Saturday, 13 August 2016 18:34

Bought with a Price

Written by

Every Man’s Duty to Protect Himself and His Family from a Pornographic Culture.



My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, My father entered eternity many years ago, but not a day goes by when I do not remember him.  He loved Christ and was a faithful son of the Church.  He and my mother knew few comforts, both working long hours in the textile mills to send me to the best schools.  He sang in his native Italian around the home, tended the best garden in our neighborhood, and showed me in word and deed how to be a man. 

On this Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Patron of Fathers, I give thanks for the loving witness of my father even as I turn to a matter of utmost urgency for every son and father today.  To a degree that my father could never have imagined, today’s father must protect himself and his children from the relentless assault of an increasingly pornographic culture; moreover, mothers share this sacred task. Every home now stands in the pathway of this attack on our children’s innocence and purity.  If we are not vigilant, our sons and daughters will pay a steep and heartrending price. 

How I wish that this new edition of my pastoral letter, Bought with a Price, was unnecessary.  How I wish that stories of porn addiction like Matt Fradd’s—found in a new Foreword—never had to happen.  And yet, since I first issued this letter nearly eight years ago, the porn epidemic engulfing our families, marriages and communities, has reached a pandemic scale. In light of this, I pray that Matt’s powerful witness, the addition of practical takeaways, a study guide for individuals, groups, and families, and a plan of life, will be a timely and encouraging tool for purity and holiness of life. 

“If you are really open to the deepest aspirations of your hearts,” I echo the words of Pope Francis, “you will realize that you possess an unquenchable thirst for happiness, and this will allow you to expose and reject the ‘low cost’ offers and approaches all around you.... Have the courage to be truly happy! Say no to an ephemeral, superficial and throwaway culture, a culture that assumes that you are incapable of taking on responsibility and facing the great challenges of life!” (World Youth Day, 2013) 

On this Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, I call on every man in the Diocese of Arlington to search his heart and renew his commitment to purity. I call on every husband and father to renew his sacred commitment to his wife and children. As you do, be assured of my prayerful support for each of you, and may God grant you His priceless gift of purity and peace. 

Faithfully in the Heart of Christ, 

Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde Bishop of Arlington


By Matt Fradd 

I was playing in a relative’s garage, rummaging through an old trunk in the corner, when I found it: a glossy magazine picture of a completely naked woman. I gasped, and my heart seemed to stop—I had never seen anything like it. I felt a strong sense of awe, and also something like guilt. For although no one had ever told me I shouldn’t look at pornography (I’d never even heard the word before), I somehow knew it was wrong. I also knew I wanted to see more. I was eight years old. 

Though my first encounter with porn wounded the innocence of my childhood, more than two decades later there’s something almost quaint about it. Today’s kids don’t have to stumble on faded centerfolds or sneak glimpses of late-night TV—they can tap a keyboard or screen and access a virtually infinite supply of graphic nudity and sex acts. They’re awash in a sea of smut, and as our culture increasingly legitimizes, even glorifies it (or just defines it down), only heroic parental vigilance—plus God’s providence—offers them any hope of escaping its influence. 

As a U.S. Justice Department memo warned, “Never before in the history of telecommunications media in the United States has so much indecent (and obscene) material been so easily accessible by so many minors in so many American homes with so few restrictions.” If that sounds about right, it will be sobering to consider that it was written in 1996—before wireless broadband, before iPads, before selfies and sexting. Before pornography took over twelve percent of the Internet, with more than 25 million sites today raking in over $5 billion a year. Before it was considered common practice, as it is today, for porn consumption to begin with a first encounter around age 11 and go on to radically shape the ideas that teens and young adults have about sexual intimacy. 

This new edition of Bought with a Price, then, could not have come at a more critical time. 

I’m sure that providence was watching over me as a boy, but my parents weren’t vigilant enough. My friends and I began stealing pornographic magazines from the local shops, and soon I developed quite the stash. (When my father eventually discovered it, he just warned me, with a smirk, not to let my mother catch me.) My growing collection didn’t sate my cravings, though, but only intensified them, and by my teen years the still images of Playboy weren’t doing it for me anymore. 

