is a good sign that you are affiliated to religious platforms like this one. You are more closer to God’s call than you know. I do not want to refer you to the miracles which happen every day in God’s name because I do not know what you make of them-maybe sorcery. But why do you not try “The Philosphical Works of Descartes” volume I to start with. He does not qoute the Bible or anything related to the Biblical texts, but by the foundations and principles of Philosophy he has laid, he *might* somehow convince you that God really exists.
    “…If there are finally any persons who are not sufficiently persuaded of the existence of God and of the soul by the reasons which I have brought forward, I wish that they should know that all other things of which they perhaps think themselves more assured (such as possessing a body, and that there are stars and an earth and so on) are less certain. For, although we have a moral assurance of these things which is such that it seems that it would be extravagant in us to doubt them, at the same time no one, unless he is devoid of reason, can deny, when a metaphysical certainty is in question, that there is sufficient cause for our not having complete assurance, by observing the fact that when asleep we may similarly imagine that we have another body, and that we see other stars and another earth, without there being anything of the kind…” (The Philosophical works of Descartes volume I [can be downloaded as an ebook for free; together with volume II] ).

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      “I do not want to refer you to the miracles which happen every day in God’s name because I do not know what you make of them-maybe sorcery.” No, I don’t think there’s any more evidence for sorcery than there are for miracles. Show me an objective, empirical miracle that can’t be explained by coincidence or natural causes, and you’ll get my attention. Claiming to have prayers answered does not qualify, as this can always be demonstrated to be coincidence. Show me a genuine miracle – turn water into wine without trickery for example.

      I will add Descartes to my reading list. I’m vaguely familiar with him (“I think, therefore I am” – though perhaps he should have said, “I think, therefore my brain is”). The Catholic Church banned his books for some period of time, so evidently they didn’t agree, perhaps because his views were more deist than theist? I think the idea of a deist god is more probable, but there’s no evidence for either of course.

      Why does it matter if I believe God exists? Saying it, certainly doesn’t make it true. My brain knows that there is no objective, empirical evidence for gods or afterlives, so why should I lie to my brain and tell it to believe something when it knows that it doesn’t know? That sounds like lying to myself, and I can’t imagine that’s healthy.

  6. stallon Reply

    There are many people who want to criticize the Holy Catholic Church. A humble request to those….please instead judging the Church from being distant…walk near with her and taste her sweetness….Mother Church is the only organization more scientific pragmatic and can direct the human race in the Eternal truth

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      Yes, taste the sweetness of an organization that systematically defended child abusers for centuries. Taste the sweetness of an organization that tells young, impressionable children that they will suffer eternity in fire if they don’t believe, say and do the right things. Taste the sweetness of an organization that invoked the ever so sweet Inquisition. No thanks.
      If the Church was scientifically pragmatic, they would admit that evolution does away with original sin. The Church only accepts science when it has no choice due to overwhelming evidence. They are in difficulty again though, and this is bigger than denying Copernicus and Galileo. The DNA evidence seems to confirm that we did not come from two individuals, and most certainly not 6000 years ago. The whole original sin concept was invented by Paul, who also preached that Jesus return was imminent – but Paul was wrong. His credibility is shot. Paul thought Adam and Eve were literal people actually created out of dirt and ribs. Jesus neglected to tell him otherwise in the so-called “visions.” The Church has pragmatically accepted that evolution occurred, although they tell the sheeple that they can believe whatever they want – to heck with the actual “truth.”

  7. Emmanuel Reply

    Patrick may The LORD JESUS CHRIST who died for the sins of the whole world touch by the End of this year and may HE use you to save many Souls and trust me you will encounter the Almighty GOD your creator soon. Thanks and hope you ready for HIM.

