You rarely hear about the evils of pornography anymore. Everyone assumes that everyone else has seen or continues to see images of strangers or dates or girlfriends or boyfriends in suggestive positions without clothes and everything continues fine, as this is merely dating in the second millennium. Lost in this facile wish is the uneraseable facts of how the human mind, heart, and soul function; they function in fixed ways.
Pornography is a thief. It steals from the viewer the expectation, the delight, and the shared secrecy of beholding the spouse wholly unadorned. It places such an experience right beside all the other experiences of virtual stripteases of women with stage names, who undress for anyone. How then is the wife special? How then is the husband special?
Pornography implicitly devalues marriage. It whispers, “Here, you can have all of the pleasure and none of the pain at a fraction of the cost.” Of course, what it gives you is not a real experience, but a commodity which you can only enjoy through autostimulation. It can give you nothing of the emotions, the physical sensations (except one), the romance, the heart, or the experience of two souls connecting.
Pornography trains the viewer to view people in terms of what they can give, and what the viewer can receive. It makes users selfish exploiters, and goads them to lie so that they can get what they want. It does not teach men how to be men; it teaches men how to be animals. And it lies to women — it tells them, “You’d better be as alluring as these images or you stand no chance.” In all, it coarsens and cheapens the human soul.
Pornography robs intimacy. Because pornography urges people to think carnally, it makes sex itself into something not special. You don’t have anything special to give to your future spouse, because you’ve already given it away to all your other relationships, relationships you would not have pursued had your mind not been corrupted. Even if you somehow abstain from the deed with others physically, you have still given yourself to others.
Pornography haunts you. This is another grande and awful secret, that few are willing to speak aloud. Once you choose to use pornography, stopping is not easy, and even when you stop, the images you have enjoyed (however you may) remain, sometimes for decades afterwards. No, it is not a harmless, victimless crime. No, it is not an activity that has no effects. Pornography is a long-term poison.
In better times, in a gentler age, pornography was illegal to distribute through the US Mail. That is because the United States’ citizenry had a firm conviction that the distribution of such materials was harmful to everyone involved. Since pornography has been classified as free speech, whom has it helped? Whom it has harmed is easy to see, but whom has it helped?