Thursday, October 7, 2010

Confessions of an Ex-Porn Addict

Matthew Fraad has an inspirational story about overcoming his pornography addiction.

Matthew’s fascination with porn started out when he found a Playboy centerfold at the age of eight, by the time Matt was 11 his friend and he would go into porn stores and steal porn magazines. One day Matt's father, found his stack of porn in his bottom draw and told him “just don’t let you’re mother find it.” Matt’s father was re-affirming the lie that men look at porn and it’s not a big deal. He was trying not to make Matt feel ashamed. An 8th grade teacher also told Matt, that porn and masturbation were healthy and that young men should go for it. A friend’s mom would even rent porn films for them to watch. All this was before the Internet.

Porn taught Matt three things: 1. women are supposed to be constantly sexually available. 2. Be physically flawless 3. a woman is worth as much as the lust she generates in me.

Porn trains men in boredom, you look at a picture for five to eight seconds, and then get bored with some of the most beautiful bodies on the planet. Matt got bored quickly and moved on from soft core to hard core to strip clubs. It soon became a daily addiction. Deep down Matt knew it was wrong, something kept telling him “this is not how men should act, this is not who I want to be.” Matt wanted to be a father and a husband one day and not some guy looking for his next fix. It was finally at a strip club that Matt realized that he had to stop.

Matt was now 17. Matt described himself as a Gothic Atheist who became a Catholic after a trip to Rome. Growing up Matt thought his problem was not porn, but up-tight puritanical Christians who don’t get it. After he became a Christian , Matt learnt that you veil what is precious, and that one of these women could be his sister or his wife and did not want someone looking at them someday like he was. Matt says “Porn is not bad because it shows too much, but because it shows to little”. It strips women of their femininity and turns them into objects for consumption. Matt now runs the porneffect. com. A outreach for men and women struggling with porn. Matt says that “Women are beautiful, but objectifying them is not." Porn is not about appreciating women, but getting something out of them.

Matt Fraad talks to True Feminism about his life now

SD: Can you give some practical tips on how a man can stay faithful to his wife—and pure for himself?

MF: A man must know three things before he is ready to battle his lust and choose purity.

1. You have a problem! Stop blaming your wife, the media, the culture or even the porn industry and recognize that it’s your problem!

2. There is no secret formula to over come porn. You must understand that purity is not a destination but a journey. You wont wake up one day and exclaim “by golly I’m finally pure!” Purity requires a daily choice! (See CCC 2342) Stop looking for a magic formula and start choosing purity moment by moment.

3. The only thing that can conquer a desire is a stronger desire. Though your desire to objectify women may be strong, you’re desire to guard and love is stronger!

There is much more that could be said, but these 3 steps seem to me foundational.


SD: How can his wife help him from falling of the wagon? Maybe your wife, Cameron, would like to weigh in on this question?

MF: I can only speak from experience. When I am tempted I will ask my wife “Honey can you please ask me over the new few days if I’ve remained faithful to you?” This does a few things. First of all it makes me aware of the severity of looking at porn. It’s not simply “naughty” or “unhelpful” it is choosing to be unfaithful to God and to the woman I promised to protect and love (Mt 5:28). Secondly it is a sobering reminder in a time of temptation to that my beloved will ask if I’ve remained faithful.

When a wife discovers that her husband has been viewing pornography it feeds into the many lies that she usually already believes about herself. Lies such as “I’m not captivating”, “I’m not enough” and “No man will fight for me”. Because of this it’s crucial that she not only pray for her husband but also seek to find her identity as a beloved daughter of God the Father. Regardless of how a husband may fail in his mission to love and guard his wife, she is still objectively a princess of the King of heaven.

Finally, dear wives, pray for us, have compassion on us.


SD: In your opinion, why is porn so attractive to men?

