human dignity human person

Pornography. Let's talk about it.

6:00:00 AMUnknown

Usually, I try not to get very involved with Facebook politics.  Arguing online can be a superficial form of dialogue and it's almost impossible to cordially close a disagreement in a satisfying way.  

This week, though, there was one comment to which I just had to respond.  

My friend had posted an article about the negative effects of viewing pornography.  The article presented research showing that many porn-viewers have various issues: such as being "controlled" by their sexual desires, having porn as their only experience of sexuality whatsoever, or even having the majority of viewers starting an addiction under the age of 16.    

Sounded pretty negative to me.

A stranger was the first to comment on this article.  I was appalled to see that this stranger took it upon himself to say that we should not be fighting against porn or labeling it as wrong: porn is normal, safe, healthy and even needed in our society.  He accused my friend of labeling porn as inappropriate from a very limited worldview of sex and using biased studies to create a case.  He pointed out the flaw in the argument: believing that porn is not appropriate is merely subjective.

Needless to say, I replied.  I didn't know if my words would make an impact on this stranger, nor did I really care.  For the sake of my friend's moral courage in posting the article and for the sake of truth, objectivity, and value, I replied.

I wrote back that every porn star is a human being with dignity and deserves better than to be used - in a non-personal, digital, and objective way - for someone else's pleasure.  Porn uses and objectifies real people.  The end.  And I wished everyone a great day.

What I then realized, even within a couple of sentences typed up on a computer, is that there exists a vast divide within my culture.  There are those who believe in moral absolutes, in good, in evil, and in ultimate truth.  These people still believe in things that are timeless, placeless, and true for all peoples and all circumstances.  These are the people who believe in value.

But there is another type of person in our modern culture: the moral relativist.  This type of person speaks the language of a dangerous subjectivity.  For them, morality is kind of like wearing a pair of glasses: we all have our own set, and hence we all have our unique vision of the world which is just as valid as our neighbor's, no matter how great the discrepancy between us.  This is the person who defends pornography as a good and healthy element of society.  Standards are relative.

Of course, a moral relativist still believes in absolute, timeless 
principles.  But only when it is convenient for him.  That is, morals and values are utilized when it sounds preposterous not to have them.  For example, my porn-defending stranger would probably admit that stealing a car, beating up a child for money, or betraying one's country is definitely wrong.  Actions that hurt other people are wrong.  But as long as no one is harmed, morality is as subjective as anything else.  Everyone does their own thing and we are all happy.

Well, we are not all happy.  Pornography uses, objectifies, and distorts people.  Using, objectifying, and distorting people are always wrong.  Not sometimes wrong, or wrong only for a Christian.  Always wrong.  

Frankly, I reject this convenient-only use of absolute, timeless principles.  I think that good and evil exist.  I think that we can know the difference and we have the ability to choose what is morally right.  We can be wrong.  We can screw up, be misled, or fall into a dirty lie.  And moral relativism is a lie.  

We must discern what is true and fight for it.  Tirelessly.  

Dietrich von Hildebrand knew all too well how absolute morality and truth were in constant danger of being minimized, ignored, or denied.  He speaks of 
"the reduction of the worlds of eternal truths, reposing in themselves, to merely subjective necessities of thinking."  (307)  He speaks of an inner prompting for a renewal of what is really and wholly timeless: "a longing for objective being, which rests in itself and cannot be reduced to the mere product of our imagination or thought; and for the realm of objective values, which possess a significance and validity that is independent of our arbitrary will and subjective satisfaction." (307) 

Pope  Emeritus Benedict also wrote out against such a dangerous way of thinking.  He writes: 

We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires.  

Now I don't know the story of every man and woman involved in 
the porn industry; if they were forced into that life or if they had no way out.  But I cannot dismiss the words of so many people who were trapped in the porn industry.  Here's just one example - and mild by comparison with other stories on the website.  

When I'm sober, I get more anxious.  When you are sober, you are forced to deal with reality.  I get anxious about all the things I have to get done.  When I was with Tawny all the time and were drunk every day, I didn't do much.  I'd wake up hung over and get ready to drink more.  It's a great way to escape reality.  When I'm drunk, I blow more money.  When I'm sober, I don't want to spend my money.(1)  
At the same time, I cannot fully understand the heartbreaking reality of an addict whose intimacy is locked to a computer screen. I pray that these people find healing, meaning, and true love.   

 But I also pray that my generation will stop labeling the evil reality of human objectification as safe, healthy, and morally subjective.  

And if you want more information on the harmful effects of pornography, read more at: 

(1) Porn Star Confessions, Pink Cross, 
Image 1
Image 2
Image 3
Image 4 

You Might Also Like


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Popular Posts

Search This Blog

Contact Form