Monday, January 21, 2013

Marriage is the Goal of Pornography

The argument of the Westians really seems to be, "Since our desires are good, any expression of our desires must be redeemable; and any act that expresses our desires, if indulged in and experienced deeply enough, would lead to the good those desire were designed for, even if the act itself is sinful."  They find it a bit scandalous to say simply, "Sin Your Way to Salvation!" so they focus instead on the goodness of our innate desires and the fact that sin is merely a wrong expression of this goodness.

What they fail to see is that, as Alice von Hildebrand points out, sin has no ontological value.  Our sexual desires (though twisted and corrupted in a way we call concupiscence) are made by God and are good.  True enough.  But any act of ours that abuses these desires, such as the production or consumption of pornography, is thereby sinful and has no claim on the goodness innately bestowed upon being itself by God's act of creation.

So perhaps the distinction really is a bit fine for the Westians, in their enthusiasm, to understand.

See this dialogue from a recent combox between a woman calling herself "Seraphim" (which I assume would be Seraph in the singular - unlike "Legion", which really has no effective singular) and myself ...


"Seraphim" writes
I am not a fanny of Christopher West. But after reading McGuinness' article, I was really, really disappointed with your response, which was nothing short of libellous in its misrepresentation. I don't see how you could read the original article and come away thinking that it does anything but show why pornography is wrong.

You asked what pornography would look like if it did go far enough. And the answer is really clear - it would look like sacramental marriage. What did it not go far enough in? Its fulfillment of our God-given sexual desire, for which it substitutes Unreality for reality.

Concupiscence is defined as the wrong application of a right desire. Pornography is concupiscent because it misapplies our sexual desire. Your insistence that sexual desire is unredeemable is a denial of the Christian sacrament of marriage. It is Manichaeanism. The desire for pornography IS redeemable, and Christ created its redemption in a little town called Cana in Galilee.

What was the purpose of the "thought experiment"? To show us that we don't take pornography seriously enough - that it is a much worse problem than we treat it as. Same goes with Walker Percy critiquing the affected melancholy of fin-de-siecle aesthetes, saying they weren't taking suicide seriously enough.

Go to confession and read the article again. This misrepresentation was downright shameful.

 I reply

Why is it that Catholics in comboxes think it's OK to tell other Catholics to "go to confession" when they disagree with them? This is not the first time someone angry at me has said this.

"Go to hell" might be more vulgar, but at least it's a bit more honest.


Seraph, our sexual desire is not bad in and of itself. It is made for marriage and for the marital act, which combines love with making babies. Sexual desire is good.

But pornography, as you point out, is a twisting of that desire away from the end for which it was designed.

The mistake the Westians make is saying that since sexual desire is good, any expression of that desire must be redeemable. This is wrong.

Try this analogy. Anger is good. In and of itself the emotion of anger is meant to be a response to injustice - that's why you're angry at me, Seraph, since you think I've treated McGuiness unjustly. But anger without constraint, anger not properly channeled, becomes Wrath, a deadly sin. And one expression of that deadly sin is murder. Is murder redeemable?

You say Pornography Gone Far Enough is Marriage. Is Murder Gone Far Enough Justice?

Anger is good. Wrath is bad. Murder is an expression of Wrath.

Libido is good. Lust is bad. Pornography is an expression of Lust.

This stuff is really rather simple, Seraph. 

Now, if you think I've misread McGuiness, then how on earth do you explain my DIRECT QUOTATIONS FROM HIS ARTICLE? 


See you after confession.

1 comment:

Joey Higgins said...

Just for the sake of being a pedantic: if you were incorrect in your analysis, how would that warrant confession? I'm assuming that Seraphim isn't suggesting that you knowingly nearly libeled a man?