Providing a Catholic framework on the truth and meaning of sexuality, love, and family

Archive for November, 2011


Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

The past six months, Family Honor’s spotlight has been shining bright when it comes to Catholic media.

We have had the opportunity to appear on a variety of Catholic radio programs as well as Catholic T.V. Raleigh, North Carolina Family Honor presenter Linda Gaviria was a guest on Catholic Weekly, a half-hour program that provides news and information of events and ministries in the Diocese of Raleigh. Linda shared information about Family Honor and its locally-provided programs in the diocese.

Family Honor’s Executive Director, Brenda Cerkez, has been a guest on multiple Catholic radio shows. In July, Brenda joined Dina Marie Hale on Portland, Oregon’s Catholic radio station, KBVM. For an hour, Brenda talked about our history, our programs and our online course, “The Truth and Meaning of Sexuality, Love & Family.” She also answered questions from callers.

July also found Brenda on “The Son Rise Morning Show” on Sacred Heart Radio’s WNOP. This program gave Family Honor its first taste of national exposure as the morning show is heard on the EWTN Radio Network. Later that same month, Brenda was a guest on “Kresta in the Afternoon” with host Al Kresta. With the ability to share information with Catholics across the country, Brenda and Al talked about the uniqueness of Family Honor’s parent-child programs and our in-depth and informational online course.

The fall brought additional Catholic radio interviews with Brenda’s appearances on “Living Bread Radio” in northeast Ohio and another national appearance on EWTN’s “Catholic Connection with Teresa Tomeo” in October. And just this month, Brenda joined Mrs. Mary Ann Jepsen on St. Gabriel Catholic radio’s “The Local Spotlight Show” which is heard in the Columbus, Ohio area. Local Family Honor team members John Durant and Rebecca Gjostein also joined the show to talk about the Diocese of Columbus’ first ever Family Honor program, taking place this month! You can listen to all of these interviews on our website at

Conferences and A Surprise Announcement

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

In August, Family Honor had the privilege of exhibiting at the Catholic Scripture Study International conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. Over 200 people from 33 states and Canada assembled to hear inspiring talks by world-renown Catholic speakers at the Catholic Scripture Study International Bible Conference. We were able to share with them information about our parent-child chastity education programs as well as our online course, “The Truth and Meaning of Sexuality, Love & Family.”

Also in August, we attended the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers (NACFLM) conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Approximately 750 Family Life Ministers from all over the United States gathered at Marquette University for this three-day conference. Family Honor was a first-time exhibitor at the conference and we were also asked to give a workshop. Vincent Weaver, Family Honor’s Director of Programs and Training and his lovely wife (and Family Honor Master Presenter) Jeannie, drove to Milwaukee with their family to help me give this workshop. Vincent and Jeannie demonstrated two skits from our “Real Love & Real Life” program.

Because of our participation at the NACFLM conference, we met some great people from the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois and their leaders are now discerning a Family Honor affiliate. The Diocese of Rockford has invited Family Honor representatives to provide two workshops at an upcoming one-day, family-centered, marriage-building conference. I will be offering an informational workshop about Family Honor and Steve and Pat Notestine, Family Honor presenters from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, will be presenting a workshop about our newly-designed “Leading & Loving” program!


The Catholic Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina

We have a very special event coming up and you, our Friends of Family Honor, are the first to hear about it!

Family Honor, in conjunction with the Diocese of Charleston, SC will be offering a two-day conference in South Carolina on Friday, July 6 and Saturday, July 7. With a theme of “Theology of the Body for Families: Hope and Healing,” we are planning to have an amazing line up of speakers, with time for worship, fellowship, workshops, exhibitors and more. The Most Reverend Robert E. Guglielmone, bishop of Charleston, will be there and we hope you’ll be part of this conference as well.

Be sure to check regularly for more details as we get closer to this exciting event!

Family Honor’s Reach and Impact is Growing!

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

–Christine Schicker, Director of Marketing and Outreach

As the newest member of the Family Honor staff and the first-ever Director of Marketing and Outreach for the organization, I was extremely excited about joining the staff last April to help spread the message of family-centered chastity education. I have a deep love of all things “family” and, having worked in Catholic media and marketing for more than ten years, I knew that this message of hope for families was something that needed to be shouted from the rooftops!

