Yesterday Rod Dreher wrote one of his little essays on pornography and its prevalence and its harmful effects.

The typical reaction from the left (and perhaps the libertarian) is to note something like this, defending by some statistical correlation with a drop in rape correlated with an increase in porn consumption. There are a few problems with the underlying groundwork that goes along with the statistical correlation, which is undoubtedly right even while it is wrong. There are three problems with this assumption.

  1. First the problem isn’t rooted in merely private pornographic consumption or access. We live in a pornographically soaked culture today. The notion that “less access” to the Internet means less porn is not exactly salient. Those with “less” access to porn are still soaked in sexually drenched imagery on a almost continual basis. All this study tells us is that continually tantalizing a population with subtle and not-so-subtle hints of pornography but not giving ready access to the same … causes an increase in rape. Consider for example, New England to the other colonies (or the other three folkways borrowing from Hackett Fisher’s Albion’s Seed). Rape and other such crimes were down and there was less “drenching” in casual sexuality too. There are other factors besides porn if rape is you only concern.
  2. Which leads us to the second problem. Porn doesn’t come from the the foetid imagination of CGI artists. It’s production is not a victimless activity. One of the libertarian blogs I follow (a few weeks ago) noted that in towns where prostitution is legalized along with that there is a distinct rise in underground sexual slavery. Pornography production itself undoubtedly (I have no statistics dug up on this) has its own particular trafficking patterns worldwide. As well, even if rape is decreased … Mr Dreher notes: He said he worked in a counselor’s role there as well, and routinely dealt with students who were seriously messed up by their porn habits. For example, he said, he believed that many of the guys he worked with had no idea how to relate to women in a healthy way; the power of pornography, working consciously and subconsciously, caused the men to have badly distorted views of women, views that stunted and even paralyzed the men emotionally. Pornography, even if it reduces the incidence of rape, may ultimately still be more harmful from a societal standpoint than the alternative even if one does nothing to also reduce the rape (that is the prior and next points that I make here).
  3. St. John Cassian was a Christian theologian and monastic born in about 360. He was born in either modern Romania, some say France (Gaul). From there he traveled to Palestine and then spent time with the monastic communities near Sketis in the Egyptian desert. Some time later he (and a friend) returned eventually to the bringing the monastic tradition with him. St. John wrote extensively, somewhere I read his writings were almost as voluminous as St. Augustine’s. In his Institutes he devotes 8 books (of 12) to the eight passions. It was a later innovation to cast the eight passions noted by the desert communities as the well known 7 deadly sins. St. John cites the first passion as gluttony. Gluttony he teaches must be conquered before any other of the passions can and should be faced. By fasting (and prayer) one can face and defeat the body’s craving for food. After you have mastered and attained the self-discipline to master that craving and only then can the other passions be taken up (which isn’t to say you should just give them free reign of course in the meantime … just that you might not expect to attain any manner of complete victory before then). The point here is that we live in a culture which is drenched with food as well as porn. In the US Immediate gratification of our urges is, well, expected. The only thing that the culture would say is wrong with gluttony in fact is that it results in one being overweight. St. John teaches us that we really won’t be successful in facing the second passion (sexual sin), even as a culture until we’ve mastered our gluttony.

Filed under: Ethics & MoralityMark O.

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!