Theology of the Body for Teens:
How It Has Changed My Life For the Better
There is an issue in society, as well as in my own life, which threatens to bring the downfall of respect towards our fellow human beings, as well as encourage addiction and sin. That issue is pornography. It is a topic many are too embarrassed or scared to breach, but Theology of the Body for Teens explains and elucidates the issue in a clear, concise, and chaste manner. I have had a fair amount of experience with the issue, both with myself, and with various friends and colleagues. I have been held in its grip, as well helped support my friends who struggled with an addiction to it. The change at which I arrived a few years ago was almost completely due to my reading of Theology of the Body For Teens. By reading and meditating on the small but informative collection of information on pornography, its effects, and its lies, I was able to more fully understand why it poses such a great danger to society, to men and women alike. Though Theology of the Body for Teens by Jason and Crystalina Evert and Brian Butler contains a vast amount of insight on various topics concerning sexuality, the information given on pornography and addiction is what opened my eyes the most to the dangers it poses to chastity, as well as changed the way I look at and treat people, especially women.
Before I delve into the life changing experience that was reading "Theology of the Body for Teens," I feel it necessary to give a short summary as to my views and experiences on pornography prior to reading the book. To begin, my views on porn were very warped and distorted. I fell into the unfortunately common attitude that believes "It's not hurting anybody." Though I didn't view it myself, I was acquainted with many friends that did. I merely waved it off as "normal" and just something that every young man does. I tried my best to stay away from it myself, though not for the moral reasons that I should have; I saw it as a weakness and an all-around lack of self-control. In short, narcissism kept me from getting me hooked. It became apparent, however, that my friends were getting more and more interested in it, and considered me a bit of a prude for not viewing it as well. Out of curiosity, I stumbled into a friend’s collection of magazines. I cannot even begin to describe the guilt and shame I felt after just opening to the first page. I was disgusted with myself. But as time wore on, I became numb to it, and it no longer bothered me. It was not until a close friend of mine, whom I will call "Blake," approached me with tears streaming down his face that I came to the realization of how dangerous pornography truly is. He explained to me that his girlfriend of nearly four years had caught him viewing porn, and had left him. He was heartbroken. Realization hit me like the fist of God: I talked with him for hours about it, and we resolved to find a way to help the both of us out of the nightmarish addiction that was pornography.
Now, we come to the turning point, the actual reading and learning from Theology of the Body for Teens, a point at which I can look back at and honestly say my life changed for the better. I acquired the book through curiosity at a bookstore in a church. I immediately opened it and flipped through it, until the bold word "pornography" caught my eye. I halted, and began to read. The line that stood out immediately to me was "One of the biggest lies in the porn industry is that there are people on the other end of the computer that want to please you." As it stands, many people believe this lie: that the actors and actresses on their screen are there for the viewer's pleasure. However, their mind is so warped and distorted by loneliness, anger, lust, etc., that they don't realize that everything on their screen is a lie. Those men and women aren't truly in love or in a married state, the sole reasons sex was created. They simply are being paid to have sex. Sex was created as the ultimate expression of love, conveying the words "I give myself completely to you" between a married couple. Porn actors take that holy language of sex, debase it, and use the act for their own gain - primarily, money. Theology of the Body for Teens goes on to describe how degrading pornography is to everyone involved, both the actors/actresses/models, and the viewer. The actors and actresses become nothing more than an object of pleasure to the viewer, instead of the children of God that they truly are. They don't gain respect from the viewer, as the viewer seeks only to satisfy his or her wants. The viewer, as well, becomes more corrupt as he views pornography. By viewing it and taking pleasure in it, his treatment of others, especially women, becomes not a feeling of respect and chastity as it should be, but rather the notion that women are objects made only for the pleasure of men. In the section entitled "Science and the Theology of the Body: The Medial Pre-Optic Nucleus," Theology of the Body for Teens explains the psychological effects porn has on a man's brain. The MPN (Medial Pre-Optic Nucleus) is easily trained. When sexual arousal accompanies an image, the brain learns to associate sexual excitement with whatever image/smell/feeling you experience. This is where the information on pornography truly hit home for me. When a man's MPN becomes attached to a kind of sexual imagery, it becomes harder for him to be satisfied by typical, REAL human beauty, as well as affection from his partner. Because he is so used to the exact type of imagery or perfect body he sees in a magazine or movie, he is less likely to enjoy the love of a woman that doesn't fit his exact wants. This leads to problematic marriages that often end in divorce because of a husband's addiction and adversity to intimacy with his wife, in favor of a computer screen. From gathering and digesting all this information, I was able to re-evaluate my views on women, and learn to treat them with greater respect.
After reading all this information, the immediate thought occurred to me: "I have to change. Now." I told my friends all of what I had learned, and I'm very proud to say that the majority of them have taken it to heart and made progress and resolve in eliminating porn from their lives. I limited my computer habits, built a more stable prayer life, stopped watching TV at all, and made a resolution to myself to be impeccably respectful to every woman I met. No longer was I tempted to surf for endless hours on the computer. This was achieved by limiting myself to one hour a day for school, and one for leisure. I made a sincere effort to make a prayer of purity to the Blessed Virgin Mary every day, as well as whenever I was tempted. My TV hasn't been touched in months. But the accomplishment I'm most proud of that resulted from reading the Theology of the Body for Teens is the development of greater respect for women. I have learned to view women as the friends and human beings they are, rather than objects made only for pleasure. I have been able to avoid the temptation of going too far with a girl, by remembering these promises. The Theology of the Body for Teens has truly affected my life. It has helped me learn the horrid truth about a serious addiction and has helped me cultivate a greater respect for women.