In part because of the ambitious marketing plan we put together last spring (as part of our overall Strategic Plan), Family Honor has accomplished a great deal in our outreach efforts in a short amount of time:

  • Family Honor has been represented at national and international conferences;
  • Family Honor representatives have been guests on global Catholic television, and on national and regional Catholic radio programs;
  • Family Honor has launched a new website and distribute regular blasts to our “Friends of Family Honor;”
  • Family Honor has created a new brochure for our host sites to use;
  • And we have even written a new mission and vision statement that we are happy to share with everyone we talk to!

Let me bring you up to speed!

Welcome to the first edition of our new Family Honor e-newsletter!

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

We hope you enjoy this new way that we will be reaching out to you, our Friends of Family Honor, to let you know in more detail the projects, conferences, programs, training opportunities, curricula, media work and collaboration efforts we are working on to help families.

For all of us at Family Honor, our work is truly all about you. We want to continue to serve you and help you—as a parent, teen, ministry leader or other interested individual who understands and appreciates the important role that the family has as the foundation of society, and as the first ‘school of love.’

We encourage you to visit our web site regularly for monthly updates and also ask you to contact us with your ideas and feedback. How are we doing in our efforts to help families?

Most importantly, we ask for your prayers. We need them every day. We realize we can do nothing without our Lord’s help. Tremendous opportunities lie ahead for us, but we also face challenges, needing more ‘workers for the vineyard’ and funding for our work.

Finally, as we draw close to the beautiful season of Advent, let us all prepare our hearts, our homes, and our families for the event that changed the world forever. Come, Lord Jesus, come!

What to Do About Pornography (Part 2)

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Interview With Psychotherapist Peter Kleponis

By Genevieve Pollock

WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, Pennsylvania, JUNE 25, 2010 ( Across the country, men are waking up to the dangers of pornography use and are banding together in order to battle this scourge in their own lives and in society.

A newly released DVD, “What’s That Purple Building, Daddy?” documents the efforts of a group of men that closed down a strip bar in their neighborhood. These men, part of the Philadelphia-based “The King’s Men,” came together for mutual support against pornography, and to act together on a “no more porn” tour picketing places where this industry thrives.

Peter Kleponis, a Catholic psychotherapist who specializes in marriage and family therapy, men’s issues and pornography addiction recovery, was featured in this DVD.

He spoke with ZENIT about his extensive work with pornography users and their families, the success stories and how virtue plays a role in recovery.

Kleponis, assistant director of Comprehensive Counseling Services, will host an online webinar Saturday, in which all people worldwide are invited to participate from their own homes to learn more about addressing the growing pornography problem in society and in their personal lives.

In this interview with ZENIT, Kleponis offers tips on spotting pornography problems, and explains how clergy, couples, parents and families can work together to combat this issue.

Part 1 of this interview appeared Thursday.

ZENIT: If a person came to you and asked, “Am I addicted to pornography?” how would define this for him?

Kleponis: A person who uses it on a regular basis is not necessarily addicted.

What I ask is: Do you find yourself drawn to it? Do you find yourself thinking a lot about it? Do you find yourself looking forward to coming home from work at night and getting online and looking at the pornography?

Do you rely upon it to deal with the stress of loneliness, male insecurity or job pressures? Is it very difficult for you to go several days without looking at pornography? If you’re answering yes to these questions you very well may be addicted to pornography.

Zenit: What problems do you see in single men and how to you counsel them?

Kleponis: We tell single young men that by engaging in pornography they’re giving into profound selfishness, which is undermining their ability to relate in a healthy way to young women.

We tell them case studies of the growing problem of younger men, college students, who are incapable of relating to females. They lack confidence and subsequently have to struggle with anxiety.

Also, pornography use contributes to overreacting in anger as men lose a sense of refinement and true manly confidence in how to relate to a woman. The women they see in pornography don’t have feelings, needs and opinions. When the men leave their fantasy world and meet a real woman who does have emotions and opinions, they often don’t know how to deal with her, and withdraw due to insecurity or overreact in anger.

Parents need to respond to this crisis in masculinity by teaching their children the truth about sexual morality and the dangers of pornography and compulsive masturbation in their lives.

ZENIT: Let’s talk about the healing process. What are some ways a person can begin to address this problem?

Kleponis: First, the person needs to accept that there is a problem with pornography and then try to grow in self-knowledge about its causes.