This is always the case with addiction, and neuroscientists are now explaining in scientific language what those of us who have been addicted to anything already knew: The addictive state leaves us in constant craving for a neurochemical cocktail (endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, etc.) that, with compulsive use, effectively re-sets the pleasure thermostat of our brain. The result is that alcoholics need more booze, drug addicts need bigger hits, and porn users need ever more intense kinds of sexual stimulation—just to feel “normal.” 

I would go on to discover a new and profound normality—in fact, reality—at 17, when I abandoned the agnosticism of my youth and came to Christ. Suddenly I knew I was loved; I knew that the people I interacted with day in and day out had intrinsic worth; that, whether they knew it or not, God had thought them worth the price of His blood. This rocked my world. I could no longer justify degrading and objectifying women for whom Christ had suffered and died. And so I made the first and most important decision anyone can make in recovery: I admitted I was wrong, that my actions were bad, that I needed to change. 

I believe that any attempt to come to terms with why pornography is evil must begin with this recognition of the intrinsic worth and goodness of the human person. For if we did not have inherent dignity, how could anything we did to ourselves or others offend justice? Or if, as the Gnostics taught, the flesh was just a prison for the soul, not part of what we essentially are, why would it matter how we used our bodies—or others’? You can’t cheapen what is already worthless. 

This is why Catholic teaching on human sexuality, expressed so beautifully in the writings of Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, offers a noble vision of humanity. It insists on the integrity of the whole person: soul and body. It calls the flesh good and valuable, first because God created it and holds it in being, but even more so because God united Himself to it in the Incarnation. As the Catechism, citing the early Christian writer Tertullian, puts it, 

‘The flesh is the hinge of salvation.’ We believe in God who is the creator of the flesh; we believe in the Word made flesh in order to redeem the flesh; we believe in the resurrection of the flesh, the fulfillment of both the creation and the redemption of the flesh. 

Although my change of heart about pornography was a black-and-white moment, my recovery from porn addiction was not. It would take more time and healing to break free. After I got married, my wife’s love and the grace of the sacrament helped deliver me completely. And, just as my initial conversion had done, the beauty of marriage and fatherhood also helped put the ugliness of porn into crystal-clear perspective. I came to understand how when husbands and fathers use porn they not only make themselves slaves to sin, they also deeply wound their ability to love and protect in the way their vocation demands. 

C. S. Lewis wrote presciently of the man who “keeps a harem of imaginary brides” that prevents him from achieving loving unity with an actual woman: 

For the harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no woman can rival. Among those shadowy brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover; no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity. In the end, they become merely the medium through which he increasingly adores himself. 

This comports nicely with Pope Francis’ admonition, from Evangelii Gaudium, that “Life grows by being given away, and weakens in isolation and comfort.” I think of Christ’s words from Luke 22:19 at the Last Supper—“This is my body which is given for you.” Husbands and fathers have a special calling to imitate Christ in His self-giving sacrifice: in our work, in the way we love, in our patience and kindness. 

But porn flips that on its head. It makes husbands and fathers say, “This is your body, taken by me.” By turning men inward, pornography suffocates their vocation, robbing them of their power to be Christ-like lovers, protectors, and leaders of their families. 

Most troubling of all, for both men and women (the latest studies show an alarming rise in porn use among the latter) pornography deadens the heart to spiritual things. Bought with a Price is full of wisdom and good counsel from beginning to end, but I think Bishop Loverde writes most urgently when he warns of the “damage that pornography does to man’s ‘template’ for the supernatural.” God gave us the earthly gifts of sight and sex and ordered them towards a heavenly end: everlasting life with Him. When we subvert use of those gifts, we lose interest in their true end. Our perspective gets stuck on earth and its low pleasures. Thus we endanger not just our temporal relationships but our eternal destiny. 

That’s the bad news—the worst news, in fact. The good news, as the bishop’s bold and manful letter also tells us, is that healing is possible; purity can be achieved. Perhaps you have been struggling to be free of pornography for a long time. 

Perhaps you’ve grown tired of promising yourself, your spouse, and God, that you’ll never fall to this again, only to return—like the dog to its vomit (2 Pet. 2:22)—once more. Bought with a Price is a timely and urgent word which will, by God’s grace, renew you and convince you once more that this is a battle worth fighting. 

Remember, there is only one sin which God will not forgive. What is that sin? The one we refuse to ask forgiveness for. Be assured of God’s love for you. Be assured of His infinite mercy. The same God who forgave Moses the murderer, Rahab the prostitute, David the adulterer, Peter the denier, and Paul the Christian-murderer will forgive you also, and convert your heart. 

