Is viewing pornography on the Internet a mortal sin? What is a good method to get away from what I know in my heart is wrong?
Of its nature, the viewing of pornography is a mortal sin. As with any mortal sin, one’s culpability (blame worthiness) is affected by how freely one consents to the act, and the degree to which one fully knows and understands the gravity of the evil involved.
Internet pornography presents a very serious temptation to many, and many pastoral challenges for the Church. The fact is, today, increasing numbers of people compulsively view this sinful material, and many are outright addicted to Internet pornography.
As any confessor or pastor of souls will be able to attest, large numbers are approaching the confessional and counseling and are quite “stuck” in Internet pornography. Many have seen their relationships and marriages greatly harmed, and some even end up with criminal charges related to the viewing of pornographic images of minors. Addiction to pornography is a slippery slope that leads to increasingly debased and degrading imagery. Pornography is indeed, a snare, which lures its victims with promises of momentary delights, only to leave them quickly hungry for more. This is due to the increasingly insatiable lust that it ignites.
One of the more effective remedies that has emerged recently is a system of accountability, wherein one's Internet activities are monitored and recorded, and a daily report is sent to someone of the pornography addict’s choice. This “sponsor,” of sorts, reviews the list and holds the addict accountable. Certainly too, filters can be of some help, to prevent tempting materials from appearing in the first place. These filters can be of great help to those who struggle more mildly with the problem. Sadly though, many true pornography addicts know their way around such filters.
Finally, this salutary reminder: absolutely nothing we do on the Internet is private. When we are on the Internet, we are out in public, and our browsing habits are not hard to discover, for those who might wish to know. What’s done in the dark can be brought to the light.
Take Internet pornography seriously, it is a grave sin, which causes great harm, and is highly addictive to many people. The Scriptures say, Flee fornication (1Cor 6:18). And one does well to heed this prescription in a particular way related to Internet pornography. Flee pornography; it is a snare.
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