Duke’s Porn Star and Pope Francis’ Lenten Intentions

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dukePope Francis’ Lenten message for 2014 calls all Catholics to confront destitution in its varying forms of extreme poverty, spiritual destitution, and moral destitution. He writes: “Moral destitution…consists in slavery to vice and sin. How much pain is caused in families because one of their members – often a young person – is in thrall to alcohol, drugs, gambling or pornography!”

I thought of this when I recently read about the Duke University student who turned to adult films to pay for her college tuition. Her work under the name “Belle Knox” was found out when another student on campus watched one of her films and recognized her. He confronted her about it on campus. “Belle” asked him to keep it under wraps but within a few days the “gentleman” spread word to all the fraternities on campus.

As word spread, this young woman was left with the choice to retreat or proudly stand by her chosen line of work. She chose the latter. “Belle” wrote an article for the online magazine xoJane defending her activity as a sex worker and responded to criticism with articulate, at times astute, and at other times quite baffling, arguments.

It is, perhaps, in her vocal, articulate defense of her activity that the media has found the shock value of her situation. She wrote in her article for xoJane.com: “For me, shooting pornography brings me unimaginable joy. When I finish a scene, I know that I have … completed an honest day’s work. It is my artistic outlet: my love, my happiness, my home.”

The media reaction to this young woman’s activity has been at turns laudatory, critical, and patronizing. But what has been most interesting to me is the lack of interest or criticism for the young man who “outed” her. In fact, the male student’s full name was used in the earliest articles that can be found on the subject without the slightest concern for his well being or future ability to land a job (something people are concerned about in respect to “Belle”).

It seems American society has begun to accept porn watching as normal and expected in a radical way. But most of us still draw the line at participating in porn, which very clearly reveals a hypocritical double standard. A double standard that does not only apply to young women.

A young, male senior in high school was recently suspending from school for participating in an adult film in order to pay his mother’s bills. Major outlets covered the news. This incident, like Belle’s case, was discovered by fellow students. However, in both Belle’s case and the young man’s case, the media seem generally unconcerned that the pornographic consumption at both Duke and this young man’s high school was so high that out of all the adult films that are out there, their activity was discovered within what seems to be a very short amount of time.

More shocking to me than teenage pornography use and participation in pornography is adult indifference to the problem. This laissez-faire approach to the problem of pornography is seen virtually everywhere. In an otherwise insightful op-ed on the subject at the Washington Post, Ruth Marcus writes:

“It would be naive to expect that [Belle’s classmates], like thousands of teenage boys, don’t spend some computer time on activities other than studying. Fine. Boys will be boys, and girls too, for that matter. What should concern us is the extreme nature of the content they’re viewing and the way that inevitably seeps into their attitudes toward real-life sex.”

Really? We should only be concerned about this growing trend of young people participating in pornographic films and watching pornography if the sex that is depicted is extreme?

As we carry this story and this societal problem in our hearts during this Lent, I encourage everyone to pray both for “Belle” and other men and women who participate in the porn industry, as well as those who are caught up in temptations to or addiction to porn.

I am thankful that against the tide of “boys will be boys” and “girls will be girls” we have many Christians who, rooted in their belief in the saving power of Jesus, proudly declare “Pornography is not normal. Pornography is not healthy. Pornography is not empowering. Power and freedom is found not in doing what is wrong and unhealthy for ourselves, others and society as a whole, but in doing what is good, what is truly empowering and what is in line with the true meaning and beauty of sexuality.”

Some resources and further information:

  1. Bishop Loverde of the Arlington diocese in Virginia wrote a beautiful pastoral letter, Bought with a Price, on the issue of pornography with a foreword written by Matt Fradd, author of Delivered. You can access the PDF of the bishop’s pastoral letter here.
  2. Check out Integrity Restored, a Catholic online resource for men addicted to porn.
  3. Check out xxxChurch.com, a Christian online resource for those addicted to porn and for men and women who desire to leave the industry. This is a great article about the founder of the site and his unlikely friendship with Ron Jeremy, one of the world’s most famous porn stars.
  4. The archdiocese of Washington has a great list of resources for pornography addiction on their web site. The diocese of Wichita also has a lot of resources.
  5. Annie Lobert, runs Hookers for Jesus, an organization that supports sex workers who want to leave the industry as well as women and children who have been sex trafficked. In this moving video, she describes how she got caught up in prostitution and how she escaped.

This is only a drop in the bucket; if you know of more resources or further information, please add to the comments.

May your Lent continue to be blessed.

