What is bad, exactly with pornography?

Is pornography inherently wrong to look at?

I’ve always believed that it was, but I don’t have many reasons.

If it is inherently wrong, I think that God would be sinning because he can see all people having sex.

Yet God does not sin, so I think that is proof enough that it is not inherently wrong.

But perhaps I don’t have the right definition of porn.

Again, can anyone help on the question?

:confused:

God sees people having sex because he’s God… He sees all things and knows all things at all times.

Surely you can see the difference between the above, and a person going on their computer, searching for porn, and using it for sexual gratification.

As for WHY porn is wrong? You’ve been on these forums long enough, I’m sure you’ve got to know the answer to that already. Sex is meant to be shared between a wife/husband. Looking at pictures/videos of people fornicating, and using that to achieve sexual gratification, is not what our God given sexuality is meant for.

It’s wrong to remove the sexual act between husband and wife and show it to a third party for the purpose of causing the third party to be sexually aroused.

Also, Jesus said in the bible in Matthew 5:27-28 “You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say to you, that whosoever will look on a woman to lust after her, has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

You can sin in sexual matters just by willingly having lusting. Willingly having lust is the purpose of porn.

Just from the standpoint of natural law, pornography is wrong because it objectifies human beings, making them merely means rather than ends in themselves. When you watch pornography, or when it is produced and sold, the individual persons involved don’t matter, who they are, whether they are married, love one another, etc. Rather, they are simply tools to deliver certain erotic feelings.

Secondly, natural law also helps us understand the teleology behind sexual relations between a man and a woman, namely, an exchange of self in love geared toward the procreation of children. Yet all this is frustrated through pornography: the men and women don’t love each other, don’t exchange themselves (using contraceptives, fake names, they are not married, etc.), and there is no openness to life. Therefore, pornography mutilates the sacredness of sex.

Thirdly, pornography has a negative psychological and social effect on the viewer, which you can research quite easily.

These are all secular arguments. Obviously, there are also important arguments the Church would put forward as well.

Pornography is a form of prostitution, selling one’s body for money. There is no substantive difference between a porn actor/actress and a prostitute. This way of life is self-destructive. It has been well documented that many in the porn business have become alcohol/drug addicted and died of an STD or by suicide. This is not even to mention that the people who pay for pornography are also addicted and spiritually self-destructive because they have contributed to the illness and deaths of those in the porn business.

Still though, why always include “sexual gratification” in the definition of porn? It is quite possible to imagine looking at porn and not being aroused -for instance if one were tasked with finding porn for legal purposes or indeed, if one saw virtually any museum statue or if one saw a nude painting or if one formed the image of two people having sex because you read that they in fact did so.

It is never the nudity or the sex act itself that it is the issue, but the over enthusiastic attitude that most people have towards others and pleasure in general, which prompts them to like seeing sex.

I would agree that viewing it can be considered an aid to evil, but that alone admits that there are only extrinsic reasons which make porn bad.

And I’m not sure what is so different between God seeing porn and humans seeing it, though I think the answer to the question will go far in answering the other questions I have. Is it that humans cannot control their response to porn whereas God has no response to it?

It has been my understanding that pornography, or at least a great deal of it, is “idealized”; the photos are air-brushed and otherwise altered to present an image that isn’t real. It is my further understanding that resorting to it has an effect of creating unreasonable expectations in relationships. One expects perfection in physical appearance and in a sort of seductiveness that’s not found in real life.

It therefore encourages internalization of sexual instincts instead of the natural directing of them toward members of the opposite sex who have defects and personalities as well that are not (unlike pornography) directed solely at inciting prurient interest.

Fair point. In fact, the times I have seen porn in the past, I’ve found it mostly hilarious (it’s the bad acting that does it). Let’s say that it isn’t for sexual gratification; it is still for some form of consumerism, in which case, the humans involved are still being objectified. Those alternative scenarios you mention are very different from pornography, though. Pornography isn’t made for lawyers to sift through nor is it the stuff of art.

It is never the nudity or the sex act itself that it is the issue, but the over enthusiastic attitude that most people have towards others and pleasure in general, which prompts them to like seeing sex.

