Thanks to the Internet, pornography remains one of today's most insidious threats to dignity and family. It destroys relationships, undermines love, and it traps viewers in a web of addiction.
How can we battle against it? How can we free people from its allure? How can guide our family, children, and ourselves down the path of purity?
My good friend Matt Fradd has thought a lot about these questions. The popular speaker and author travels the country speaking about pornography, masculinity, and chastity. One of his most popular talks, "The Man Talk", helps men live authentically masculine lives. Another talk, "Taking Down Goliath," helps men escape pornography addiction.
Several years ago, Matt launched a website called The Porn Effect in order to undermine the pornography culture. He's currently revamping the site and I'd invite you to join me in kicking in a few bucks to help (he's already reached his goal, but the more he raises, the better the site!)
Today Matt and I are sitting down, however, to discuss his new book, Delivered: True Stories of Men and Women Who Turned from Porn to Purity. It's a powerful collection of stories and you can pick up your copy for only $2 at MattFraddDelivered.com.
BRANDON: Let’s start off with some basics about your new book, Delivered. How did the book emerge and what can people expect?
MATT FRADD The substance of the book is ten stories of those who turned from porn to purity. Well-known chastity expert Jason Evert wrote the Foreword, and at the end I give a five-step battle plan to help you become free of pornography, but in between we have powerful stories from real men and women. These include some from those in the sex industry and even a story from a husband and wife who write, together, about the hell they went through with pornography addiction.
It’s very honest and sometimes frightening when you think of the prospect of where porn can lead you. But it’s ultimately hopeful when you glimpse the healing and freedom these people have experienced in their own lives. It was my hope that through these stories people will be encouraged, educated, and learn how to break free.
BRANDON: The book features ten testimonials. Were there one or two that really stood out to you?
MATT FRADD One of my favorites was written by a lady who used to be a stripper. This lady—we’ll call her June—was actually in my youth group some years ago. We prayed the Rosary together, went on retreats, and I always thought the world of her.
Sometime after she graduated, we heard that June had left the faith. So I contacted her through Facebook to see how she was doing. Sure enough, I discovered she had become a stripper. When I inquired about that choice she was quite defensive. She said that if I had a problem with that, it was my fault. But I reassured her that I wasn’t there to judge her, only to check on her because I cared about her. I asked whether she would mind if I did an interview with her about what it was like being a stripper.
Now, keep in mind, this wasn’t a woman who had left stripping, or who had a conversion to Christ. This was a girl who was going to her next gig that night. She eventually agreed to an interview and we exchanged emails. She expressed to me how horrible the industry was and how she had to spend most of the money she made on getting drunk, which she needed in order to strip. She painted a really grim picture. So I said, “It doesn’t sound like you’re very happy. Have you thought of quitting?” She replied, “Well, I can’t because I have this debt I need to pay off.” So I asked, “If my wife and I are able to pay that debt, will you stop stripping?” And she replied, “Oh no, I’m not that kind of girl. I can’t take handouts like that.” So I said, “Now listen, you’re willing to take your clothes off for money, but you’re not willing to put them back on for money?” And she admitted, “OK. That’s a good point.”
Now, I loved June but I didn’t exactly trust her. So I asked for her boss’ phone number and told June I would call him to confirm that she had quit, and if she had, then my wife and I would send the check. Well, sure enough, she quit, and we were able to send her the money as well as some great chastity materials that Jason and Crystalina Evert had donated. I also bought her a nice Miraculous Medal. June eventually came over to our house for dinner where my wife and I convinced her to go to Confession.
Throughout this whole process, I interviewed June a few different times about what it was like leaving the stripper industry. Those three interviews are featured in Delivered and are probably my favorite parts of the book. It’s just such a powerful story.
BRANDON: The Church and our culture often paint these chastity issues as exclusively male problems. But your book shows how lots of women struggle with pornography, too. Can you talk about that?
MATT FRADD Many of us chastity speakers are partly to blame for this misperception. We don’t help when we say things like, “Pornography is a guy issue. Women might struggle with romance novels, but visual pornography is a guy problem.” What we didn’t realize—and I’ll speak for myself—is that we were isolating these women all the more.
As men, we can imagine the shame that comes with looking at pornography. But imagine if you’re a woman who is taught that this is a guy’s issue, so I therefore shouldn’t be struggling with that. You can see how the shame is all the more present.
The fact is there is a growing rate of young women looking at visual pornography and becoming addicted. In my book, we have two stories of young women who moved from porn to purity. One is Jessica Harris, who runs a terrific website called BeggarsDaughter.com, a website for women struggling with pornography.
The other is Catholic musician Audrey Assad, who also struggled with pornography as a young women and, by God’s grace, was eventually freed. This is Audrey’s first published work about that experience.
I’m tremendously grateful to both women for their courage in sharing their stories. I really hope young women who read this book will find comfort in realizing that they’re not alone, while also realizing that hope and healing are available to them.
BRANDON: I asked you in a previous interview how somebody struggling with pornography could find freedom and healing. But I’d like to ask a related question. What advice would you give to a spouse whose husband or wife is struggling with pornography?