The person cannot do it alone. So many men think, “I’m going to pull myself up by my bootstraps; I’m going to do it by myself.” They are rarely successful.

The six point plan we recommend includes: protection of the home; peer support (or a 12 step program for severe addictions); counseling or an increased self-knowledge as to the origins of the pornography use; growth in faith and a commitment to work on the virtues that will help with the resolution of the causes; friendship; and education.

The most common problems leading to the use of pornography that are uncovered are: selfishness, various types of loneliness, male insecurity, excessive work pressures, marital conflicts and a weak spiritual life.

Virtues can assist in the resolution of these conflicts. When a person commits himself to the hard work of growing in virtues, he usually experiences much less vulnerability to pornography.

Next, growth in peer support and in friendships is very helpful. Many men who struggle with pornography don’t have any close friends, not even their wives.

Sharing one’s struggle with one’s spouse or with a close male friend is helpful. Friends can be an extra support for accountability and can receive weekly printouts of Web sites visited through and other programs. We have witnessed the truth of the Scripture passage, “A brother strengthened by a brother is like a fortified city,” (Prov. 18:19).

Another important part of the healing process is education. The influence of the contraceptive mentality over the past 40 years cannot be underestimated in regard to an appreciation of marital love and sexuality. The contraceptive mentality has strongly influenced the serious difficulty of men viewing women as sexual objects and has contributed in a significant way to the pornography epidemic.

An outstanding document of the U.S. bishops’ conference in this area is “Married Love and the Gift of Life.”

Other excellent educational resources are the Web sites: and

Helpful books include: “Boys to Men” by Tim Gray and Curtis Martin; “Out of the Shadows” by Patrick Carnes; “Every Man’s Battle” by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker; “Breaking Free” by Stephen Wood; “Be a Man,” by Father Larry Richards; “Theology of the Body for Beginners” by Christopher West; and “Genuine Friendship” by Father Philip Halfacre.

Next, the home should be protected by putting the computer in an open area, monitoring its use and decreasing the use of television. Of course, another challenge to the family is the transmission of porn on cell phones.

The role of faith is very helpful in fighting against pornography use. Many men who struggle experience relief and grace when they admit that they are powerless over their use of porn and then turn it over to God.

The sacrament of reconciliation, a spiritual plan for life, spiritual direction, Scripture reading and the reception of the Eucharist facilitate the resolution of the emotional, personality and spiritual conflicts that drive the compulsive use of pornography.

ZENIT: The field of positive psychology also supports the role of virtues in addressing emotional and personality conflicts. What virtues are particularly helpful with pornography?

Kleponis: The virtues that are helpful in resolving selfishness are generous self-giving to one’s spouse and to children, friendship with one’s spouse, self-denial, gratitude, responsibility, temperance, humility and much greater love for one’s spouse and for the Lord that would motivate a person not to inflict further hurt and pain.

The virtues that help with growth in male confidence include gratitude for one’s God-given gifts and body, forgiveness of those who have damaged one’s confidence, healthy friendships and faith.

Growth in faith can help one to appreciate the presence of the Divine love of God the Father or Our Lady if a person did not feel affirmed and loved by a parent, or the presence of the Lord if a person did not feel affirmed and loved by male friends.

The virtues that help with loneliness include cheerful self-giving to one’s spouse and to the Lord, hope, forgiveness of those who have not been emotionally sensitive, positive communication, detachment with less self-reliance, and trust and faith in the reality of Divine love if a person did not feel loved at different developmental stages. Often men can benefit from spiritual direction so that they can grow in the capacity to receive love.

The virtues that decrease the excessive anger associated with loneliness and sadness are forgiveness, compassion, kindness, respect and humility.

The virtues addressing anxiety are trust, detachment, wisdom to see the goodness in one’s spouse and faith in God’s protective love and in his ability to lift the burdens and worries of daily life.

As a person grows in virtue he experiences greater happiness and fulfillment in his self-giving in the vocation.

ZENIT: Could you say more about addressing loneliness in married life?

Kleponis: Married couples need to protect their romantic love, marital friendship, and betrothed love, which includes intimacy.

Couples should spend time together in the evenings in the same room as much as possible and should communicate.

Communication is essential to the marital friendship. They should also try to follow the advice of marital communications expert, John Gottman, and offer five positive comments for each negative comment.

