SASKATOON — Matt Fradd spoke about sex addiction to a crowd of some 300 men Sept. 14 at a Priest Prophet King (PPK) gathering at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon.
It was one of several events in Saskatchewan organized by One More Soul Canada featuring the Australian-born, American-based Fradd, executive director of “The Porn Effect,” a website and blog dedicated to helping people heal from the harms of sex addiction and pornography. At an afternoon gathering that day he spoke to students from three Catholic high schools and offered parents strategies for raising children in an Internet generation.
Fradd opened his talk to the men at PPK with a prayer, before explaining that it is crucial for those who are addicted to admit their need for healing. Common myths about pornography were outlined and debunked one by one. Each myth was addressed with humility, candour and humour. Fradd used scientific and professional resources to back his claims.
He stressed that sex and nudity are not the problem, reminding the audience that our bodies are good, that sex was created by God for us, and that sexual desire is a good and holy gift.
Pornography does not have us thinking too much about sex, but too little, he said. Similarly, “the problem with porn is not that it shows too much, but that it shows too little.” Pornography has narrowed our understanding of sex and flipped it from “this is my body given up for you, to this is your body given up for me.”
Fradd said that pornography has nothing to do with healthy masculinity. He also unravelled the myth that only religious people are against porn, stressing that some of the best resources today come from secular sources. Furthermore, many famous people such as Metallica’s James Hetfield, Pamela Anderson and Chris Rock have become champions in the battle against porn.
Fradd shone light on the fact that “today everyone is either addicted to porn or loves someone who is.”
He also addressed the myth that pornography is about choice, sharing the words of Yale legal scholar and feminist Catharine MacKinnon who observed that “women are not part of pornography by choice, but by lack of choice.”
“Porn does not affect me” is a further common myth that Fradd countered with evidence of growing impotency faced by many men addicted to pornography.
A common cultural myth addressed was that “porn is not addictive, because it is not a drug.” Fradd challenged this misconception with evidence that behaviours can be as much or more addictive than substances — something that is true for other behaviours, such as gambling. Porn becomes a coping mechanism to regulate dopamine levels which have been reset through the addiction and can even cause the brain itself to shrink.
The good news is that neuroscience shows that we don’t have to live with this damage; the brain can heal itself.
The final myth is that the addicted person cannot change. “Freedom from porn is not a destination, but a daily choice,” stressed Fradd. “It is not an all-or-nothing battle, and seeing it as such is unhelpful.”
Fradd then outlined in a real and practical manner how each person with an addiction to pornography must map out the path that continually draws him into it, including triggers, and from there a deactivation plan must be created.
Fradd outlined three steps to begin recovery. The first is to access a group or program with one-to-one accountability, he said, stressing that accountability is about encouragement; second, to find a professional sex addiction therapist; and third, to seek spiritual direction in order to “help heal the God image in you.” Fradd named several resources, including “Covenant Eyes” software as well as books he has written himself (proceeds from the sale of the books go to assisting women to escape human trafficking).
During a question-and-answer session, Fradd noted that we too often “over-spiritualize” our understanding and response to sex addiction. While recognizing the importance of prayer, he used the analogy that if someone was clinically depressed we would do more for them than telling them to read more Scripture passages on joy or to pray more. He urged the audience to stop treating prayer as a “vending machine,” noting that when prayer is misused we can “hide behind devotions that are neat and tidy while avoiding deeper conversation.”
At the evening PPK event, John Hickey described the Catholic men’s group as “a monthly gathering for men that fosters formation and fellowship.”
PPK evenings begin with words from a welcome team, followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction. During the time of Adoration a reflection is shared and there is an open invitation to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Diocesan and religious priests from across the diocese have regularly been present to offer the sacrament and join in the fellowship. Following the time of prayer, a guest speaker gives a presentation, with food and refreshments available.
PPK typically has a Catholic focus, but the monthly events are regularly attended by other Christians as friendships are forged across denominational lines. The gatherings include men of all ages. There is no charge for the evenings to ensure they are accessible, although donations are always welcome and local companies have been generous in assisting the event financially.
PPK is co-ordinated by Dan Denis and Richard Schlichemeyer as an event independent of any organization or movement. For more information, see www.priestprophetking.org or contact email@example.com.