And there’s even better news. Scripture promises that “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20). So we have here not just a struggle, but an opportunity to tap into a massive outpouring of God’s grace. Think about it. Every person, every Christian, every saint who lived before the Internet lacked one gift that we have: the ability to choose Christ by rejecting, day after day, this uniquely modern and anonymous sin of porn. So let your heart not be troubled but grateful—for God’s inexhaustible mercy, for the powerful help we get from the Church’s sacraments and teachers like Bishop Loverde, and for this almost unprecedented chance to grow in virtue by striving to walk the path of purity. 

Matt Fradd works for Covenant Eyes and is author of the book Delivered: True Stories of Men and Women Who Turned from Porn to Purity. A speaker and Catholic apologist, Matt has produced many resources on pornography and purity, including Porn: 7 Myths Exposed, The Ugly Truth, The Man Talk, and He lives in Atlanta with his wife Cameron and their three children.


In my nearly fifty years as a priest, I have seen the evil of pornography spread like a plague throughout our culture. What was once the shameful and occasional vice of the few has become the mainstream entertainment for the many—through the Internet, cable, satellite and broadcast television, smart phones and even portable gaming and entertainment devices designed for children and teenagers. Never before have so many Americans been so tempted to view pornography. Never before have the accountability structures—to say nothing of the defenses which every society must build to defend the precious gift of her children—been so weak. 

What was once the shameful and occasional vice of the few has become the mainstream entertainment for the many. 

This plague stalks the souls of men, women and children, ravages the bonds of marriage and victimizes the most innocent among us. It obscures and destroys people’s ability to see one another as unique and beautiful expressions of God’s creation, instead darkening their vision, causing them to view others as objects to be used and manipulated. It has been excused as an outlet for free expression, supported as a business venture, and condoned as just another form of entertainment. It is not widely recognized as a threat to life and happiness. It is not often treated as a destructive addiction. It changes the way men and women treat one another in sometimes dramatic but often subtle ways. And it is not going away. 

I know of this plague from my brother priests who routinely confront it in the confessional; from counselors who treat it through our various Catholic social service agencies; from Catholic school teachers, youth ministers, and religious education teachers who confront its effects in the lives of our youth; from parents who speak of the challenge of raising children with modesty in our culture; and from my involvement in the Religious Alliance Against Pornography, an interfaith coalition of religious leaders. 

Yet this plague extends far beyond the boundaries of church or school. The victims of this plague are countless. Today perhaps more so than at any time previously, man finds his gift of sight and therefore his vision of God distorted by the evil of pornography. 

The victims of this plague are countless. 

As part of my responsibility to lead all the people in the Diocese of Arlington to the vision of God, I find it necessary once again to address the tremendous moral, social, and spiritual dangers of pornography. In so doing, I ask Catholics and nonCatholics alike to pause and join my reflections in this pastoral letter which will: 1) examine the nature of the current threat; 2) address the arguments put forward by those who attempt to rationalize pornography and provide “cover” for pornographers; 3) offer concrete counsel—to all Christians, young people, couples, and priests—on how to guard against pornography and to free oneself from its slavery and seek God’s forgiveness; and finally, 4) reflect on the gift of sight and its fulfillment in divine contemplation.

The Current Threat 

Artists have often portrayed the human body, clothed and unclothed, in various depictions and poses. While the danger of immodesty exists even with regard to works of art, the evil of pornography is greater and more insidious. Pornography depicts the body solely in an exploitative way, and pornographic images are created and viewed only for the purpose of arousing sexual impurity. Hence the production, viewing and spread of pornography is an offense against the dignity of persons, is objectively evil, and must be condemned. 

The production, viewing and spread of pornography is an offense against the dignity of persons. 

In a culture that sees pornography as a mere private weakness or even as a legitimate pleasure to be protected by law, we must repeat here the Catholic Church’s constant teaching. In simple terms, the Catechism of the Catholic Church condemns pornography as “a grave offense” (CCC 2354). 

The immorality of pornography comes, first of all, from the fact that it distorts the truth about human sexuality. “It perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other” (CCC 2354). Rather than being the expression of a married couple’s intimate union of life and love, sex is reduced to a demeaning source of entertainment and even profit for others. Pornography violates chastity also because it introduces impure thoughts into the viewer’s mind and often leads to unchaste acts, such as masturbation or adultery. 

