Evicting the Enemy in the Gates: Porn in Church

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Satan's greatest trick is deceiving us into thinking he doesn't exist (C.S. Lewis). Or perhaps greater, to know he does exist, and the ways he's working, but to do nothing about it.

C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters is one of my favorite books. It's the chronicle of senior devil Screwtape's advice to his apprentice tempter, Wormwood, on how to seduce his assigned "patient" for eternity. We're given great insight into how the devil works, particularly among "church people." I can almost hear Screwtape speaking about us today:

"Don't worry about those who know the truth, or even profess it. Even we're able to do that. As they become aware of our work, disguise the true horror. Make it about something academic. Out there. Something distant. Anything to keep them from recognizing the Voice of our Enemy commanding them personally. Of course, our best weapon is to ingratiate their moral superiority! They must not see through the eyes of our Enemy's Rightness, but their own righteousness! By all means, let them bluster! How lovely to hear their sneering and hissing! What music! Joining in our own chorus... all within His very gates! In this, we actually have them worshiping themselves... in the name of the Enemy! [hideous laughter]

"No. Worry about those miserable, pathetic little souls who are aware of their weakness... aware that the Enemy made them for Himself... who approach Him not for their own status, but with their very lives, aware that He is truly speaking... who have an eager, ready desire to respond. We must stop this at all costs. It would be the end."

“We too need to guard the faith, guard it from darkness. Many times, however, it is a darkness under the guise of light. This is because the devil, as saint Paul, says, disguises himself at times as an angel of light.” - Pope Francis [Link]

Does this speak to you as it does to me? Do we really believe our ultimate call is to see God, to be "pure of heart" (Matt. 5:8), such that we're aware of the Enemy's attack through pornography? Such that we do something about it?

Putting it straight: If you or those you love are on-line anywhere without filtering or accountability software you're playing games with eternal life. You're playing with Fire. The door is wide open, and for many if not most of the most "religious" and "holy" among us, Satan is coming in.

90% of children 8-16 have viewed porn
64% of Christian men say they view porn once a month
50% of pastors regularly view porn
Age 12-17 are the largest group who view porn

One of our great strengths as Catholics can be a crippling weakness: we are conceptually rich in culture. How alarming and motivating is it for most of us to speak of porn as an "objectively grave matter"? Not so scary. That's like chatting with friends at your kitchen table about the burning house going up in flames across the street, and your informed fireman friend Fred says: "Yep. I'd call that a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion. Sure hope no one gets hurt." 

Let's say it plainly. Hell is very real and porn can land you there. Porn is designed to land you there. Forever. On whose authority? The Son of God. He admonished us not to fear that which can destroy the body, but that which can destroy the soul (Luke 12:4-5). Do you believe it?

“[Jesus came] to give us the freedom… [from] the enslavement the devil has over us… On this point, there are no nuances. There is a battle and a battle where salvation is at play, eternal salvation. We must always be on guard, on guard against deceit, against the seduction of evil.” - Pope Francis [Link]

So, you know the truth. You profess it. But where are you at? What do you really believe? Let's see.

Go back to the above stats and replace "view porn" with "jumped off a bridge attached to a fraying bungee cord." Imagine these thrill seekers doing just that, mindless that the cord they're depending upon is fraying. But you know. They're people you know and love. People you live with. People you interact with every day. Would you say something? Would you do something about it? Knowing that statistically well over 50% of the men you know are there, and the cord could snap any time?

We know the answer. Likely in the instance of physical life you would be more than merely one who knows, or professes. You would do all you could to be rid of the danger.  You would be a believer.

So again, are you a believer when it comes to awareness that porn can destroy the soul?

“Let us ask the Lord for the grace to take these things seriously. He came to fight for our salvation. He won against the devil!" - Pope Francis [Link]

Of course, if it's not enough, porn is not simply destroying souls. It's not simply about eternal suffering "then and there." Porn is one of Satan's means of ensnaring victims in a very real and tangible hell here and now.

