by Sister Mary Lucy Astuto

"Pornography: Freedom or Licence?"

A month or so ago, Germany informed CompuServe that it did not want pornographic material being transferred through CompuServe coming into its country. As a result of that complaint, it is my understanding that CompuServe has taken measures to prevent pornographic material being transfered through its services. This is very goo and I, among many others, am very happy about this. However, there were some on-line companies that proceeded to display their home page in black in protest for what they considered "censorship." The right to freedom of speech, they said, is being challenged and attacked. On-line companies have a RIGHT to say or print or display ANYTHING they want has been their claim. Well, let's hold on here. Do they, really? I think not!

First of all, the basic understanding of what freedom means is fundamental here. Freedom does not mean "license." It does not mean that everyone has the right to do whatever they feel like doing or even want to do. Reason alone, however, dictates that. For example, people have a right to own property. But what if your neighbor gets mad at you? Does he have a right to shoot your dog or burn down your house? Why not? Are we not "FREE" to do what we want? What about stealing? Does your neighbor have a right to take from you any piece of property which is rightfully owned by you? Indeed not! And this basic right of "freedom of speech:" Do we have the right to say or write or print or display whatever we want? I think not! No one has the right to take what does not belong to him. No one has the right to slander someone else. So if your neighbor slanders you, you may be able to take him/her to court and sue for liable. Some movie stars have been known to do this with some of the tabloid papers...better known as "scandal sheets."

We must all respect the RIGHTS of others, but those "rights" are always and must always exist in the light and recognition of God, Who is our Creator and Lord. The two great Commandments of loving God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves must always be the light in which we make our decisions regarding our thoughts, words and actions.

Pornography promotes, sanctions, and glorifies the ABUSE of man's sexual gift. It makes sex an end in itself. It makes sex a "god." It corrupts men, women and very abusively children who have a right to their innocence. Just as no one has the "right" to steal from another, no one has the "right" to abuse his sexual nature or that of others by promulgating a form of behavior that sanctions the misuse of sex, whether it be homosexuality, bestiality, or outside of marriage. Just as the abuse of eating and drinking can lead to sickness and even physical death, so can the misuse of sex. We must not forget what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah. Promiscuity is not new under the sun. But whether it be Sodom, Gomorrah, or Rome, history has revealed that when a nation becomes weakened by becoming perverse, it eventually suffers great downfall. What man thinks will make him happy by giving himself over to the perverse use of sex, will lead to unhappiness and possibly death as clearly reflected with the AIDS epidemic and other sexually related diseases.

Man looks for happiness. It is in human nature to want to be happy and to seek happiness. But without faith, without a respect for God and the guidelines He has given us in the Ten Commandments, man can lose his way. His mind can become obsessed with that which he thinks will bring him happiness, but which in the end brings him misery. I wonder why Marilyn Monroe committed suicide...why so many movie stars are in and out of marriages. I wonder why Elizabeth Taylor cannot stay married to one man. Indeed she is looking for happiness, but has she found it? I think not.

The Ten Commandments are gifts from God to us...they are guidelines for our happiness. Just as a road map helps us find the way to our geographic destination, so God's Laws guide us to what really will make us happy.

Pornography is NOT the way of happiness. Many people in prison are there due to the influence that pornography has had on their thinking. Whether they are raped, raped-murdered or molested children, pornography more often than not played a part in their downfall. So why uphold this evil? Why complain about censorship? Why not see the evil for what it is?

There are from one to two generations of people that really do not know their Christian faith. Perhaps the ignorance of a statement that confuses "freedom" with "license" is indicative of that. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen said that freedom is not the right to do what we want, but rather the right to do what we should do. Freedom is not synonomous with license. Evidently, the German leaders understand this.

It makes me want to pray harder than ever. Join me? Lord, save us! Peace and His blessings!