Pornography offends also against justice. “It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others” (CCC 2354). The “participants” are used and manipulated in ways incompatible with their human dignity. Everyone involved in the production, distribution, sale, and use of pornography cooperates and, to some degree, makes possible this debasement of others. Indeed, pornography has become a system and an industry of mutual degradation. That some may be willing participants in no way lessens the culpability of those who engage in the production and use of pornography. 


Further, pornography represents a serious abuse of the means of communication, and, in that regard, is a violation of the eighth commandment. We must remember that the right to use the means of communication (i.e., freedom of speech) is not an absolute right. It must always be at the service of the common good. Civil authorities must ensure that the use of the means of communication be in accord with the moral law. To accomplish this, civil authorities “should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials” (CCC 2354). 

I remind all the faithful, therefore, that the use of pornography— i.e., its manufacture, distribution, sale or viewing—is gravely sinful. Those who engage in such activity with full knowledge and complete consent commit a mortal sin. Such actions deprive them of sanctifying grace, destroy the life of Christ in their souls, and prevent them from receiving Holy Communion worthily until they have received absolution through the Sacrament of Penance. 

The gravity of this sin becomes clearer when one considers the tremendous damage the use of pornography causes to society. It damages first of all the family, the basic cell of society and the Church, because it tears at the marital bond. Since it “immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world” (CCC 2354), a man’s use of pornography turns his attention and affection away from his wife. It creates in his mind unrealistic and often immoral expectations for their intimate life. He begins to approach her only as a means to his own gratification and no longer as his “suitable partner.” Priests and counselors know very well how grave a threat pornography poses to marriage and how many families have already suffered sad division due to its effects. 

Pornography’s availability and intrusion injure the common good by producing a consumerist and licentious view of sexuality, particularly of women. Inculcating and guarding the precious virtue of chastity becomes increasingly difficult when pornography infects a majority of media outlets. Society’s interest in preparing young men and women for marriage also suffers when the media presents as a mercantile plaything the holy act of intimacy that is proper to the sacred bond of marriage. 

Our natural vision in this world is the model for supernatural vision in the next. Perhaps worst of all, however, is the damage that pornography does to man’s “template” for the supernatural. Our natural vision in this world is the model for supernatural vision in the next. Once we have distorted or damaged that template, how will we understand the reality? Our Lord has given us the gift of sight with the intention that we ultimately may see Him. The sinful use of this faculty both warps our understanding of it and—worse still—cripples our ability to realize its fulfillment in heaven. What man should use for receiving the true vision of God and the beauty of His creation, he uses instead to consume false images of others in pornography. How can we understand the supernatural sight God desires for us—i.e., the contemplation of God in the beatific vision—once our natural sight has been damaged and distorted?

Christians in a Secular World 

Christians are intrinsically a people set apart. The reality of Baptism constitutes us as a community called into the desert, a people consecrated for relationship with the Creator of all things. Yet, like the people Israel who were called out of Egypt, members of the Church, too, find themselves inextricably tied to the same culture of death from which God has freed them. 

“In the desert the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, ‘Would that we had died at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread!’” – Exodus 16:2-3 

It is not surprising, then, that we find ourselves assuming secular attitudes and becoming confused about the true nature of sin. This confusion becomes deadly when we use it to justify our own sinfulness, or seek to “define away” the evil nature of sins that tempt us. This is nowhere more evident than in the confusion that some Christians experience about the true nature of pornography. 

Young Christians struggle to live the demands of discipleship amid the pressures of the surrounding culture. This process of integration becomes more difficult in a culture that, over the last generation, has abandoned the virtue of chastity. 

Spouses—especially husbands—striving to grow in the fidelity inherent in their marital vocation, encounter temptations to escape and seek false comfort in images and fantasies. Priests and religious, having committed themselves to a chaste and celibate life, find themselves in the midst of a culture that views celibacy as an impossible and even unhealthy goal. In moments of doubt, they may reach out for the false comforts of impurity. Their failure is all the more grave because of the scandal it brings to the Church. 

Single men and women are distracted by these fantasies from their most important task of discerning God’s call in their life. In moving from impure thoughts to images to actual sexual misconduct, they undermine the foundation of trust and fidelity required for future happiness. 

