View all Ask a Priest | March 18, 2016
“Ask a Priest: 40 Years of Pornography — How Long Will God Put Up With Me?”
Q: I have had a porn addiction since my teens. I am now 59. I try to go to confession at least twice monthly and rarely do I not confess “falling.” I try so hard and still end up in Satan’s clutches. I will admit it has gotten better, but better is not where I want to be. How long will God contend with me? I hate myself after it’s over. Please pray for me. -F.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: It is admirable that you haven’t given up the fight against this addiction, even after all these years.
It is good to remember that Jesus is more powerful than Satan. You need not feel afraid to go to confession as often as needed, and to be forthright about your sins. God’s grace can do wonders. And he has long patience for someone who is struggling to overcome vice.
God doesn’t give up on us, and sometimes we can truly progress spiritually even while we struggle with painful and humiliating challenges such as addiction to pornography.
Even St. Paul was dogged by a chronic problem of some sort. “That I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness'” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).
Significantly, St. Paul didn’t allow this “thorn” to hold him back from being a great apostle. He didn’t allow it to absorb all his attention. St. Paul believed in the power of God’s grace to carry him through all kinds of other challenges, including floggings, shipwrecks, hunger and thirst (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-27).
Having a daily regimen of prayer and Bible reading would be helpful. Also helpful would be to look for ways to reach out to others in volunteer work. There might be shut-ins in the neighborhood who could use your help. By focusing on others in need, you can gain a better perspective on the gifts God has given you. This in turn can give you reason for hope.
Nevertheless, it might be good to seek out some professional help. Addiction to pornography can require the attention of a trained therapist. We are complicated beings, and sometimes problems demand both spiritual and psychological remedies.
To find a Catholic therapist, you could check here.
You might also want to see the U.S. bishops’ statement on pornography.
You might want to increase your devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, too. She has great intercessory powers to help someone live chastely. And count on being included in one of my Mass intentions.