They should try to trust the Lord daily with their marriage and family which will protect the marriage from the excessive worries that can create stress and tension in marital friendship.

They should also try to go to bed at the same time. One of the reasons some men get caught up in pornography is because they spend the evenings in a different room from their wives and go to bed at different times. This sets the stage for loneliness and then pornography use.

Couples need to be sensitive to the Lord’s words in Genesis that it is not good for man to be alone.

Zenit: What can parents do to protect their children from pornography and help in the healing of this epidemic?

Kleponis: We recommend that parents evaluate their parenting style and try to engage in responsible parenting, not in permissive or controlling parenting.

The permissive parenting style is the most prevalent in the culture and can contribute to the pornography epidemic. Permissive parents usually fail to correct selfishness in their children and, in fact, model it. They are often weak in faith and do not provide the effective spiritual leadership that can protect children from the obsession with the body and with sex in this culture. They fail to warn children about the dangers of pornography, compulsive masturbation and the hook-up culture.

Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, Virginia, in his letter on pornograhy wrote: “The human person progressively builds or destroys his or her character by each and every moral choice. When one’s gaze is directed askance, one becomes the kind of person who is willing to use others as mere objects of pleasure.”

Responsible parents commit themselves to form their children in virtue, warn them of the dangers of using others as sexual objects, provide regular loving correction and teach their children the beauty of God’s plan for human sexuality within the sacrament of marriage.

They show and teach their children that sacramental married love makes present in the world the love and beauty of the Trinity.

Finally, John Paul II wrote in Letter to Artists (1999): “Thanks to this enthusiasm, humanity, every time it loses its way, will be able to lift itself up and set out again on the right path. In this sense it has been said with profound insight that ‘beauty will save the world.’ (16).

“Beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence. It is an invitation to savour life and to dream of the future.

“That is why the beauty of created things can never fully satisfy. It stirs that hidden nostalgia for God, which a lover of beauty like St. Augustine could express in incomparable terms: ‘Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you!'” (16).

A true appreciation for love and beauty can contribute to healing the pornography epidemic.

[With the contribution of Richard Fitzgibbons]

What to Do About Pornography (Part 1)

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Interview With Psychotherapist Peter Kleponis

By Genevieve Pollock

WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, Pennsylvania, JUNE 24, 2010 ( Earlier this month, the New York Archdiocese held a mandatory conference for its clergy on addressing pornography. Now, an online Webinar offers the same information to Catholics across the globe.

On Saturday, all people worldwide are invited to participate in this Internet seminar from their own homes, to learn more about addressing the growing pornography problem in society and in their personal lives.

Peter Kleponis, assistant director of Comprehensive Counseling Services, which is sponsoring the Webinar along with the Institute for Marital Healing, gave ZENIT an overview of what the online seminar will cover.

Kleponis, a Catholic psychotherapist who specializes in marriage and family therapy, men’s issues and pornography addiction recovery, was the main speaker at the New York Archdiocese conference.

He noted that Archbishop Timothy Dolan backed the conference along with the archdiocesan Family Life Office, the Priest Personnel Office and the Safe Environment Program, in response to multiple requests from priests who asked for help in addressing the pornography issue in their parishes and in the confessional.

The archdiocese developed informational cards with suggestions for priests to advise people in this area, and with resources for men who are struggling with pornography use. It is also in the process of launching a new Web site on this topic, Kleponis said.

In this interview with ZENIT, he speaks more about the nature of the pornography problem, its causes, and how to address it on the personal and societal levels.

Part 2 of this interview will be published Friday.

ZENIT: What are the latest statistics on the prevalence of pornography use today?

Kleponis: The prevalence is huge, and even the statistics that we have are underestimates, because this is something that is going on late at night in the privacy of people’s homes, so we really don’t know how serious it is.

What we do know is that it is a $97 billion industry, and $13 billion of that comes from the United States. Also, looking at the sheer number of pornographic Web sites, we see that it’s huge.

ZENIT: How does this use compare between men and women?

Kleponis: Currently about 83% of pornography addicts are men, and 17% are women.

For women, it’s the chat rooms rather than the visual pornography that they’re looking at.

Men and women are wired differently. Men are visually stimulated.