No person living in our culture can totally separate himself or herself from the scourge of pornography. All are affected to a greater or lesser extent, even those who do not directly participate in the use of pornography. Yet if those who have given in to this vice were to answer honestly whether pornography made them happier or better persons, only the most dismissive would answer “yes.” An honest assessment reveals that the use of pornography is debilitating spiritually, socially and emotionally. 

Why then do so many give in to a temptation so obviously contrary to the good of the human person? At least in part, it is because of the doubt and confusion caused by the false arguments of those who justify this behavior. It is to these false arguments that I will now turn before offering counsel.

Four False Arguments

 1. “There are no victims, so no one is being harmed.” 

The justification of pornography often begins by viewing the activity as a private exchange between the viewers and those who produce and distribute the material. In this view, there is a “free” choice on the part of consenting adults to meet a “need” and to be compensated for meeting that “need.” The illusion inherent in this rationalization is that all the participating parties complete the exchange as the same persons, with no harm done, as when they entered. Like all rationalizations, this is an illusion. 

The first illusion is that the viewing of men and women in intimate relations does no harm to them as persons. Often this is not true on even a physical plane. Preying on the vulnerable and the needy, the pornography industry often entices them into deeper and more dangerous behaviors until physical harm is inevitable. 

Yet the very nature of pornography commits violence against the dignity of the human person. By taking an essential aspect of the person—human sexuality—and making it a commodity to be bartered and sold, to be used and discarded by unknown others, the pornography industry commits a most violent attack on the dignity of these victims. 


Eros, reduced to pure “sex”, has become a commodity, a mere “thing” to be bought and sold, or rather, man himself becomes a commodity. This is hardly man’s great “yes” to the body. On the contrary, he now considers his body and his sexuality as the purely material part of himself, to be used and exploited at will. Nor does he see it as an arena for the exercise of his freedom, but as a mere object that he attempts, as he pleases, to make both enjoyable and harmless. Here we are actually dealing with a debasement of the human body: no longer is it integrated into our overall existential freedom; no longer is it a vital expression of our whole being, but it is more or less relegated to the purely biological sphere. 

– Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 5 

Every year, thousands of men and women are lured into the pornography industry by the promise of easy money. The industry preys on the most vulnerable: the poor, the abused and marginalized, and even children. This exploitation of the weak is gravely sinful. Whether need, confusion, or alienation leads men and women to become pornographic objects, their choice to do so certainly cannot be seen as free. Those who produce and distribute pornography leave a wide path of broken and devalued men and women in their wake. 

The industry preys on the most vulnerable: the poor, the abused and marginalized, and even children. 

More and more of these victims are younger, even children. When these, the most vulnerable and innocent of our society, become victims of the dehumanizing demands of an industry willing to destroy innocence for profit, it is an unspeakable act of violence.

Dehumanizing the Viewer

“Jesus said in reply, ‘Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh.’” – Matthew 19:4-6 

The guilty within the industry are easy to identify, but they do not stand alone. The entire pornography industry exists to realize profit, and there can be no profit without customers. Those who seek out and use pornographic images are active participants in the victimization of others. Those who view pornographic materials cannot separate themselves from the moral responsibility associated with the victimization and degradation of the men, women and children those materials depict. And the viewers themselves are degraded. 

Those who seek out and use pornographic images are active participants in the victimization of others. 

It is a mistaken notion that the singular effect of sinful moral choices is the harm these choices cause to others. Certainly, the immediate effect of choosing to participate in pornographic viewing is the spiritual and emotional violence committed against those whose images are viewed. Yet, the personal and existential effect on the one choosing to view pornographic images lies at the heart of these sinful actions. 

The human person, the only creature with a moral sense, progressively builds or destroys his or her character by each and every moral choice. Thus one becomes virtuous by the very act of practicing virtue, and one becomes depraved by practicing acts of vice. When one chooses to view pornography, even if at first reluctantly, one becomes the kind of person who is willing to use others as mere objects of pleasure, disregarding their inherent dignity as a man or woman created in God’s image. As the habit of pornography becomes more fixed, the characteristics of a person who debases and objectifies others and wills violence against their dignity become more pronounced. 

