So this is a first for me: A Book Review!
If you’re a crazy (good kind of crazy) Catholic you have probably heard of Matt Fradd. And if you haven’t, well, now you have. He is a very popular Catholic speaker and apologist. As a fellow student of Christopher West, I found him while studying up on Theology of the Body. He educates and informs his audience on all things Catholic (kind of an important thing for an apologist to do) and he has a personal interest in discussing how people can overcome their addictions to pornography and masturbation.
Quite the curveball I just threw at you, sorry about that.
It makes us a little uncomfortable right? This isn’t exactly dinner table conversation. No one wants to talk about this issue, let alone admit that they might have an addiction to it.
As any good TOB student will tell you, we have to shed a light on these issues instead of keeping them in the dark. If we don’t talk about it, how will anyone know how damaging this can be? Most importantly, how will we ever begin to be healed?
This is where the book review comes in. Matt and his wife Cameron wrote a book that I offered to review for this blog as well as We Dare To Say. So let’s dive in!
by Matt and Cameron Fradd
In a civilization dominated by images, as ours is today, images have become the privileged vehicle of the ideology of a world saturated with sensuality, which has made human sexuality its favorite theme, detaching it completely from the original meaning given to it by God. (Virginity, by Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM cap)
I hope it’s not bad form to begin a book review with a quote from a totally different book. And if it is, well, so be it. But see here what Fr. Raniero describes? Look what has happened to our world when it comes to human sexuality! It’s twisted and distorted! This is where I think we need to begin the discussion.
The secular world loves to detach God from everything. Anything that you or I or any other Christian deems sacred, chances are the world will find a way to twist it and distort it into something vulgar. For everything that we find to be beautiful, society tells us the opposite is what we really want. Just look at fertility and contraception, chastity and lust, procreation and abortion, marriage and the breakdown of the family, sex and pornography.
So while we can tackle all of the issues mentioned above for days on end, the focus of Restored is specifically pornography and the effect it has on the wives.
Why should you or I care about those who are addicted? Because, as a community, we have a duty to offer our assistance, even if we ourselves don’t have this problem. Also, it would be a good idea to read up on this to be aware of possible warning signs that you, or someone you love, could be developing an addiction.
Even the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) came out with Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography Use in the fall of 2015 which stated:
While the production and use of pornography has always been a problem, in recent years its impact has grown exponentially, in large part due to the Internet and mobile technology. Some have even described it as a public health crisis. Everyone, in some way, is affected by increased pornography use in society. We all suffer negative consequences from its distorted view of the human person and sexuality.
We all suffer the consequences. Every one of us.
How does Restored help? Because when the 10 women in this book tell their story, you enter into their world. You see things through their eyes. And many times, it’s painful to even read about it.
I admit, I found myself cringing at times when I would read what these men did to feed their addiction. I also found myself on the verge of tears as I saw the pain and the hurt as the women struggled to understand this betrayal. But mostly, I found their stories to be quite beautiful. You can see them start the healing process as they sought out our Lord and went to Him at Adoration and Confession and by praying to Him. Their spiritual journeys are amazing and I found myself cheering them on at the end. I don’t even know these couples but I found myself praying for them and their relationships. I began to relate to them, albeit in a small way.
For the women, I could understand how they may feel like a failure because their partner sought out satisfaction from some thing or someone else.
From the men’s point of view, I know how it feels to be addicted to something that you don’t think is a very big deal, or even particularly sinful. “Everyone else is doing it, is it really that bad?” “I’m not hurting anyone, what’s the big deal?”
Soon, you start to lose control. You are actually hurting yourself when you give in to these disorders desires. Lust can quickly dominate your heart and your mind as I will be the first to tell you. (another blog for another day). But it’s one surefire way to start down the road to addiction.
You can quickly find yourself going further and deeper into darkness, as many of the husbands did.