Neuroscientists have explained how porn radically re-wires how men and women think, about themselves and one another. Porn scrambles a built-in "adhesive" meant to bond a man and woman forever in sacramental marriage.

Porn is like two pieces of duct tape stuck together, only to be ripped apart. And again. And again. For every instance of porn. What happens to the "stickiness" of the tape? What happens to the tape? This is a remote idea of what porn does to a soul. And why porn is responsible for destroying countless marriages, families and relationships.

To understand porn we need to understand something about God's design for purity in connection to the "sexual urge." Another of Satan's great attacks has been brainwashing many of us into regarding the sexual urge as something divorced from purity, as something "naughty," or "dirty"... or simply "our own thing." Distant from God. Of course, porn reinforces this.

To the contrary, the pure sexual urge is a God-given, built-in compass whose Due North is God Himself. It is about our ultimate, eternal end of intimacy with God, and in Him, with all others. It is about Holy Communion. As Pope St. John Paul II suggested, the heart of the sexual urge is an urge to a completion that can only be found in God. The sexual urge is the capacity for man and woman to literally make God, who is love, known-- through total, mutual, self-giving love (Gen. 1:27).

And it must be emphasized that this capacity for divine-human communion is no less possible for those who are not married. In fact, whether a priest, religious, or single, the very same "urge" is simply directed in different ways of worshiping God, of making Him known.

"Marriage in this life is meant to foreshadow heaven where, for all eternity, we will celebrate the 'marriage of the Lamb' (Rev 19:7), the marriage of Christ and the Church. This is the deepest desire of the human heart to live in the eternal bliss of communion with God himself.  As wonderful as marriage and marital intimacy can be in this life, it's only a sign, a foretaste, a sacrament of what's to come. Earthly marriage is simply preparation for heavenly marriage." - Christopher West [Link]

Porn lies to the deepest desire of souls, promising a kind of intimacy, but only delivers intensity. It promises transcendence, but delivers slavery. Cut off from God, porn paves the way to disrespect for others, promiscuity, infidelity and even violence. Porn engenders deep guilt, shame and helplessness, a brick wall keeping the Niagara Falls of God's grace from flooding into our lives.

“Let us always remember… that the Adversary wants to keep us separated from God and therefore instills disappointment in our hearts when we do not see our apostolic commitment immediately rewarded. Every day the devil sows the seeds of pessimism and bitterness in our hearts. … Let us open ourselves to the breath of the Holy Spirit, who never ceases to sow seeds of hope and confidence.” - Pope Francis [Link]

It's time those walls come down. 
It's time we quit allowing Satan to hide in the shadows.
It's time we shine a big, bright light on this.

I'm inviting men and women of courage to be honest about their own challenges, personally, and in their marriages and families. [This short audio is particularly powerful] Let's raise the conversation. Let's create grace-filled environments marked not by shame, but the power of the Cross. Let's recognize the power God has given us in Christ. This will ignite a holiness revolution.

The fact that a multitude of godly men struggle should suggest that praying isn't enough. Being involved in church  isn't enough. The Sacraments aren't even enough... without understanding our need to cooperate, to "avoid the near occasion of sin." To believe.

Our Enemy is cunning. We have to know our vulnerability and minimize his influence. For our part let me say having Catholic Covenant Eyes on our computers and devices isn't just for our children.

What women and men need to understand.
What women need to understand is that vulnerability to porn has nothing to do with how much we love our wives. It has nothing to do with our earnest desire to be holy. In fact, we're vulnerable to porn precisely by God's design. God placed in each of us a relentless desire for completion that can only be found in Himself, and He linked this to sexuality.

