"God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them."

What happens when we lose sight of how we were created? What happens when we see God's commands as arbitrary or pick and choose which to follow without understanding the "why"? He longs to protect us. He sees the grave consequences when many times we don't. In the case of pornography, it can lead to devastating ripples that greatly affect others.

CCC 2354 defines pornography as removing sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners to display to third parties. It perverts the marital act and gravely hurts the dignity of ALL participating. And if that isn't enough, the industry makes it profitable. In pornography, humans created in HIS image and likeness become objects used for selfish pleasure.

Humans are created with a great desire for intimacy. This desire is innately good and is in God's design, meant to join a woman and a man together. However, we must understand what this desire was created for. The conjugal act is a beautiful gift which, through marriage, is intended to mirror Trinitarian love in a way that nothing else on Earth can. It is a complete gift of self: body and soul. Pornography distorts this beauty and removes it from the sacramental union. The Enemy desires and strives to attack all aspects of marriage. This is a pawn and lie that he uses: "Sexual pleasure is good for its own sake." But through God, we have the authority to renounce this lie. God's plan for intimacy is a shared and total gift of self to your spouse.

Another lie the enemy uses is "pornography is virtual and does not affect the fidelity in your marriage." Jesus speaks to this lie in Matthew 5:27-28, "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Again, His commands are not arbitrary.

Those who pose and act in pornography material are not seen as God's greatest creation, made in HIS image and likeness, but as objects. They are being treated as a means to an end. "Pornography reduces the mystery and beauty of a man or woman to a collection of body parts to be used rather than recognizing them as persons to be loved." (Matt Fradd) Would anything change if we spoke the Father's heart to them? What if just one Christian told them of their intimate worth and how precious they were?

There is a dark spiral humans can fall into if we begin treating others as objects. If someone becomes accustomed to objectifying people through a screen, it becomes easier for them to objectify people in reality. The will becomes weakened. Again, remember the enemy. He will use this to distort human dignity and love, as a whole.

This problem has become all too common place, and the age of access is getting younger. An older sibling is exposed to pornography, hands it to a younger sibling, the younger sibling then becomes addicted to viewing this content throughout his or her adolescent life. Before long, viewing isn't enough, now he or she has to act on it. As a result, objectifying a human in a fantasy world becomes a desire in the real world. This is but ONE scenario. There are countless others. Where does the story end? What victims are left in the wake of pornography and the enemy's lie about its gravity?

The truth is that pornography is not a victimless act. The vicious cycle of participating in human objectification and sexual perversion often brings depression, abuse, addiction, broken homes, and trauma. What seemed like one harmless act can spiral out of control. I speak as one that has seen first-hand the pain that can come from it. But this is not a hopeless situation because God is greater. How can we be a light in this darkness?

If you struggle, know that God is good and His mercy is abundant. There is always hope and you are not alone in this. Seek Him in Confession. Talk to a priest. Get an accountability partner.

We have been set apart as His creation as we are the only ones that are made in His image and likeness. This is a gift, something to be respected and protected.

Rise up, Christians. Acknowledge this dignity. Be part of the change in this culture.

Christina Brouillette — SFA Theologians Guild Member