Apparently I am a Porn Apologist

I’ve been participating in the discussion on Rod Dreher’s blog as my normal, charming self: alternately curt and bloviating, occasionally sarcastic and always condescending.

What can I say, I am a sinner.

Dreher was reporting the anecdotal claims of Evangelical college professors that good Christian girls were dying to be asked out but the boys were too busy watching porn. Dozens of white knights mounted their keyboards, proclaimed their own immaculate chastity, and condemned the monstrous boys. I have no doubt that porn has bad effects on male libido and that modern sex roles are screwy, but the white-knighting pissed me off.

One woman agreed with the college professors:

In my experience, there are men who are hooked and don’t care — they are not eager for marriage. And then there are men who are hooked and feel terrible about it — and they don’t seek marriage because they know they are in sin and can’t lead a family. The few and far between men who are able to conquer their habits marry fairly quickly.

Whew boy, there is a lot of bullshit to unpack here.

First notice how there are only three kinds of men: hardened porn users, remorseful porn users, and the 1% or so of men who kicked the habit and who alone are worthy to receive the fair damsel’s hand in marriage. This is an absurd caricature.

Second, the notion that there are only the “hooked” i.e. the addicted, and the free. Porn can’t be classified an addiction the way alcohol or opiates can be, you are not going to have DTs from stopping, so we are at best speaking analogously. A much better umbrella term for all sorts of negative, habit-forming behavior is “vice”, a bad habit. Porn is a vice. The vice can have a greater or lesser hold on someone and someone can preform evil deeds without actually being vicious if he is not habituated. Getting drunk a two or three times a year does not mean one has the vice of drunkenness.

Third, only a man free of sin is capable of leading a family. Uh, no. A husband’s authority over his family is not dependent on his ability to be perfectly chaste before or even after his marriage. If you want a Biblical example, look at the Old Testament patriarchs. Now, a husband may be more effective as a spiritual leader the more virtuous he is, but the notion that being a sinner – even in matters of sex – makes one incapable of marriage is stupid.

Fourth, the implied promise that the reward of virtue is marriage, that those who conquer their vice quickly marry. It is false. God, fate, the world or human biology do not owe you a wife for not fapping to porn. Plenty of men who habitually commit sexual sins manage to marry, plenty of men who are chaste do not.

I answered the post what I thought was a measured way:

Some men like porn / self-abuse and will do it whether they are married or not. Other men don’t like porn but fall into it because they are lonely. To say this second category of man is incapable of marriage is terribly cruel. Of course they should stop abusing porn, but marriage is also a means of correcting lust.

The idea that marriage “corrects” lust is based in the New Testament: Paul says that celibacy is preferable for Christians but people who are not able to be celibate should marry, becasue “it is better to marry than to burn”. I didn’t claim that marriage is a cure-all for sexual deviancy, but a bunch of white-knights came riding over the hill to defend the lady’s honor imagining I had argued just that.

They also informed me (repeatedly) that porn is bad and that I should have more respect for women. Uh, thanks.

My other favorite comment from the post: a woman complaining that there are no Catholic men for her daughter to date because they generally do not go to Mass, and those who do go are weird. Apparently a young Catholic guy not only must be pure as the wind driven snow to be worthy of marriage, but that he must simultaneously both go to church and not go to church if he wants to be considered an eligible bachelor.

It is a wonder modern Christians reproduce at all.

 

 

14 comments

  1. You would get yourself into trouble speaking things like this even if you weren’t curt, bloviating, occasionally sarcastic, and condescending. Christian men are just as toxic as any other male and you’ll upset a lot of feminists for suggesting otherwise.

  2. Let she who allows a forensic expert look through her internet history cast the first stone.
    Recently I read an article about how internet providers were surprised to find female clients access porn at nearly the same rates as male users.

