Today, I’ve transcribed an insightful video in which Matt Fradd, anti-porn YouTuber and host of “Pints with Aquinas,” analyzes the pope’s comments and elaborates on the malicious nature of pornography in comparison with other vices. Fradd notes that some addictive behaviors, like alcohol or gambling, may be acceptable in moderation. Fradd argues that pornography, on the other hand, is more akin to racism, which is intrinsically abusive and has no legitimate expression.
Check out Fradd’s reasoning below, drawn from the work of Karol Wojtyla, and his complete reaction to the pope’s fiery comments.
But the primary reason pornography is wrong is because it takes an inappropriate attitude toward the human person. Philosopher Karol Wojtyla said, “The human person is a good towards which the only proper and adequate attitude is love.” Well, what do we mean by love?” Aristotle would say “To love is to will the good of the other.” And we might add “for their sake.” I love you if I want your good for your sake. I don’t my good at your expense. I don’t even want your good for my sake. I want your good for your sake. This is what it means to love.Matt Fradd
Transcript of Pope Francis Comments on Pornography
Today, I want to take a look at something Pope Francis said this past Friday on pornography. He said “It’s a threat to public health…” He said “the scourge of pornography… is spreading everywhere via the web.” The pope said at the Vatican on June 10th: “[Pornography] should be denounced as a permanent attack on the dignity of men and women.”
Amen Pope Francis, that’s exactly right.
“It is not only matter of protecting children, an urgent task of the authorities and all of us, but also of declaring pornography a threat to public health,” he told members of a family association network.
Quoting a 2017 speech he gave to a Congress on child dignity online, the pope added that “It would be a serious illusion to think that a society in which the normal consumption of sex on the web is rampant among adults is capable of effectively protecting minors.”
That’s exactly right. Now what I love about what Pope Francis said here is “It’s an attack on the dignity of man and woman.”
Very often people will have the question, “What’s wrong with pornography if I view it in moderation?”
People view pornography the way they view other habits that can become unhealthy. So they’ll say, “Well, pornography is like gambling.” Yeah, people can have a problem with gambling, people can have a problem with pornography. But when it comes to gambling, you might say to somebody, “Learn to gamble in a way that doesn’t negatively impact you or those you’re in charge of protecting and feeding, etc. And if you can’t, then you’re going to have to abstain altogether.”
Same thing with alcohol. People don’t typically say alcohol in every circumstance is evil. What they’ll say is the abuse of alcohol is evil.
What about pornography? Very often people in the anti-porn movement–which I would consider myself a part of, and I hope you do too—will focus on the negative consequences that will result from pornography consumption, production, or distribution, without focusing on the primary reason pornography is a problem. So I would say – and I think you should say – is that pornography is intrinsically evil. The consumption of it is wrong because of the very act, because of what’s going on.
It’s sort of like the difference between alcohol consumption and racism. People say things like “Everything in moderation.” But they don’t mean that about racism, or they shouldn’t. But they do mean that about alcohol. So the question is is pornography like racism in that it’s always wrong, or is it like alcohol, in that it’s wrong if you overdo it. What Pope Francis is highlighting here is that it’s always wrong because it’s an attack on the dignity of men and women.
Now there are all sorts of negative consequences of pornography. We can point to the fact that it’s addictive, that it can lead to marital breakdown, that it can lead to sexual dysfunction, or that it contributes to mental illness. That it warps our sexual tastes. All of these things are, in fact, the case. They need to be addressed. We will be addressing it on this channel in the future with some of the world’s top experts on these topics.
But the primary reason pornography is wrong is because it takes an inappropriate attitude toward the human person. Philosopher Karol Wojtyla said, “The human person is a good towards which the only proper and adequate attitude is love.” Well, what do we mean by love?” Aristotle would say “To love is to will the good of the other.” And we might add “for their sake.” I love you if I want your good for your sake. I don’t my good at your expense. I don’t even want your good for my sake. I want your good for your sake. This is what it means to love.
Karol Wojtyla in his work “Love and Responsibility” said that “The opposite of love is use. Where I treat you merely as a means to my end.” And, in the case of pornography, my selfish gratification. So I subordinate you, the good that you are, to the lesser good of my pleasure.
I want to conclude with a quote here from Anthony Esolen, who I quoted extensively in my book “The Porn Myth.” Listen to this. He said, “The human body is a precious thing worthy of our reverence. It is not a tool. Not an object of consumption like a steak or a keg of beer. Not an animate provider of pleasure. It is the outward expression of a profound mystery, that of another human being. . .
When we meet another human person, when we look at his or her face, we are in the presence of a creature whose like we have not found in all the rest of the universe. The human person is open to infinity. He can do more than apprehend the things he observes. He can imagine worlds he has never seen.”
You might think, “Okay, what does this have to do with pornography?” Here’s what it has to do with it. “Honor and reverence is due to the astounding mystery of the human person. It is a contradiction to say ‘I honor the human person,’ while treating the human body as separable from the person,” you see. Using it as a tool. Devouring pornographic images of it.
“Once cannot at once love the beautiful and desire to defile it. It is like loving the pietá [Phonetic] with an axe.”