It is in this sometimes gradual, sometimes sudden, transformation of the human character that sin exerts its strongest influence on individuals and the culture. The young more readily manipulate and abandon friends to meet their temporary and often selfish desires. Spouses begin to gauge their partner on a scale of what they receive from the relationship rather than to self-giving marital fidelity. Young adults approach marriage as merely a non-binding contract that may be abrogated if the benefits of the married state no longer meet their increasingly unrealistic or even perverse desires and expectations. Priests and religious judge their ministry on personal satisfaction and advancement rather than sacrifice. The widespread use of pornography naturally leads to a degradation of human society because it degrades the persons who submit to it.

The human person…progressively builds or destroys his or her character by each and every moral choice.

Pornography makes a lie of intimacy. Distorting that very human characteristic that promises an end to isolation, pornography leads the user not to intimacy, but to even deeper isolation. The divine purpose of human sexuality is to assuage the longing for communion with another and to bring the person into a bond of life-nurturing, and life-giving, love. In this human experience of intimacy with another, man’s eternal destiny of perfect communion with his Creator is prefigured. The false promise of intimacy offered by pornography leads instead to an ever-deeper alienation that cripples the user’s ability to experience truly intimate human contact. The user of pornography, while longing for intimacy, turns ever more surely back into himself, becoming ever more isolated and alone.

Erosion of the Family

The most tragic and frightening victim of the scourge of pornography is the family. Although the “intimacy” promised by this vice is illusory and the happiness sought in its practice is transitory and destructive, the damage to the human relationships so necessary for the flourishing of the family is even more shockingly real and, in many cases, permanent. 

The flourishing of the family is dependent upon the growth of family members in holiness and true human love. This is a love whose primary concern is for the good of the other. It is in this experience of human love that children grow in grace and wisdom and become integrated and virtuous members of human society. True human love does not arise from selfish desire but rather from self-giving. It is in the example of self-giving expressed by loving parents that children develop the potential to commit to intimacy with another and to intimacy with God. 29 Four False Arguments 30 When family members turn to pornography in a distorted thirst for intimacy, they turn against and in some measure reject their commitment to their family. By doing this, they commit violence against the relationships which define their own vocation.

 If the person is not master of self—through the virtues and, in a concrete way, through chastity—he or she lacks that selfpossession which makes self-giving possible. Chastity is the spiritual power that frees love from selfishness and aggression. To the degree that a person weakens chastity, his or her love becomes more and more selfish, that is, satisfying a desire for pleasure and no longer self-giving. – Pontifical Council for the Family, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality (1995), 16 

The flourishing of the family is dependent upon the growth of family members in holiness and true human love. 

Once given over to this vice, the family member makes great efforts to keep this betrayal secret. Ultimately, however, it is vain to expect that a secret that distorts the core of human sexuality can fully remain a secret from those to whom we have pledged our love and our lives. The betrayal, even if not made completely known, will communicate itself through changes in the character of the betrayer. In the isolation and alienation of the person, the other members of the family feel the inevitable consequences of the alienation of intimacy inherent in the secret of pornography. 

The first to feel the violence of pornographic use is the spouse. If pornography is a sin against the human dignity of those whose images are used, how much more so is it a sin against the human dignity of the one who was promised the exclusivity of affection? The use of pornography is a violation of the commitment of marriage. Even if tolerated by the spouse, how can one possibly not feel rejection and betrayal when one’s committed partner turns to illusion and fleeting happiness in pornographic images? This rejection, if left unhealed, will often lead to the permanent destruction of the marital commitment. 

The first to feel the violence of pornographic use is the spouse. 

As is the nature of all sin, the ones who suffer the most are the innocent. Children who naturally strive to imitate and integrate the self-giving love of their parents instead find themselves faced with tension, betrayal and selfishness. It is understandable then that they may come to believe that true love, a sacrificial and selfgiving love, is an illusion. 

Just as it is a vain hope for a spouse using pornography to keep this sin a secret, it is also a vain hope to think that the material itself can be kept a secret. Children encounter the very material that has caused damage to their family and are introduced to an understanding of sexuality not intended by their parents. Instead of learning and experiencing the nobility of the human person created in the image and likeness of God, they experience the degradation of the human person reduced to a commodity, to an object.

This article only contains the first part of Bought with a Price. Read more here.

Bishop of Arlington, Virginia

In this section, gathers his magisterium documents that relate to the family theme.