Pornography doesn’t go far enough to promote genuine love, which we can see primarily in three areas: conjugal love, relationships, and privacy.
Porn is made to excite passions in the most animalistic ways possible. There are no rules; anything and everything goes. Yet, ironically, pornography doesn’t go far enough in three areas: conjugal love, relationships, and privacy.
Let’s start with reciprocal (conjugal) love. Porn is watched for pleasure and excitement. It’s made to achieve that goal alone. Even “women’s porn,” porn made by women for women, is produced to arouse and to be sensual, not to help people know how to love or treat others with dignity and respect. Some may say this isn’t intentional, but it’s intrinsic to pornography. Here are just four ways porn does not foster or display reciprocal love.
Pornography disregards mutual self-giving.
Humans are made in the image and likeness of God. Human sexuality is a God-given gift meant to unite couples and draw them closer. It’s supposed to open them to love by the potential of sharing in God’s creative power.
For those who don’t believe in God, pornography denies the true meaning of human sexuality as a mutual and exclusive gift of each other’s body. Sex becomes an act of using another for pleasure rather than an act of giving pleasure. This is because of porn’s focus on the user’s own desires rather than his or her gift of love to others, no matter who makes it.
Pornography is all about carnal pleasure.
Obviously, pornography is all about pleasure for the person viewing it. It doesn’t show men and women cooperating in the possibility of procreation. Really, pornography makes “procreation” into a dirty word (see below). Porn separates the potential of making life from the act of sex.
Aside from this, and worse, most sex acts in porn result in the man ejaculating in a way that degrades the woman. Showing such an act in a dehumanizing way fails to show sex’s climax as a result of a loving union. This results in the next item on the list.
Porn reduces sex, persons, and relationships to commodities.
Porn is literally about buying and selling sex, even when it’s free. Pornography is an act of consumption of another person. It produces an insatiable appetite, a spirit of “wanting.” Like commercials that create a spirit of greed and envy for material goods, porn produces greed and envy for the material goods of sex and someone’s body parts—a desire to own another person for self-gratification.
It reduces persons and relationships to objects of lust. Selfish pleasure, not the best good of another person, becomes the end. By separating someone’s body parts from the person for self-pleasure, using another person’s body parts like sex toys, it teaches and engages in men and women refusing to treat one another with dignity and respect.
Pornography strips dignity and respect out of sex.
People desire authentic love. Those who make and produce porn, and gratify their senses by watching it, undermine the development of healthy and mature relationships. Even the research on porn bears this out, with porn addicts experiencing a dramatic decrease in sexual interest and arousal, and an increasing focus on themselves to the exclusion of their partners. It erodes moral growth, indissolubility, and faithfulness. Pornography exploits the vulnerable in their weakness who seek authentic love and genuine passion.
Pornography Is Antisocial
Next, to the second broad area in which pornography doesn’t show enough: relationships. By not fostering the above-mentioned four aspects of reciprocal love, pornography exhibits and encourages antisocial behavior, especially in relationships. It shows men and women as always wanting, waiting to go at it, as if there is nothing more a woman wants or should ask for in life from a lover.
With the wide acceptance of porn has come the porn effect. Porn’s antisocial effect is, essentially, society’s adoption of six principles:
- It’s alright to use, abuse, or mistreat others for self-gratification, if only simulated;
- It’s alright to view the use, mistreatment, or abuse of a human person;
- Individuals can treat another human with indifference as long as it furthers a personal goal or fulfills a personal pleasure;
- We should always seek pleasure and avoid pain;
- Pleasure guides principle, meaning sexual passion trumps moral objectives; and
- Children are a burden to personal goals, pleasures, or society, which makes procreation a dirty word.
Let’s focus on number six. One of the greatest tragedies of porn’s antisocial effects is that it fuels an anti-child culture. Thinking sex should be open to procreation, or that the two go hand-in-hand, is regarded like VHS tapes: out of style. Some people consider parents with three or more children to be crazy, and children are generally viewed as a burden. Anyone with a large family has probably experienced negative comments in grocery stores or coffee shops.
With these antisocial behaviors attendant to the porn-consonant “sex is purely about momentary pleasure” approach, people slowly and increasingly refuse to respect transcendent imperatives. Their participation in pornography trains them to approach others as vehicles for their desires, rather than respecting them as separate human individuals who deserve love and respect, not mere use like objects. Passions, feelings, or pleasure soon replace natural or divine laws and can replace transcendentals as the basis for making laws. When this occurs, passion-based laws violate natural rights and true freedom.
Porn Also Doesn’t Display Enough Privacy
Pornography obviously doesn’t show privacy. It even violates it. Producing porn violates personal privacy and by protecting porn production the government can end up violating privacy.
Sex is a private, intimate act. It should not be recorded and distributed for financial gain or public viewing. The pornography business exploits sexual passions for financial gain. Some argue porn is art. This is not the place for a full discussion of art, but briefly: art is an imitation of life, while porn misrepresents life and obscures reality. It distorts the truth of the human person and sexuality by commercializing a private act between two persons.
Even if porn were art, couples have a right to privacy in their bedroom. The culture of pornography intrudes into the bedroom even when porn is not in a household. Here’s how: Recording sex devoid of love violates a couple’s right to share authentic human love and to experience the whole person, not just private parts, during sex. Producing and distributing pornography violates the rights of both nonparticipating and participating individuals to be free from porn’s expectations on how to act in relationships and sex.
Those who disagree may say, among other things, that the Supreme Court has ruled Americans have a right to view pornography, or that it’s ridiculous to say that porn violates a couple’s right to privacy. Yet the porn culture is inescapable. Sex permeates our media, music, and society. It transgresses into how we view human sexuality.
By making porn a right, therefore, the government ends up intruding on privacy. The Supreme Court decisions are intrusion by permission. Our Supreme Court protects porn as a form of speech and its possession as a right to privacy. A violation of privacy by permission is as dangerous as a violation by action.
Good Government Protects the Common Good
Government has an interest in the promoting citizens’ welfare by deeming prostitution illegal. The military has an interest in good order and discipline, so has made adultery among soldiers a crime. Were the government to legalize heroin, cocaine, and meth for private use in the home, many would say the law is unjust because of the harm these cause both the person and society.
This is not to suggest government can regulate every vice, but laws ought to promote the common good, which is to perfect the community. In many respects, pornography doesn’t benefit the common good by: objectifying women, even those who “choose” to participate; dehumanizing participants and viewers; promoting violence and rape in some scenes; causing violence towards actors on many production sets; degrading sexual relationships; fostering sex addiction; and, in many cases, leading to drug and alcohol addiction for those who act in it.
States have an interest in prohibiting obscene material, and arguably, most porn today is obscene or hard-core. More disturbing is the human trafficking involved in pornography or associated with it. Ask those who escaped the industry, like Jessica Neely.
There are social consequences to what porn does and doesn’t show, and porn survivors have spoken about its dangers. Utah has actually declared pornography a public health crisis while other states are considering similar resolutions. Should the government protect porn as a form of speech and a right to privacy given its effects on the common good? Mentioning porn and regulation in the same sentence is unpopular given its power of pleasure, but due to its dangers it’s worth a discussion.