What women need to understand is that real men really want to win. They need their wives to understand their vulnerability without judging it, or taking it personally. God's transforming love can help them overcome understandable hurt and anger and get in the game, to go to battle for them, to sacrificially pray for them. And yes, to insist upon accountability. (Commit)

What men need to know is that porn is grave, and is paving the way there. Porn is sexual involvement with other women. It is adultery. (Matt. 5:28) Satan is there. As Jesus suggests, it's not even just the physical engagement. It's your imagination. Your soul is in danger. You need real help. You can not conquer on your own. 

What men need to know is that regardless of how far you've fallen, or helpless you feel after so many attempts, Paul is absolutely right: You can make yourself a living sacrifice. You can conform no longer to the ways of this world. You can be transformed inwardly by the renewal of the Spirit; this means your inner world of imagination, thought and feeling. You can live in the abundance of God's good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

Where to begin? Start by deciding. For real. Not kinda-sorta. Because God made you for greater things. Because your spouse and family need you. Because you are more than a conqueror. (Romans 8:37)

You may have done this before, but this time mean it by taking action and closing the door. Make your declaration to the Lord. Engage a good priest or brother whom you trust. Fully confess. Heartfully repent. Renounce the Enemy in the name of Jesus Christ. Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Back it up with real commitment. (Commit)

“[The Devil] attacks the family so much. That demon does not love it and seeks to destroy it. […] May the Lord bless the family. May He make it strong in this crisis, in which the devil wishes to destroy it.”
- Pope Francis [Link]

Parents, especially dads, regardless of how much control you think you have over media consumption, don't presume. Have the courage to sit down with your children and ask straight forward, "Have you struggled with porn?"

Convey to them that you get it. That God designed them for great intimacy. That the Enemy would rob them of it. Acknowledge that it is attractive. You're on their side. They can come to you. You're going to battle for them. Together you're going to help them receive all God desires for them.  Right there pray with them and bless them.

“[T]he Devil is at work. But I would like to say in a loud voice ‘God is stronger.’ Do you believe this, that God is stronger?” - Pope Francis [Link]
"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
- Joshua 24:15

In our home we've enlisted in the battle. We're committing in two ways. Please join us. First, Catholic Covenant Eyes is installed on all our devices and computers. It's the best recommended solution by every Catholic leader I know. Resist Wormwood's whispering in your ear right now, "You and your loved one's are just fine. You're different. You don't need it." He doesn't want that door closed. This is your battle right now.

Secondly, my sons and I decided that we're going to give up meat on Fridays for the specific, sacrificial purpose of defending and honoring God's design for women, and to live fully our call as men. Join us.

And if you want to be a real Kingdom builder, you can make a difference with one click. Share this article. Tweet. Like. Email. Consider printing and passing out Catholic Covenant Eyes hand out. Get it to your pastor.  

“The devil cannot stand seeing the sanctity of a church or the sanctity of a person, without trying to do something.” - Pope Francis [Link]

We are Church. The united Body of Christ for the salvation of the world. This is our ultimate purpose. The gates of hell will not prevail. In the power of the Holy Spirit, let's take this world back for Jesus Christ.

United in the great mission of making God, who is Love, known,

Greg Schlueter
President / CEO, Image Trinity [Mass Impact]

Blessed Sacrament Made Real [A True Story from Tonight]

By Greg Schlueter

[October 28, 2015. The below story is all the more moving now. Last night at our Parish IGNITION (three night journey deeper into the heart of Christ) a number of things came together, most notably, Laurie was present. It could have gone the other way. Add Barb. Josh. Mike. Therese. Many others who were present. Each with their own stories. Pronouncing that God loves us and is working in our lives. Believe.] 

February 1, 2013. So I'm in a new land. Been here only two days. Don't really know anyone. Find out only by chance that our real estate guy's wife has been battling cancer. Two young children. Can't imagine.

Find out his parish is throwing an event to help pay the bills - tonight. I get directions. I go. At parish, I have to park a quarter of a mile away. Yes. That many cars. In front of me is a large group of perhaps 10 kids making their way also. Something starts welling up in me.

