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Richard G. Malloy, SJ Answers:
Question: What is wrong with watching pornography? I’m not really hurting anybody, isn’t it better than having sex with someone else?
The porn industry does hurt many people, specifically the men, women and children chewed up and spit out by an unscrupulous, to say the least, worldwide sex industry. The multi-billion dollar porn industry hurts not only those enslaved and addicted by and to porn; it degrades all involved by diminishing what sex can and ought to be as a life giving gift of our loving creator God. Instead of experiencing sexual relations as the person to person mutual giving human sexuality calls for, porn reduces sex to a selfish, self serving activity that objectifies the person viewed as an object, a “thing,” existing only for the porn user’s gratification.
Underlying the “I’m not really hurting anybody” is an overly individualistic view of who and what we are. As followers of Christ we are in relationship with everyone. All people in the world are our brothers and sisters. What “I” choose to do affects not only me; my choices ultimately affect everyone else.
Pornography “does grave injury to the dignity of the participants… since one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others” (CCC #2354). The Catechism goes on to speak of porn’s most insidious damage. Porn immerses one in “a fantasy world.” Such fantasy can make it very difficult to live with reality. The fantasy driven person, who can’t stand a spouse who has put on 20 lbs. over the years, or who wants a partner they can control and dominate, is not living in the real world. Porn addicts dwelling in fantasy makes real life miserable for all with whom they try and form relationships.