  3. Billy Jack · · Reply

    Re: weird guys and going to church, it’s that ipso facto they are looking for a guy who is both weird and not weird.  By going to Mass every week and accepting the teachings of the Church on sexuality a man shows that he’s willing to shrug off social pressure coming from the culture at large.  It’s not surprising that he’d be more likely to be socially odd or nonconformist in other ways.  If going to church is weird, only weirdos will go to church.

    It’s understandable that young women (or their mothers–Dr. Dre’s rude quip about who the real pimps are springs to mind) want someone who fits in easily and happily with the neighbors.  That’s a healthy thing to want, and there will still be some churchgoing guys who can provide that.  But as a population, single churchgoing guys are probably weirder than they used to be.  Everyone involved needs to realize that times have changed and that we have to make our choices under a different set of circumstances than the previous generation.  Forming a family in the Catholic faith may require different sacrifices than it did a generation ago, and being willing to be a bit odd as a family–and maybe being willing to marry a bit of an oddball–may now be on the list in a way that it didn’t used to be.

    1. I generally agree.
      To be honest I was creating a false dilemma, they are not *really* saying that if you go to church you automatically weird, they are just complaining about how hard it is to find someone who is both devout and passibly attractive and they are right, it is really hard.
      The probelm is blaming men for a situation they didn’t create, or acting like it is unique to men. They claim there are all sorts of devout young women looking to marry but I suspect this is misty-eyed sentimentalism. Most parishes I’ve attended regularly in the last 8 years have 2-3 single men of marrying age and no such women. Of course that is just an anecdote from central and N.E. Massachusetts.
      People want to ascribe blame, so they claim the men are porn fiends. You can’t blame women, that goes against our chivalrous instincts. Maybe they hope that by blaming men they can fix the problem.
      The other possibility – that this is simply what demographic collapse looks like and the forces driving it are beyond anyone’s control – is just too hard to contemplate.

  4. Billy Jack · · Reply

    Those are good points.  My sense is that people who don’t have a religious commitment to something like Christian sexual morality tend to underestimate how harmful internet pornography is, but you’re right that there is a different dynamic among Christians and some are using the real problems surrounding pornography to avoid confronting the realities of demographic collapse.

    Another factor is that lot of this talk is in Evangelical communities that take sexual morality seriously but don’t have sacramental Confession. This internet chatter–which is of course not representative and I shouldn’t take it to be such–suggests that the experience of these communities surrounding these sins and what it means to be “in sin”, to “walk in victory”, or be sufficiently chaste to pursue marriage is different than among Catholics.  And not in a way that makes me envious.

  5. Minesweeper · · Reply

    Well, the whole “porn is adultery” comes from a mis-translation.

    And so kicks off, if you watch a movie and the actors have a sex scene on screen (and some have been known to go for it), you’ve committed adultery against your spouse, and she should divorce you immediately (even if she has watched the same scene).

    Surprisingly, the outrage against men watching porn in the church, is worse than the “whimpering” against mothers aborting their unborn children.

    Which really reveals an awful lot as to where the root of this is coming from.

    1. Not a mistranslation as much as an obstuse reading. John said that anyone who hates his brother is a murderer but we don’t advocate the death penalty for hate because we understand that there are gradations of sin. Should be the same with Jesus’ comments on lust and adultery. He was pushing back on moral legalism. A man who lusts after a woman who is not his wife is committing a sin in the same genus as adultery, but to sugguest he should suffer the penalties of an adulterer is to fall into the same kind of legalism.

      1. Minesweeper · ·

        If you study the greek, it translates as “Anyone who covets(earnestly desiring to possess) someones wife has committed adultery in their heart”

        Jesus was expanding the “Do not covet thy neighbor’s wife” to include all wives.

