By way of Big Pulpit, I found this article -- Seven Steps to Beat Pornography and Masturbation -- by a priest I met some time back (I see he's in Calgary now).
This is a subject that some may not like to talk about, but the easy access of the Internet results in a huge problem -- which does profound damage to relationships and families. People may find it ridiculous to think that anyone seriously thinks viewing porn and masturbation are anything but harmless. But they are not harmless.
The solipsistic physical grammar of solitary vice says it all: a person turned toward the self.
Perhaps the very hardest challenge anyone faces involves relationships, don't you think? Think of the problems you had yesterday or today: how many of them involve other people?
When someone gets caught up in a habit of solitary fantasy and pleasure, it provides a convenient solution for what is so frustrating and challenging in real relationships; in fantasy-land, you're the boss, everything goes your way; you design people to meet your needs; and you dismiss them when they cease doing so.
Now, of course, our capacity for fantasy isn't a bad thing; on the contrary, our ability to imagine and create is a faculty to develop. But, the goal isn't to escape reality, but to encounter it -- and, perhaps, with full use of God's gifts, improve it in some way.
While fantasy and masturbation may seem, to many, to be rather trivial things to worry about, I think there's something else at work here that is far from trivial. Call it narcissism. Call it selfishness. Call it social isolation. Call it an inability to make relationships work. Call it apathy or disinterest in the cares of others. Do these sound like real problems we have in our society?
And of course, the problem of pornography -- so readily available now via the Internet -- pours gasoline on the fire.
In the home, an adult gets into the habit of prowling online, but assumes no one else will ever know. In fact, frequently their children will find their trail -- and then follow it.
And if you think this isn't powerful, do a little checking on the number of times this becomes a problem in the workplace. People lose their jobs over this: and how addictive must this be that people would risk so much for so little?
So back to Father's advice. I think it's very good. I would add some other ideas:
1. Keep the computer in a public area and try to go online only when others are around. This also helps keep us just from wasting time online.
2. Plan your time online. Instead of just going online for an indefinite time and purpose, set time limits for yourself and have a plan for your time online.
3. Pray before going online.
4. Keep holy images nearby; you can even paste a holy card on your screen! It's not magic; just a reminder.
5. As Father Schneider says, it really helps to sit down, calmly, and think about the times and circumstances when we most often fall into these sins. Certain moods can make us more prone to temptation: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Frustrated, Tired and Bored: HALF-TB.
Why these moods? I think what happens is that we feel a need but may not identify it right away; we just want to satisfy it. To put it simply, we feel bad and want to feel good. With anger and frustration, I think our inner dictator comes out: I'm tired of not having my way, d*****! And we give ourselves some moments when things go entirely our way.
6. If you're tempted, change your location immediately. It's amazing how just getting up, walking around, eating an apple or getting something to drink, can clear our heads.
7. Fasting can be a useful tool. Because we have so many comforts, we can tend to fall into an automatic, need-felt-need-gratified sequence. Fasting or denying yourself other comforts can teach us that our bodies' cravings don't need to be met constantly.
8. Some people may want to consider going Internet-free. While email and ready access to lots of information are tremendously useful, the truth is, we can get along without it. There actually are lots of people in western society who never go online, and they do quite well. It may be rather humbling to have to take this step, but it's what alcoholics do for their well-being. Having the humility to admit and accept your limitations is something everyone admires; refusing to do so, not so much.
Let me know what you think.