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      No, Jesus didn’t die for the whole world – only for those who believe what you believe – those who believe, say and do the right things according to whichever denomination is making the claim. If Jesus died for the whole world, then we have universal salvation (which of course the RCC rejects. Geez – heaven forbid Jesus should actually be a good god!).
      You go on to say, “trust me you will encounter the Almighty GOD your creator soon.” Oh really? How soon? Do you know something I don’t know? Are you threatening to take my life? What makes you think I’m going to meet my creator soon? What is “soon” to you? I’m actually pretty healthy and have no plans for dying anytime soon.
      If there is a creator and I meet him/her/it, I suspect this creator will be more impressed with those who actually used the intellectual gifts they were born with, rather than burying them in the garden like the parable of the talents. In that case, the dude who didn’t use his gifts was severely punished. I’m going to use the gifts I was born with, whether I got them through evolution or creation, because to waste them on beliefs and faith without evidence would be to discredit those gifts and dishonor any god that might have given them to me.

  8. Joe Larocque Reply

    Patrick, you always have to have the last word, don’t you. You won’t dissuade those who believe and know the truth, I will pray for your conversion. go ahead, reply. I promise you, I am not monitoring for your comment. God Bless.

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      Pray for my conversion? I was baptized Catholic. I’m a recovering Catholic. I was a believer, and I was dissuaded by scientific evidence and a much greater understanding of the Christian religion. You’re mistaken if you think people aren’t being persuaded. The fastest growing “religious” group is the “nones.” Catholic mass attendance, along with other denominations continues to fall in industrialized nations where there is better education, which is one reason the Church is so interested in third world countries where it’s easier to leverage ignorance (not stupidity -ignorance or lack of education), fear, and much of the traditional superstition of the native populations.
      It’s not about having the last word, it’s about being polite enough to respond to anyone who wants to enter into discussion. Anyone willing to take the time to respond to me, particularly if I raise an issue they question, is entitled to my response and defense of my points, as long as I get a notification, which on this blog engine is a dicey thing.
      What is interesting, is that when people do respond to my posts, they generally attack me personally, rather than any of the points I raise. Why do you think that is?

  9. Jim Carroll Reply

    I am a 54 year old virgin man, I chose long ago to take care of a mentally disabled brother and parents (mother deceased now) both of whom had/have mental illness. It has been a hard life but I feel I am fulfilling the true meaning of Christianity. I easily could have just met a woman and engaged in sex. That would have easily satisfied this new society we live in as well as neighborhood gossip. This alone makes me a social outcast today. I would never betray our Lord Jesus by having sex out of wedlock and I know I will never be married as I have taken a solemn vow to God to take care of my brother and parents who all deeply need my help. I feel thinking about sex is only normal but having sex out of wedlock is a cardinal sin. My question is what do people however few of us there are man or women who are in this situation whether it be by fate, unusual circumstance whatever suppose to do ?. I am ashamed to admit that I do look at pornography as an outlet , but the thing for me is I don’t see it as real and I have never thought of women that way when I see them while I’m out. It really is the furthest thing from my mind. Maybe I’m just odd , I don’t know. I feel as a man that I’m just acting on a normal and natural function as a man by watching pornography since we are visual beings and yes I do masterbate. There are no girlfriends or wife to get hurt in my life since I am single but for some reason I do feel guilty for the whole porn/masturbation thing. I find myself always asking God for forgivness. What is someone like me suppose to do since again we all do think about sex?

  10. Nellie Reply

    Almighty God is perfection and being creator of all things means He makes the rules whether we choose to believe in Him or Not… at least you have freedom of choice to decide meaning your opinion scientific or otherwise of whether he exists or not does not change him being our Creator. We can all agree to disagree… why should I believe evolution and scientific explanations which to me are more incredible and fag fetched than believing One True God who created heaven and earth.
    Again freedom of choice I choose to believe from what is in the Bible, my own spiritual experiences the existence of God. I’m not worried about proving anything to non believers because you have made your choice and even when there is proof of God existing and the truth of it you will still deny it to be true… that is your choice which God has given us all the freedom of choice to decide for ourselves…:)

