The Essential Reason Porn Is Wrong

Porn Is Wrong for Many Reasons

There are many reasons why people say we should avoid pornography. Some, for instance, will point out that pornography is very addictive, that it warps our brains.

Other people might point out that the porn industry is itself a kind of sex slavery—a business dominated by misogynist men who prey on women who have forgotten their own dignity or women who come from sexually and relationally broken pasts. For many people in the industry, this is true.

We could probably come up with a list a mile long about why porn is a problem, but neither of these are the essential reason why porn is wrong. These are just the accidental reasons, the consequential reasons.

Why do I say that? Take the addiction issue. Sure, there’s all kinds of scientific evidence someone can get addicted to porn, but then the answer isn’t to get rid of porn but help people regulate their porn use so they don’t become addicted. So you see, addiction doesn’t show us the essential reasons porn is wrong, in itself.

Or take the problems in the industry. Sure, there’s all kinds of evidence that women in the porn industry have it very bad, but then the answer here is to regulate the industry. Let’s get more government control. Let’s make sure the hiring processes involve good psychological evaluations. Let’s make sure these companies use ethical business practices. Maybe you’re thinking, “How can you possibly do that kind of regulation?” but that isn’t the point. The point is even if it WERE possible, we still would say, no, the broken pasts and present experiences of porn stars aren’t the essential reason porn is wrong.

The Essential Reason Porn Is Wrong

I think the essential reason can be summarized by something said by Polish philosopher Karol Wojtyla, who later became Pope John Paul II. He said a human person is “a good towards which the only proper and adequate attitude is love.” I’ll say that again: a human person is “a good towards which the only proper and adequate attitude is love.” I think most people would like to live in a world where we all believed this is true, where every human person was treated with love.

The degree to which we love another, is the degree to which we feel responsible for that person’s good. So, if I desire the other person as a good without longing for the good of the other, this isn’t love. I’ll say it another way: if we treat people as commodities that merely bring us pleasure, and we don’t treat others in a way that promotes their own good, we aren’t showing love.

Pornography is essentially wrong because it is unloving in this way. It has been said, and I agree with this, that the problem with pornography isn’t that it shows too much, but that it shows too little of the human person. It reduces the beauty and the complexity and the individuality of THIS person—this person to whom the only proper attitude is love—and turns this person into an object to be used for selfish pleasure. Porn is wrong as anything is wrong that attempts to inspire or endorse an opposite attitude to love, that turns people into commodities.

Deep down, I think we all know this is not the kind of world we want to live in—these are not the kind of people we want to be, the kind of people who consume others who are deserving of my love. I want to treat them with dignity whether or not they think they are worth it.

Your Brain on Porn