Discussing the characteristics of a man
We continued this week by watching the remaining episodes for “Every Man’s Battle”. If you missed the other article in our series, you can read them here.
As guys we were asked to think about the following questions and we answered them:
- What kind of man do I want to be?
- What kind of man do I respect? (The examples can be alive, dead or fictional)
- What kind of man do I want to be remembered as when I leave this earth?
From our answers we realised most of us guys, deep down in out hearts aspire to be great, responsible, God-fearing men who protect and provide for their families and empower those in society. We all want to leave a legacy of love and goodness, for people to remember the good we do on this earth. Pornography, doesn’t live up to that vision of the great man we want to be. We must always think about these questions in our daily activities while taking our example ultimately from Jesus, who is the greatest man that ever lived. The bible also shows us how real men live and guard their hearts: “Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14.
- Sometimes, we let ourselves go, but the Church calls back, saying, “Become who you are. Embrace your dignity as child of God.” We must remember that “The glory of God is man fully alive.” – St Irenaeus
- God’s commands and the Church’s teaching don’t necessitate the repression of our deepest desires; rather, they call for their expansion.
- Who you desire to be in your heart of hearts is who God is calling you to be.
- The only thing that can overcome a desire is a stronger one – shame, guilt, and embarrassment are not enough to overcome pornography, because these are about us. That stronger desire is to love a woman properly, to fight for her and protect her.
- The inheritance in your heart goes deeper than the sin inherited – your desires to love, fight for, and protect are deeper than your desire to use.
- God is offering us abundant life.
After the first video, our discussion raised other questions:
- How do we as men develop into the great vision of who God wants us to be?
- Have true friends: real friendship is built on 3 things, truth (honesty in character), fidelity (loyalty and support) and trust. A guys needs true friends that can point him in the right direction towards God, and help with accountability during these struggles.
- How do you spot a false friend?
- Betrayal: When a friend betrays you, you confront them with the betrayal yet they deny
- Disloyalty: When a friend is disloyal to you however you forgive them and make them welcome but they don’t come back
- Paganism: if your friends core beliefs are fundamentally against yours e.g. Belief in the occult, syncretic practices and belief in false gods
Father Anthony suggested a very good book that would help us better understand true friendship and love called: The Meaning of Christian Brotherhood by Pope Benedict.
- Why are people ashamed to publicly believe in God?
- Well its never really been ‘cool’ to be Christian for fear of being chastised and for the real fear of ‘losing it all’ if we give all to God. Father Anthony gave us a quote which encouraged us to not be afraid:
“Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? . . . No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life. Amen. – Pope Benedict XVI
The Battle Plan: Freedom from Pornography
Purity is a daily choice not a destination we reach; temptations of lust will always assail us so we must make a conscious effort everyday to be chaste. Five practical tips for overcoming struggles with pornography:
- Admit that there’s a problem
- Prayer and fasting: Fasting without prayer is just being on a diet! Prayer without fasting is like driving in gear 3, its just ok, it gets you there but slower. Prayer and fasting together is the best combo towards battling porn addiction or even any habitual sin.
- The Rosary: The best form of prayer is hands down, is the rosary! “To recite the rosary,” wrote Pope John Paul II, “is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ.” To commit to praying the rosary, perhaps even daily, is to commit to spending fifteen to twenty minutes in quiet contemplation. Often those who use pornography habitually say they experience an inner disquiet that can make contemplation seem almost impossible. The rosary is a practical and beautiful way to reverse that problem, to begin quieting our minds and our passions.
- Fasting: The vice that often leads to sexual sin is a lack of self-mastery. Fasting from legitimate pleasures, even small ones, builds up that virtue within us. The regular habit of denying us good things gives us the inner strength to avoid bad ones. A program called “E5 men” helps with the fasting. The E5 man fasts for his bride as a way you imitate Jesus as described by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians, chapter 5 (for which the e5 is named.) e5 men fast in unison on bread and water for at least one 24-hour day per month – preferably the 1st Wednesday of the month. More info at e5men.org
- Scripture: The Word of God is, as Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.” Memorising Scripture verses that pertain to purity can be of great help in moments of temptation. Here are over twenty Scripture verses for you to look up:
|Matt 5:8||Jas 1:14-15||Sir 23:18||Mk 2:17||1 Pet 5:8-9|
|1 Tim 4:12||1 Cor 10:13||1 Thes 4:3-8||Ps 51:1-2||Eph 6:10-17|
|Phil 4:8||2 Tim 2:22||Mk 9:47||Heb 8:12||John 10:10|
|Ps 24:3-4||Ps 101:3-4||Ps 51:1-2||Ps 103:12||Rom 12:2|
|Sir 7:36||Ps 119:9|
3. Accountability and confession:
- Accountability means allowing another person to remind you of who you are and who you desire to be. It means being transparent with a trusted friend or mentor about your struggles so that he can offer encouragement and support. It’s an ongoing reminder that no sin is private; that even our hidden choices can have disastrous consequences. So think of a trusted friend who could serve as an accountability partner. Make sure this person is of the same sex as you, and is someone who will make the effort to pray for you and check in with you from time to time.
- Remember God’s mercy never runs out. Going to confession shows you His boundless mercy and also grants you the graces to become stronger to fight another day. Say this prayer:
“I glorify You in making known how good you are towards sinners, and that your mercy prevails over all malice, that nothing can destroy it, that no matter how many times or how shamefully we fall, or how criminally, a sinner need not be driven to despair of Your pardon…It is in vain that your enemy and mine sets new traps for me every day. He will make me lose everything else before the hope that I have in your mercy.”- St. Claude de la Colombiere
4. Good peer pressure: We need our brothers to work with us not against us and encourage us in the right direction. This is related to cultivating good friendships that help you in your struggles and keep you away from sinful influences.
5. Patient perseverance: Remember that the wounds you have received didn’t come about overnight, and the healing won’t take place overnight also. It takes time, perseverance, and determination. “Have patience with all things,” urges St. Francis de Sales, “but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them—every day begin the task anew.” There is no shame in getting hit; the only shame is leaving the battlefield.
To successfully overcome porn, we need more than the momentary resolve we profess the instant we’ve fallen. We need to be resolved to fight this battle over a lifetime.
Bible reading for the week: The book of Habbakuk
Virtue practice of the week: Pray before you Act. Anything you do this week, make sure you pray before going ahead.
The following resources will help you learn more about the negative effects of porn:
www.theporneffect.com is dedicated to exposing the harmful effects of pornography.
www.beggarsdaughter.com provides helpful tools, advice and support to women struggling with sexual sin such as pornography and masturbation.
www.chastityproject.com is a comprehensive online resource that promotes the virtue of chastity.