When a man looks at a pornographic image, there is a chemical reaction going on in the brain. Dopamine is released, there is euphoria, and, when combined with sexual arousal and orgasm, it becomes what I call the “perfect recipe” for an addiction. Thus they’re going to be more attracted to the pictures and videos.

Women, on the other hand, are more relationally oriented, so they’re looking into the chat rooms where they can develop a false persona.

Here they can be anyone they want to be, look anyway they want to look, and engage in these erotic relationships with men on the Internet, all through words.

It is like they’re working with this man and writing their own romance novel together — and that is what they get addicted to. There are some women who do get addicted to the visual pornography, but it is a very small amount.

There are a number of younger women who are forced into this because their boyfriends insist that this be part of their relationship. They fundamentally don’t want it, and that’s a different issue.

This gets into the issue of what pornography has taught young people. First of all, it has taught young men and teenage boys that women are there for their own sexual pleasure — call it the sexual utilitarian philosophy, or on college campuses they call it the “hook-up culture.” This is the belief that it’s okay to use someone for your own sexual pleasure.

What this teaches young women is that in order to get a boyfriend and keep him, they have to be sexually active and participate in pornography.

Right now it’s a popular thing for women to use their camera phones to take nude pictures of themselves and email them to their boyfriends. They feel that this is what they have to do. Do they like it? No.

If you ask them, deep down inside they feel that it is degrading, and they’re very angry about it. But they feel that they’re stuck, that it’s what they have to do.

Thus you can see where it warps a person’s sense of what a healthy, loving relationship really is; they don’t learn about respect for one another.

ZENIT: What are some signs of pornography dependence or addiction? How can a person tell if he, or a loved one, is developing this addiction?

Kleponis: First, it can be difficult to identify this conflict in marriage and in family life.

I ask men to reflect upon a number of questions about their behaviors to evaluate whether they are dependent upon pornography: Have you withdrawn from your emotional and loving relationship with your wife?

Have you lost your ability to appreciate your wife’s beauty and goodness? Do you share this part of your life with your wife? When an attractive person walks by, do you lock onto them?

Do you hide certain magazines or other things from your spouse? Do you look forward to going away on business trips? That’s a big one for a lot of men, because in the hotel rooms they can look at all kinds of pornography on television. Also, a lot of times when they go on business trips they’ll go to strip bars, pornography shops, or do other things.

Do you have a place where you hide things from your wife? Are there certain behaviors that you cannot share with your wife? These are all warning signs that a person could be developing dependency on pornography.

For wives, the initial thing that they feel is a weakening of the marital friendship with less affection and less intimacy. Their husbands seem much more distant, unappreciative and often irritable and critical.

Wives in this situation usually sense that something is seriously wrong. Their responses are similar to those seen with martial infidelity which, in fact, pornography use is.

When a wife comments on these changes, the response from a husband who is using pornography is often one of initial denial, which again is similar to the response to questions about marital infidelity.

ZENIT: If a wife is picking up these signs and suspects that her husband is using pornography, is there a way to approach the topic without making her spouse defensive? Have you seen any success in this area?

Kleponis: Yes we have seen success in uncovering and addressing this serious conflict in marriage.

However, confronting a husband about his pornographic use is very challenging and requires a great deal of wisdom.

The initial response in a wife to identifying pornography use in her husband is as devastating as discovering an affair. She responds strongly from her sensitive heart and powerful emotional life, and experiences feelings of betrayal, pain, sadness, strong anger, mistrust and a loss of her sense of goodness and beauty.

It is hard for her to respond in a calm manner and communicate, “Honey I noticed this and I think you have a problem.” She’s devastated.

Often times the husbands cannot understand why their wives are so upset, as they think: “I’m just looking at pornography; no big deal.” But it’s a big deal to the woman.

She thinks, “My husband would rather be with these women on the computer screen than with me.” It’s devastating for the woman’s self esteem.

These young girls in pornography, they’re 18 or 19 years old. Many of them have already had a lot of plastic surgeries. They use a ton of makeup, and thanks to the things they do with digital technology, they don’t exist.

So here you have a woman who is maybe in her mid-30s, been married several years, has had a few children; she may be beautiful, but doesn’t look like an 18-year-old. Thus she thinks: “How can I compete?” She often feels rejected and unattractive.

We recommend that when a wife discovers pornography use, she correct her husband by describing her betrayal pain to him.

