To the Woman Hiding Behind ‘Belle Knox’

Dear Miriam Weeks, I am not here to condemn you, but, instead, to tell you that you have unimaginable worth and are the beloved daughter of a King.

From all appearances, you were raised in a loving and devout Catholic home in Spokane, Wash. What dark depths do those eyes hide, and what hurt is there that has led you down the path of allowing your 18-year-old self to participate in violent pornographic films? What was it that changed your course of direction from volunteering at a local Catholic Charities while attending Gonzaga Prep in Spokane to turning yourself over to one of the most anti-woman industries around?

Even if you think that filming pornography "empowers," "fulfills" and brings you "unimaginable joy," and that it is your "love, happiness and home," do you realize you are in actuality being degraded? It is not empowering to be treated like someone else’s disposable sex object, even if you consent to it by "choice."

The people involved in the making of pornography or who view your material see you as a sexual commodity, an object to be acted on, whose sole purpose is to bring them pleasure. It’s a lot easier to trample on someone’s dignity with her consent. You have made yourself easy bait.

You are consenting to your own exploitation. The directors of pornographic videos don’t care why you’re there; they just care that you’re there. If you want to be truly empowered, you must command respect and dignity for the sacredness of your person and your sexuality and that of others. A piece of a diamond that is kicked around does not lose its value. You are so much more valuable than any diamond, even though you allow yourself to be choked, spit on and kicked around, both symbolically and literally.

By being involved in the pornography industry, you are directly contributing to the continued oppression, abuse and objectification of yourself and other women, who are only viewed as sex objects for the pleasure of others. The destructive effects of pornography are far-reaching. Pornography hurts you, it hurts everyone who watches you, and it hurts everyone who knows you. It destroys men, women and children’s lives. It destroys relationships. And as you keenly are aware, pornography leads to violence — against you and against other women and children. Even Duke University, the place you fought so hard to attend and used as a justification for your porn obsession, ironically, has turned your life into a "daily nightmare," as you say, as many of your peers make it a very hostile environment.

Your peers have threatened to throw trash on you, egged you on to slit your wrists and threatened to rape or kill you. Their horrific taunts perpetuate the objectification you began when you submitted to the porn industry. Unfortunately, many who taunt you are too blind to see their own hypocrisy in consuming the very same porn that you participate in and in creating the demand for it. Jesus says, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone" (John 8:7).

You are obviously an intelligent, beautiful and enterprising woman. But it’s what you choose to do with those gifts that really matters. Those gifts are on loan from God to be used for his greater glory — not distorted and degraded into mere ghosts of the real thing. That’s what sin is, by the way: evil that parades as the appearance of good but in the end leaves you empty and alone.

You want to be a women’s-rights lawyer or a civil-rights lawyer. You’ve said that you want to "empower" women to do sex work without the stigma. "Sex work" is not work. It is prostitution. Any work must keep the dignity of the human person at the center and doesn’t allow anyone to trample on or degrade the body. You have fallen in the trap of feminist studies that teach something quite foreign to what actual empowerment is. Real freedom is not freedom from, but freedom for. Real freedom doesn’t come from becoming a slave to perverse notions of sexuality; it comes from choosing the good. We are most free when we choose the good.

Sexual relations are a beautiful gift designed by God to be shared by spouses; they are meant to be life-giving and love-giving. Sex is meant to communicate love and life, not a caricature of it. We are a unity of body and soul, and what we do with our body matters.

In the sexual act, both parties give themselves to each other, which requires a loss of self in the other. This kind of vulnerability necessitates the marital vow, where both parties have committed themselves to each other exclusively and have an integrated care and respect for each other’s human dignity as a whole.

If you want to truly understand human sexuality, read St. John Paul II’s theology of the body. Our bodies are sacred tabernacles, temples of the Holy Spirit; consequently, they are not to be abused by ourselves or by others. Embrace the "new feminism," which is based on "a universal recognition of the dignity of women" (St. John Paul II, "Letter to Women").

As your 15 minutes of fame fades, you will be left with the truth and reality of your actions. As it sinks in, don’t wallow in it, because the devil wants to make you feel totally worthless. Instead, know that redemption and forgiveness are waiting for you in the arms of our Christ, who loves you completely and wants you for himself. You can "choose" something different, something that will "empower" you for eternity.

More than a half century ago, Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, "To a great extent, the level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women."

Dare we all aspire to be this kind of woman.

Your sister in Christ.

P.S. By the way, your name is Miriam, a variation of the name Mary. You can decide to embrace your namesake, Mother Mary, who is awaiting your return, or St. Mary Magdalene, who clearly knows your struggles and became a champion of sexual purity. Another sinner-turned-saint, St. Augustine, teaches us all that "there is no saint without a past and no sinner without a future."

Arina Grossu is director for the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council.