By Paul J. McGeady
General Counsel of Morality in Media, Inc.
We should first, as the Jesuits say, define our terms. The word "pornography" comes from the Greek words, "porne,"meaning a harlot, prostitute, or whore, and "graphos," meaning a writing or depiction. If we put both words together we arrive at "A depiction or description of the activities of whores." Webster elaborates to indicate that it also means "A depiction of licentiousness or lewdness," or "A portrayal of erotic behavior designed to cause sexual excitement."
There are two generally recognized forms of pornography, one with the label "soft-core" and the other "hard-core." In the
HARMS FROM PORN
- The Harm to Your Soul
We, of course, recognize that the consumption of pornography or the participation in its production and distribution has always been regarded as sinful and thus harmful to the soul and our eternal salvation. This has been the universal teaching of the Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 2354) says:
"Pornography consists in removing real or simulated acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense."
Those who are not of the Catholic faith can refer to St. Matthew's Gospel (5:28) where the Evangelist says:
"Everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery in his heart."
For adherents to the Muslim religion, we have the words of the Qu'ran:
"God desires to turn toward you, but those who follow their lusts desire you to swerve away mightily." [Sura IV (On Women), v. 32]
"Say to the Believers, that they cast down their eyes and guard their private parts; that it is purer for them; God is aware of the things they work.
"And say to the believing women, that they cast down their eyes and guard their private parts, and reveal not their adornment save such as is outward; and let them cast their veils over their bosoms, and not reveal their adornment save to their husbands . . . " [Sura XXIV (On Light), vv. 30, 31; from Arberry, A.J., The Koran Interpreted, New York: Touchstone, 1996]
There is also this Hadith, or traditional saying of the Prophet Muhammad:
"To every religion there is a character and the character of Islam is chastity."
Anyone in the Jewish tradition will remember that a core belief in Judaism is that man and woman are created in the image of God and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Judaism sanctions, indeed hallows, the positive enjoyment of sexuality within the context of an overall relationship between husband and wife. Pornography represents the very antithesis of that tradition. It makes people into objects by reducing sexuality to an impersonal, mechanical activity. It denies the image of God within us.
- The Harm to Morality
Aside from the question of sin, there is another closely allied principle, which we call "Morality." We first observe that there is a wide belief that
"Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice calls him to love to do good and avoid evil. It is sometimes called natural law and allows him or her to recognize the moral quality of any act whether it is good or bad. Conscience and the ability to seek good and avoid evil is inscribed in his heart by God."
The moralists agree that our conscience calls us to be chaste, a personal moral virtue. Indulgence or participation in the pornography explosion can be labeled an unchaste, licentious, and morally evil. As such, it is destructive of Personal Morality.
Pornography also violates Public Morality since universally the people of the various countries have legislated against it as an evil. The obscenity law of the State of
- The Harm to Marriage
Dr. Victor B. Cline is a psychologist at the
In this work, Dr. Cline says:
"As a clinical psychologist, I have treated, over many years, approximately 300 sex addicts, sex offenders, or other individuals (96% male) with sexual illnesses. This includes many types of unwanted compulsive sexual acting out plus such things as child molestation, voyeurism, sadomasochism, fetishism, and rape. With only several exceptions, pornography has been a major or minor contributor or facilitator in the acquisition of their deviation or sexual addiction…"