Pornography consists of visual and/or written depictions of sexuality designed to arouse the person viewing it. It is a massive industry in the United States with an estimated three billion dollars of commercial pornography being consumed in the U.S. each year. This doesn’t even take into account so-called “soft pornography” such as the sexual content in many books, magazines, movies, and even primetime television shows.
Critics of the church sometimes claim her opposition to pornography is rooted in a hatred of sex or the human body, but this is patently false. First, there are many parts of scripture that praise the goodness of the human form and sexual union between husband and wife (The Song of Solomon and the book of Tobit are two great examples). Second, the church opposes pornography not because it hates sex or the human body, but because it loves and cherishes the things and never wishes to see them being abused. Pope John Paul II once remarked that, pornography isn’t wrong because it shows too much of the human being, but because it shows too little. Pornography reduces us to piles of flesh whose only purpose is to satisfy our sexual needs and the needs of others. In particular, it turns women into sexual objects whose images (which are not far from their very persons) are bought and sold.
But the Church’s view of human sexuality is the uniting of persons made in the image of God, persons with hopes, dreams, fears, and their capacity to selflessly love one another. Pornography is unable to show the infinite worth of each person because it reduces persons and their personal traits (hopes, joys, and infinite worth) to mere aggregates of physical form and body parts. This devaluing of human beings subsequently wreaks havoc on God’s plan for sexual union and human love.
For example, men and women who become addicted to pornography often lose interests in their spouses and become fixated on viewing other naked people or sex acts. This desire can become all-consuming and cause the victim to become focused on the self and its wants, instead of on God and the wonderful plan God has for them. That is why, far from being prudish, the Church opposes pornography because it wants human beings to live the fullest lives God intended for them, including the sexual component God intends for those lives.
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