March 14, 2016
As a parish with 4,500 registered families, a primary focus for us is creating a culture that supports strong marriages and families. One of our top priorities is equipping the men of our parish to fulfill their mission of “loving their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25). When we attended the Parish Catalyst conference this past January, we identified that one of the most serious threats to the mission of every husband and father is the way in which the culture bombards him with pornography. We determined that an integral part of our plan to support strong marriages and families is to better equip the men to be leaders in the struggle against pornography.
With this in mind, we decided to construct a page on our website that will offer a variety of resources including articles, videos, and practical strategies specific for overcoming pornography and developing chastity. Pornography is a multifaceted problem which requires a wide range of solutions and strategies for it to be overcome. The web page will offer a comprehensive approach to developing chastity, and will also offer deeper insight into the serious harm pornography does to the brain. In many ways, the growing awareness of the dangers of pornography is mirroring that of tobacco from 50 years ago. For decades, millions of people smoked cigarettes without understanding the great harm it was doing to their health. In 1965, almost half of the US adult population smoked cigarettes, but it has declined to less than 20% because of an increased awareness of the health risks. We believe history will repeat itself with the consumption of pornography as people become more informed.
For example, most people are unaware that viewing pornography floods the brain with a chemical called dopamine. When this happens at the level and intensity created by pornography, the chemical actually begins to rewire the brain’s reward pathways. The brain responds to this chemical overload by reducing the production and release of dopamine. Over time, regular activities that would normally set off a burst of dopamine to produce feelings of happiness are no longer strong enough to register. This has devastating effects on the overall mental health of the person, and it begins to erode the ability of a husband and wife to bond in the marital embrace. We believe that when a man begins to understand the many different ways in which pornography harms the mind and the soul, it will serve as additional motivation for him to keep it out of his life.
Once the web page is completed, our hope is that it will be a resource that will encourage and remind men of the things they must do on a daily basis to be prepared, intentional, and consistent in their daily journey of growing in chastity. Many men do not believe chastity is even possible, and therefore do not consider it something to pursue with all of their heart. We want to remind men of their identity in Christ, and help them release the power of the Holy Spirit into their lives to transform them into men who can love like Jesus Christ.
By: Chris Zajdzinski, Director of Marriage and Family Life, St. Mary Magdalene Roman Catholic Church, Gilbert, AZ