      2. I don’t think that is a good reading even if it is technically possible.
        “Gynaika” means woman. It can mean wife if she is ‘someone’s woman’ just like ‘andros’ can mean husband if he is ‘her man’ but there is nothing in the text like a possessive pronoun that would make one think that.
        “Epithumos” can mean covet, or lust, or just a strong, legitimate desire. It obvously isn’t legitmate here so we assume ‘lust’ because the object is a gynaika.
        But you are qyite right insofar as epithumos implies a lot more than “looking” going on.
        Also adultery/lust makes sense as a parallel to murder/anger that comes right before it. Adultery/coveting any wife just doesn’t work.

      3. Minesweeper · ·

        Look at Mat 5:31, same word is used, it can only apply to wives, considering its about divorce ! And Jesus would be saying this within seconds of each other.

        Also, if looking with ‘sexual desire’ was sinful, why would you think Jesus would only say it applies to looking at ‘wives\women’.

        English trans:”Whoever looks at a woman..”

        So, having sexual desire against non women is fine ?
        Or did Jesus just make a huge mistake in leaving all those out.

        You want it to say “Anyone who looks at anyone with ‘sexual desire’ has committed adultery in their heart”

        But it doesn’t.

        Also, can adultery be committed if neither of your is married ?

      4. Gynaika means wife if she is someone’s woman, otherwise it just means woman. If Jesus says ‘don’t divorce your gynaika’ we would translate it as wife based on the context.
        Same with andros – it means ‘man’ but if used in the context of marriage we would tranlsate it as husband.
        In this case we have just “a woman” with no posessive pronoun to indicate if she belongs to someone.
        Jesus says adultery the same way he says murder, I would assume he would also be against fornication and aggravated assault.
        You are lost in the weeds on this. The point is that God judges our interior acts like our grudges and lusts as well as our exterior acts.

      5. Minesweeper · ·

        I disagree, I’ve studied this extensively for a long time, once again, why does this only apply to woman\wives in this verse ?

        Do you have a answer for that ?

        If you search all the english bible translations starting from 1100, you will find some that say wives and some that say covet. But only in the greek does it state both.

        And from the KJV, which used lust for covet, we totally have lost the true meaning of word, it really means desiring to possess.

        Do not covet your neighbours wife\his oxen\ his house etc. All in that same vein.

        We have a few real stonkers of mistranslations in our contemporary translations, but nothing is perfect.

        Its 1 thing to say, looking at a woman with desire isnt pure, its sinful, invasive etc, You can say that and for some that will be the case, its another thing to state, Jesus stated this from his own mouth.

        Mt 5 28: the ‘one-looking’ gunaika
        Mt 5 31: ‘should be dismissing’ the gunaika

      6. Why does it apply only to women?
        It doesn’t. Jesus would have addressed the men in his audience and assumed they were attracted to women. If there were women in the audience they would have applied it to their own lustful feelings.
        Epithumos does not only refer to covetousness / desire to posess. It is also the word Jesus uses when he says he desired to eat the Passover with his disciples. It is a powerful desire. Lust is an acceptible translation given the context but if you want to replace it with ‘powerful desire’ or such words be my guest.
        It is not just the KVJ / English-speaking world that sees this as a warning against lust, it seems to be the default interpretation. EG I sincerely doubt you could find a Greek Father who would read this as anything but a warning against lust, and they would know the nuances of the language.

      7. Minesweeper · ·

        “Epithumos does not only refer to covetousness / desire to posess. It is also the word Jesus uses when he says he desired to eat the Passover with his disciples. It is a powerful desire.”

        Correct, “to set the heart upon, i.e. long for” – he isn’t having a earnest desire to looking and feeling attraction towards it, he is wanting to take hold of the food and drink at the passover. To possess it and consume it, to make it his own.

        “Why does it apply only to women?” – because it only applies to wives.

        To commit the sin of adultery, adultery in the heart, someone needs to be already married.

        There is a entire variety of aspects travelled down the centuries, that have come out of flawed thinking, this is unfortunately just 1 of them. If you believe it earnestly but the bible says something different.

        Guess who is correct ?

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