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The good people at Covenant Eyes have produced a thought-proving four-part ebook titled Transformed By Beauty, which points toward the antidote for compulsive (or causal) porn use. Edited by Sam Guzman and Amanda Zurface and strung across four interviews, I guarantee you haven’t come across a treatment like this. We dive deep with (in order) Father Thomas Loya; singer-songwriter Audrey Assad; historian (and ballerina) Dr. Theresa Notare; and bodybuilder-author Jared Zimmerer. Transformed By Beauty explores the source of real healing and conversion: beauty as the incarnate echo of God’s goodness. Each interview offers a very personal angle on the effects of porn use but in a fresh new light. What do I mean?
It’s easy — and all too common — to approach the topic of pornography from the point of view of morality and focus on the sundry harms it brings upon to victims, performers, users, and producers. We tend to point out the biblical injunctions against sexual sin, we quote Jesus on lust in the heart, and we cite Church documents to bring the truth home.
But what do we provide as the alternative? Alcoholics Anonymous offers sobriety and serenity to alcoholics. What does the Christian Faith offer to those mired in porn addiction? What can draw the human eye and heart away from the shiny darkness of pornified illusions?
So simple you could miss it. Each of the interviewees comes at the fundamental significance of beauty, the forgotten Transcendent along with Goodness and Truth. Beauty is something like the Holy Spirit — it’s vital, irreplaceable, but often somewhat forgotten despite its importance. Where porn offers an airbrushed, always-pleasing, ever-serving set of promises it can never keep, the grace of God — working through art, music, dance, and even physical aesthetics — draws people into a relationship with objective Beauty, the final fulfillment of their own subjective longings.
Transformed by Beauty will give the reader plenty to think about. While I respectfully disagree with Father Loya’s assessment that “our human sexuality is what makes the human person most like God” (the common teaching of the Church is that our capacity to know and to love is what makes us most “like God,” who has no sexual longings per se.) Still, Loya’s insights into seeing aright provide rich food for thought.
One major takeaway of the ebook is that we must give the devil his due: pornography is not pure ugliness, or foulness. It’s a sparkling substitute for lasting beauty. It hooks the viewer — not all the way to the depths of true intimacy — but forever on the surface of things. Apart from damage to the dignity of the human person, pornography is essentially false intimacy. Think of a lie. The best lies are not whoppers but those that most closely resemble the truth.
The undraped human body is beautiful, for God made it. And God is a genius. The devil twists that inherent beauty so the body becomes a mere tool, an instrument of exploitation. Transformed By Beauty is not only an enjoyable (and relatively quick) read, it’s punctuated by reflection questions that are not to be skipped over. Share it with someone who’s not expecting an insight discussion of what the human heart really craves: a love that never ends.