We also encourage her to try to master her anger by entering into a forgiveness process that often is initially spiritual, by praying, “God forgive him” or “God take my anger.” Strong correction should be given with an expectation of change and fidelity to the marriage and children.

The response to such correction varies. Some men are grateful that the darkness in their lives has been exposed, while others respond: “There’s nothing wrong with it; it’s not a problem; everyone’s doing it.”

If the later response persists in spite of proof of pornography use, wives should insist on the couple discussing this problem with a third party such as a trusted relative or friend, a priest or a counselor. Most married men with pornography conflicts we work with are in our offices because their wives demanded treatment.

ZENIT: Pornography is often portrayed as acceptable in our culture. Some people might argue that using pornography in a marriage is OK, even helpful. What would you say about this?

Kleponis: Look at the extensive harmful effects of pornography upon the person who uses it, upon marriages, young adults and children.

We encourage husbands to respond to their vocational calling to be the strong leaders and protectors of their wives and children.

The most common cause of pornography use is selfishness, which turns a man in upon himself, thereby damaging his calling as a man to be a protector and a mature giver, another Christ to his wife and children.

In pornography the man is entering a fantasy world devoid of a true loving and intimate relationship, which is really about using another person for his own personal pleasure. It damages his ability to see the beauty and goodness of his wife and of marital love, sexuality and chastity.

A man who engages in pornography regresses into a childlike state in which he is driven to seek pleasure. He loses his sense of healthy masculinity and fulfillment as a husband and as a father.

Pornography weakens men in every way and harms their ability to lead.

As men we are called to be leaders, providers and protectors, of our families, parishes and society. We cannot do that if we’re enslaved by pornography.

We also encourage men to understand God’s plan for a healthy sexuality as outlined in Church teaching.

We often cite the wisdom of the catechism: “It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense” (CCC, 2354).

We challenge the cultural view that there is no harm coming from using others as sexual objects, and explain that this view is rooted in profound selfishness and a lack of respect for others.

The husband needs to understand that the issue is not his alone, but it is a marital and family issue and needs to be addressed with his wife.

It is vitally important in this “pornified” culture that priests communicate the fullness of the Church’s teaching on sexual morality and criticize strongly the cultural view that no harm comes from using others as sexual objects.

The profound wisdom of John Paul II in “Love and Responsibility” and the “Theology of the Body” can strengthen and purify men and the entire culture in this struggle.

And of course, what does pornography do? It also promotes contraception, because it makes sex nothing more than a recreational activity. It takes away the relational and procreative aspects of it, so nothing good can come out of it.

[With the contribution of Richard Fitzgibbons]

Men are Stronger Than Porn

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

by Brian Caulfield

With headlines screaming of a golf great’s links to porn stars and others who make a living off male fantasies, it’s a good time to talk about pornography and its consequences. The following words are mainly for men, but women (especially wives) may want to listen in.

Let’s be clear from the start. Porn destroys love, breaks up marriages, exploits women and hurts children. Yet it has respected defenders in the media and in government. Indeed, these are boom times for pornography, thanks to the Internet, which flashes suggestive images with virtually every click.

Men are especially susceptible to these images – accessing such sites four to five times more often than women – because they respond physically to sexual stimuli, whether these are found in a flesh and blood woman or a mega-pixel computer image. As countless low-budget porn flicks have shown, men don’t necessarily look for great art when they seek stimulation.

When I say men, I mean married and single men, young and old men, religious or atheist men, but most of all men in their 30s and 40s, who are the largest viewers of porn. Still, all men are attracted by racy images, and few manage to break free from lust and claim consistent “custody of the eyes” or purity of thought.

The billion-dollar porn industry knows these facts and acts accordingly. It’s time we men acted accordingly as well. Let’s put porn in its place – in the spam or trash folder, or through the paper shredder.

The Fathers for Good website, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, has a section called “Men Are Stronger than Porn.” The name was carefully chosen. As Catholics, we learn that Original Sin leaves a wound of concupiscence even after Baptism. So we know we are weak, mortal men who are subject to temptation and prone to fall. We recall the story of David, a man after God’s own heart, as the Bible calls him, who nonetheless stole the wife of his loyal soldier, whom he then had put to death. The pull of lust is strong, men! Let’s not fool ourselves.