Hmmm perhaps for some, but surely the nudity and sex is part and parcel with pornography. I mean, I can’t really imagine pornography between two people sitting on a couch, fully clothed and drinking tea. Some how I don’t think that would sell. I’m not sure what you mean by the “over enthusiastic attitude” towards others.

I would agree that viewing it can be considered an aid to evil, but that alone admits that there are only extrinsic reasons which make porn bad.

Well, viewing it, you are facilitating its production and promotion, and so aiding in its intrinsic evil (namely, objectifying human beings). Also, it has an intrinsically evil effect on you as the viewer.

And I’m not sure what is so different between God seeing porn and humans seeing it, though I think the answer to the question will go far in answering the other questions I have. Is it that humans cannot control their response to porn whereas God has no response to it?

There would be a number of differences, I’d imagine, such as:
(i) God’s intention wouldn’t be for inappropriate sexual stimulation, ours are;
(ii) God’s thoughts while watching porn would be of love towards those involved, who He knows personally, yet we just see them as objects for our pleasure;
(iii) God does not stimulate lust within Himself, we do - notice, it’s not the “response” to porn that would be sinful, but the desired response - we will our own lust in this case; and
(iv) God would view it as sinful and desire those involved to turn to Him in love, we don’t (sometimes).

You are correct. It would not be a sin in this case.

Honestly, my first thought on seeing the title of this thread was “You have to ask?!” :eek:

Porn objectifies the person or persons being looked at. It reduces their humanity to that of being a chattel or a device for one’s own selfish pleasure. It is intrinsically self-indulgent and completely separates one from the life-giving purpose of the sexual act. It reduces and removes the respect that is due to other human beings, each one of which was made in the image of God and therefore reduces the respect one gives to God.

“That which you do to the least of my friends, you do to me”

To those who look at porn and don’t understand why it is wrong, imagine yourself looking at Christ with selfish lust in your heart.

Now, doesn’t that feel wrong?

I just think that the attitudes people have towards pain, pleasure, sex, and porn are controllable and mostly learned. That’s why I needed to state that it was a perverse love of others and not a primarily sexual stimulation which was at the root of porn.

Back to the main topic, I think that in some cases the objectification of people is not sinful. After all, man is objectified by the very terms of his existence; being a mind and a body together means that man can analyze himself, he can do something in his mind that his body would regret or his body could reject the dictates of his mind. In all of these instances, there is objectification since a man must view his body or spirit w/o prejudice for any of these.

Also, man is objectified by God because man is receives all his value from God and he is constantly killed or brought to life simply for God’s pleasure. Likewise, a leader objectifies those who he leads, since they are objects for his end of state-order.

So if lacking a subjective value itself is bad, then God sins by making man worthy only by God’s work and not by his own.

Yet, God does not sin so I don’t believe that objectification is a sin. Secondly, even if man is an end in himself, that not make him either accidentally a means to something else, nor does that make him the highest end. Therefore a man can be a means towards something greater than himself as for instance, when a man becomes a servant or a husband or soldier, etc. Therefore even here his objectification is not sinful for then servitude would be sinful of pursuing happiness through others would be sinful. And I must stress, that people do pursue happiness through others namely through friends, through marriage, through business, etc.

Of course in all of these relationships one necessarily sees in these people not merely people, but sources of pleasure.

It is intrinsically evil to create pornography because it allows a third party to participate, even indirectly, in the sexual act that is reserved for husband and wife. (That being said, I suppose a video made privately by a husband and wife for their eyes only is not pornography.) For the most part, the purpose of creating pornography is to profit by making public those acts that the virtues of chastity and modesty demand be done privately. (Not to mention that the actors are not married to each other and are being paid to fornicate with each other.) It is not intrinsically evil to view pornography, as you correctly state.

God sees every act, whether good or evil. He doesn’t sin by being omnipresent and omniscient; he can’t sin because sin is by definition an act contrary to His will.