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      Nellie, you should trust (not believe) or better yet, “accept” evolution, first because the last several Popes have done so, and secondly, because there is overwhelming compelling, objective, evidence for evolution (and absolutely none for Yahweh-Jesus).
      I’m curious – have you read the entire bible? Most Catholics don’t. In that bible, your god, Yahweh-Jesus (because they are one and the same god, right?), is introduced, with his foundation supported by five pillars. We know today that these five pillars have washed away. (1) There was no six day creation – your Church agrees, (2) there was no two-person DNA bottleneck – your Church is currently struggling over how to deal with this critical problem for them, (3) there was no global flood – again your Church largely agrees that this was allegorical, (4) there was no mass Exodus from Egypt – I don’t know the Church’s position on this, and (5) there was no conquest of Canaan by these refugees – again, not sure of the Church’s position, but aside from a few religious scholars, all of these points are pretty universally accepted. The foundation for the Abrahamic gods is washing away… how will the Church deal with it? They couldn’t stop Galileo, Bruno and others – I don’t think they can stop the truth, no matter how hard they try.

      You know, there are two systems in our brains that we think with. The first goes back to our early ancestry, and it says, “you better believe that Saber toothed tigers are bad for you, or else.” and that is where our thoughts first go. Going with our belief provided an evolutionary advantage. In today’s world – not so much. Later we developed a more advanced system that lets us evaluate, fact-check, contemplate, and make better decisions. System 1 says, ignore the facts, or the tiger will eat you. System 1 makes you feel bad if you encounter information that contradicts what you believe. System 2 says, ‘hold on, maybe these facts will lead to better decisions. System 2 takes more effort to use. Any time you go with your gut, you are going with System 1 and you can be sure that you have not taken into consideration all the facts you should prior to making a decision. Use the rest of your brains, folks!

  11. Patrick Gannon Reply

    Jim, you said, ” I feel thinking about sex is only normal but having sex out of wedlock is a cardinal sin.” I thought Yahweh-Jesus patrolled our thoughts and condemned us as much for what we thought as what we did. That’s how I recall my Catholic indoctrination, though practices may have changed a little by your time. If you don’t confess those thoughts, isn’t that a mortal sin? It’s wrong to have such thoughts, you know it’s wrong, and you have those thoughts anyway. You have free will; you choose to have those thoughts, and if you die before confession you’re going to burn for all of eternity. Isn’t that essentially the Church’s position?

    Who could worship a god who would do such a thing? Either the god is evil, or the organization that created him is. Lose the guilt, man. Start by reading the entire bible cover to cover (yes, you can skip the pages of “begats”!). Then learn a little about DNA. You see, we know today that mankind did not evolve from a single breeding pair, but rather a small group of a few tens of thousands. There was no Adam and Eve. The Church is aware of this information – the DNA evidence is pretty well incontrovertible as I understand it. This means there was no original sin. There have been articles in this website on other pages that are slowly breaking this ice, as it’s a huge problem for the Church. All this stuff about masturbation and whether divorced Catholics who remarry should be able to have Communion – that’s all a distraction. The problem is the very core of the religion – the very reason for it’s existence, the very question of its legitimacy. If there was no original sin, there is really no reason for the Church to exist aside from tradition, culture and social life. All that guilt, shame and fear they have filled you with – all for naught. I was pretty angry when I figured it out.

    Think about original sin. The Church (last several Popes) accept evolution and acknowledge that mankind evolved. They have insisted that we still come from a single breeding pair, because this is essential to the story of original sin (though you may start seeing attempts to reinterpret the catechism on this point), but we know we came from a pool of early ancestors. Our DNA would look different with much less diversity. But what was that original sin? There was no garden paradise. There was no period without death, prior to Adam, the fossil record makes that abundantly clear. These people woke up every day on the menu. They struggled to live long enough to reproduce. What was their sin? Attaining a certain level of intellect and self-aware consciousness? How about learning to use tools and make fire? Maybe original sin was learning how to talk?

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