Today’s discussion arising from Monday’s link post, frequent commenter took exception to the linked analogy from Joe Carter’s Commonplace. Mr Carter quotes from a interesting essay in Policy Review. Mr Carter quotes:
Today’s prevailing social consensus about pornography is practically identical to the social consensus about tobacco in 1963: i.e., it is characterized by widespread tolerance, tinged with resignation about the notion that things could ever be otherwise.
My (liberal/progressive) commenters objected tacking two tacks. JA defended pornography as harmless (or a good?). What harm can pornography cause after all, it only “leads to erections.” However pornography is indeed harmful. It is harmful in that it corrupts our relationships. A young man may argue and perhaps even convince his lover that this habit of his is in no way harming his relationship with his young (beautiful) spouse or lover. After all he loves her but is only engaging in behavior that doesn’t touch their relationship by engaging in viewing pornography. However … that plays out a little differently 20 or 30 years down the road. When the images he views are of women 30 years younger than his beloved. When she views the women he views and sees differences between herself of her past and her present body image that can certainly cause pain … and damage relationships. Ms Eberstadt (the author of the Policy Review piece) notes:
Indirect evidence from other sources, such as divorce cases and reports by clergy and therapists, also suggest that pornography can cause harm. Consider the increasing role played by internet pornography in divorce proceedings. According to a meeting of the American Academy of atrimonial Lawyers, for example, 62 percent of the 350 attendees said that the internet had been a significant factor in cases handled that year — and that was in 2002, well behind today’s levels of pornography consumption. Numerous pastors and priests and ministers and therapists have reported that pornography use is now the leading cause of marital trouble and breakup they encounter as counselors.3 If we accept that marital breakup itself causes distress to both parties as well as to any children involved, then pornography’s potential cast of victims appears to widen significantly by virtue of that fact alone.
So it seems clear that far from being harmless it it seems clear that harm does come from porn.
The other commenter Mr Boonton offers a different tack. He views porn and tobacco as not analogous because:
I think the analogy breaks because tobacco is basically exogenous while porn is endogenous. Tobacco is a foreign substance introduced to a subject that causes the body and mind to create a physical addition and also generates long term health problems.
But one problem with that is that pornography and sex in general, like tobacco, certainly can become an addictive behavior.
For Christian readers, the very notion that many (possibly including commenter JA here) who would defend pornography as “a good thing” this short podcast by Khouria Matthews-Green is relevant.