But what does it mean, that God created man in his image except that God made man into a rational animal. Only if rationality or animality were damaged would we be detracting from God’s creation. But the soul itself cannot be damaged, since one is either rational or not; one is either pregnant or not. However, one can damage the rationality by degree in so far as rationality is also bounded together with the body. Either way though, one must ask to what degree this is sinful since damage is not inherently bad or good (after all God’s creation is damaged all the time). Here we must either say that this is like damaging God’s property and is therefore a crime of theft and sacrilege (in which case, how would it fall under the sixth commandment?), or that it is not the damage which is bad but the reason for the damage (lustful gratification) is bad. But here we see that we are back to the question of why one would always attach lust to porn? Is there some reason people cannot control themselves (in principle, I know in practice it is nearly impossible for most)?

I’m sorry, but that’s gibberish.

You can’t ‘rationalise’ away the objective damage that you do to yourself or to your relationship with God when you objectify another human being.

Other people simply are not objects for you to do with as you wish. They are living breathing human beings. Whether or not they consent to participate in the activities that cause pornography to be created (and that ‘consent’ may not always be so free as you think it might, given the reasons why people do such things and the consequences that more often than not arise as a result) YOUR* relationship with the world and with God would be damaged by your choice to utilise pornography.

Using porn is one of the easiest ways to recognise the separation of oneself from God. It’s clearly against the will of God. It can be understood to be wrong with just the benefit of human reason alone - after all, we all individually wish to be respected and treated with dignity, so why would we seek to deny other people their dignity?

I’m not saying I’m perfect in this regard: like most men, I have looked at porn in the past. And I’m not proud of it. I know it’s wrong. What I am saying is that I can and do recognise the damage it causes to me.

And that’s not even beginning to address the damage it causes to other people indirectly by means of encouraging and giving material support to those who produce the porn in the first place. People and their sexual functions are not products to be used and then thrown away. If we get into the habit of doing that, the more likely we are to treat those around us in a dismissive way, to discard them, and to fail to build nourishing committed relationships with people.

There can be no justification for pornography whatsoever.

(* I use ‘your’ in the illustrative sense - I have no idea if you actually use porn or not, so please don’t take it as an accusation)

I’m just saying, either the sin of pornography is not actually a sin nor a lust but actually a theft and sacrilege or it is a sin of lust in which case the earlier problem presents itself. Such a dilemma is clearly more intelligible than saying that rationality, as such, admits of degrees or that the soul, as such, can be damaged. I agree that pornography can lead to stupidity and so it can be sinful, but can it actually destroy human nature? To that charge I say no. And indeed, it can only be a danger to man’s intellectual powers only in so far as a man can be said to lust after it. But again the earlier problem presents itself, namely, is it impossible to not-lust after porn?

Again, as for making people into objects for one’s will, that happens on a daily basis when a legislator sees people not as people but as sources of good or evil or when God sees people as means towards his own glory and not as humans per se. There is nothing inherently wrong with such a thing.

I should also add, so as not to equivocate, that I use “porn” to indicate also nude photographs w/o sex. Here the same problem of lust exists but w/o the fornication aspects. Would the same arguments apply if someone were not paid to fornicate with someone else?

Hello fakename.
first of all God created sex. He did so for a reason. Within that reason sex isn’t obscene.

The world of pornography has nothing to do with love. It is about self indulgent pleasure in which those who participate in it are reduced to having no more value than selfish fun. It takes sex outside of its sacred place and debases it. All is usery and abusery in pornography. Self indulgent pleasures in the flesh that is hostile towards God.
It is a sin that encourages others to sin too. Perhaps it would not be so bad if only one person were the sinner. It is particularly evil because it provokes others to sin too.

I think porn is wrong because it objectifies women. That’s not a faith thing, just a personal moral view.

:thumbsup: Exactly

My husband has and does use pornography I can say as a wife the pain in your heart is immense. Adultery isn’t ‘just’ a sexual act performed outside marriage, it is viewing a woman to lust after her via pornography. This pornography allows a man to commit adultery in his heart and this is equally as painful and damaging as a sexual affair to a marriage.

