Blessed John Paul II taught in what has been termed, “Theology of the Body,” that the problem with Pornography is not that it shows too much, but the exact opposite: it shows too little. This statement is rather shocking to many, considering our automatic reaction generally assumes that pornography involves showing far too much flesh.
Bl. JP II was a fan of legitimate nude-art and believed that the naked body, when looked upon with chaste eyes, could be a chance to look through a window into the true beauty of God. Human beings, body and soul, are created in the image and likeness of God. Our very bodies, our flesh in some way, naturally reflect or imitate God’s own interior beauty. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that the entire universe, and all created things are a sacrament, that is, a “sign” of God’s own nature.
Therefore, to look at the moral rejection of pornography as the result of some sort of repression is an utterly false and obtuse claim. The industry of pornography itself is repressive, because as John Paul II explains, it shows too little, in fact – pornography represses, not the flesh, but rather the person. Pornography does not show the entire person, it shows a manipulated, “fantasy” that is not grounded in reality. It doesn’t show the depths of a person, even if participating parties are unaware of their own depth.
Pornography is an industry, a very very addictive and financially successful industry that mostly preys on the weakness of men, who generally are aroused by visual images more than “romantic pornography.” For this reason, many men struggle with pornography and as a result a great deal of shame is often accompanied by viewing it. For those who are “shameless,” one can understand that their defense of pornography is merely a coping mechanism to avoid a guilty conscience, but underneath all the defensive mechanisms there is a desire for purity of heart, and a holistic appreciation for the opposite sex.
To be a “real man” we must love beauty and detest anything that cheapens it. Women are beautiful, and men are created to protect and uphold the dignity of women unto death. This is true heroism, true masculine virtue, and something lacking, quite evidently in our day-and-age.
There has been a movement recently to push for women’s rights to participate in prostitution and rally behind the usage of women in pornography. Their focus is on “liberty” and that women have the right to do whatever they please. This opens the door to a huge other conversation when discussing procreative rights, and the abortion-law, which would require a new blog entirely.
Behind this notion of “liberty” is a platform that is not thought out quite well. The basis for it is fundamentally built upon the equal dignity that men and women should have. Well, that would be good, because men and women should BOTH not participate in pornography. Equal. While men are called to protect the beauty of women with their lives, women are also called to protect the integrity of men with their lives (equality). Most women realize how easy it can be to pull at the heart-strings of men, and “with great power, comes great responsibility.”
“Men intimidate with physical strength, women intimidate with their sexuality.” This often quoted phrase is useless though. The reality is, women and men are not meant to “survive” in this world by manipulating each other in whatever way sees fit. Rather we are called to serve one another, according to the other’s need. Something we sometimes forget in a very competitive, unbridled form of capitalism.
The beauty of a woman’s virtue and the integrity of a man’s life are really in the end the same thing: obedience to the will of God. And this cannot be normally accomplished without the complimentarity between spouses and relationships.
Here is what “lust” is: lust is essentially the “receiving of pleasure” in an inordinate fashion through the sexual faculty of the body. Gluttony is lust’s older sister who also seeks pleasure, but through the lens of food. Both are a problem: over indulgence and the seeking out of an “escape” from the pain and suffering of this life.
Any addiction – that is, the seeking of an infinite amount of pleasure (never ending), through a finite (limited/ending) object(s), is ultimately an escape and an affront to the virtue of Humility. Humility literally means to be of the “ground” or “earth.” It means to be fixed into reality, to be realistic, to not live in a fantasy world.
Why do we enjoy living in a fantasy world? Ultimately because it provides for us “control” and what we consider peace. We are able to appropriate to ourselves the life that we shamefully desire for ourselves, and when we seek this out in “la-la land” it usually involves having others serve our every desire. That is, “I am the King of the Universe: serve me.” This is the simple nature of concupiscence or sin within each of us, and it is behind all sin – even if we are unaware of it.
The fantasy world essentially is “pride” or the desire to be our own god. Ironically, God only insists that we serve Him, because it is for our own good that we do this. Unlike in our fantasy world, we want food, money, power, and pleasure to serve our needs for our own good rather than another. And there is no love in any of that, and where there is no love, there is no true peace or joy.
What else happens when we live in a fantasy world? We sometimes lose track of reality. Most people who suffer from addictions to anything know how they lose track of time. I was recently in a Casino (for the first time) and I noted a few things the moment I walked in: no clocks. They do not want you to know what time it is, so you can forget about time and stay there till 3 AM. The moment I walked into the Casino I felt this immediate “spiritual battle” be placed on my shoulders, greed, pride…
I am not saying that gambling is intrinsically evil, but be aware of the fact that the gambling industry wants your money. If you are not equipped with the armour of God, walking into such a place, you are Satan’s puppet. Money is not the only thing that has value, but time is also valuable, and it can be spent serving the poor and needy.
The problem with having Attention Deficit Disorder is I go off track…jumping back on:
Pornography essentially, an addiction is the most contrary thing we can understand true “liberty” or freedom to be. Addiction ultimately is slavery, and women or men who endorse such an addiction are enemies of liberty. True freedom is the ability to do what is good, not the ability to do “whatever.” Lastly here is the logic of promoting “women’s rights” to pornography and prostitution: women have dignity – dignity gives rise to freedom – women have the freedom to communicate that they are mere objects and have no dignity. We have come full circle and contradicted the very premise that we originally set out to accomplish. So WHERE DID WE GO WRONG? I think it has something to do with our notion of the relationship between dignity and freedom, and the problem is this: an identity crisis.
Aristotle teaches that “action flows from being.” In saying this, he implies that “what or who we are, determines or should shape our conscience so that we know how our actions can correspond to our nature.” In simpler terms: if you are a bird, you fly. If you are a rational-creature (humans), you act as such. We are called to “be who we are.” Therefore, our goal is to become “fully-alive” by being exactly who we are. No, no, I am not quoting Lady Gaga. Being who we are is not a matter of examining our “desires” it is a matter of examining our nature. It is not a matter of redefining what our reproductive organs are for, nor is it a matter of defining our own notion of self-importance. Rather we are to look deep within ourselves to discover what we are made for. As man and woman, this role is distinct and equal: we are both made to Love and Serve God, because of his Infinite love, and the fact that he has stooped so low to call us His own children. And as a result of being “Children of God” or “Children of Light” or “Children of Truth,” we ought to act like it. A bird flies, and we live with justice and goodness and love. We act like we came from a God of Love, and we do not make the same mistake Adam and Eve made when they attempted to define good and evil by their own merits when the “grasped” at the fruit of the tree of good and evil. Human beings do not create reality, we are participators in reality – and what a rush that is, especially if we have the sight to see all the love we can offer and receive when we simply open our eyes.
Freedom therefore is at the service of “becoming who we are.” Therefore, it is univocal to say that freedom is for the sake of our own good, for integrity, for chastity. Here is the challenge to those advocating for pornography as a means to promote women’s liberation: if you are saying that pornography is part of allowing women and men seek their own fulfillment, you are effectively saying that human beings are “fully alive” and “fully human” when they lack integrity, when they treat others like an object and act selfish. If that is the case, why are you defending that at all? Think about it please…
There is a lot that can be said about Pornography and its negative effects. However, the one last thing I would like to reflect on is how the viewing of pornography is actually the result of escaping our lives, an old wound, some deep hurt that has profoundly entered into the depth of our soul. The only way you will ever be able to uproot the temptation to pornography is to bring it to the light and to begin asking the Lord to reveal to you what it is you are trying to run away from. Be a man or woman of the light, because God is not here to accuse you or shame you, but he is here, in this time of Mercy to heal you.