Don’t forget to pray, make sacrifices and work in response to the intentions of Pope Francis’ Lenten Message!

Theresa Noble

Theresa Noble

Sr. Theresa Noble is a novice, aka nun in training, with a religious congregation of sisters in the US. She left her job in California with eBay to follow God four years ago. She currently lives in a convent in Boston where she prays, evangelizes, bakes bread and blogs at Pursued by Truth (http://pursuedbytruth.blogspot.com/).

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25 thoughts on “Duke’s Porn Star and Pope Francis’ Lenten Intentions”

  1. You definitely raise some good points. That girl was treated horribly by some folks, called many nasty names, and even received threats via twitter. The fact that so many people consume porn makes these reactions quite hypocritical at best. Why indeed is there a line of acceptability between watching porn and participating in it? We can research the statistics and see how many teenagers view porn, including growing numbers of women, but this girl turned into a scapegoat. I’m not saying that what she did was right or the reactions to her, but it is interesting to note them nonetheless. I wonder if it would have been different if say she were working at a strip club instead.

    Many people send nude selfies of themselves via cellphone and on different websites. How is that any different and why is it more “acceptable?” There is an inherent level of guilt and shame attached to porn use, and I wonder if some of this guilt and shame manifest themselves in these reactions to Belle and others who are “outed” in the adult industry.

    1. In your estimation, watching a murder mystery and committing a murder are equivalent as well?

      America is an increasingly strange nation. The whole notion of legitimate porn is ludicrous, for anyone to equate it to artistic expression is absurd.

      I suspect that any correlation to art would be silenced if the dialog of the “producers” could be heard.

      I work in a mill, have been more than steeped in vulgar comments, and use them at appropriate times as well. I’m not putting myself above anyone, but IMHO, I just think there is no legitimacy to the industry, irrespective of the habits of viewers.

      Regards

    1. Joe…you’re ok if the Bible is incorrect. If it is correct that fornicators shall not possess the kingdom of God, then you are in jeopardy and I don’t mean the tv show.

      1. Its not a goal, its an inevitability. Do you really want to live forever? You can’t even get blow jobs in heaven(according to Timothy Burdick).

      2. Below, bones and ashes, good one.

        My wife worked for a Cardiologist. He recounts the story of his patient having a pacemaker replaced (batteries, but they change the whole unit). Believed incorrectly to be demand, the patient was pacemaker dependent. When it was disconnected, his heart stopped. In the hospital, this was not a problem, just unexpected. Connecting the new pacemaker, his heart was restarted.

        The man was a womanizer, with heavy alcohol use, likely drugs as well. All he would tell the doctor was that what he experienced while his heart was stopped was hideous, attributing it to hell. He stopped his sinful ways since he said he never wants to experience that again.

        Maybe Joe needs his pacemaker batteries changed before it’s too late? Of course some will say it was just random firing of brain cells, but doctors have seen many inexplicable things.

      3. I’ll just kill myself. I don’t plan on living past 60 anyway. I don’t consider adult diapers and no erections living.

      4. Joe, your last qualification of living says legions about you. If this is a prerequisite for living, you’re not living now.

        Some irony that Larry Flint, with so much exposure to the seedier things in life, should be paralyzed from the waist down, eh? Probably addresses both the things you say determine the end of meaningful life.

    2. Are you trying to stir the pot, or are you just demonstrating how much you don’t know? You don’t even have to bring religion into it to see the damage it causes to people, relationships, society. Just look up some stats.

      1. In medieval Europe, the church turned a blind eye to priests soliciting prostitutes as a lesser evil to masturbation. How’s that a statistic for you?

    3. Joe, you might want to check out NoFap (http://www.nofap.org/). It’s not a Christian site though Christians are welcome. They give the science behind the problems w/ pornography & speak of what it can & has done to them.

  2. Pingback: Duke’s Porn Star and Pope Francis’ Lenten Intentions | Catholic Springtime

  3. I’m sending my prayer and thanks to pastor Humen for his prayer and love spell that he did for my last week and i never thought i will ever seeing my husband again after he left me and my kid for almost 3years, and last week i wrote to pastor humen on email: humenhealingtemple@yahoo.com and i told him all my problem he call me on phone gave me all the advice that i need and also told me what i need to do and after which i received a call from my husband and told me that he was going to come and visit me and my kid and now the most important thing now that is making me happy is that we are back together again all thanks to pastor humen…

  4. Pingback: In Christ a New Creation: Finding Hope in Porn-Addiction — Part I - IgnitumToday : IgnitumToday

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