Yet as Catholics, we also know of the strength and grace that come from Christ through the Word of God and the sacraments. We know his sufferings in the flesh and his death that broke the power of sin in our lives. We live in the time of his resurrection and glory, the age of the Holy Spirit.

So despite all troubles and temptations – and a media that is intent on multiplying both – we know and proclaim that “Men Are Stronger than Porn.” Even if we fall into the Internet’s web, even if we think that we’re hopelessly addicted, we can recover, with grace and the help of friends and experts.

One excellent program started by the Archdiocese of Kansas City (Kansas) is highlighted on the Fathers for Good site. The “My House” initiative has helped men to break free from the shame and shackles of compulsive porn use and reconnect with their wives and children.

Hopeful news also comes from a recent report by the Family Research Council, “The Effects of Pornography on Individuals, Marriage, Family and Community.” Author Patrick Fagan lays out the findings in summary form, including:

• Pornography is addictive, and neuroscientists are beginning to map the biological substrate of this addiction.

• Users tend to become desensitized to the type of pornography they use, and then seek more perverse forms of pornography.

• Prolonged consumption of pornography by men produces stronger notions of women as commodities or as “sex objects.”

• Pornography use is a pathway to infidelity and divorce, and is frequently a major factor in these family disasters.

Bad news all around. Yet we cannot despair. The culture of porn on the Internet, on TV, in popular songs and public displays should – must – engender in all men an equal and opposite reaction. Let’s put porn in its place, as we resolve not to let it destroy true sex with our wives, or disrupt our marriages, or spoil the innocence of our children.

Let us be pure warriors against the influence of porn.

The study ends on a note of hope: “The key to militating against these damaging patterns and to protecting against the effects of pornography is to foster relationships of affection and attachment in family. The first and most important relationship is between the father and the mother. The second is engaged parents who love their children. In today’s technological society, this means limiting, monitoring, and directing their children’s Internet use. This, in turn, provides an invaluable shield against Internet pornography, and allows room for a healthy sexuality to unfold in a natural and socially supported way.”

Men, let us heed the call. If a husband falls to pornography, his wife and children will suffer immensely. Yet if he turns and serves as the first line of defense, great benefits will flow for his family. Why not start this very evening to build the kind of communication in the home that will lead to healthy relationships and better family time? Say “I love you” to your wife, and show your kids that you care for them. Before bedtime, say a prayer for your family. Make it a habit.

You will never regret it.

(The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Headline Bistro or the Knights of Columbus.)


Friends of Family Honor – Resource for Parents, church leaders and clergy!

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Family Honor recognizes the primary and irreplaceable role of parents and thus we create opportunities and provide tools for parents and children to come together and connect on life’s important issues, with a special focus on chastity and God’s gift of sexuality. No other chastity education programs involve parents the way Family Honor programs do!

The resources found at “Friends of Family Honor” cover a variety of topics and are meant to be a help to parents, guardians, educators and clergy. We hope your experience with Family Honor opens lines of communication in your family on some of life’s most important issues! (Password: FOFH)

Family Honor Changes Lives and Hearts!

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Bill and Jenny McPherson have been involved with Family Honor for three years. They are Family Honor Presenters and travel around the southeast sharing Family Honor’s message with other families. Jenny is also an instructor for “The Truth & Meaning of Sexuality, Love & Family.” See here how Family Honor has impacted their lives.


Elizabeth Rogers participated in Family Honor’s “Changes & Challenges” and “Real Love & Real Life” programs with her parents. These programs impacted Elizabeth’s life and now she is a TEEN Presenter for Family Honor. Find out what Family Honor has meant to her here.


Paul Sholtis and his teen attended one of Family Honor programs in North Carolina. Listen to what Paul has to say about his experience!


Family Honor on National Catholic Radio!

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

On October 26, Family Honor’s Executive Director was a guest on the national Catholic radio program “Catholic Connection with Teresa Tomeo.” Brenda talked with Teresa about the need for parents to be the primary educators of their children, particularly when it comes to sex education. They also discussed New York City’s mandate that all middle school and high school students participate in sex education classes and why that is a very bad decision. Listen to their conversation here.

Earlier this year, Brenda was also a guest on EWTN Radio’s “The Son Rise Morning Show” with Brian Patrick and “Kresta in the Afternoon” with Al Kresta. You can hear both of those interviews here.