Walk through a crowded entrance. Overwhelmed. Hundreds of people. All ages. Many wearing trademark pink shirts.

Make my way into one of the large rooms. Two young brothers, 8th grade and 5th grade, are leading worship on a makeshift stage. Really, really well. And in-between witnessing to Christ. Wow. Just, plain wow.

I find the only open chair amidst others eating. Next to a woman whose beautiful head reveals she's been battling cancer also. Find out she's with her grand daughter. All smiles. All hopeful. All welcoming. Real hard time keeping it together.

I make my donation and my way to the gym for the spaghetti... perhaps 300-400 more people eating... an overwhelming sense of joy, hope, mission... love for someone I've never met... everyone having a part.

So in this sea of unknown people I feel connected in our common faith. I meet Rick who killed his first bear last week (did you know younger beer and deer aren't as "gamey" -- I invited myself to dinner:). And Tina, who attributes her battle with cancer as part of God's purpose (took my email- says she has a story to tell... stay tuned). And John, one of the leaders- who shared heartfully their simple desire to reach their arms out around Laurie. And some awesome, young kids... the musicians and their cousins... and parents, who radiate a genuine love of Christ.

And amidst all this Msgr. Billian and other priests... making their way from person to person, evidently loved and knowing names, and faces and stories...

And of course, Laurie... for whom this was all for. I couldn't help but think of a different Laurie. Two years ago. I produced a film about her. Husband and two young children. Dad out of work. No insurance. Diagnosed too late. She was called home a few months later. (http://youtu.be/STtPZCJhSog)

And yet she is part of this great communion. Somehow, she's there.

Family. Genuine. Alive. United beyond. All appropriately under a parish by the name of Blessed Sacrament. Otherwise known as Holy Communion. Communion literally means "with unity." In Jesus Christ. As real as it gets. Believe.


In Our Capacity to Love We Image the Trinity.

What IT's all about.

Friendship is the desire of every human heart- to be in meaningful communion with others, beyond obligation.  The Holy Spirit abides in families drawn together in friendship. Such friendship is anchored in God who is Himself a Communion of Persons, the very definition of LOVE - as each Person constantly pours Himself out for the other.  This is what IT’s all about: Image Trinity.  In Him we discover who we are, what we are to do, and are flooded with supernatural grace to be IT.

What does IT looks like?
  An entire community being transformed in Love.

Dynamic retreats and events. Engaging television and radio programs showcasing families Living IT. Dynamic resources. Integration through web and social media. Dynamic integration and partnership with Eucharistic communities.

When families discover their identity, they get IT more and more, and become a vital basis for extending IT to other families in need.

Imagine-- PreCana, Marriage Encounter and other programs not being an end, but an initiation into a vital community-  one grounded in friendship, and fully integrated into local parishes, but accepting that vitality comes from the “living it out” beyond church walls... leaven in the world.

This vision is already happening.  We are a growing network of families united in friendship and committed to a common vision and mission... a desire to be more deeply formed by our Image of the Trinity, and to live out the implications of that identity.

We are a light on a hill.

Under the patronage of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Pope Saint John Paul II, we will build a large family retreat as a warm, welcoming, prayer-filled environment for vital family-transformation in our own area, and as a spring board to the rest of the country... including publications, radio, television, resources, programs and conferences.  If you are called to help us make this vision a reality, please shoot us an email. Above all, please join us in prayer and work that we all might more fully Image the Trinity.

Become what you are, and the world will know God who IS Love!

Stay tuned. Get on board HERE!

