PORNOGRAPHY AND RELIGIONBy Shlomoh Sherman
March 13, 1998
Although there appears to be animosity between religion and pornography, at least here in the West, religion fertilizes the ground and sows the seeds of porn, and once created, abets porn as no ther cultural expression does. There is a very strong symbiotic relationship between porn and Biblical religion because at heart, Biblical religion is a patriarchal structure which believes in slavery, neurotic self continence, and punishment. It sees the sexual urge as a NECESSARY EVIL in the guise of the YETSER HARA (Evil Impulse). The YETSER HARA unfortunately is needed, as the TALMUD puts it, "to build cities and procreate the human race." I am sure there is a Christian equivalent to this.
But what is necessary is also overpoweringly demonic, and used as an instrument by the Devil to ensnare people; men more but also women to a lesser extent,and should some woman give into it as easily as a man, then she is as evil as men.
Christianity and Judaism believe that women should know their place and stay in their place. The same goes for children. These two groups of people actually have the status of slaves and second class citizens.
Modern Christianity and modern Judaism try to pretty this all up but at heart they are the same in their outlooks as they were two and three hundred years ago. Christianity is so anti-sex that it is the only religion to prohibit prostitution, divorce, polygamy, and concubinage. There is no other religious culture that bans these practices because other religious cultures recognize the inherent polyamourous nature of men.
Nevertheless, Judaism has its own goofy attitudes towards sex, in some cases those attitudes appeat to be more insane and harmfull than those of Christianity.
Biblical religion believes that basically people are weak and cannot overcome the YETSER HARA's harmful aspects without "outside help". Therefore Biblical religion teaches that to spare the rod is to spoil the child (and the woman as well since she is really nothing more than an overgrown child). Not only does Biblical religion believe in punishment, it also believes in the suppression of the YETSER HARA whenever possible and says that the sexual aspect of the YETSER HARA should be used for its primary purpose, procreation with monogamous marriage. All other expressions, especially masturbation, lead to damnation.
In the very act of corporal punishment that it supports, it sees the RIGHT to corporal punishment as a de facto right of POSSESSION of the body, both of the child and the woman. If this is so, then the man also has the right to any act dealing with the body of the child. In this society, Christianity has fostered more sexual abuse and incest than it has prevented. In that, it has bred much of the sex addiction that exists in our society. At the same time, it OUTWARDLY opposes the very thing that the sex addicts it has created wants, leading to anger and resentment on the part of the sex victims. In the newly open society that we now live in, those very addicts are able to defy Christianity's strictures against porn. To quote Howard Stern, "If you put Harry's Porn Hour on prime time, the ratings will go thru the ceiling - because THE PEOPLE WANT PORN."
By the way, Jews don't get off so easily. Remember how many Hassids frequent the dirty movies and the whores on 8th avenue in New York. The more forbidden an activity, the BIGGER the YETSER HARA (desire) for it.
Irony of ironies.
The Internet is the perfect vehicle for pornography. One might say it was MADE for pornography. It's better than TV. With the Internet, one can have an INTERACTIVE relationship with compu-sex. It is perhaps one of modern society's SAFETY VALVES against harmfull sexual acting out. One sits in his (or her) home in privacy and acts out with a screen instead of against another human being. There is here no danger of rape, harrassment, or disease.
As to the people who say that pornography leads to harmfull sexual acting out, they cannot prove it. The same has been said about other media in their day. The same was said about literature, comic books, movies, and tv. Yet the plain treuth is that the average person does NOT act out from contact with these things. As to the one person who DOES flip out and act out, there is no way that can be proven that something other than porn would do the same thing. And society cannot allow the madness of a small minority to dictate to the majority what it shall and shall not permit else all of the things that we we as adults appreciate would be in danger of disappearing. This was plainly pointed out by the ACLU in its case of ACLU vs. Reno vis-avis the COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT. We do not let the fears and weaknesses of the minority dictate to us that our culture shall be only that which is appropriate for children.
Lastly, we cannot have it both ways. We cannot praise a basically addiction producing system such as Christianity or Judaism while at the same time damning the aleviation of those addictions thru a harmless medium.
Some say that the people involved in porn are all victims. In a certain sense we are all victims and we are all addicts of one for or another and we all satisfy our addictions in ways much more harmfull than indulging in porn - which is perhaps the least harmfull addict behavior.
Given the choice of ridding our society of tobacco, alcohol, carbohydrates, or porn, I opt to think that the last is the least insidious. What do you think?
Return To The Essay Index Return To The Literary Index Return To The Site Index Page Email Shlomoh