The moral principle, however, is that a person should not be treated merely as a means to an end. By objectification, I mean, that we treat people merely as objects, not as subjects. With regards to man’s self-analysis, he can never be purely objective - that is, objectify himself - since he is one doing the analysis and cannot detach from himself! God certainly does not objectify human beings, since we are His children and He loves each of us. Lastly, in as much as a political leader objectifies those he leads (that is, thinks of them solely as object), he is doing wrong.

And this - again - is the main wrong of pornography. When you watch porn, do you honestly care who these people are (they even use fake names)? Do you care who their parents are, their spouses, their children? When you watch a woman in a compromised sexual position (I won’t go into details :wink: ) do you see her as a child of God, a sister of yours in the human family? I doubt anyone can, unless he or she were a great saint. Yet this is how we are supposed to see one another

Of course, people are going to be means to others: when I take a taxi, the driver is a means for me to get to my destination. However, a person cannot be solely a means. In most professions, human dignity is respected so that the employee never becomes a mere means but I’m not sure this can ever be true in pornography because of the detachment between those involved in pornographic production and the consumer; also, the inherent indignity of what is being done.

Of course, people are going to be means to others: when I take a taxi, the driver is a means for me to get to my destination. However, a person cannot be solely a means. In most professions, human dignity is respected so that the employee never becomes a mere means but I’m not sure this can ever be true in pornography because of the detachment between those involved in pornographic production and the consumer; also, the inherent indignity of what is being done.

But objectification is simply the use of a thing as a means (in itself, morally neutral). Whether or not one also does not believe at the same time, that that thing is a human with dignity is more of a psychological question than a logical one -for it is totally possible to believe that a human has some dignity but nonetheless must serve as a means towards something which is higher. Man is not the good of man but rather happiness is even higher than the goods of some men (hence, the use of servants, families, power, and penal laws). Yet even with servants and subjects (means) a ruler doesn’t think that suddenly these things are not humans anymore and w/o dignity. It just so happens that 9/10 they must be considered not as humans but as objects which serve a specific purpose.

God does love us, but if anything, that is what makes the objectification even higher in His case -for God’s love for us is totally divorced from our conception of our "subjective " worth. God can destroy us and still love us while we will protest against our own destruction 9/10.

It would be equally hard to care for someone’s dignity under other circumstances like if you get into an argument with them or a physical confrontation, or if you were performing surgery on them, or if you were having sex with them. The fact that these actions produce vivid emotions that intoxicate you and thereby keep you from actually visually imagining their human dignity doesn’t mean that you have said that do not think they have any at all. After all, we don’t often imagine the dignity of an angel and since they are beyond our experiences we perhaps are mistaken when we do imagine, however that doesn’t mean we cease to believe in their dignity.

I think that the difference here lies in my contention that the disconnect between porn and dignity is merely contingent and not necessary. After all, seeing porn might make you say “perhaps that person is on the wrong path and should be helped” and this is to affirm the porn star’s dignity. Either this or you are destined to react in a bad way to porn, in which case, I ask are you going to react the same if you accidentally saw a married couple having sex? If not, then why? For they are both nude, they (let us assume) are both in good physical condition, they are both doing something that (were we in their position) we would enjoy -so why are we helpless in one situation but not in the other? The reason I believe, has more to do with ourselves than what we see. As such the intrinsic nature of porn’s evil continues to allude me. But this talk about objectivization is food for thought.

Let me ask another question that would clear the fog: in what sense is a person dignified? Obviously as a creature of God he is dignified and also insofar as he is an image of God. But human nature is not naturally moral and therefore it is not to say that human dignity=human morality or that human dignity implies that all men have some initial state of goodness. It rather implies that human nature is -like all created things- good in the sense of being valuable in the eyes of God. If human nature is good in this way, then it would be good to conserve it. Yet, not conserving it does not entail vice since killing a man is not always bad. How can this be true? I think I am missing some details about how each type of good can be mapped onto moral actions. For instance, we know that human nature is neither naturally good or evil but we also know that human nature is a “good” (in some sense). So what does this imply for action? If we know something is good then it should be wrong to disregard it, and yet if that is true regarding humanity, then humanness becomes what we assumed it was not -inherently good. Very confusing.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.