MF: G.K. Chesterton once wrote, “Everyman who knocks on the door of a brothel is searching for God”. The same can be said for the man who views pornography; every man who clicks on a porn site is searching for God. Porn offers a warped sense of intimacy and a real sense of ecstasy. But as with all sin, it promises us everything and leaves us with less than we came with. In response to his loneliness a man seeks a sense of intimacy in porn, only to find isolation and loneliness. In repose to his desire for wonder and awe a man seeks excitement in porn only to find boredom. He seeks relief, only to find himself agitated; he seeks to have his masculinity validated but in the end finds himself to be emasculated. This is why C.S Lewis wrote in The Great DivorceLust is a poor, weak, whimpering whispering thing compared with that richness and energy of desire which will arise when lust has been killed.


SD: How has your faith helped you conquer your addiction?

MF: Jesus Christ is my answer. In him I have found hope, mercy, strength, desire and passion! Instead of viewing the flesh of porn I view the flesh of the Eucharist, begging Him to heal my eyes and heart. Instead of remaining in the chains of pornography I willingly take up the chain of the Rosary! Instead of making excuses, trying in vain to justify my weakness by saying things like “boys will be boys”. “It’s natural”, I now willingly accept my weakness and sin in order that He, the lover of all souls may forgive me entirely.

I’d like to remind every man reading this who may be tempted to despair that Jesus once said to St. Catherine of Sienna "My mercy is greater without any comparison than all the sins creatures can commit. Therefore it greatly displeases me that they should consider their sins to be greater."

His mercy is bigger than our sin and the only sin he cannot forgive is the one we will not ask forgiveness for.

3 comments:

St. Ursula said...

Savia,

I love this guy. If you are reading this Matt, you are one of my heroes.

Matt’s father was re-affirming the lie that men look at porn and it’s not a big deal. He was trying not to make Matt feel ashamed. An 8th grade teacher also told Matt, that porn and masturbation were healthy and that young men should go for it. A friend’s mom would even rent porn films for them to watch. All this was before the Internet.

You have hit on a key point, Savia. There is very little support for children today. Many grow up in a world where they are surrounded by pagan morality and this in turn is reinforced or minimized by those to whose care they have been entrusted. This includes parents who attend church on a weekly basis and are in every way outwardly "respectable."

I often hear social conservatives criticize young people for "rejecting authority." They act surprised that so many young people fall into drug-use and other destructive aspects of the counterculture. What these ignorant self-righteous individuals fail to realise is that in many households parents abdicate their moral responsibilty to protect and educate children about the evils of the world into which they send them out. To add to the confusion, these parents are often clean-cut, churchgoing people who would be mortified if their child were found using drugs, for example. But the forces that destroy their soul and the souls of others? "Ah, sure, stop being so uptight now, will you?"

A child who has the good fortune to grow up in an environment where their parents or caregivers know how to make clear moral distinctions has been given an incredible start in life. Most of us are not so lucky.

It is vital to remember that a component of sin is knowledge. God does not judge acts that are not truly free. Parents who fail to protect their children from these forces and send them out into this world like sheep to the slaughter do so nearly always with full knowledge; the children who "rebel" by embracing the more destructive aspects of this fallen world nearly always do so because they were failed by those in authority. It's pretty clear to me from a Catholic perspective who in this equation will be held accountable on the Day of Judgement, and it's not the teenagers who are having abortions and overdosing from drugs.

St. Ursula said...

Savia,

I got off on a bit of a tangent above, but I also want to say how much I love this quote:

There is no secret formula to over come porn. You must understand that purity is not a destination but a journey. You wont wake up one day and exclaim “by golly I’m finally pure!” Purity requires a daily choice! (See CCC 2342) Stop looking for a magic formula and start choosing purity moment by moment.

St. Thomas tells us that virtue is acquired by perfection of the habit. This is true in all areas of life, not just with respect to purity.

Matt's refusal to pretend there is any "quick fix" to something like this is refreshing in its honesty. There are wounds from which we never recover but rather we learn to live with, if we are lucky with graces given from God.

This man Matthew Fraad is a Real Man in the truest sense of the world and I wish I knew more men like this.

Savia said...

St. Ursula,

Yes, Matt is a great guy and smart, you bring up a good point about authority too.