“I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.”
— Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence is a successful actress, star of “The Hunger Games” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” owner of a new mansion in Los Angeles, and an Academy Award winner. Oh, and beautiful.
So when Jennifer Lawrence tells Vanity Fair that the reason she had nude photos of herself — photos that were stolen by malicious hackers and spread over the Internet — was to keep her boyfriend from looking at porn, one feels a deep sadness.
Sadness for Jennifer Lawrence. Sadness for all the girls out there who do not have the gifts of Jennifer Lawrence and who now understand that these are the rules that even the popular, pretty, rich girls play by. Sadness for all the boys who think that looking at porn is just what a guy does.
A priest friend told me how often he hears about girls getting trapped into “sexting,” sending pictures of themselves in some state of undress to boys, who then circulate the photos. He talked about how often he is dealing with boys who are obsessed by porn. These kids think this is something that’s normal, he said. They have no idea what they are unleashing. Yet his message is now competing with Jennifer Lawrence’s example.
During the recent extraordinary synod on the family, the bishops talked about the Church as field hospital (Pope Francis’ memorable phrase). I wonder if they know how truly bad it is out there on the battlefield.
A television series called “The Affair” was co-created by Sarah Treem. It tells the story of an affair from two unreliable points of view: the man’s and the woman’s. In an interview with Maureen Dowd, Treem says, “I think we have a lot of sex in this show, but in terms of the sex where they’re actually unified, that happens very rarely.”
Although a newlywed, Treem in real life is clearly jaundiced by the amount of infidelity she has seen. “I would like my marriage to work. I love [my husband], and I want to be faithful to him, and I want him to be faithful to me.” But “you probably have a 20 percent chance, maybe a 10 percent chance, of actually getting through an entire marriage with no infidelity.”
Of course that’s not true. While research is wildly varied, statistics suggest infidelity is not nearly as common as people think. Perhaps over the lifetime of a marriage the chances of one partner being unfaithful ranges up to 25 percent — nearly the opposite of what Treem guessed.
The sadness is that bright, successful, creative people think cheating is the norm. Just like bright, successful, creative people think that their boyfriends need porn. And bright, successful, creative people think that being successful means not having children who can get in the way of a career.
Blessed Paul VI predicted all of this in Humanae Vitae when he warned of the dangers of separating the unitive and procreative purposes of human sexuality.
The Church is under great pressure to adapt to the “realities” of modern life: sterilization, cohabitation, divorce and remarriage, the LGBT alphabet soup of sexual alternatives. Yet these realities are deeply, profoundly sad at their core. Yes, the Catholics must walk with the wounded. Indeed, Catholics must wander the battlefield looking for those too hurt to come to them. The Church should never stop testifying, however, to what it knows to be both beautiful and true. This is the challenge the next synod must face squarely.
Greg Erlandson is OSV’s president and publisher.