Greg and Stephanie Schlueter
(814) 449-8808

Awakening Pop Culture's Great Belief

“For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.' What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you.” Acts. 17:23 
In a recent episode of Blue Bloods, NYC Police Commissioner and patriarch of New York City's police family, Frank Reagan (played by Tom Selleck), suggests his beloved Catholic Church needs to "get with the times" where it concerns gay “marriage.”
Ironically, the great service this episode offers of humanizing one group (those with same-sex attraction) is done at the expense of another (Catholics). “Catholicism" was caricaturized by a merely acquiescent Cardinal, and a gay nun.  These particular examples of the  familiar "straw man Catholic" didn't need to be dusted off by writer Ian Biederman. It's a favorite, perhaps even required, desk-pet of pop media and culture.

This article is not about gay marriage per se, it’s about something much more foundational: pop media and culture’s great belief in Ought.

What’s Ought? Ought is the presumed, albeit undefined, basis for asserting a supreme set of values everyone should be required to observe. In the present instance, pop media and culture maintain that all ought to accept gay “marriage.” Even Catholicism ought to bow.

What might we understand about pop media and culture’s belief in Ought? It seems to be absolute and universal. There’s no tolerance for what is deemed intolerant. Disagree and you’re branded discriminatory, or hateful… or penalized. Even put behind bars.

Note that we’re not speaking about respecting individual, private conceptions of Ought. Same genders have always been free to live together. We’re speaking about a legal Ought, imposed upon all, granting special privileges to a few, compelling our financial support through tax benefits, and expecting adherence whether or not it accords with our right to determine our identities.

Of course, this imposition by the hands of an unelected, unaccountable, all-powerful few smacks of tyranny.
Let’s just state it. There will be Oughts. It is our nature to have Oughts. The once-atheist C.S. Lewis noted that a person’s subordination to an abstraction such as a law betrays their regard for a value greater than him/herself, without which such adherence would be absurd. As the argument goes, something as simple as stopping at a stop sign betrays one’s practical belief in a higher Ought, by one’s subordination to it.

Absence of definition of a particular Ought does not diminish its existence. By the same token, having a particular definition of a specific Ought should not exclude it from participation in the marketplace of ideas, even determinations of law.

Which Ought?
Whether or not one chooses to regard or name their Ought, I choose to call mine God; and I understand my God to be most fully, logically, historically and experientially anchored and articulated through Catholicism.

We don’t just “believe” our God is real and relevant; He has indeed become flesh, with the undeniable, evident impact benefitting all of society: Catholicism has been the agent of unprecedented advancement in education, medicine, law, government, architecture, art, music, science and just about every other area of human advancement.

More than just leaving Ought undefined, Catholics profess with the framers of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution that Oughts are anchored in an immovable God, for the self-evident, demonstrable good of every human person.

We maintain that while there must always be adaptation to “the times,” the fundamental principles do not change. It will neverbe the case that another’s liberty and pursuit of happiness is more valuable than your life. That this does not “change with the times” is a very good thing.

If what Catholics profess is a function of popularity and public opinion, to subjective whim and inclination, to ever-changing times, God is either a schizophrenic, or He changes His mind. If we’re honest, more accurately that god is something we’ve made in our own image. In which case, “to each, his own.” There’s no basis for condemnation or judgement by anyone, for anything. Ever. Anything goes. All is absurd.  We are adrift. Isolated. There is nothing binding us all together. “Prayer” and “faith” and “religion” are really just shared illusions.

Let’s put it directly, if our fundamental principles can “change with the times” we’re really just worshiping ourselves in the name of God.

Of course, the good news for every human person is that this Ought is a fabrication. We recognize in the lives of every person who ever lived a Truth we did not shape, but Who is shaping us. A Truth one can not so much break, but only be broken against.

Amidst the ever-changing tides of 2000 years of history we have in the Catholic Church a steadfast Anchor holding us fast; a Compass guiding us toward our greatest, ultimate and eternal good, on earth as it is in heaven.

It doesn’t so much matter if you believe in God; He believes in you. He has fashioned you for a purpose that can only be found in Him, through a life of worshipping Him. You ought to see this Truth. It will make all the difference in the world. But that is up to you.