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Taking on Porn

Mark Houck is co-founder and president of The King’s Men, Inc., a Catholic lay organization that helps men embrace the faith and live moral lives. He lectures nationally on a variety of topics related to masculinity, teen sexuality, pro-life and pro-family. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops asked him to write an article on the issue of pornography that has been sent to every U.S. diocese.

Houck, 36 years old, lives in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, with his wife Ryan-Marie and their 20-month-old son, Mark Jr. They are expecting the birth of their second child, Ava Marie, in December.

Fathers for Good: Porn has exploded with the internet. What are the dangers of this and other forms of porn?Mark Houck

Houck: Pornography is a threat to men and women of all ages and walks of life. While there are an alarming number of women who struggle with pornography – studies say 1 out of 6 – most men, because of their make-up, are more inclined to have issues with pornography if they are ever exposed to it.

Men are wired to be visually stimulated, thus the impure content of pornography is often life altering. When a man looks at pornography, his neurochemistry changes. Studies have shown a pornography addict’s brain to be comparable to that of a hard drug user. When a man uses pornography to gratify himself sexually this is a recipe for a lifelong addiction.

The sin element of this vice is causing many men to compartmentalize their spiritual lives. Since 5 out of 10 men in the pews are struggling with porn, it is obvious that the porn pandemic is either not being properly addressed by church leaders or the means by which men can combat this issue, namely the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist, is not being regularly accessed. I submit it is a “both and” problem and men need to see the sacraments and the accountability of their fellow brothers in Christ as critical in this their journey towards virtue and freedom.

FFG: What is The King’s Men doing about it in a practical way?

Houck: TKM has focused on porn because it is, in my opinion, the spear point in the battle for the development of authentic masculinity. Men are being taken out left and right by this scourge that is disguised and packaged as something good for men and their marriages. Young people are being over-sexualized by a culture that tells them to be a man you have to conquer and objectify women. TKM believes that pornography can in some ways be linked to almost all societal ills.

FFG: Are most guys in denial over porn use?

Houck: Most men are willing to admit that they have used porn, but most are not willing to admit that it has influenced them in a negative way. I think most men don’t want to think of themselves as exploiters of women. I think deep down men don’t want to acknowledge that porn is as harmful as it really is. They view porn as either part of a single man’s natural curiosity or ritual till marriage. Porn is also seen as something which positively enhances intimacy with one’s spouse. Both are extremely false and destructive viewpoints.

FFG: Your wife is expecting to deliver soon. Tell us about your family life and how faith informs your marriage.

Houck: Marriage and children have taught me what it means to daily die to self and ultimately how to serve another as Christ instructed his Apostles to do on Holy Thursday.

My faith has enabled me to enter into the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony with an understanding that this is my vocation and primary means of sanctification in this life. My faith continually informs and reinforces my resolve to work on my marriage and role as husband and father. I need the daily graces of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation to keep me from becoming distracted or derailed from my mission to get my wife and children to heaven.

Visit The King’s Men website at: www.thekingsmen.org.