MATT FRADD That’s a great question. The first thing a spouse should recognize if their loved one is viewing porn is that you are entirely justified in feeling hurt and angry. You ought to feel those things. If you didn’t feel those things, there might be something wrong with you.
The second thing is to approach your spouse about the problem. Now, if you’re afraid about approaching him or her, worried that you’ll get emotional or angry, you might consider writing a letter to your spouse. In the letter, reaffirm your deep love and respect. When a man turns to pornography, and betrays your love and objectifies women, that’s not his intention. That’s of course what ends up happening, but that wasn’t his intention. His primary aim is sexual excitement or to help soothe feelings of loneliness or isolation. So affirm your love for your spouse.
Third, I would seriously encourage you to tell your spouse about Covenant Eyes. This is an Internet filter and accountability software. Once you download it, it asks you to insert the email of an accountability partner who will receive a report every two weeks, letting them know what your spouse has been viewing online. I do not suggest that you, as the spouse, be the accountability partner, because I don’t think that would be healthy (though that’s up to you to decide.) But you need to encourage your spouse to become accountable to someone in this struggle—a friend, a mentor, a priest, etc.
On the flipside, if there are any husbands or wives reading this who themselves are struggling with pornography, consider writing a note to your spouse. Get your thoughts out on paper. Be sure to emphasize, “These are the ways I’m fighting against this for your sake…” Don’t just say, “I’ve been looking at porn.” Say, “I’ve loved you, I’ve betrayed you, but here are the changes I’ve implemented because our marriage and children are so important to me. I’m praying, I’m fasting, I’m frequenting the Sacrament of Confession, and I’ve connected with an accountability partner to help me.”
Finally, check out the book, Delivered. We’re selling it for just $2 per book. To be honest, part of the reason we’re selling it for so little is because Catholic Answers, the publisher, didn’t think the book would sell. There’s a reason you don’t see many, if any, other books containing pornography conversion stories: the people who need them don’t buy them. So we want to get this book to as many people as possible. Therefore when you buy a box of twenty, it’s just $2 per book. Give them out at church, or at your school, or among your friends. Let’s help conquer this problem together.
Check out Matt's website, MattFradd.com and be sure to follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Also pick up your copy of Delivered for just $2.
This past November we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of C.S. Lewis' death. Friends know how much I love Lewis, but few know how responsible he was for my conversion to Catholicism. His compelling defense of tradition and his winsome sacramentality helped break down my Evangelical resistances to the Catholic Church. Like many others I consider him my "Catholic Moses", a prophetic guide who led me to the promised lands of the Catholic Church without entering it himself.
Lewis was also my gateway to G.K. Chesterton and his classic books Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man, both influential in Lewis' own conversion to Christianity. Chesterton, that whimsical apostle of common sense, picked up my conversion where Lewis left off and helped me take my final steps into the Catholic Church.
I have several friends who have followed the same Lewis-Chesterton-Catholic trajectory, and I meet more all the time. Thanks to the new expanded edition of Joseph Pearce's book, C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church, that list has grown even longer.
Pearce included a new Appendix listing several of Lewis' Catholic-convert disciples. Thankfully, Catholic World Report recently posted the entire Appendix. Check it out:
"A lesser known but nonetheless powerful part of C.S. Lewis’ legacy is the impact that he has had on the conversion of countless numbers of people to the Catholic Church. This is indeed an astonishing phenomenon considering that Lewis never became a Catholic himself, unlike many other literary converts, such as John Henry Newman, Gerard Manley Hopkins, G.K. Chesterton, Evelyn Waugh, and Graham Greene, to name but an illustrious few. Although the reading of Catholic authors, such as Chesterton, and the friendship with Catholics, such as J.R.R. Tolkien, played a crucial role in Lewis’ conversion from atheism to Christianity, he was never seriously tempted to cross the Tiber into the welcoming arms of Mother Church. And yet, in spite of the residual anti-papist prejudice that he inherited as a Belfast Protestant, many of the core beliefs he embraced as a “mere Christian” placed him decidedly on the Catholic end of the theological spectrum.
He believed in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, which he referred to as the Blessed Sacrament; he practiced auricular confession; he vehemently opposed female ordination, condemning in forthright terms the danger of having “priestesses in the Church”; he declared his belief in purgatory and in the efficacy of praying for the dead; and, last but not least, he crusaded against the errors and heresies of theological modernism. It is perhaps, therefore, not so surprising that C.S. Lewis has ushered so many people into the Catholic Church.
The great American literary convert Walker Percy, commenting on the numerous converts who had come to Catholicism through the writings of Lewis, remarked that “writers one might expect, from Aquinas to Merton,” are mentioned frequently as influences, “but guess who turns up most often? C.S. Lewis! – who, if he didn’t make it all the way, certainly handed over a goodly crew.”
Here is an overview of some of the “goodly crew” to whom Percy alludes, those who have been influenced on their paths to Rome by C.S. Lewis. As the present author owes his own conversion, in part, to the works and wisdom of Lewis, it is gratifying to know that he is but one of many whom Lewis led Romewards.