Here’s part of one testimonial from one of the courageous women named Christina:
Addiction is a progressive disease. What was a fun way to
spice up our sex life turned into a nightmare. My husband’s
need for sexual stimulation grew until pornographic pictures
could no longer satisfy his lust. He sought out real-life pornography
in the form of our extra partner and his affair. I have
known other sex addicts who started out with pornography
and, as their disease progressed, began having affairs, picking
up prostitutes, and even experimenting with homosexuality.
Without help, this disease only gets worse. – Christina
It’s probably helpful to mention here that the book is not meant to condemn or shame anyone who has this addiction. And it’s not meant to make you believe that you have a problem if you have seen porn once or twice in your life.
It’s meant to shed light on pornography addiction, address how much damage it causes, and start the conversation to heal.
Restored gives women, in particular, hope. All of the women mention their OWN recovery and healing and how incredibly helpful and necessary it has been for them. All of the women mentioned fellowship with other wives as being their life-preserver, in a way. It seemed to be the most common theme throughout all of the testimonials.
Having fellows takes me out of my own head and my own
problems and reminds me that I’m not the center of the universe.
My fellows ground me, reminding me that there are
people who are hurting just like I am and that together we
can recover from the effects of sex addiction. I don’t have to
do this alone. – Christina
One again, this just proves that we need community so desperately these days, especially as we go through a difficult time. Who else to better understand the pain and heartache than other hurting wives?
Was I willing and able to forgive my husband? With God’s grace,
absolutely. Even as Ryan confessed to me, through my hurt
and anger, the thought never crossed my mind that this was
the end for us. In my storm of emotions that night as he told
me about his pornography addiction, I never stopped loving
him or caring about him or his soul. We made a promise to
God—a promise to work unceasingly on getting each other
to heaven. We had built a family together, and this entire
problem was something that, with God’s grace, we were going
to not only survive but come out of with a stronger and
healthier marriage. – Ana
Did you catch the keyword there? God’s grace. If heaven is our ultimate destiny, and I would hope it is, how can we get there if we don’t address the sins that are holding us back?
My absolute favorite part of Restored was that all of the women said how they absolutely needed to Jesus in their lives in order to fix their marriages. They needed prayer. They needed Adoration. They needed to put on their armor for this spiritual battle.
I started learning more about prayer, and I had a new way
to intercede. I began daily to take my fear, anger, and woundedness
to the cross in prayer. I started praying for my husband
to have a changed heart. I stopped asking how he was doing
with his struggles and instead I asked how he was feeling and
what he was thinking. I listened with a God-given detachment
to his fears about work, our marriage, and the kids. I
was able to care for his wounds, because I had given mine to
These are real stories of hope and redemption. I believe it’s incredibly inspiring for these women to speak up and break the silence and put their stories into a book for the world to read. As I read story after story, I truly felt like I was experiencing their heartache, their embarrassment, their anger, their hurt.
These brave women speak to you, the reader, as if they are right next to you and they say, “Sit down and let me tell you my story of how the devil tried to destroy my husband and our marriage…and how God and I worked to save it.”
All married couples should give Restored a read. We all admit, at least I do, that pornography is not the easiest subject to casually slip into a conversation. How about mentioning the book to your spouse to get the conversation going? Especially consider this if it’s something that’s been weighing on your mind and you don’t quite know how to bring it up.
If you’re just dating someone, you should also read it. Why? Because if you’re a couple trying to be chaste before marriage, chances are you are struggling with it. This book can serve as almost like a “marriage prep” lesson for you to understand how our disordered desires won’t do us any good, especially trying to get our future spouse to heaven.
And to my fellow single friends – you should read it to. If you hope to be married someday, you will definitely want to do your part and research this topic.
But even if marriage is not your calling, I would consider reading Restored and then sending it to someone you know who could use a little help in this area. Perhaps a married couple close to you is struggling with this problem but is too embarrassed to admit it. Let them know that they don’t have to bear this cross alone!
This book can be the gift that they need right now!
Lastly, for those who are looking for hope and healing due to their own personal struggle with pornography, consider buying Matt’s other excellent book entitled Delivered: True Stories of Men and Women Who Turned from Porn to Purity.
And please, always remember: There’s no sin too great for God’s mercy.