Beginning with prominent British converts, the most famous is Leonard Cheshire, who attained position number 31 in a BBC poll in 2002 to find the 100 Greatest Britons of all time. He was also listed in 1993 as one of “the 20 outstanding Christians of the 20th century”, alongside John Paul II, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Simone Weil, Oscar Romero, Edith Stein, Martin Luther King, Billy Graham, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Padre Pio, Albert Schweitzer, Desmond Tutu, John XXIII, Teilhard de Chardin, Jackie Pullinger, Charles de Foucauld, Malcolm Muggeridge, Mother Teresa, and, last but not least, C.S. Lewis. . .
Francis Beckwith, an indefatigable Catholic apologist and the author or editor of more than a dozen books, cites Lewis as a significant influence on his journey from Evangelical Protestantism to Catholicism. Mark Brumley, president and CEO of Ignatius Press, credits Lewis as being a major contributor to his spiritual and intellectual progress: “C.S. Lewis made me a Catholic. Well, of course, that puts it too simply. God made me a Catholic; Lewis was a human instrument in the process. And he was aided and abetted by G.K. Chesterton, Frank Sheed, Louis Bouyer, and others. Still, Lewis started it all for me.”. . .
Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy at Boston College, is perhaps the most prolific and lucid Catholic apologist in the English-speaking world. Like Bobby Jindal, he converted to Catholicism as an undergraduate. As with so many others, Lewis led him towards Rome:
"I discovered CSL as an undergraduate at Calvin College, in the Fifties. My philosophy professor assigned The Problem of Pain, and I distinctly remember my reaction to it…. I had never read an author who thought and wrote that clearly. (I still haven’t.)
A second assignment was to make a detailed outline of The Abolition of Man…. My confidence that the clarity was there, if only I could find it, led me to hack through the jungles of my own confusion and into the light. I had never read anyone who could be both so clear and so profound at the same time. (I had not yet discovered Thomas Aquinas, one of the very few authors who is even better than Lewis at that.)"
Having caught the Lewis habit, Kreeft then proceeded, on his roommate’s recommendation, to read Mere Christianity, a book which he believes “has probably accounted for more conversions than any other book in the century.”. . .
Ross Douthat, a New York Times columnist and contributor to the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, GQ, and National Review, converted at the age of only 17. He summarized C.S. Lewis’ role in the process with unequivocal succinctness: “You start reading C.S. Lewis, then you’re reading G.K. Chesterton, then you’re a Catholic. I knew a lot of people who did that in their 20s.""
"Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others." - St. Augustine
Since I've built up a large collection of extra books and resources, every week I give some away absolutely free, no strings attached.
Each giveaway lasts seven days with a new one beginning every Friday. You can enter any time during the week. Check out my past giveaways here.
Thanks to the Word Among Us Press, today I'm giving away FIVE copies of a helpful new prayer book by bestselling author Bert Ghezzi (check out his new website!). Bert, who you probably know as the author of our monthly "Learning From the Saints" column, is recognized around the world as an expert on prayer and the saints. His newest book, Prayers to the Holy Spirit, brings all of that wisdom to you to help supercharge your relationship with the Holy Spirit.
by Bert Ghezzi
Word Among Us Press, 212 pages, paperback
How can the Holy Spirit bring power and light to your life? This pocket-sized book features seventy-five reflections that will expand your knowledge of the Holy Spirit and encourage you to pray specifically—and expectantly—for the gifts he bestows.
For each reflection, popular author and speaker Bert Ghezzi begins with a brief Scripture passage and then highlights one or more ways that the Spirit works in us, using examples from the Bible, Church Fathers, and the lives of the saints and contemporary Catholics. Then he prays a blessing for you to receive this gift and offers a “prayer starter” that leads you to ask the Holy Spirit for that grace.
“Open this book every morning, read the one-minute reflection, say the prayer from your heart, and your day will be transformed. I started doing that today!”
— Rev. George T. Montague, SM, STD, professor of theology, St. Mary’s University, and author of Holy Spirit, Make Your Home in Me
“In his new book, Bert Ghezzi invites us to discover for ourselves a ‘personal Pentecost’—an encounter with the Holy Spirit, the sweet guest of the soul. I pray that the reading of his book will be the opportunity for Jesus to ‘baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire’ (Luke 3:16)!”
— Patti Gallagher Mansfield, author and international speaker
I'm using Rafflecopter to help with the giveaway, which is great because it gives you multiple entries for commenting, posting on Facebook, sharing on Twitter, etc. Click below to enter:
(If you're reading this through email or RSS and don't see the giveaway widget, click here.)
The winner(s) will be randomly selected next Friday and the books will be sent out, free of charge, shortly thereafter.
(Since I'm covering the shipping costs, only residents within the continental United States are eligible to win.)
Blogging has been a bit slow over the past few weeks, but I have a good excuse: Gianna Lucy Vogt. Our newest baby girl, the fourth child after Isaiah (5), Teresa (3), and Augustine (1), emerged healthy and beautiful early yesterday morning. Here are some pics of her and the family: